Archive - May 7, 2011

Moving to the Cloud: Amazon AWS and Cloudplayer, Ubuntu UEC and UbuntuOne, and Rackspace/Slicehost and the Cloud

Slowly, I have been taking steps towards ‘the cloud’ and I expect that I’ll end up using cloud computing more and more over the coming months. With that, let me reflect on some of the steps I’ve taken.

First, I updated my home Ubuntu server to version 10.10. This includes the ability to run the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, or UEC. However, you really need a bunch of Ubuntu machines with sufficient memory and diskspace to make this worth while and my machines are a hobbled together batch of older machines and it just wasn’t worth it. On top of that, I’ve been busy with a bunch of other projects, so I’ve set that aside. If your interesting in exploring this, I’d recommend Ubuntu's Cloud Overview and Information Week's Roll Your Own Ubuntu Private Cloud.

One of the projects I was looking at is The Mapping Project. This would allow people to set up their own redistricting servers. They suggest setting things up on Amazon Web Services. You can get a free AWS account, but I found it very cumbersome and confusing to set up and configure. Once you’ve selected and configured all the opt-in services, actually setting up the server is pretty simple. You just select a pre-defined image. I selected the Mapping Project image, and I was up and running. Unfortunately, the Mapping Project image does not run well in the small instance you can get for free with AWS. So, I shut it down, and figured I’d try something simpler, like Drupal 7.

Drupal 7 ran nicely. However, a month later, I started getting bills for my AWS account. It turns out that the Mapping Project instance that I had shut down somehow got restarted, and I was using two instances at the same time. I contacted AWS customer service and they were less than helpful. After spending a bit of time finally getting my AWS account shutdown (or at least I think and hope it is shut down), I started telling everyone to avoid AWS. It just is not worth the hassle. All of this is on top of their recent outages.

Around the same time, my daughter was given an MP3 player, and I set up things to use Amazon’s CloudPlayer. Right now, the only thing I have in it is the one song that I bought for Fiona’s MP3 player. Given my experiences with AWS, I’m hesitant to do anything more with their Cloudplayer.

My website is hosted using Rackspace’s Slicehost. I’ve been pretty happy with Slicehost for some time, but an announcement came out that Rackspace is looking at rolling Slicehost into Rackspace’s cloud service. The announcement also talked about this in terms of moving to support IPv6. However, the initial response has been less than positive. People have expressed concern over the interface and how easy it will be to set up and administer. I’m also concerned about the billing and I wonder what the cost will be to move to the cloud. Will there be a nice way to cap the expense so I’m not signing a blank check, the way it seems a lot of cloud services are these days? If there is easy administration and a clean way to make sure you don’t get an unexpected bill for $2000 if you get hacked or hit by a DDOS attack, then this might be a good move, especially since I’m interested in IPv6. If they provide images, such as for Wordpress or Drupal, the way AWS does, it could become a very nice way for people to set up their blogs.

Back to Ubuntu, yesterday’s news was that the Ubuntu cloud chief beats CTO to exit door. It isn’t clear what is going on at Canonical, but I’m a little worried about these changes.

At the same time, Ubuntu is now pushing their own Cloud service, Ubuntu one. You can get a free 2 gig online, and there are mobile options and options for additional storage. It will be interesting to see how this compares with Amazon’s Cloudplayer. That is probably next on the list for me to explore.

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