Setting up on EC2

Thanks to my friend Dustin, and his EC2 demo using Elasticfox Firefox Extension for Amazon EC2 I got an EC2 image setup. With other references Link 1,Link 2,Link 3 I was also able to create my own AMI.

Some notes specific for my configuration.

Pre-config ElasticFox key for launching directly from ElasticFox SSH connections.

mkdir ~/ec2-keys
mv ~/Downloads/elasticfox.pem ~/ec2-keys/id_elasticfox
chmod 600 ~/ec2-keys/id_elasticfox
chmod 700 ~/ec2-keys/
ssh -i /Users/rbradfor/ec2-keys/id_elasticfox

Installed Software.

apt-get update
apt-get -y autoremove
apt-get -y install apache2
apt-get -y install mysql-server
# Prompts for password (very annoying)
apt-get -y install php5
apache2ctl graceful
echo "Hello World" > /var/www/index.html
echo "< ? phpinfo() ?>" > /var/www/phpinfo.php

Configuration to save AMI.

scp -i ~/ec2-keys/id_elasticfox ~/ec2-keys/id_elasticfox pk-CHK7DP4475BWUKIUF4WFDIW3VMYDYOHQ.pem cert-CHK7DP4475BWUKIUF4WFDIW3VMYDYOHQ.pem
ec2-bundle-vol -d /mnt -c cert-CHK7DP4475BWUKIUF4WFDIW3VMYDYOHQ.pem -k pk-CHK7DP4475BWUKIUF4WFDIW3VMYDYOHQ.pem -u AccountNumber -r i386 -p ubuntu804_lamp
ec2-upload-bundle -b rbradford_804_lamp_ami -m /mnt/ubuntu804_lamp.manifest.xml -a AccessID -s SecretKey

Giving control of your data to the cloud

I’ve been doing some research and evaluation of more cloud computing. Specifically my focus has been on data store, and considering how to augment an existing operation using a popular database such as MySQL.

I’ve been looking first at Google App Engine and now I have my SimpleDB Beta today will be looking here next.

Some observations I’ve struggled with are:

  • No Native CLI, say for basic data setup. You can do some programmatic input for SELECT statements in a Query object in a SQL like syntax called GQL, but you can’t do DML
  • No simple data viewer. In production you would not do this, but I’m in evaluation and still looking at functionality, verification of results etc. A phpmyadmin clone is what I’m seeking for example. I suspect this would have been a good Google Summer of Code project.
  • Python only. While this was great for me to need to spend a 1/2 day to learn about Python syntax, it was just another small starting hurdle. If your organization doesn’t do or use Python, this is another skill or resource needed.

But the biggest concern and hurdle I’m understanding from my traditional principles is loss of control. Loss of control for monitoring and instrumentation, performance, availability and backup and recovery.

Recent issues in performance and unavailability have highlighted that App Engine is not suitable for mission critical web sites, not as your primary focus. I see huge benefits in augmenting access to information, perhaps more historical for example, a well define API within your application could easily support options to consider cloud storage as a secondary storage and primary retrieval of less important data.

My focus when revisiting here will be looking at means of object translate between tables and the Data Store and maybe an API for data transfer etc.

I suspect that when I get to evaluating EC2/S3 more I will have much more support by being able to leverage existing tools and techniques.

Your site unavailable page

When your site is down what do people see? If overloaded to you respond well or not?

For much larger organizations with the infrastructure and DNS management this should be part of your DR strategy. Yesterday was FireFox Download Day. Mozilla I don’t think coped as well as they could have and were not prepared. Looking at the two screens below you can see examples of error pages I got.

In this case it was a planned event, the increase in traffic was predicable ahead of time. Surely they could have had a static pages with something about the event, the high load and even then a static page of links if your goal was to download FireFox 3.

My site certainly doesn’t support the automated failover, I have to make a DNS change at my domain register Go Daddy to a different host that is already ready and wait for delegation, but I’m prepared for a significant outage like previously.