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Five quick tips: Basics for using Amazon EC2 instances

Taking advantage of Amazon EC2 can keep your business running at peak performance without breaking the budget.

Offering scalability and a range of computing and networking advantages, Amazon EC2 is a bedrock in the Amazon Web Services cloud. Enterprises seeking computing power and flexibility can choose an EC2 instance that best fits their requirements.

The pay-as-you-go service provides a range of options and pricing models, including a free usage tier and rates available for On-Demand Instances, Reserved Instances and Spot Instances. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offers 32 different types of virtual server deployments, some optimized for compute power while others specialize in memory, graphics processing and storage. Those instances operate on a range of Intel Xeon processors, network performance capabilities and as many as 36 vCPUs. Determining which EC2 instance is best for your workloads depends on your current and future needs.

To get started with Amazon EC2, here are five quick tips to help determine your needs.

  1. How to spin up a new EC2 instance

If you're new to AWS, learning to create a new EC2 instance is a priority. One of the most common tasks performed by cloud architects, instances are created using the AWS Management Console and are accessible by many platforms and Web browsers.

To publish a website, connect to the instance via a secure shell (SSH) client, configure it and change the directory to the root folder. Using an elastic IP address is also recommended in case you need to scale up your instance in the future.

  1. Understanding features of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Amazon EC2 offers numerous benefits in application deployment, security and scaling. And while it may sound simple to spin up an EC2 instance and get started in AWS, the service isn't exactly intuitive. Finding the right fit to benefit your organization requires an understanding of the service and solid planning on how to use it.

AWS provides a service to help migrate to its public cloud, moving applications into EC2 for $80 per storage device and $2.49 per hour of data loading. EC2 supports a variety of operating systems: RedHat Linux, Windows Server, SUSE Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Cent OS, Gentoo Linux, Oracle Linux and FreeBSD, while pricing is based on instance-hours consumed and includes a free tier of service.

Administrators can start, stop and monitor instances across multiple locations and manage access permissions as one of several security controls. Through Amazon EBS, admins can optimize instances to reduce latency. Amazon also boasts fault tolerance and Auto Scaling.

  1. D2 line offers AWS customers boosts in performance, storage

The rise of big data and analytics has enterprises looking for cloud providers that offer faster processing times, more robust processing power and more storage for less. AWS expanded its line of computing choices, revealing a D2 line capable of faster processing and more advanced memory storage capacity. As an upgrade to the HS1 line, d2.8xlarge instances come with 36 vCPUs, 244 GB of memory, 48 terabytes of hard disk space across seven availability zones. These new instances could also be a good fit for the Redshift data warehouse platform -- under certain workload conditions.

  1. Spot Instances provide best environment for regression tests

Performing regression tests in public cloud can detect how new software additions, such as patches, updates and changes, affect the program. Vendors and open source projects provide regression testing software, allowing developers to automate testing procedures on instances.

But running regression testing on the wrong instance can waste time and bandwidth. Some instances, such as Spot Instances, are more suitable for regression testing because they offer inexpensive yet stable environments.

  1. Container costs compared to AWS instances

Docker's surge in popularity has many IT admins scrambling to understand its costs -- and how they compare to running instances in the public cloud. In this head-to-head comparison of running similar configurations in Docker and AWS, our expert explains why Amazon EC2 instances win out over the hotly contested open source container service.

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