Don't you think the lines you’re currently reading look somewhat geekier than before? They should, because they’ve been generated in the cloud. 😉 The last three years or so, 4sysops ran on a dedicated server in a datacenter in Berlin. A few days ago, I moved everything to Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) in the U.S. In this series, I describe the reasons behind this decision.
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I was quite content with my German provider Strato; everything worked flawlessly, and I never had hardware problems with my server. Some days ago, 4sysops was down for an hour or so, but that was the fault of my domain provider, Domaindiscount24. I always separate domain and server provider, so I can change the provider easily without having to move the domain.
Linux for a Windows blog ^
4sysops has run on an openSUSE Linux box for the last few years. You might ask why a blog for Windows admins runs on Linux. The reason is that I am a big fan of WordPress, which is probably the best weblog software out there. WordPress can be installed on Windows, but it harmonizes better with a LAMP system. Besides, I think every Windows admin should speak a little Linux too.
Amazon doesn't offer openSUSE, so I had to move everything to a Fedora machine. At first, I saw this as a downside of EC2, but I am beginning to like Fedora. Usually Windows admins feel more at home with SUSE Linux because YaST is probably the most convenient management tool the Linux world has to offer (not that it can compete with Windows management tools). However, Fedora has a somewhat simpler structure. Nevertheless, when I moved everything from SUSE to Fedora, I realized one more time that there is no such thing as a Linux operating system. I have quite a few other apps running on this server (VPN, backup, storage, etc.), and it took me a whole day to configure everything. Many of the settings I used on the openSUSE machine had to be adapted. The distros are so dissimilar that, in my view, they have to be considered as different operating systems.
Cloud performance ^
At first, I used the smallest instance type on EC2. It has one EC2 compute unit (1 virtual core), 1.7 GB of memory, and 160 GB of instance storage. My old server also had one CPU core, only 1 GB RAM, and enough power to run 4sysops. I was quite surprised when Amazon's virtual machine was on its knees just a few minutes after I changed the DNS entry and the first visitors arrived. At that time, I had no other apps running on the server.
I watched this mess for only a couple of minutes, but my guess is that the smallest instance type can manage only four or five simultaneous visitors with my configuration. With about 600 page views at peak times, 4sysops certainly is not a super big site. However, I must admit my WordPress templates are somewhat bloated. I suppose with simpler templates the small instance type would be powerful enough. Nevertheless, this instance had less power than the three year old Server with one CPU core on which 4sysops was running smoothly before. Therefore, the EC2 small instance really deserves its name; it is best suited to only small sites.
So, my first experience with a productive server in the cloud was somewhat negative. However, since 4sysops is still running in the cloud, there also must have been some positive findings. I’ll tell you more in my next posts.