Amazon Announces First Data Center in Australia

Posted in: Cloud Computing

The speed of the backbone between Australia and the US can sometimes make you wonder if there are not just two guys on either end of a tin can phone screaming one one zero one zero endlessly to each other back and forth. So the news from Amazon today is a welcome upgrade to the global AWS infrastructure.

In a short blog post on the Amazon Web Services Blog today, Jeff Barr announced that Amazon is adding an edge location in Sydney, Australia. The location will initially only host CloudFront (CDN) and Route 53 (DNS) resources. However, those two services alone will help AWS customers based in Australia and serving content to their own Australian customers to improve their response times greatly.

Prior to this announcement, AWS customers who wanted to deliver content to Australian based customers were delivering it from offshore locations like the US and Singapore. Having CloudFront resources hosted “locally” in Sydney delivering all that static content (including streaming media) to Australian based consumers will result in a much more pleasurable end-user experience.

The Route 53 addition also means that those AWS customers who host their DNS data with AWS will now also experience quicker DNS response times which will also improve the end-user experience by lowering overall in-browser response times.

With the appointment of Joe Ziegler as the AWS Evangelist for Australia and New Zealand recently, and now this new edge location announcement, Australian based AWS customers should be feeling reassured in their AWS investments.

Degraded Amazon EC2 Instance

Posted in: Cloud Computing

I received an email from Amazon today that I have never seen before. Here it is in its entirety:

Hello,

We have noticed that one or more of your instances is running on a host degraded due to hardware failure.

i-XXXXXXXX

The risk of your instances failing is increased at this point. We cannot determine the health of any applications running on the instances. We recommend that you take appropriate action.

If your instance was launched from an EBS-backed AMI, issuing a stop and start from the AWS Management Console will migrate your instance to new hardware and help avoid any unforeseen downtime.

For more options to stop and start your instance please see:

http://docs.amazonwebservices.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/starting-stopping-instances.html

If your instance was launched from an instance store-backed AMI, you should launch a replacement instance from your most recent AMI and migrate all necessary data to the replacement instance.

Should have you have any additional questions, we offer AWS Basic Support via our Community Forums for free, or Premium Support for one-on-one assistance direct from an AWS Developer Support Engineer at http://aws.amazon.com/support.

Sincerely,

The Amazon EC2 Team

So I dutifully went and followed the instructions and stopped and started (not just rebooted) the specified instance using the EC2 Web Management Console.

PROBLEM: The instance came back up as expected in the Web Management Console, however I could not ping it or SSH to it or connect to it in any way for that matter using my DNS name. I could however connect to it using the Amazon assigned public DNS name. It took me a few minutes to figure it out (all the while my site was down of course), but I eventually noticed that the Elastic IP address assigned to that instance was no longer shown in the instance details view. I went over to the Elastic IP management screen and sure enough that Elastic IP address was shown as not being associated with any instances. I reassigned the Elastic IP address to the instance and a few moments later, everything was back up and running.

CONCLUSION: This scenario is exactly why you need to be using an Elastic Block Storage (EBS) backed EC2 instance for any of your important servers, so in the event that the hardware fails, your actual server image is still safe and can be restored on other hardware. It also proves that while “the cloud” is awesome, it can fail and you need to be prepared for it. Also, one last curious piece about Elastic IP addresses becoming disassociated with instances – not sure if this is related to the hardware failure, or to the stop/start of the instance, but definitely something to keep an eye out for in the future.

Amazon Announces Lower Pricing for Route 53 DNS Service

Posted in: Cloud Computing

In an email to current customers today, Amazon announced that lower pricing will go into effect as of October 1st for their Route 53 DNS hosting service.

From the email:

We are excited to announce that effective October 1st we’re reducing prices for Amazon Route 53, Amazon Web Services’ reliable and scalable domain name service. Amazon Route 53 routes end users to your Internet applications by translating human readable names like www.example.com into the numeric IP addresses like 192.0.2.1 that computers use to connect to each other. Effective October 1st, we’re cutting the price for each hosted zone from $1 per month to $0.50 per month for the first 25 zones, and then $0.10 per month for additional zones.

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Top 10 Bare Minimum Web Client Performance Tweaks

Posted in: Software Development Best Practices

In my previous article (Performance Tuning Resources For Web Clients) I discussed why you should care about the performance of your web client and then listed out some of the better places to go on the web to find information on how to go about tweaking your web clients to get that better performance. In this article I am going to dig a little deeper and call out specifically what I think are the Must-do-No-excuse-not-to-do-them-You-are-really-being-unprofessional-if-you-are-not-doing-them tweaks that you should be performing on every single one of your web development projects.
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