jay's old blog

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Getting started with Amazon Web Services

There was a time when I, and by extension our club, study nildana, was a full on Microsoft house. All of us used windows phones, windows 10 desktops, visual studio for development and Microsoft Azure for cloud and site hosting. However, times change and study nildana has to move on with times. Hence, we made some changes to adapt other service providers as well.

One of those decisions was to explore what Amazon Web Services has to offer. Of course, while a decision was made to use other service providers, there is always a trigger point that leads into actual action. Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about servers. I know my way around Microsoft SQL servers, but my knowledge about MySQL is extremely limited. Back when I was Microsoft only, and Azure only, I had jump through a lot of hoops to get MySQL.

In fact, I still do not know why Microsoft won’t give a native cloud solution for MySQL. As of today, there are two ways to get your own MySQL solution running.

·         Buy from a vendor. Microsoft has a marketplace which is extremely useful. One of those vendors is ClearDB who provides instances of MySQL databases. This is good for most use cases but the problem is, this is no different than buying database from a local provider. You get none of the obvious benefits of Azure. Heck, if you have Azure credits, it won’t work in the marketplace, at least not with ClearDB. Further, ClearDB has some extreme limitations which makes it next to useless for most scenarios. I have used ClearDB and it was insanely expensive and it was extremely not productive at all.

·         Build your own MySQL server. This is something that I eventually decided to do. You see, MySQL is open source. That means, you can install it wherever you want. That’s one piece of the puzzle. Then, there is the fact that Microsoft provides windows server as a virtual machine, at fairly low prices. So, you simply commission yourself a windows server virtual machine, and install MySQL on top of it. Open up the ports and you have an almost native solution.

The second option – using the windows sever with MySQL running on top of it – is good. Still, it is still not as cool as the native azure service. For instance, look at the MS Server databases that Azure provides. All the scalability in the world, cheap prices and incredible backup and security. You get none of that flexibility with MySQL related.

That is when, it occurred to me, Amazon provides native MySQL services. I have been itching to try that service out. Here are some of the stuff that impressed me.

·         I was able to use my existing amazon account. Made sign up easy.

·         Amazon is giving a year of free cloud usage, which is good enough for my practicing and blogging.

·         They of course have native MySQL solutions.

First impressions though, the Amazon ‘console’ is simply not as good looking as the Azure management site or the management portal. Also, it looks like everything is bare bones on Amazon, in terms of user friendliness. I will blog as and when I do more on it right here.

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