This is the first post among my AWS tutorials series for developers, for beginners. Goal of this article is to show you, in my point of view, why you may want to use AWS over other cloud service providers (such as Rackspace, HPCloud etc) and how easily you can sign up for a AWS free usage tier account very easily.
Why Choose AWS?
I am a beginner myself as a cloud service user and haven’t use other cloud service at all other than amazon. But like others, I did some analysis on them like others and decided that, AWS is better for beginners at least. Following are the key points which I value most:
- One Year Free Trial: This is the most important fact, that attracted me to start with AWS. I can start with their service without paying a dime and leave if not happy, without wasting. On the other hand, rackspace doesn’t offer any free trial period and hpcloud’s free trial is for only first three months.
- Flexible Options To Choose From: AWS has a several various options/configurations to choose from, which will definitely help you to make the best fit server according to your budget. Other providers don’t have such wide range of options.
- Even more savings by Reserved Instances: Amazon has discounted pricing on hourly rate, if you want to rent their service for one or three-year long. So, as long as you like their service and happy with the performance, you can plan for long-term to save huge. Check their pricing details to know the discounted hourly price. Reduced prices are also available on spot instances as well.
Mixpanel also explained a high level comparison among AWS and rackspace, which may help you more.
However, I am not taking side of AWS at all, that’s why I mentioned that, I think it’s better for beginners. I have heard good things on Rackspace as well and one day, I will also like to check their service as well. Hopefully, I will be able to give you an advance level comparison then.
Prerequisites Before The Free Trial?
Well, there is a prerequisite for signing up with AWS free usage tier account. It’s just that, you will need to have a International online purchase activated Credit/Debit card. Well, some of you may not have this. But, good news is, getting one isn’t much complicated. I have Payoneer master debit card , you can give it a try too.
Amazon requires this, because, while you are using your free trial, they won’t restrict you from using their paid service and they will charge your card, only if you need to extend existing service beyond free trial and/or get a paid service which aren’t under free tier.
Lets Sign Up With AWS Free Usage Tier:
Well, this part is really very simple enough, just like other sites. However, just to let you know, if you already have an account with amazon as customer to purchase products, you can use that account to link to this AWS account as well. Follow this aws free usage tier sign up link to the registration.
Which Services You Will Get For Free?
well, they already outlined it in details on their aws free tier services page. However, as beginner (which I am assuming you are), you may not feel comfortable in the service names and their corresponding functionality. So, I am going to outline those in much easier terms:
- Virtual Dedicated Server In Cloud: Amazon has their own name to refer to this, which is EC2. This is the main server computer, where you will do most of the things. You can get 2 of this ‘micro’ servers(one with windows server OS and one with any linux OS they have) for full-time per month. However, if you wish to get an additional server for free, you can do so as well. Then, you will need to run your ec2 instances half of the time and keep them stopped half time of day/week/month. That means, you just divide their given 750 hours among two servers and you are fine.
- Dedicated Database Server: It’s comparatively new addition to the AWS free usage tier, know as RDS. You will get a database server, full-time(24*31 hours) per month. You can choose from mysql/oracle/ms sql server. You can get noSQL databases as well.(refered as ‘DynamoDB’)
- Free Storage And Bandwidth: You will get free 5GB of storage capacity (Excluding which EBS is included in EC2 😉 ), which they says as S3. You will be able to have 15GB of traffic(incoming+outgoing) as well for free.
All of the above mentioned service are per month basis, for a full complete year.There are some more service, but in brief, these required most to run a web server.
Is There Any Hidden Charge?
It’s very natural, if this question come to your mind. As there are a hell lot of different services and each charges separately and only a portion of them are free, it really may be confused sometimes whether you can run a fully functional web server completely free of charge or you will have to pay for some part.
As per my experience, you can run a cloud server completely free unless you wish to add a domain to your server. Amazon’s DNS service, which is known as Rout 53, isn’t free. And it now charges me 51 cents per domain per month. Other than this, no other hidden charges. So, you are running a service or application running under their assigned sub-domains.
Another important thing, I will like to mention, that I have experienced myself. If you attach a dedicated elastic IP to your ec2 instance, then you need to make sure that IP is not unused. For each unused IP, you will be charged at hourly rate.
How To Know Whether I am Being Charged Or Not?
Yes, this is also a very important factor. Because, amazon won’t restrict you from using their services. If you are not aware of what you are going to use, you may get charged for some services. Thus, you will get surprised when the next credit card bill reaches you :p .
To be careful from the beginning, sign up for amazon cloud watch service, which also has free usage tier and will help you become safe from unexpected charges. Set an alarm for your billing metrics following the three easy steps as given below:
First, create an alarm for ‘billing’ metrics. You can create alarms for other aws services as well which are outlined here as options.
On third and last step, you will be able to set an email notification service. If you add this, an email will be sent to you when an alarm is triggered. However, you should be careful about this service as well as this limited under free tier and can be charged for large number of email notifications.
You can refer to official documentation on getting started with AWS free usage tier. Let me know if you are having any difficulty by commenting here. Also, please keep in touch for the upcoming AWS tutorials 🙂