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How to set up Amazon Web Services for your small business

Paul Mah | June 16, 2015
Cloud computing technology has matured significantly over the years, and now offers a compelling list of advantages over on-site deployments, especially for small businesses and start-ups that may not have the capital to purchase servers and other hardware appliances.

RDS (Relationship Database Service) is a Web service that makes it easy to set up, operate and scale a relational database management system (RDBMS). An appropriate database engine can be selected, including MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL or Amazon Aurora.

Route 53 for DNS and domain name registration. Route 53 offers competitive rates that can be cheaper than the prices offered by some domain name registrars. On the other hand, Web hosting firms are also known to offer packaged deals that include the domain name for free, or at a cheaper rate for the first few years.

Finally, if you are looking to dabble around with the AWS cloud, you will be glad to know that AWS offers a free tier consisting of up to a year worth of compute instance time, as well as various freebies for the various products and services listed above.

Starting from a machine image and choosing a region

AWS makes it easy to launch your first compute instance by offering a wide range of prebuilt and optimized Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that you can load onto a newly created instance. A vibrant AWS Marketplace also exists for third-party created images, and the AWS community also creates and uses shared public AMIs.

Before setting up your cloud infrastructure, you will need to choose a location or "region" from which to base your virtual infrastructure. The idea here is to go with a location that is either closest to the bulk of your users, or nearest to where your developers are physically located. For the latter, this could result in slightly better load times and speeds when uploading data and developing your website. Developers and database administrators will want to know that synchronous database replication is not supported across different regions, though asynchronous replication is. Finally, some services, especially if they're new or beta offerings, may only be available in certain regions.

Of course, depending on how your website is architected, the use of a good Content Delivery Network (CDN) service could in most cases render your deployment region moot. You can use AWS CloudFront CDN, though other options can be used. In addition, AWS offers tools to easily migrate between multiple regions.

Finally, it's worth noting that while the cost of most AWS service is usually the same across the different regions, it's not always the case. See "Monitor your cost" below for further explanation of AWS cost structures.

Architecting for uptime

If you're assuming that cloud computing means it'll never fail, think again. While many services inside AWS are highly reliable, and AWS does offer certain capabilities that make it easier to recover from an outage, you must plan and engineer for reliability as part of your deployment.


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