We considered setting this site up in AWS. It would have been an interesting exercise that would have produced a useful resource, and give us some practical experience doing something in AWS. But as we thought about it, we realized that publish.illinois.edu (PIE) is already an established and solid service, we’d get the job done faster with PIE, and we wouldn’t have to build, run, update, manage and pay for the EC2 instances. AWS is a great tool, but it’s not necessarily the best solution for everything. We needed a web site, not IaaS, so we chose PIE.
This is an interesting article about building an application without just spinning up EC2 instances. Developing applications this way will likely be more reliable and scale better, as well as cost a lot less than running an EC2 instance 24×7.
Arguably, the easiest way to move to the cloud is to forklift all of the systems, unchanged, out of the data center and drop them in AWS. But in doing so, you end up moving all the problems and limitations of the data center along with it.
Running virtual machines in AWS the same way you run virtual machines on your own VMware infrastructure isn’t a great idea. It may be the easiest way to make the leap to the cloud, but it will likely not be the best long-term solution in terms of reliability, availability, or cost. A better way to do it would be to re-architecture everything to run “cloud-native”, and take advantage of all the benefits of the elastic architecture and automation. That, of course, takes a lot of work.
The cloud implementation team consists of:
- Michael Chan
- Chuck Geigner
- Chris Kuehn
- Mark Nye
- Tony Rimovsky
- Tracy Smith
- Mary Stevens
AWS is not a web hosting service, it’s an infrastructure platform. It’s more like VMware than cPanel. See https://aws.amazon.com/what-is-aws for more information.
There are researchers who are in peril of losing money because they couldn’t use AWS. They have grants or contracts that specifically require it. The current focus of the coordination team is to help those researchers.
We’ve only just started looking at the technical challenges of using AWS for production IT services. Chris Kuehn is leading a small group to research best-practices, and figure out how to open AWS up to non-researchers.
If you have questions, please post them here, and we’ll address them as best we can.
In October, 2015 the University finalized an agreement with Amazon that allows us to purchase Amazon Web Services. Since then, a small team has been hard at work figuring out how to roll it out as a service to campus. We’ve been pouring a large amount of time and effort into getting the technical and administrative side in place, but have dropped the ball on the communication side. This site is an attempt to fix the lack of communication.
We considered waiting until we could build an official web site, but opted instead for a less formal, more agile, blog style site to get the word out to campus IT professionals about what’s going on. So, watch this space for the latest developments with AWS and other cloud services.