Category: Amazon EC2

JumpBox Rapid Trials on EC2

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

Late last year I blogged about JumpBox . I talked about how their lineup of public EC2 AMIs really streamlined the process of getting started with a number of powerful open source applications.

Earlier this week, Sean and Kimbro of JumpBox told me about their newest development, the JumpBox Rapid Trial. Powered by EC2, the Rapid Trial lets you conduct free, hour-long trials of most of the applications in their Open Library with a single click.

For example, you can launch a trial version of the MediaWiki Wiki system by going here and clicking on the “Trial This JumpBox” button. You’ll be prompted for your name and email address, and then you’ll wait a minute or so for the EC2 instance to launch. When it is ready the box will give you a link to an administrative console. You’ll set the computer name, enter your email address, set your time zone, set the administrator password, and agree to the license agreement. One more click and the wiki is up and running and ready for evaluation.


You can start to configure and use the wiki during the one hour evaluation period. If it does what you want and you start to enter some real data, you can use the web-based JumpBox administrative tools to back up the configuration and the user data to Amazon S3. On production instances, you can even set it up to do automatic backups daily, weekly, or hourly with full control of how many old backups you’d like to keep around.

All in all this is very slick and is a great way to illustrate the reduction in friction that is possible with cloud computing. Commercial software vendors need to take a look at this innovative Rapid Trial model and figure out how to do something similar for their own products.

— Jeff;

Additional EC2 Support for Windows – Second Zone in the US and Two Zones in Europe

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

We’ve been working to make it possible for you to run Windows or SQL Server in additional locations and to build highly available applications.

You now have the ability to launch EC2 running Windows or SQL Server in the EU-West region, in two separate Availability Zones. You can also launch EC2 running Windows or SQL Server in a second Availability Zone in the US-East region. With the additional of the new European region and the additional US zone you now have the tools needed to build Windows-based applications that are resilient against failure of an availability zone.


The AWS Management Console has been updated with full support for the EU-West region. After selecting the new region from the handy dropdown (shown at right), you can launch EC2 instances, create, attach and destroy EBS volumes, manage Elastic IP addresses, and more.


We’ve created new Windows AMIs with the French, German, Italian, and Spanish language packages installed. The Console even provides a new Language menu in the quick start list. Once launched, you simply set the locale in the Windows Control Panel. You can find step by step directions for launching AMIs in various languages here.

The popular ElasticFox tool now lets you tag running instances, EBS volumes, and EBS snapshots. The Image and Instance views have been assigned to distinct tabs and you can now specify a binary (non-text) file as instance data at launch time.

While I’m talking about all things European, I should mention two other items that may be of interest to you. First, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels will deliver a keynote at the Cebit conference in Germany later this week. Second, we have an opening in Luxembourg for an AWS Sales Representative.

— Jeff;

New AWS Public Data Sets – Economics, DBpedia, Freebase, and Wikipedia

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

We have just released four additional AWS public data sets, and have updated another one.

In the Economics category, we have added a set of transportation databases from the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Data and statistics are provided for aviation, maritime, highway, transit, rail, pipeline, bike & pedestrian, and other modes of transportation, all in CSV format. I was able to locate employment data for our hometown airline and found out that they employed 9,322 full-time and 1,122 part-time employees as of the end of 2007.

In the Encyclopedic category, we have added access to the DBpedia Knowledge Base, the Freebase Data Dump, and the Wikipedia Extraction, or WEX.

The DBpedia Knowledge Base currently describes more than 2.6 million things including 213,000 people, 328,000 places, 57,000 music albums, 36,000 films, and 20,000 companies. There are 274 million RDF triples in the 67 GB data set.

The 66 GB Freebase Data Dump is an open database of the world’s information, covering millions of topics in hundreds of categories.

The Wikipedia Extraction (WEX) is a processed, machine-readable dump of the English-language section of the Wikipedia. At nearly 67 GB, this is a handly and formidable data set. The data is provided is the TSV format as exported by PostgreSQL.

Finally, we have updated the NCBI’s Genbank data. Weighing in at a hefty quarter of a petabyte terabyte, this public data set contains information on over 85 billion bases and 82 million sequence records.

Instantiating these data sets is basically trivial. You create a new EBS volume of the appropriate size, basing it on the snapshot id of the data. Next, you attach the volume to a running EC2 instance in the same availability zone. Finally, you create a mount point and mount the EBS volume on the instance. The last step can take a minute or two for a large volume; the other steps are essentially instantaneous. Instead of spending days or weeks downloading these data sets you can be up and running from a standing start in minutes. Once again, cloud computing reduces the friction between “I have a good idea” and “here’s the realization of my idea.” You don’t need loads of bandwidth, processing power, or local disk space in order to do interesting and significant work with these world-scale data sets.

— Jeff;

IBM Software Available on EC2 With Pay-As-You-Go Licensing Model

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

We’ve teamed up with IBM to provide software developers with pay-as-you-go access to development and production versions of IBM Information Management database servers, IBM Lotus content management, and IBM WebSphere portal and middleware products, all running on Novell’s SUSE Linux on Amazon EC2.

