This web site, www.rajiv.com is now hosted on Amazon.com’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) services. They are part of Amazon Web Services offerings. If you are a technologist, I recommend EC2 and S3. To learn more about them, you can follow the links in this article.
Benefits of hosting a Web site on EC2 & S3
- The hosting management is self-service. Anytime you want, you can provision additional servers yourself and immediately. Unlike with most traditional hosting companies, there is not need to contact their staff and have to wait for them to set up your server. On EC2, once you have signed up for an account and set up one server, you can provision (or decommission) additional servers within minutes. Even the initial setup is self-service.
- EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes. You can commission one or hundreds of server instances simultaneously. Because this is all controlled with web service APIs, your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs. Billing is metered by an hour as the unit. This flexibility of EC2 can benefits many use cases:
- If your web sites get seasonal traffic (e.g. a fashion site during shows) or can temporarily get much higher traffic for a period of time (e.g. a news site), EC2’s business model of pay for what you use by the hour, is cost-effective and convenient.
- If yours is the R&D or Skunkworks group at a large or medium size organization or a startup company with limited financial resources, renting servers from EC2 can have many benefits. You don’t have to make a capital investment to get a server farm up and running, nor make long-term financial commitments to rent infrastructure. You can even turn off servers when not in use, greatly saving costs.
- You don’t pay a cent for servers not running, except for disk storage costs for your files on S3, which is so inexpensive that Jeremy Zawodny calculates is even cheaper than buying reliable storage for personal use at home.
- My favorite photo hosting web site, Smugmug‘s CEO estimates how much money Smugmug saves about by using S3. The numbers are amazing.
- It allows me to use the modern Ubuntu1 GNU/Linux operating system, Server Edition. Among Ubuntu’s many benefits are its user friendliness and ease of use. Software installations and upgrades are a breeze. That means less time is required to maintain the system while retaining the flexibility and power being a systems administrator gives.
- EC2 has lower total cost ownership for me than most hosting providers’ virtual hosting or dedicated server plans. Shared (non virtual server) hosting is still cheaper, but no longer meets my sites’ requirements.2
Potential drawbacks/caution with EC2 & S3
- While S3 is persistent storage, EC2 virtual server instances’ storage does not persist across server shutdowns. So if your web site is running a database and storing files on an EC2 instance, you should implement scheduled, automated scripts that regularly back up your database and your files to S3 or other storage.
- Consistent with what I read in some comments online, my EC2 virtual server instance did not lose its file-system state or settings when I rebooted it. So rebooting seems to be safe.3
- This potential drawback is arguably a good thing in some ways. It compels you to implement a good backup and recovery system.
- This also means that after installing all the software on your running Amazon Machine Image (AMI), you should save it by creating a new AMI image of it as explained in the Creating an Image section of the EC2 Getting Started Guide.
- This is an issue since you may want to do this every time after you update your software, especially with security patches. Until Amazon implements persistent storage for EC2 instances, you could do this monthly. You can script this to be partly or fully automated. Since Amazon’s EC2 instances are quite reliable, this is not a major concern.
- An EC2 instance’s IP address and public DNS name persists only while that instance is running. This can be worked around as described under the tech specs section below.
Some articles about Amazon’s hosting infrastructure services:
- Forbes.com: Amazon’s Hot New Item: Its Data Center
- Wired.com: New From Amazon: Guaranteed Server Uptime
Tech specs of my site:
- Hosting Environment & Configuration
- Amazon EC2 default “small” size instance
- Dynamic DNS Management:ZoneEdit.com
- I use a Ruby script to dynamically update DNS from my EC2 host on ZoneEdit. My script is based on the one written by Scott Patten. It uses the ez-ipupdate program in a custom way for EC2.
- Update (from q2 2008): I now use Amazon EC2 Elastic IP Addresses instead of dynamic DNS.
