AWS (Amazon Web Services) for Front End Developers

Hosting in 2016 is no small matter. There are a ton of great hosting providers out there, each with their own unique spin. The classics like Hostgator, Mediatemple, Namecheap etc are still around and doing great work but there are relatively new players in the field too like DigitalOcean, who just bill by the hour for a scalable VPS.

Billing by the hour for a VPS is by no means a new concept, AWS has been doing it for years but I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of not having a GUI like WHM or cPanel to manage them.

Until last week, that is. My VPS started running into memory issues because I had a LAMP stack running alongside my Jira and Stash installations. Jira and Stash are notorious for being memory hogs and I needed a solution fast to prevent any more issues.

My first thought was to spin up a droplet on Digital Ocean but a friend suggested I at least take a look at AWS. I started looking at the pricing and knew I’d need at least a 2GB VPS. On AWS I can get a 2GB virtual server for ~$13/mo. On DigitalOcean it would be $20/mo so I decided to give it a try. Because it’s billed by the hour I didn’t have much to lose.

Turns out, it’s way easier than I thought it would be. You do need to get a little comfortable with the terminal but most developers have some experience with Node, Gulp, Grunt or other command line tools at this point.

Getting Started with AWS

  1. Log in to or register for AWS.
  2. Go to the EC2 Management Console and click on ‘Launch Instance.’
  3. Select the machine image that you’d like to start with. This means you can launch a Windows or Linux (Red Hat, Generic Linux, SUSE or Ubuntu) server. It’s basically your starting point for your server. For my purposes I selected an Ubuntu 64-bit server.
  4. Select the server family that you’d like to launch. This is what determines the size and configuration of your server.
  5. At this point you can either click Review and Launch to get started with your server, or you can configure additional options such as adding storage and determining which ports you want to be accessible.

All in all it took me less than 5 minutes to launch and SSH into my new Amazon instance.

AWS might not be for everyone, you do need to do a little more configuration and you don’t have quite as much support as some other hosting providers but you do have immediate access to the whole host of other services that AWS offers such as load balancing, S3 storage and so much more.

So far, I’m really enjoying my experience with AWS, I think it’s important to stretch ourselves professionally, which for me, meant digging deeper into server admin tasks and I managed to save some money in the process!

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