AWS Updates for Happy Architects
High I/O EC2 Instance Type - This is a new family of Instance types from AWS in addition to the existing High Memory and High CPU Instance types. The first one in this family is hi1.4xlarge which comes with 60GB of memory and 8 virtual cores. The best part of this Instance type is the whopping 2 TB of SSB attached to them. These SSDs are the ephemeral disks that come as part of the Instance and are of course non-persistent. AWS promises around 120K random read IOPS and between 10K and 85K write IOPS. This Instance type is suitable for I/O intensive applications and running NoSQL databases. Here are couple of pointers about this Instance type
- SSD disks are ephemeral - you will lose data on Instance termination (of course if you stop and start the Instance)
- Data will be persistent between reboot like any other EC2 Instance
- You will see two 1TB volumes on the Instance. Can be striped to double the throughput
- If you are launching a Windows Instance, choose the "Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 64-bit for Cluster Instances" AMI
- Currently this Instance type is available only in US-East and EU-West regions
- And its priced at $3.10 an hour :)
- Currently the max IOPS that can be set is 1000. AWS will soon increase this limit
- We can of course drive more throughput by attaching multiple EBS volumes and striping them
- Costs little extra than a normal EBS Volume - 0.125/GB against 0.10/GB. Of course the benefits will be far more than the cost difference. Guess everyone will eventually move to provisioned IOPS. Nice way to increase AWS revenue :)
- Currently only m1.large, m1.xlarge and m2.4xlarge are available as EBS-Optimized Instances
- The guaranteed throughput is 500 Mbits/s for m1.large and 1000 Mbits/s for m1.xlarge and m2.4xlarge
- This should not be confused with the regular network throughput of the EC2 Instance - for example talking to another EC2 Instance. This guaranteed throughput is only for the EBS related traffic. All other traffic is through the other network pipe given to the EC2 Instance (which is not guaranteed and differs by Instance)
- Comes with additional hourly cost - Optimized m1.large will cost $0.345/hr against a normal on demand m1.large costing $0.320/hr
- Always use EBS-Optimized Instance when using Provisioned IOPS
- You can attach multiple ENI (belonging to different subnets) to an EC2 Instance
- One ENI can be configured to have a public IP (Elastic IP) and private IP and the other ENI can be configured to have just a private IP
- With such a setup, you can allow traffic on port 80 through the first ENI and SSH traffic (port 22) through the other ENI
- This way you can further secure your VPN architecture by allowing SSH traffic only from your corporate datacenter
|Image Courtesy - AWS|
Multiple IP Addresses per Instance - with this feature release, AWS addressed the long waited requested for hosting multiple SSL websites on a given Instance. This feature is an extension of the ENI feature, where each ENI is now allowed to have multiple public and private IPs. We can create an ENI and create multiple Elastic IPs and attach them to the ENI. The ENI will be then attached to the EC2 Instance (during launch or hot attach during running) and the Instance gets multiple IP addresses.
- The multiple public IP address and private IP addresses are attached to the ENI. And to the Instance when we attach the ENI to the Instance. The difference is that, if we terminate an Instance and relaunch a new one with the same ENI, all the mappings will remain and the new Instance will also get all the public IPs and their private IP mappings
- Available only within VPC currently
- Additional cost for each of the additional public IPs that we attach. No cost for the additional private IPs attached
This feature is great for storing logs and scheduling them to be deleted after a definite period of time. When you have multiple web or application servers you will definitely consider pushing the logs generated on them to S3 for centralized storage. Even if you are running a minimal setup, you certainly do not want run out of space on your Instance. But you do not want to store the logs perpetually - one month old logs will be good enough for most of the applications. Instead of writing custom scripts that periodically deletes the logs stored in S3, use this feature so that Amazon will automatically delete them. Saves some cost.
Route 53 Alias record
Route53 is a scalable DNS service from AWS. With pay-as-you-go pricing, there are whole lot of benefits (in terms of flexibility) with Route53. It is definitely not sophisticated like other DNS service providers in terms of feature set. Be it latency based routing or weighted round robin, the service is updated with features. One feature that will be of interest is "Alias Record". Let's say you have a website called "example.com". And you are hosting the infrastructure in AWS. If your load balancer layer uses AWS Elastic Load Balancing, then you will be provided with a CNAME for the ELB. ELB internally may employ "n" number of servers to scale itself and hence it may have more than one IP. Hence AWS provides the CNAME for an ELB which may resolve to one or more IPs at any time. With that background,
- You want to create a DNS record for "www.example.com"
- You also need to create a DNS record for "example.com"; the naked domain or top level domain. Most of the users will use only the naked domain
- First create a Route53 record set for "http://www.example.com" and point it to the ELB CNAME
- Create another record set for "example.com" and set the type as "Alias". Point the record value to the record set created above. Or directly point it to the ELB CNAME
- With the "Alias" option you will be able to point the record value to either an ELB CNAME or another record set that is available in Route53.
Of course there are a whole lot of features and updates that AWS keeps pushing across its services. The above are some of the features that helps architects while designing the infrastructure architecture. These have personally helped us build better architectures. Prior to these features, we always had to look for alternatives such has tuning, custom solutions or sacrifice on certain parameters to achieve others. I am sure there are many more such updates that we can uncover and will be coming from AWS in future. That will be for another post here.
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