- LAMP Stack:
- Operating System: Ubuntu 7.10 Server Edition, GNU/Linux4
- Web Server: Apache 2
- Database: MySQL 5
- Programming Languages: PHP, Java, Python, Ruby
- PHP Accelerator: Alternative PHP Cache (APC)
- Instructions for installing APC on Ubuntu
- Content Management System: WordPress
- www.ubuntu.com [↩]
- I plan to split rajiv.com into separate sites, The India Comedy site will move to comedy.rajiv.com and the SPV Alumni site will move to spv.rajiv.com. The latter two are community sites and will benefit from a community CMS like Drupal. [↩]
- However, please be aware of a known issue that on some occasions caused instance termination on reboots. [↩]
- I created my AMI virtual machine by building on top of a public Ubuntu AMI by Eric Hammond. [↩]
Well, now I wish I weren’t locked into Dreamhost for another 2 years. This is the first post I’ve seen that made EC2/S3 look enticing from an individual’s point-of-view.
Amazon S3 had an outage in the morning of Friday, February 15th. You can read my opinion on the Amazon S3 outage and suggestions for dealing with outages.
It’s a neat technical achievement, but I have to ask why you would do it with a personal site? You can get shared hosting for < $20 / month. So why would you pay a minimum of around $70?
Good question. I use my personal Web site as an R&D and learning environment. It enables me to experiment on a site that is real and has importance to me. Over the years, I’ve used a number of mainstream technologies including HTML/CGI, MS ASP, .NET, Java and PHP/WordPress to power this site. EC2 enables me to experiment with server virtualization and dynamic “elastic” hosting environments, an area of my interest.
For someone looking to simply host a personal Web site only, I agree with you and recommend lower-cost alternatives.
With EC2 and S3, Amazon has brought some of the power of a distributed edge computing platforms like Akamai’s Edge Computing and NetStorage to the mainstream, including startup ventures (whether independent or within large organizations), small businesses and organizations with budget constraints. It will be exciting to see if Akamai responds by offering their edge computing platform to the masses. I hope they do, because I’ve been impressed by Akamai’s products for years. Akamai has enabled many major media companies to handle traffic spikes without having to build out multiple geographically distributed data centers of their own. I hope Akamai views EC2 and S3 as competitors in distributed elastic computing. That will be good for Amazon AWS, for Akamai and for businesses that benefit from such products.
Very nice article…with this i have made a ec2 server.
i have a server like – http://ec2-75-101-231-169.compute-1.amazonaws.com/
then how can i upload php scripts which would contain mysql queries, and also on this server php and mysql is not installed… so how can i go for hosting a php, mysql (LAMP) site on amazon ec2?
This is a very helpful post Rajiv, thank you so much. I am just getting started with using Amazon EC2 and S3 services, so forgive my naiiv questions.
1. Are you hosting wordpress on EC2?
2. The site seems to be a little slow at times, could you give me an idea on how many servers/instances are you running it on?
In reply to your questions:
1. Yes, I am hosting WordPress on EC2.
2. I am running it on one small server instance. Thanks you for the feedback. I’ll implement a monitor to measure site performance and work on improving it.
Good question. Once I had the instance up and running with Ubuntu server, I used the Ubuntu aptitude/apt-get tools to install software like Apache Web server, PHP, MySQL database server and others mentioned in the original post.
I recently upgraded Ubuntu server to the 8.04 version and updated all the installed packages.
Every time I make major system changes, I save the entire system image using the EC2 AMI Tools to Amazon S3, register the new image, deregister the previous one and then restart the site with the new image.
When I make changes to the Web site folders, I sync it with my local computers. I use MacFUSE and SSHFS to mount the remote disk on my local computer.
I use a WordPress plugin called “WordPress Database Backup” that automatically backs up my database hourly and emails it to a mailbox that archives it.
I may post links to instructions on how to do all that in the future. In the meantime, you can find this information via Web searches (Google) as I did.
Im Ari, I need to run a website on my Windows2003 AMI,
I have already started the instance and its running fine. I have my php website stuff. **I need to upload them and make the website available,- I need some more guidance in doing it.Please help me out!
Here are some links to information on installing PHP on Windows 2003 server:
Those should help you get your PHP based Web site up and running on your Windows Amazon EC2 AMI.
My colleague Paul Fisher was quoted in an InformationWeek article about Amazon’s Cloud Computing. Excerpts:
Among those testing EBS are Wired.com/CondeNet, which uses EC2 to host embeddable widgets and Wired product reviews.
