One of the tasks on the schedule for the Web Services Registry was to move from a small instance to the newly offered micro instance on EC2. The migration to an expandable drive was the largest amount of work, however, a huge benefit as an instance mounted with an EBS root volume enables any size drive up to 1TB.
This also changed how backups were done. Instead of creating an image.manifest and uploading the resulting data to S3, it’s now done via snapshots. However, we still retained the ability to create an working server based on a current instance. The web console allows most of this activity but the real power comes in the command line tools.
For single operations the web interface is extremely easy to use but when dealing with hundreds of servers there is nothing better than accessing the AWS API. For this exercise we have only one server, but for efficiencies sake we are automating the mundane of the work. The current process starts with running the script, creatively called snaprest.
Once finished we can login to the control panel and see the results. The script takes a snapshot of the current drive, and registers it as an AMI. If we just wanted to backup the entire server we would be done. However one of benefits of this process is creating a additional environments for any necessary testing.
The AMI can now be launch as an instance and accessed just like the server it was generated from. We can launch a development environment for deployment of new code for testing in very short order. There is an elastic IP standing by so we can access the site via the development url so the server acts exactly like production. Switching development to production is also feasible via a few simple clicks.
The entire process is quick and due to the command line tools, entirely scriptable. Deployment is remarkably fast and reliable, the command line tools give plenty of flexibility and the process is very straightforward. No wonder so many companies are using AWS as a cloud solution for server infrastructure. Welcome to the future.