Using and Managing AWS – Part 5: Choosing a Machine Image
Choose an AMI
Amazon, and Amazon clients, are providing a huge variation of machine images. The short story is that you can choose between MS-Windows, Linux and Sun Solaris for your OS. The real story is that it is a bit more complicated than that.
The real question is what applications do you plan to run and what expertise do you have on hand or plan to hire? A quick example is a database like MySQL. MySQL runs on various operating systems. If you have Windows expertise, you may want to stick with windows. On the other hand, you can run some Linux instances with MySQL pre-installed and configured.
This about the stack that you want to run. I generally run Linux instances. They are a few cents cheaper per CPU hour and I am good enough with Linux that it doesn’t cause me any issues. I can run Oracle, MySQL and Postgres side-by-side. I occasionally do run Windows instances though just to compare offerings.
If you run SQL Server, you will need to run Windows. Almost any other software stack offers an option of OS. If you do run Windows, you will be running Windows Server 2003, in either 32 or 64 bit. SQL Server can be the Express Edition or the full blown commercial edition (which costs extra for licensing).
If you want to run Solaris, you currently have to register with Sun to get access to the OpenSolaris instance. It’s free but it requires registration. With OpenSolaris you get DTrace and ZFS, two selling points for many people.
You get OpenSolaris 2008.05 or Solaris Community Edition and pricing is the same as a Linux install. You can AMIs with AMP preinstalled as well as stacks like Drupal and MySQL.
For Linux installs, the choices are almost limitless: Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu, Oracle Unbreakable Linux, RedHat. You name it, it’s probably there. Many of these come with pre-installed software stacks. No download and configure, just run.
Plan to try many instance types. You may even end up with a RightScale instance.