“EBS is the missing link — the last piece in the cloud computing puzzle — that enables start-ups and large corporations alike to conjure the resources they need to build any application possible,” Paul Fisher, manager of technology for Wired.com/CondeNet, said in a statement. “Persistence is key to most applications, and EBS provides more flexibility in this area than anything previously available.”
What's the monthly cost of hosting wordpress on AWS EC2 because I want to host buddypress CMS (wordpress mu network plugin)?
Can you provide step by step how you configured your instance or host?
Does your EC2 instance need to be running all the time your site is up?? If so than is S3 just for backup purpose??
How much it costs you on monthly basis and amount of traffic you get??
How can you instal S/ws on AMazon EC2
This is a question about Amazon EC2.
What is the difference in running an application or software on EC2 rather than on a local machine.
Is there any difference in the performance when we run the same application on our machine or Amazon EC2
Please guide me…!!
It's really an impressive thing to engage with, but I want my personal site and for this I have to pay the $20 per month.
I want to use EC2 from AWS. Thank you for info.
Like most PHP4 CMS applications, they were built by a developer or a group of developers, and generally, were built without the use of any application patterns. This basically meant that you had to get inside the head of the original developer to understand how the application worked. This made adopting any specific CMS just as expensive of a task as building a CMS from scratch that you could use over and over
Each email was crafted based on that email list which was loaded into mysql by a php script. That php script then created and registered each individual link into the database so that reporting could be done later. PHP mail() was a workhorse. It got the job done, and we got loads of great information about email campaigns and tracking. Oh, and this what back when the likes of Doubleclick didn’t completely own the email campaign market.
How to host website on marklogic server, i have a work to give status of success & fail.
The target MarkLogic-server is clean and you are the first to use it
The priciple user of your application is a human administrator whom you need to offer ..
the administration of the clients
reports for "success and fail"
In the following "success and fail" will be clarified.
For all interaction we prefer basic authentication.
Hi Rajiv, thank s for this useful information.. would it be possible for you to share approx how much do you end up paying for a micro instance and about 10GB storage annually. I see you have mentioned that it is costlier than VPS. ..
Today’s announcement from AWS team is relevant to this post.
Rajiv, It would be very helpful if you can mention your website resource use (bandwidth, space) and cost incurred from EC2.
Also, do you have any recommendations on what training material can help me setup Ecommerce Shop on EC2?
I wrote a step by step article a few months ago that may help others get to speed with EC2. If you don’t mind the self promoting link it might be useful to people who read this article!
Thanks! I’m just setting up my server on Amazon S3… so this has helped.
How much does it cost anyway?
Since Amazon’s pricing for AWS has changed (gotten lower) many times since I signed up, here is Amazon’s current pricing: http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/
Hi, I need help in creating a dns entry for a website in cloud server. A user came to me and asked me to register a site cloud.xxx.com to the following servers ns-1707.awsdns-21.co.uk.ns-1086.awsdns-07.org.ns-460.awsdns-57.com.ns-888.awsdns-47.net.He is also trying to host this site in amazon cloud. So hope you can help me to do this. I have no experience in working with cloud. reply as soon as possible its urgent . my contact firstname.lastname@example.org +919003826700
He is also trying to host this site in amazon cloud. So hope you can help me to do this. I have no experience in working with cloud. reply as soon as possible its urgent . my contact email@example.com +919003826700
hi. please let me know step by step procedure to point to my domain from aws
hi. please let me know step by step procedure to point to my domain from aws
I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.
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hi please let me know how did u host on ur domin from ec2
Can you have root access of this linux?
About “root access” I means shell access, as like “remote desktop” for windows.
thanks a lot
Yes, absolutely. It works similar to how it would with a traditional hosting account.
how abt the pricing, could you detail about it please..
a little late on the question, but we have our solutions running on ec2. we have our own web site hosted on ix web hosting. any clue how i can tie these two together?
Please note that i am a total newbie at this, so all i really want to do is register my webpages hosted on ec2 as the same name as my website.
How much is your monthly bill comes to?
I would love to know more about programming and technology related things. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.
What will be the application server to host the Cloud Computing code?
Can someone plz help me to my question ?
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