Programming Amazon EC2

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The first quality is somewhat of a bonus, but Amazon has really used this quality to its and our advantage. If your system gets too big, the easiest and perhaps only solution is to break it up into smaller pieces that have as few dependencies on each other as possible. This is often referred to as decoupling. The first big systems that applied this technique were not web applications; they were applications for big corporations like airlines and banks.

Amazon adopted one of the elements of these broker systems, namely message passing.

Amazon Web Services EC2

If you break up a big system into smaller components, they probably still need to exchange some information. They can pass messages to each other, and the order in which these messages are passed is often important. One interesting feature of SQS is that you can rely on the queue as a buffer between your components, implementing elasticity. You can have a component that processes these orders, and a queue containing them.

Your web application puts orders in the queue, and then your processing component can work on the orders the entire day without overloading your web application. In every application, storage is an issue. We all buy hard disks believing they will be more than enough for our requirements, but within two years we already need more.


It seems there is always something to store and there is never enough space to store it. What we need is infinite storage. It was released in , two years after Amazon announced SQS. The time Amazon took to release it shows that storage is not an easy problem to solve.

S3 allows you to store objects of up to 5 terabytes, and the number of objects you can store is unlimited. An average DivX is somewhere between and megabytes. Building a video rental service on top of S3 is not such a bad idea, as Netflix realized. We have tried to calculate it ourselves, but the tech reviewers did not agree with our math skills.

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So this is the perfect opportunity to quote someone else. S3 as a service is covered by a service level agreement SLA , making these numbers not just a promise but a full contract. S3 was extremely well received.

Getting Started with AWS - Amazon Web Services BASICS

In only two years, S3 grew to store 10 billion objects. In early , AWS reported to store billion objects in S3. Though we still think that S3 is the most revolutionary of services because no one had solved the problem of unlimited storage before, the service with the most impact is undoubtedly Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2. Introduced as limited beta in the same year that S3 was launched , EC2 turned computing upside down. Though server virtualization already existed for quite a while, buying one hour of computing power in the form of a Linux and later Windows server did not exist yet.

Remember, Amazon was trying to decouple, to separate its huge system into components.

Programming Amazon Ec2 by Jurg Van Vliet

Each team would be in charge of a functional part of the application, like wish lists or search. Amazon wanted each small team not only to build its own infrastructure, but also for developers to operate their apps themselves. There were some very important features added in the meantime, most of them as a result of working with the initial community of EC2 users. It showed that Amazon listened and, more importantly, cared. And this is still true today. The Amazon support forum is perhaps its strongest asset. By offering computing capacity per hour, AWS created elasticity of infrastructures from the point of view of the application developer which is also our point of view.

When it was this easy to launch servers, which Amazon calls instances , a whole new range of applications became reachable to a lot of people. Event-driven websites, for example, can scale up just before and during the event and can run at low capacity the rest of the time. Also, computational-intensive applications, such as weather forecasting, are much easier and cheaper to build. Renting one instance for 10, hours is just as cheap as renting 10, instances for an hour.

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Components can communicate effectively using queues and can share large amounts of data using S3. But these services are not sufficient as glue between the different applications.

In fact, most of the interesting data is structured and is stored in shared databases. It is the relational database that dominates this space, but relational databases are not terribly good at scaling, at least for commodity hardware components. Although normalizing data is what we have been taught, it is not the only way of handling information. It is surprising what you can achieve when you limit yourself to a searchable list of structured records. You will lose some speed on each individual transaction because you have to do more operations, but you gain infinite scalability.

You will be able to do many more simultaneous transactions. It might appear that the lack of joins severely limits the usefulness of a database, especially when you have a client-server architecture with dumb terminals and a mainframe server.

What is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)? - Definition from Techopedia

A browser is far from a dumb client, though. It is optimized to request multiple sources at the same time. Now, with a service specially designed for many parallel searches, we have a lot of possibilities. There are alternatives to SimpleDB, and some are more relational than others. And with the emergence of big data, this field, also referred to as NoSQL, is getting a lot of attention. But there are a couple of reasons why it will take time before SimpleDB and others will become successful. The most important reason is that we have not been taught to think without relations.

Another reason is that most frameworks imply a relational database for their models. But SimpleDB is incredibly powerful. It will take time, but slowly but SimpleDB will surely find its place in web development. The core principle of AWS is optimization, measured in hardware utilization.

From the point of view of a cloud provider like AWS, you need economies of scale. As a developer or cloud consumer, you need tools to operate these infrastructure services. By listening to its users and talking to prospective customers, AWS realized this very point. And almost all the services introduced in this last phase are meant to help developers optimize their applications. One of the steps of optimization is creating a service to take over the work of a certain task. An example we have seen before is S3, which offers storage as a service.

A common task in web or Internet environments is load balancing. And just as with storage or queues, it would be nice to have something that can scale more or less infinitely. When the workload is too much for one instance, you can start some more. Often, but not always, such a group of instances doing the same kind of work is behind an Elastic Load Balancer also called an ELB. With Auto Scaling you can define rules for growing and shrinking a group of instances. You can automatically launch a number of new instances when CPU utilization or network traffic exceeds certain thresholds, and scale down again on other triggers.

To optimize use, you need to know what is going on; you need to know how the infrastructure assets are being used. AWS introduced CloudWatch to monitor many aspects of the infrastructure assets. With CloudWatch, it is possible to measure metrics like CPU utilization, network IO, and disk IO over different dimensions like an instance or even all instances in one region. AWS is constantly looking to optimize from the point of view of application development.

It tries to make building web apps as easy as possible. CloudFront now supports downloads and streaming and has many edge locations around the world. From the start, the regions were designed with the possibility of failure in mind. A region consists of availability zones , which are physically separate data centers. When you can, use this feature of AWS, because it can harden your application.

The second to come online was Europe, in Ireland. One highly anticipated new region was expected and hinted at in Asia Pacific. In , the Agile Manifesto for software development was formulated because a group of people felt it was necessary to have more lightweight software development methodologies than were in use at that time. Though this movement has found its place in many different situations, it can be argued that the Web was a major factor in its widespread adoption.

Application development for the Web has one major advantage over packaged software: in most cases it is distributed exactly once. Iterative development is much easier in such an environment. Iterative agile infrastructure engineering is not really possible with physical hardware.

AWS EC2 Tutorial For Beginners

There is always a significant hardware investment, which almost always results in scarcity of these resources. More often than not, it is just impossible to take out a couple of servers to redesign and rebuild a critical part of your infrastructure. With AWS, you can easily build your new application server, redirect production traffic when you are ready, and terminate the old servers.

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    If you plan to use Amazon Web Services to run applications in the cloud, the end-to-end approach in this book will save you needless trial and error. You'll find practical guidelines for designing and building applications with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud EC2 and a host of supporting AWS tools, with a focus on critical issues such as load balancing, monitoring, and automation.