Tag Archives: aws

AWS releases new SSD-Backed EBS

Yesterday, Amazon Web Services announced New SSD-Backed Elastic Block Storage. This is cool in many ways, but one really nice feature is the “Boot Boost” which means:

Each newly created SSD-backed volume receives an initial burst allocation that provides up to 3,000 IOPS for 30 minutes.

In other words, boot times can decrease dramatically (especially for Windows images).

At SmartySteets this is good news for us since we are using AWS EC2 technology for many of our services.

To take advantage of this using the Console was easily taken care of the first time we launched a new instance today.

However, the fun part was getting our API-based launch scripts to use the new feature. The main gist of the change is the specification of a volume type of “gp2”. We interact with AWS through boto, so I had to add “block device” specifications to the script as follows:

block_device_type = boto.ec2.blockdevicemapping.BlockDeviceType()
block_device_mapping = boto.ec2.blockdevicemapping.BlockDeviceMapping()
block_device_mapping['/dev/sda1'] = block_device_type

new_image_id = ec2Connection.create_image(

Here is the full script for reference in case you need an example of usage.

AWS 101

An intro to AWS.

I guess I should explain the learning curve bit. When I started learning AWS, I did not really have a mentor and the documentation was either too vague and filled with propaganda for other services or too verbose and not at the level that I needed. An AWS admin can interface with their products through the web console, CLI, or through their API. There are tons of products out there that use their API to make different aspect of interfacing with their products easier. For the most part, most of my interactions with AWS is done through their web console. The learning curve and their new way of thinking is in how they have taken all the aspects of hosting and split them up into different categories and products. They all work together very well, but understanding what is available and how they go together takes some time. Also, using the products is sometimes a different kind of intuitive. In a way, it is like moving from Windows to a Mac. On windows most things are done in a counter-intuitive way. So when you use a Mac and things are done in an intuitive way you are not used to it so it throws you off. There are also tons of options. It can be overwhelming.
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AWS Free Tier Micro Instance 101

I recently decided to hop on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Free Tier, and see what it was all about. I use regular AWS services at work quite a bit so I am not a newcomer to the AWS world. However, this was my first foray in to the Free Tier offering. I created this little tutorial based on my own experience as well as some other helpful pages I found about the web.
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