There’s a lot to say, so I’ll summarize the key points up front before diving in. First, development AMIs are now available at the new IBM Cloud Space on developerWorks. Second, you can bring your existing licenses into the cloud. Third, hourly pricing for the production versions of each product will be published sometime soon.


Existing IBM customers can use the licenses they’ve already bought while still taking advantage of the elastic nature of AWS to handle spikes and peaks. These licenses retain their value and can be used to handle steady state processing needs, with more licenses available (on an hourly basis) in the cloud for peak times. This clean and innovative new model should clear up some of the uncertainty which can cause potential users to think twice before jumping in to cloud computing. A new IBM PVU (Processor Value Unit) table will map between PVUs and the full set of available EC2 instance types. See our new IBM partner page for details.


The following products will be available in AMI (Amazon Machine Image) form:

  • IBM DB2 – A database server designed to handle demanding workloads, featuring scaling to handle high volume transaction processing, automatic compression, optimized XML storage, and lots more. Get started here.
  • IBM Informix Dynamic Server – IBM’s flagship database for industrial-strength, embedded computing. Featuring blazing online transaction processing (OLTP) performance, legendary reliability, and nearly hands-free administration. Get started here.
  • IBM Lotus Web Content Management Standard Edition – End-to-end web content management for internet, intranet, extranet, and portal sites. Get started here.
  • IBM WebSphere sMash – A development and runtime environment for agile development of Web 2.0-style applications using SOA principles. Get started here.
  • IBM WebSphere Portal Server – A runtime server and tools (among other features) that can be used to create a single customized interface for a collection of enterprise applications, combining components, applications, processes, and content from a variety of sources. Get started here.

If you are an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) developing a service that will be commercially available, you are eligible to access these AMIs at no charge (other than the usual EC2 charges, plus nominal setup and monthly fees) for development purposes, via IBM developerWorks. Everything that you’ll need to get started can be found in the new Cloud Computing Resource Center. You may also want to read the white paper, IBM’s Perspective on Cloud Computing.

As someone who once programmed IBM mainframes using 80 column punched cards, this is a pretty exciting announcement. Developers now have easy access to IBM’s line of robust, industrial strength software products and can build highly scalable applications which take full advantage of the new and flexible licensing model. Questions about commercial software licenses (and their applicability to the cloud) come up at almost every one of my speaking engagements! I’m happy to be able to point to IBM as an example of a software vendor with a licensing model which is cloud-aware and cloud-friendly.

I also think that this announcement really highlights EC2’s inherent flexibility. Customers can bring their existing code and software licenses into the cloud and can deploy it without having to pay any up-front licensing costs.

— Jeff;

iPhone Console for EC2

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

This is a very brief post to call your attention to yet more innovation in the Amazon Web Services ecosystem: in this case an iPhone console application that monitors and controls your Amazon EC2 environment. David Kavanagh and company cooked this up over at directThought.

My mind immediately went to “Sitting in Maui, umbrella drink by the pool, time to add a few more instances to my Amazon EC2 server fleet by tapping on the iPhone. Ahhh…” Then reality struck — it’s snowing outside the hotel I’m in.

The underlying client toolkit (cTypica) is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License.

You can preview the application here. Now is your chance to provide input on what will be a very useful tool for AWS users who have an iPhone.


Manage Amazon EC2 With New Web-Based AWS Management Console

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2, Announcements, Developer Tools |

Today were announcing the availability of the Web-based AWS Management Console, which in this first release provides management of your Amazon EC2 environment via a point-and-click interface. A number of management tools already exist: for example a popular Firefox extension known as Elasticfox; however as you read more of this post I believe youll agree that the new console is compelling–especially when its time to log in as a new AWS developer.

For starters, its easier than ever to gain access to your Amazon EC2 environment. The console provides access via your Amazon username and password. No more certificates or public/secret keys to manage! If youre like me, I never seem to have my own computer at hand when I need to check the status of the Amazon EC2 farm, or for that matter when I need to launch a new instance. Its a lot easier to log in with a username and password than to use those same credentials to retrieve my keys, configure Firefox (if its even on the borrowed computer) and then log in.

Then theres the new point-and-click AJAX user interface for managing Amazon EC2 resources. No more page refreshes every time something updates; and a timer refreshes management console components, such as the status of running instances, every few seconds.

The AWS community creates an amazing selection of innovative Amazon Machine Images, or AMIs. In fact, the count is now a staggering 1200 AMIs and growing! Thats quite a menu to choose fromespecially if you are a first-time user. The new Launch Instance Wizard walks you through starting your first instance; offering a short list of Linux and Windows server choices. Choose one of these AMIs, and then the wizard even suggests which ports to open in the firewall. Its smart enough to suggest that you open SSH (port 22) for Linux images, and RDP (port 3389) for Windows instances. The wizard even suggests settings that restrict Amazon EC2 access to your computer only.

