July 27

Our next Amazon training day is Wednesday, July 27.

All labs will be held in room 1009 of the Mechanical Engineering Lab. Please register to reserve your spot. Computers in the lab will be available for use, or you may bring a laptop if you prefer.

Please email aws-support@illinois.edu if you have any questions or suggestions for future topics.

AWS 101 (Lab, 9:30 – 11:30)

Learn the basics of the AWS web console. You will create an EC2 instance and make it work as a webserver. If there’s time, you can clone it, add an Elastic Load Balancer, and create a highly-available web server cluster.

This is a repeat of the AWS 101 lab we’ve run in previous weeks. No previous knowledge of AWS is required.

AWS RDS (Lab, 1:00 – 2:30)

Try out Amazon’s Relational Database Service. RDS is one of the most immediately useful Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings in Amazon’s catalog. It doesn’t require patching, monitoring, or backup management from our local staff, so it can quickly reduce the effort required to run our services.

Automating AWS (Lab, 2:45 – 4:15)

Use AWS CloudFormation to build a service, then tear it down and recreate the whole thing with one click. Automation is key to zero-downtime software updates, scalability, and disaster planning, and I recommend this as a course to anyone interested in maximizing uptime, building clusters, or scaling your service on demand.

 

Georgia Tech Case Study

I’d like to share an Amazon blog entry detailing Georgia Tech’s use of AWS to guarantee emergency communications.

In the event of an emergency, Georgia Tech’s communications team will direct clients to their emergency website, a quick-loading static site hosted on Amazon S3. By using Amazon’s services, Georgia Tech can be confident that they have the capacity to communicate to any size audience at any time.

High availability

S3’s standard tier stores a minimum of three copies of data across multiple physical locations within a region.

Extreme scalability

S3 is built to be scalable, spreading load across a huge number of systems. Adding thousands of additional requests per minute is inconsequential.

Low cost

Since Amazon bills for actual usage, the main steady state cost is for the web content. The site the blog describes probably totals a few megabytes of storage. At $0.03 per gigabyte per month, that’s going to round up to a penny.

Even during a crisis, with a large number of clients repeatedly reloading the page, Georgia Tech estimates their costs will max out at $20-some dollars.

Instant updates via a simple API

Content is managed through a simple web application running on EC2 instances. When new information is available, the communications team can log into that application, update the content, and publish a new page to S3. The updated content is immediately available to clients.

I’d initially thought that CloudFront might make a good addition to this design, since it speeds up content delivery and lowers costs even further. But CloudFront requires 10-15 minutes to process a cache invalidation request, which could delay critical communication in an emergency situation.

July 13

We’re going to be hosting another AWS training day next Wednesday, July 13. We’re planning for three hands-on lab sessions and some open office hours.

All labs will be held in room 1009 of the Mechanical Engineering Lab. Please register to reserve your spot. Computers in the lab will be available for use, or you may bring a laptop if you prefer.

AWS 101 Lab (9:00 – 10:30)

Learn the basics of the AWS web console. You will create an EC2 instance and make it work as a webserver. If there’s time, you can clone it, add an Elastic Load Balancer, and create a highly-available web server cluster.

AWS IAM Lab (10:45 – 12:15)

Walk through the functionality of AWS Identity and Access Management. This is specifically recommended for IT Pros supporting customers using AWS.

Web Hosting on AWS Lab (1:15 – 2:45)

How to use tools like S3 and CloudFront to offload traffic from existing servers to enhance your user experience and simplify operations.

Office Hours (3:00 – 4:30)

Bring us any questions you have about the service: account logistics, cloud platform selection, implementation challenges, business topics.

If you have suggestions for future sessions, please email us: aws-support@illinois.edu