There is a lot of confusion going on about Amazon EC2. I know I didn’t fully understand it when I signed up, but now that I’ve played with it for a while, I feel that I can comment on how it works.
- It is a full Linux machine. You can install anything on it. The only thing you can’t change is hardware. Kernels are a bit complicated, but doable. If there are things missing from the base images, the Amazon crew can provide it, if there is demand.
- It’s on a ram disk. That’s how you think about it. If you turn off the power, it goes away. BUT! If you reboot, it’s still there.
- You can save your images. They get saved to S3, and can be reloaded in the future. However, this is a time consuming process.
What it’s not:
- Something that private data can be stored on. There are too many variables, too many places a hacker can get in. When I talk about private data, I mean something that is under NDA or legislated to be private. I don’t mean passwords to a website.
- An infinitely expandable server. 1GB RAM, 160GB disk space, that’s it. If you want more, you create a new server, and it’s up to you to deal with load balancing, new hostnames, getting the data to the image, etc.