Hosting: Why I Switched to AWS and How I Like it

Hosting: Why I Switched to AWS and How I Like it

How it Started

In 2011 I wanted to build a website but I was 14 and had no way to pay for hosting. Luckily, from my many hours spent on the internet talking to people about all things techy, I had about $30 in BTC and was apart of an “online hackerspace” that would rent me a server. The deal I had was to pay the $30 of BTC and the server would be there indefinitely. Well it turns out that server went down a few months ago and I lost my semi-free hosting service.

The good new is that I really needed a fresh start because at 14 I had no idea how to run a web hosting server! Around the same time I was actively interviewing with a lot of companies and one of them happened to actually offer me a job! Amazon had offered me a position as a Systems Engineer starting in January. I happily accepted. However, now while I wait in the meantime to graduate from university I had to find some other things to keep me busy and solve my hosting issue. Well of course Amazon has Amazon Web Services, the product I am supposed to support! And of course I have no idea how to even use it! This lead me to learn some AWS basics and use it to replace my old hosting server that I had lost.

My Solution

If you’re a student and you have needs that do not require a server with enough power to cook a rotisserie chicken then you can get some free credits for AWS and use their free tier services. This is exactly what I elected to for hosting this blog. I currently run a stack with a single EC2 instance and one security group which allows http (and in the future https) traffic to the server. This currently costs me $0 a month for at least the first year. Of course this is the second to bottom tier instance, but that is fine.

In the future I want to add a Elastic IP (EIP) to keep my instance on a static IP address and begin using Route56 to provide some needed infrastructure in keeping my domain registrar pointing to the correct place in the ether. I am pretty happy with the services and yes it is free so what really is there to complain about. Well, there is enough to complain about, actually.

Slight Down Fall

I attempted earlier to associate my EC2 instance with EIP and Rout56 right out of the gate, but that turned into a massive issue. It actually made my server inaccessible! Even with proper security group rules and a very obvious associations with an EIP I could only access the instance via SSH. Web browsers would all timeout attempting to connect to the server and even attempting wget from within the instance did not render results.

I hope that getting these technologies working will not be a much longer process, but the simplicity that is implied makes it really defeating when it doesn’t work. Overall I am happy to make the change and in the future I may even be able to find a reason to begin playing with a load balancer for the site. AWS offers a lot of solutions so it may be worth your time to just play with the hosting options and software solutions they offer. Plus I hear a lot of jobs want people well versed in AWS offerings.

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