Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Day with Amazon Web Services

I spent the day working for the first time with Amazon Web Services and I'm ready to give up on using this (for Windows systems anyway).

The first impression is, "wow, that's cheap!". You can get a Windows Server 2008 with 7.5GB memory for less than $.50 per hour. The best part of the deal is that you only pay when the machine is turned on.

The second impression is that storage is not so cheap. If you want your machine to remember anything when its not running, you'll need to pay for storage. If you have storage, then you'll need to pay for data transfers in and out of storage.

Still, I figured I could set up a nice SharePoint 2010 development/learning platform for less than $20 per month.

I've discovered some limitations:
  1. You can't create a Windows-based Amazon Machine Image from scratch due to licensing issues. The library has a selection of Windows images, but you can't roll your own.
  2. The platform won't run Hyper-V. While it might sound kind of dumb to put a VM on a VM, Microsoft has a Hyper-V for SharePoint all set up with a domain controller, database, Visual Studio and labs. It would have saved me a ton of time to just use that. But, there you go.
  3. Use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. The biggest issue is there doesn't seem to be a way to download the necessary key files using IE. There also is a Firefox plug-in that you might find handy.
  4. It costs $100/yr to get a support agreement (and that's just web support).
The issue I'm having right now is a showstopper. As soon as I promote the computer domain controller status and restart it, I can't log in. None of the accounts I created work.

The lessons from today:
  • Amazon Web Service might not be as cheap as it seems.
  • Amazon Web Services isn't well-suited to Windows use.
  • You can't create a Windows machine that is a domain controller.
  • The tools are not as well polished as their counterparts in VMware Lab Manager.