5 Excellent Uses for Amazon EC2

The Test/Development Environment

One of those things which is always difficult is putting together the right test environment. Traditionally purchasing a seperate set of hardware, , a seperate datacenter, A developers “local copy,” or something as cheesy as different vhosts on the same machine have been the only real answers. Most of those are grossly inneficient as well as expensive. At the best they’re “ok” (because you arent going to put any *real* power in this arena when you have mission critical applications to deploy) and at worst they’re downright dangerous (how many people do you know have never accidentally edited the wrong file in the wrong folder?)

Enter Amazon, wisking you away to a magical place in which its possible to throw as much horsepower as neccesary at a test environment. Where its possible to wipe and reload the entire thing in a *very* short period of time. And where you only have to pay for it when it’s being used. With Amazon EC2 there is no longer any reason that a web app company cannot afford a truly useful test/development environment

Offsite Backups

Do you worry that something is going to happen to your data? Is the only backup copy of your working code on one of those CDR’s sitting in the “server closet”… was it taken more than 3 months ago? If you answered yes to any of these questions Amazon EC2 is right up your alley. With a comple of public keys, and rsync you can put the power of secure backups to work for you! But wait, theres more! Once the backup has completed schedule a shutdown command, and only pay for what you need! Pretend you have 100Gb of data to backup… it changes at 5% per dat, and takes only 4 hours to run the backup remotely… If you setup a once per month full copy, and preform incrimental backups daily you’re looking at in the neighborhood of $130 per month. Beat that with a tape drive… And you dont outgrow the EC2+S3 combo in 3 months of prolific Word Document writing like you would that last tape drive 🙂

Version Control

Closely coupled with the development environment Version control is the heart and soul of any source based application, and theres no reason not to put this on something like an EC2 server. The bandwidth usage is minimal. The gauranteed backed up aspect is a huge load off the restless mind, and the next time you have to run reports on the last three hundred and seventy five thousand revisions… it doesnt bring your real (or test) environment screetching to a rather annoying halt!

Trouble Ticketing

You took the time to setup a nice trouble ticketing system for both your customers and your employees. It’s customized to the teeth. It rocks. It rolls. It just went down with the rest of your infrstructure just now when you blew a circuit breaker. Or did it? Not if you moved this piece of mission critical (and resource light) infrastructure to EC2. You’ll basically be able to run this puppy at the cost of $.10 per hour because the traffic itll cost you will be… what… $3 bucks a month? Change. And the ability to still communicate with all your customers during a major outage? priceless

Monitoring and Alerting

For roughly the same reasons as noted above using EC2 for monitoring your mission critical applications is the right thing to do. Not only do you have a third party verification f availability you have an off network source for things like throughput and responsiveness. If you’re monitor sends SMS through your mail server… and your mail server just died… you wont hear a peep out of your phone until someone brings it back up. And then when it *is* backup not only do you catch flack for not noticing… but all holy hell breaks loose on your phone as 400 SMS messages come in from l;ast nights backlog. Do yourself (and your organization) a favor… EC2 + Nagios + Mon = peace of mind (throw in cacti and you have answers to the dreaded question: “so how is our performance lately anyhow?”). Plus if you use something like UltraDNS which offers a programatic API for their services you can use amazon as the trigger for moving from one ser of servers to the other. Wonderful!

4 thoughts on “5 Excellent Uses for Amazon EC2

  1. Another excellent use for EC2 is to host the connectivity software for trading partners in a supply chain. Often the business leader can create value by directly integrating his enterprise's systems with his suppliers or customers but the obstacles for IT to set up secure and reliable communications on a server that is in the DMZ (publically accessible IP address) prove too great. With EC2, the connectivity software can run at Amazon with a single link to the trading partner from trusted code running in EC2. An especially compelling scenario is when the connectivity code also leverages SQS for routing and S3 for storage. That's what Business Integration Technology intends to do with our license-fee-free, open source EME working with Amazon Web services to create The Virtual VAN – hosted in the Elastic Compute Cloud. The cost for all three services will be nominal for most small to medium enterprises – and the business value may be very high.

  2. A says:

    Tel me something, 0.10 * 24 * 30 =72$/month

    that more than the best vps solutions in the market, and for 0.10 you are basically getting a vps.

    How do you even make a case of somethig for 24hour use?

    the only reason i see people using it when they need a lot of computing for temporary use, its like renting computing, for long term use vps and dedicated server from rackspaces and planet are still the best choice.

    and the last point is pure silly, giving 0.10$ per hour for monitoring makes no business sense when there are cheaper solutions available that give you more flexibility in monitoring.