The list of appliance players that can tap into Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) platform is getting bigger every day, as more appliance providers realize that the EC2 marketplace is where a lot of customers would like to be.
Last week, I told you about BitNami Studio, a new offering from BitRock and the BitNami Project that will let you configure application and server stacks to your liking, then build them for EC2 or other platforms in just minutes.
But what if you want to just roll out a stock application stack for the cloud? Perhaps you want to run some tests and don't need much beyond the out-of-the-box software that comes with stacks like Wordpress, Joomla!, or Appengine.
This is where TurnKey Linux can be of assistance. This week I accepted an invite to the TurnKey Hub beta program, which offers all of TurnKey's appliances for simple lock, load, and launch on EC2. How simple? After signing up for my first EC2 account, I had a full-on Joomla! stack up and running in five minutes on Amazon's East cloud host.
Everything is put together on these stacks: the Joomla! configuration, the PHPMyAdmin front-end, Postfix MTA configuration, and Apache, PHP, and MySQL modules for Webmin. All I need to do is register a domain to this IP, and I would have a complete Joomla! site ready to go. (Of course, that could be pricey--more on that in a bit.)
TurnKey appliances can also all come as Live CD/DVD images or as .vmdk virtual machines geared to run on VMware and VirtualBox.
Like I said, getting an EC2 Amazon Machine Image (AMI) running is ridiculously easy. After signing into the TurnKey Hub site (which currently is an invitation-only private beta), you merely enter your Amazon account credentials for one (or multiple) EC2 accounts, then choose from one of 39 app stacks to launch. From Hub, you can assign the region and instance size, and choose your security method. Click Launch and off you go.
Now, on that pricing: for a small instance running on the US East region, the cost is $.085/hour, which, at $745.11 year is pretty reasonable for SMBs and very well worth it for enterprise customers, who need a lot of machines for a set amount of time, and then want to be able to dump them once the computing need is over.
Please note, these are base hosting costs, and don't factor in data transfer costs, which--beginning July 1--will no longer be free. Clearly, this is not a small-user's solution: if you're looking for an inexpensive hosting solution, you're better off going with a reliable hosting provider.
And, for now, TurnKey's EC2 appliances are free of charge, but once the beta program is finished, the company is expected to tack on an additional charge for it's EC2-ready appliances. It's not clear what that cost structure will be. TurnKey is actually polling its community of users to help figure out what might work best.
This is not a customizable solution, like BitNami or SUSE Studios will offer, but if you need standard application stacks fast and inexpensive for your cloud, TurnKey might be a way to go.