• Scalr.net simple management for EC2 instances

    At my work we have been experimenting with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and come to the point that we wanted to build a scalable application on it and not have to micro manage all of the instances.   Enter Scalr.net, the simple way to manage EC2 instances and make them easily scale.  Everything has been mostly painless, and any problems were quickly resolved with their excellent support.   It was much simpler getting an instance up and running  with Scalr than via Amazon’s various  command line tools.

    EC2  is a fantastic service although it can be somewhat costly depending on your needs.  Running a single instance, which is basically a virtual computer running in a cloud will cost you at least $2.40 a day.  This is not bad when compared to other vendors that offer virtual dedicated servers, which is basically what you are getting from Amazon.  There will be more information on EC2 and other Amazon Web Services in the coming months as we experiment more.

    What Scalr.net offers is an assortment of Amazon machine instances (ami’s) running Ubuntu 7.04 GNU/Linux. All of the ami’s are configured to a specific role (although you can alter them as you wish) and set to run in a farm.   Setting up an application was a snap.  Select application, add a domain name, select the roles you want, then launch.

    The roles we used were the www, mysql and app-rails instances.  The www is being used as a http proxy running nginx to the app-rails instances, mysql is pretty obvious, and app-rails instance runs apache2 with Phusion Passenger.  After copying our code into a pre-configured directory on the app-rails instance (and DNS propagation) our application was up and running in no time at all.  Then as the load hithe t set threshold a second instance of the app-rails instance was started    Easily the best experience we have had with a third party EC2 service and well worth the $50.

    If you are not looking for simple management of a scaled application, then a great tool to use to manage your instances is Elasticfox, an EC2 plug-in for firefox.

    Let me know if this Scalr review was useful or what your experience has been like by leaving a comment.


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