My first EC2 Amazon Web Service

Being locked away on the Olympic Park I was wondering has the technology world moved on a pace leaving me in need of Usain’s ability?  At first everything looked the same. The services, the websites. Silicon roundabout. Then Ross stopped by for dinner and asked if we could spend the evening playing with the cloud.

Why not? I have bought a lot of cloud hosted solutions in the last few year and had a small army of people to look after them for me. However here was an opportunity to create my first “Hello World” html page on the cloud without having to interact with a single human. Not even Ross who was busy with his much more crazy Hadoop project bug. More of which when it is announced.

First stop – choosing a cloud. Amazon vs Rackspace. It boiled down to Ross’s excitement and a lack of api. Although a tweet disputes that. However what sealed it, was learning dropbox uses Amazon.

First step. Brought up amazon webservices in a browser and using my amazon account (which was freaky) signed up for an account. Entered my credit card and was security checked via the phone. I was in.

Next after much looking around I signed up for a free ec2 and landed up on a page of icons and choose the ec2 icon. This launched the ec2 console which is heavy, takes a while and keeps throwing javascript errors at me.

When the page finally appeared there is a massive “launch server” button. It needs to be pressed.

Done. You are given a multitude of servers to choose from. Its daunting. I tried Amazons but had to flip over to Ubuntu.

As an aside if you want to change where your server is actually located then its a drop down on the top right on the black bar. My first server was in Tokyo but the latency took me to Dublin.

The next bit is to create a name for the box and create an access key which one saves locally (ensuring the file has closed restricted permissions).

Open a terminal and ssh onto the box.

ssh -i Downloads/helloworld.pem ec2-user@ec2-46-51-233-157.ap-northeast-1.compute.amazonaws.com
ssh -i  @

Once in it took some effort to figure out installing Apache. After a few terminated false starts Ross insisted I created an Unbutu server and taught me the yum equivalent

sudo apt-get install apache2

Then I started Apache. Nearly there.

In addition to kicking off Apache the firewall rules needed to be set up. Back on the console traverse over to “Security Groups” on the left had menu. Then add port 80.

Back to the terminal and find the the var/www folder edit the html with your little “hello world”.

Then in a browser I looked at my new page by navigating to the name of the server.

Stop or terminate the server.

So what next ? I could do it all again on rackspace. Seb is raving about jekel in front of cloudfront /s3 and I too could move this blog. Ross showed me ganglia to monitor amazon services. Or I could look at Cloudflair.

However as an obsessive systems designer what I like doing is solving problems. The problems that I deal with are always about scale and clean simplified process of management. Most recently when dealing with the cloud this has been coupled with feared national security threats. Therefore Ross mentioned how Netflix survived when Amazon fell over last week I was really impressed. Also I want to look into how people are dealing with security testing in the cloud.

Yes. I now probably have a cloud project in mind.