And as I hinted in the opening paragraph, this is just the first in a set of Console interfaces that will provide a UI layer on top of AWS infrastructure services. Well be adding additional Amazon Web Services in the future.

The console feature list is extensive, and provides intuitive management of all these things:

  • AMI Management: browse and search AMIs, launch instances from AMIs, deregister and register AMIs
  • Instance Management: launch, reboot, terminate, get console output, RDP/SSH help, etc.
  • Security Group Management: create and delete security groups, add and remove permissions, configure firewall settings, open and close ports
  • Elastic IP Management: create and release IP Addresses, associate IPs to instances
  • Elastic Block Store: create, delete, attach and detach volumes. Take snapshots and manage snapshots.
  • Key Pair management: create and delete public/private key pairs.

If youd like to take a six minute tour of the console, I created a video (Flash format).

Finally, do you have a feature suggestion, or some other type of feedback? Feedback links are at the bottom of each page, and we welcome your input.


JumpBox – Ready To Use Applications For EC2

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

Jumpbox Config Page for TwikiI spoke with the good folks at JumpBox earlier this week. They told me that they are now supporting Amazon EC2 with a lineup of 12 public AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) containing pre-built and pre-configured open source applications. You can launch blogging tools, CRM tools, development tools, and lots more.

You can follow the directions in the tutorial to get started. I was able to start up a Twiki site in less than 5 minutes. Each JumpBox includes a configuration page which is accessible via HTTPS on port 3000. Using the page I set up my computer name, entered my email address for event notifications, set my time zone, entered my password, and agreed to the license agreement. After a 10 second wait for configuration, my Twiki was up and running!

26 additional packages are available to JumpBox subscribers. It is important to note that these are all single-instance applications that aregreat for workgroups and web sites with modest amounts of traffic. They are perfect for trying out new applications and for getting off the ground in a big hurry.

All in all, this is pretty powerful stuff. If you are putting a web startup together you can have your blog, bug tracker, project manager, wiki, and content management system up and running in the first hour of business.

— Jeff;

Architecting for the Cloud

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2, Amazon S3 |

Steve from MindTouch emailed me a while back about a really interesting write-up on how they moved their Wiki farm to Amazon EC2.Steve said that in the spirit of helping others do the same, we did a complete write up about it.

Mindtouch_architecture The article includes an architecture diagram, but more importantly it also drills into implementation details–complete with configuration settings that they used for HAProxy, Apache (with multi-tenant Deki), Memcache, and Lucene. MindTouch also implemented auto scaling, which is covered briefly.

If youre thinking about architecting an application for Amazon EC2, theres nothing like seeing someone else’s implementation, which you can read about here.

Oh, and one of my favorite features of MindTouchs wiki software is the Save to PDF feature. Made it easy to print out the paper.


Amazon EC2 Crosses the Atlantic

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

You can now launch Amazon EC2 instances in Europe!

We’ve created a new region for Europe, separate and distinct from the existing region in the United States.For fault tolerance, data separation, and stability, each EC2 region is an entity unto itself; issues within one region won’t affect the other one. This means that Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), security groups, and SSH keypairs must be created anew in each region. We’re working on tools to make it easy to move this information between regions. Also, as we learn more about how customers use multiple regions, we will add APIs to make it even easier for them to do so. There’s a new Feature Guide to Amazon EC2 Regions with a lot of helpful information, including some Frequently Asked Questions.

With the exception of support for Microsoft Windows and for Amazon DevPay (both of which will be ready before too long), every feature of EC2 is available in the new region, including Elastic Block Storage and Elastic IP Addresses.

The command line tools have been updated. The new ec2-describe-regions command lists all of the available regions, along with the endpoint URL needed to access them. A number of commands now accept the –region option. For example, this option allows ec2-run-instances to be used to launch instances in any available region.

The new region is now open for use by all interested developers. Pricing for EC2 instances, EBS storage, and I/O requests are slightly higher than in the US, reflecting differences in our operating costs in the regions.

Of course, we think that this new region will enable developers to do an even better job of serving their customers, giving them the ability to locate processing power in closer proximity to their user base while also helping them to meet EU data privacy requirements. In conjunction with the European version of S3, developers residing in or targeting markets in Europe now have powerful, local processing resources at hand.

Now that the dust has settled, I’ve got a few more related links:

— Jeff;

Oracle and AWS Webinar

by Jeff Barr | on | in Amazon EC2 |

Not very long ago Amazon Web Services and Oracle announced that many Oracle products are now licensed to run in the Amazon Cloud. If this interests you (and I know from emails that many of you are interested), then keep reading.

On Thursday December 11,2008 at 10:00am PST (1:00pm EST) I’m going to co-host a webinar, along with Bill Hodak from Oracle. Our agenda is simple: introduce Amazon Web Services to Oracle’s community, explain the Oracle offering to AWS customers, and mostly allow you to ask questions in real time. I expect that these three segments will last about 20 minutes each, with the most important ssegment being your questions.

Space at this event is limited, so reserve your spot today. See you there!

— Mike