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Amazon Web Services Archive
On Tuesday morning, hosting service Media Temple was out of service while the company dealt with a DNS resolution issue. Media Temple staff provided an overview of what happened in the comments section of my post.
Now today Amazon Web Services is down — actually only parts of the Amazon Web Services cloud computing offering is down. I use their S3 storage service and that is up and running. As of 9:00AM Eastern, the following message provides the current status related to the downtime, “6:09 AM PDT EBS API errors and volume latencies in the affected availability zone remain. We are continuing to work towards resolution.”
It’s interesting to watch bloggers including Martin Bryant and Mike Butcher only point to the same set of sites (Quora, Foursquare, Reddit and Hootsuite) that use Amazon’s EC2 and are down. There are plenty of other sites that are down including Easybib, a site run by a close friend of mine that is the largest online bibliography site in the world. And Easybib is just one example of time-critical services that are affected. So while it’s easy for us to look at a few social media services that are affected, just think about all of the business, professional and utility services that are also currently down.
Update 10am Eastern – it looks like the problems are expanding – here’s the latest update:
6:59 AM PDT There has been a moderate increase in error rates for CreateVolume. This may impact the launch of new EBS-backed EC2 instances in multiple availability zones in the US-EAST-1 region. Launches of instance store AMIs are currently unaffected. We are continuing to work on resolving this issue.
7:40 AM PDT In addition to the EBS volume latencies, EBS-backed instances in the US-EAST-1 region are failing at a high rate. This is due to a high error rate for creating new volumes in this region.
You can follow the updates around the Amazon EC2 issues on the Amazon Health Dashboard. As with all downtime, please feel free to report in the comments if your site is down due to the Amazon issue.
Amazon Web Services has announced the launch of CloudFormation today. No we are not talking about cirrus clouds here. The blog post announcing the launch, written by Amazon’s Jeff Barr, talks about baking and recipes and the difference between a cook and a baker. I guess today if you use Amazon Web Services, you can become a baker.
Becoming a baker means, “you can create an entire stack with one function call.” You setup a template of services and then when you run the job, Amazon will create and setup everything to your recipe. The recipe can include pretty much all of Amazon Web Services offerings including EC2, load balancers, Simple DB, SQS (Simple Queue Service), SNS (Simple Notification Service), etc. The template is written in JSON.
The blog post provides a sample template which “bakes” a WordPress setup on Amazon Web Services. It appears that if your goal is to run WordPress on Amazon, you could use their template, make your specific changes, and be up and running in minutes.
Jeff has another blog post showing how the CloudFormation process works within the admin console. Some of the sample templates include: Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, PHP Hello World and Rails Hello World applications.
I remember back in the late 1990s and early 2000s — we sent millions of emails every week and used an outsourced provider to handle sending the email. Back then there were no API email services and we paid an arm and a leg to the email providers to handle the sending and whitelisting of our customer emails. Today there are a number of companies in the email API space.
Today I received a note from Amazon Web Services that they have launched a new email service called Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES). Amazon notes, “(Amazon SES) is a highly scalable and cost-effective bulk and transactional email-sending service for businesses and developers. Amazon SES eliminates the complexity and expense of building an in-house email solution or licensing, installing, and operating a third-party email service.”
Basically the Amazon Simple Email Service is an API that developers can call to send emails. Pricing for SES is $0.10 per thousand emails sent. It appears there is even a simple whitelisting function which will process the email messages to make sure they will pass the filters on the recipient side. Amazon also provides email stats including bounced message rates, spam complaints, etc.
Amazon SES ties in to other Amazon Web Services including EC2 and the new (jack and the) beanstalk products. The service is in beta and you can signup here.
One of the things I like about Amazon Web Services (that’s the cloud computing division of Amazon) is how often they add new features and options to the various services under the umbrella of Amazon Web Services. I’ve also noticed a bunch of small UI improvements over the past few weeks. And unlike other cloud computing vendors, they continue to work to lower the prices of their services.
Today Amazon announced the launch of Multipart Upload for the S3 storage service. As an aside, this reminds me of using newsgroups in the mid-1990s where you would download 180 parts to get one image of Cindy Crawford. The Multipart Upload allows you to upload large files in parts and then Amazon puts the pieces together to create the final file. Amazon says this new feature is great for uploading multiple parts of the one file at the same time, ability to pause and resume and upload and also the ability to upload a file of unknown size.
You can find out more about using the new Multipart Upload with Java, .NET and PHP on the Amazon developer documentation site. The Multipart Upload also works with the REST API. If reading documentation isn’t your style, there’s also a demo webcast next week.
Today Amazon has launched a new version of their EC2 server — the “micro instance”.
Amazon’s Jeff Barr explains how the Micro instances work, “Micro Instances (t1.micro) provide a small amount of consistent CPU resources and allow you to burst CPU capacity when additional cycles are available. They are available now in all Regions. You can buy Reserved Micro Instances and you can acquire Micro Instances on the Spot Market. Interestingly enough, they are available in both 32 and 64 bit flavors, both with 613 MB of RAM. The Micro Instances have no local, ephemeral storage, so you’ll need to Boot from EBS.”
It looks like the Micro instances could also be a good option for starting with EC2 as you can always move to one of the larger server offerings if the need arises.
Jeff also notes that the Micro instances could be used for non-traditional uses including:
- DNS servers, load balancers, proxies, and similar services that handle a relatively low volume of requests.
- Lightweight cron-driven tasks such as monitoring, health checks, or data updates.
- Hands-on training and other classroom use.
Pricing for the Micro instances starts at $0.02 (two cents) per hour for Linux/Unix and $0.03 (three cents) per hour for Windows.