TvE 2100

At 2100 feet above Santa Barbara

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Just Launched

See the EC2 announcement on the Amazon Web Services site. Pretty cool to have “infinite” compute resources available (credit card limit permitting)! Basically you get a Xen virtual linux image that you store on Amazon S3 and can “intantiate” on a server. The server is actually dedicated, so the Xen virtual image is just used in order to conveniently load the image and control the set-up.

The specs of a server are “the equivalent of a system with a 1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth.” The virtual server image that is on S3 and that gets instantiated is limited to 10GB. Once running, there is a swap partition (2GB, I believe) and a 160GB “ephemeral” partition that is mounted as well. The ephmeral partition is lost if the server crashes and the machine instance is restarted on a different server. This means that for persistent storage one better use S3 or multiple instances.

Overall this sounds a bit more expensive than I had hoped. For $120/mo you get a dedicated box with 2TB transfer at various hosting facilities (without trying to get rock-bottom). At Amazon it costs you $72/mo if you run an instance 24/7. If you then did 2TB of transfer that would slap on another $200, ouch! Looks like the a good idea would be to run the base servers at some traditional hosting facility and to leverage Amazon for peaks only.

SOne of the things that is missing from EC2 is static IPs. Every instance gets a dynamic IP allocated. That makes it difficult to run a reliable external-facing web server. One can use dynamic DNS services, but with the amount of caching going on in the DNS system that’s really not a satisfactory solution. Hopefully AWS will add some form of load balancing solution with static IPs soon!