One of the many announcements made at AWS re:Invent was Amazon Lightsail.
Lightsail is a new server that allows you to quickly and easily create your own Virtual Private Server, or VPS, for as little as $5 per month.
The main idea behind Lightsail is to provide an entry point for someone who wants to create an AWS instance for a project quickly and easily without having to learn about how EC2, EBS or VPC works.
So how simple it is? Well it’s very simple and the user interface is much friendlier than the AWS management console that regular AWS users are used to.
To launch a VPC you simply click on “Create an instance” and choose your build. You can either select a preconfigured OS with an application already installed, like WordPress or LAMP Stack, or a base OS. However your choice is limited to either Amazon Linux or Ubuntu.
To allow SSH access you have the option of either using the default key pair or uploading your own. For simplicity I used the default.
Next you just need to choose from one of the pricing plans, which when you factor in the data transfer fees and storage costs are practically identical to EC2 pricing. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you are charged a prorated cost when your instance is in the running and stopped state. Meaning you will be charged until you delete the instance. This is different to On Demand EC2 pricing as with that service you only pay for the instance when it is in a running state.
The final step is to give your instance a globally unique name:
And that’s it! In the main Lightsail console you’ll see your shiny new VPS being created….
…and a couple of minutes later it will be up and running.
Clicking on the three dots allows you to manage, stop, restart, delete and connect to your VPS.
Select “Connect” and a browser based SSH session opens up:
You don’t have to use the browser based SSH, there are details on the “Connect” tab about how to connect using your own SSH client, for example Putty.
Using the “Metrics” tab you can check the performance of your VPS for metrics such as CPU Utilization, Network In, etc.
The “Networking” tab allows you to create a static IP and amend the Firewall settings to allow other ports to access the VPS. A couple of things to take note here. Firstly, it’s interesting to see that AWS is reverting to the terms “static IP” and “Firewall”. In AWS land these are known as an “elastic IP” and “security groups” respectively. Secondly, there is no way to restrict the IP range of the incoming connections, which means these ports are open to the Internet.
Attaching a static IP is simple and takes a few seconds and I like the fact that you can give it a meaningful name, something you can’t do at present with EC2.
Now both your VPS and static IP are listed as resources in your accounts.
The “SnapShots” tab lets you take snapshots of your VPS to use when launching new instances. However, when I tried to take a snapshot of my 20GB instance it was still running 7 hours after I kicked it off!
The “History” tab lists all the events that have taken place on your VPS:
There are a couple of advanced features that allow your use the Lightsail API and also enable VPC peering so you can connect your Lightsail VPS with your resources running in the AWS cloud. However, using this will incur VPC peering costs.
And finally, if you want to delete your instance, just click on the “Delete” tab and click on the big red button!
So there you have it. A great service to quickly and easily launch your own cloud instance for testing or mini projects. AWS have given you just enough to get started, but have removed just enough to make it inevitable that eventually you will migrate to a fully blown EC2 instance.
To streamline your migration to AWS, just email me at email@example.com.