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EC2 basic questions

 
Dallas Gimpel
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Hi Andreas & Michael -
I just recently started considering AWS as an alternative and I have a few of questions. I apologize in advance if they seem elementary:
  • If I set up an Ubuntu VM, do I get a root account on it? Am I able to install stuff just like a physical machine sitting in my office?
  • If I don't want a public-facing server, does AWS have a VPN implementation (eg, between my office network and VM)?
  • Once I have a VM set up the way I want it, is there a way to "clone" that configuration?


  • Also, I'm not sure what to expect in terms of pricing. My impression is that they're fairly reasonable but can you give me a ballpark range as to what a vanilla Linux VM might run? If that's too vague, I understand.

    Again, I apologize if these are elementary questions but I just started looking at AWS a couple of days ago. I found the "Getting Started" guide yesterday - I'm sure some of these are answered there, but I noticed the book promotion today and thought it must be fate.

    respectfully,
    dgg
     
    Andreas Wittig
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    Thanks for your questions, Dallas.

    Sounds like our book Amazon Web Services in Action is a perfect fit for you.

    Dallas Gimpel wrote:
    If I set up an Ubuntu VM, do I get a root account on it? Am I able to install stuff just like a physical machine sitting in my office?

    Yes, you can choose an image (e.g. Ubuntu) for your virtual servers. You will then be able to login as root and install packages as needed.

    Dallas Gimpel wrote:
    If I don't want a public-facing server, does AWS have a VPN implementation (eg, between my office network and VM)?

    Yes, it is called VPC (Virtual Private Cloud). You can spin up virtual servers in a private network on AWS. Site-to-Site-VPN or even a direct connect is also possible.

    Dallas Gimpel wrote:
    Once I have a VM set up the way I want it, is there a way to "clone" that configuration?

    Yes, you are able to create your own images based on running virtual servers (EC2 instances).

    Dallas Gimpel wrote:
    Also, I'm not sure what to expect in terms of pricing. My impression is that they're fairly reasonable but can you give me a ballpark range as to what a vanilla Linux VM might run? If that's too vague, I understand.

    AWS is billed per usage. So you will pay for the resources you are using (e.g. hours of running virtual server, size of objects stored on S3, ...). Estimating costs is only possible with more details about your use case. You can use the http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html to estimate the costs for a specific setup. But you will need some background knowledge about the AWS services before you are able to use the calculator.
     
    Dallas Gimpel
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    Thanks! As expected, I did find answers to most of the original questions. It's not clear to me yet how I can use the calculator to produce a reasonably accurate estimate. In fact, pricing in general is a bit unclear but I did find this white paper Amazon has available:
    http://media.amazonwebservices.com/AWS_Pricing_Overview.pdf

    In my (admittedly simple) mind, a 15-page white paper suggests that their pricing model is fairly complex but maybe I'll do some "light reading" over the weekend. In any event, thanks again for your help.

    respectfully,
    dgg
     
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