Amazon's EC2 scalable hosting service - What you need to know

Whether you’re planning an online project, are up and running with a growing digital enterprise, or finding that your online hosting solution isn’t delivering you the kind of performance you were expecting; if you’ve got an application that’s already been through a period of growth or has the potential to scale over time, there’s plenty of ways to deliver a cost effective and reliable service.

From understanding the physical capacity and performance characteristics of your solution to keeping to an eye on the overall monthly cost of your hosting, you can’t afford to run a service that’s a constant headache. This is where a cloud-based service such as Amazon EC2 can really help.

In this post we’ll walk you through the capabilities of Amazon’s EC2 scalable hosting service, the pricing, and the scenarios where EC2 is most applicable to you so you can make an informed decision about the future of your digital application’s hosting.

Amazon EC2 core product details

If you're looking for a hosting service that has what seems like an almost limitless array of configuration options that can scale with your application as needed, then EC2 is a great place to start. The core product details of EC2 include:

Amazon EC2 instances in detail

At the time of writing this article Amazon offer 13 different instance types that you can use to tailor your applications. Whether it’s a combination of instance types, an array of various levels of instance types, or a single locally based instance, EC2 offers a wide variety of instance types suitable for almost any application.

Below we’ve provided a brief summary of each instance type and their intended purpose:

General Purpose Instances:

Compute Optimised Instances:

Memory Optimised Instances:

Storage Optimised Instances:

Accelerated Computing Instances:

EC2 Pricing...the all important variable

Considering that Amazon’s EC2 service is all about flexibility, it’s logical to assume that their pricing would have a massive array of options for you to choose from...and they do.

From the Sydney data centre you can start with a super affordable t2.nano service at $0.008 per hour at $5.76 USD per month, all the way up to a high powered d2.8xlarge at $6.96 per hour at close to $5010 USD for a single On-Demand instance. What a range!

Looking for a Spot instance? Pricing starts a bit higher for short-term instances due to their short-term availability ranging from $0.0721 per hour for an m3.medium instance at $51.92 per month, way up to a massively powerful x1.32xlarge at $7.822 per hour at close to $5,632 USD per month for a single instance, although the power of Spot instances do start and finish at much higher levels than that of the On-demand product range. So you do get what you pay for.

How many instances can I have?

With Amazon EC2 you can have as many instance types as you need and as many different kinds provided you pay your bill on time. For each instance type you’ll pay the same amount for each type, yet as you utilise more instance types and an increased number of availability zones you’ll be able to offset the cost as you become more experienced managing EC2 instances.

Scale up, scale down, it matters not. Amazon’s EC2 pricing model is incredibly flexible and often decreases the price per service depending upon uptake and product availability. So if you’re looking to maintain multiple availability zones, chances are the price you pay today may decrease in the future on a zone by zone basis.

Amazon EC2 Availability Zones

Amazon currently has fifteen availability zones across the globe. What this means is that if half your customer base is coming from the U.K and half from Australia, you can setup an appropriately sized instance to direct your U.K traffic to, whilst maintaining your current customer base across your Sydney instance. This allows you to serve your applications with less lag time by utilising shared instances instead of having customers on the other side of the world access your server in Australia. In doing so you’ll not only be able to provide a better user experience to your customers by way of application performance, but may actually be able to save cost by decreasing your instance levels to handle a distributed traffic volume.

See below for a list of Amazon’s current availability zones:

Should I provision an AWS EC2 service myself?

Like most online technical solutions, EC2 is best left to professionals who have experience in setting up cloud based hosting services for application development. However if you’re comfortable installing the necessary software required to run your application on your EC2 instance, then certainly give it a try!

If you’re looking to setup an EC2 instance we recommend talking to one of our experts for advice on the best EC2 service for you, how to save costs when using Amazon EC2, and how we may help you to grow your application’s presence over time using the full suite of Amazon AWS cloud technologies.

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