Would James Madison, for example, agree with some current interpretations of the Fourth Amendment, which hold that old-fashioned letters stored in a dresser drawer enjoy stronger legal protection against search and seizure than an e-mail stored on the Web or a private post left for a friend on Facebook?
In a world where every computer is connected, where it doesn’t matter whether your e-mail is on the hard drive in your bedroom or a server half a world away, where your critical company documents can be viewed from anywhere, where would the Founding Fathers draw the line for law enforcement? The “cloud,” already well formed with Hotmail and Google docs, is a potential treasure trove for police investigators. But how can we make sure the cloud doesn’t rain all over Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights to avoid unfair searches?
I have been reading recently about the “Lean Startup” concept, which is funny since I have been working with and been part of more than a few without knowing there is a nifty catch phrase for them. So now I am all up on the lingo and hash tag #leanstartup I can speak on it. Today is the perfect time to take a gamble and dive into a lean startup. Being that there are so many free tools and services you can use along with very inexpensive solutions to infrastructure that were not available even a few years ago. By using the power of Open Source software, free online services, and cloud computing one can build a scalable and very cost effective lean startup.
Let’s first look at your new companies hosting and servers. being that you are lean you may most likely be working from home. So let’s look at hosting and services you will need in order to host some of the Open Source applications will will talk about in a moment. In my experience the basic things you need to get going in terms of setting up shop are the basics:
Since I have been using Scalr to manage my Amazon Web Services farms I have been wanting more monitoring in terms of statistical information on services, traffic, disk usage, and uptime to name a few. Scalr has built in means of basic event notifications such as host up, host down, etc. Along with providing very basic load statistic via RRDtool. In the past I have always used Zabbix for most projects I have worked on so I wanted to be able to use it with Scalr. I am still testing the setup I am going to speak of so please keep that in mind. This is NOT a howto, but more of a brainstorming of how I plan on getting Zabbix integrated into my Scalr setup. In the Zabbix documentation (PDF) there are a few ways to use the auto-discovery that they cover (page 173). You can have Zabbix monitor a block of IPs to find new Zabbix Agents running for example. So here is what I will have my Zabbix Server do:
- Look for new Zabbix Agents on my AWS internal IP range.
- If the system.uname contains “Scalr” it will add to Scalr server group
- Server must be up for 30+ minutes
There will be other stipulations in order to get the server added to Zabbix. I will have system templates for each of my Scalr AMI roles. Once the server is added to Zabbix it will add them to to their respective groups and monitor for items and triggers listed in the system template. There will also be a rule to remove old instances after 24 hours from Zabbix after receiving the host down trigger. This way I will not have a bunch of old instances that were once monitored still cluttering Zabbix database. If you happen to also have Windows AWS instances you can add a rule to monitor these as well. The AMI just needs to have the Zabbix Windows Agent installed.
I have been using Amazon Web Services for some time now and decided to use the Open Source Scalr Project to manage my farms on AWS. After overcoming many hurtles to getting Scalr running successfully I have been using it to manage my farms for about a month. Compared to the initial outlay required my RightScale the time it took to get Scalr running was nominal. Plus I like the ability to have a developer tweak the functionality of Scalr to fit our business requirements. There is an active Google Group for Scalr that I have used to solve most of my issues. People also have the option of using Scalr.net as a pay per month solution to manage their AWS farms. I chose to host my own instance of Scalr since we are doing large scale hosting and the previously mentioned need to customize it. I do enjoy the ease Scalr provides in bundling new custom roles I build for our various application servers. It allows you to simply press a button to save a new role for future use. Along with its ability to auto-scale as traffic dictates those are the two biggest pluses for me in using Scalr.
I will be adding more on my experiences with Scalr in coming days. If you are installing on CentOS5 I have some install notes I posted here.
I have been playing around with the AWS Console recently released. It is a good start to a nice AWS provided interface for controlling EC2. It seems to only make sense that they provide a console instead of forcing people to look elsewhere such as RightScale or Scalr. For that matter I am not sure why Amazon does not just buy RightScale and provide their services as part of AWS.
I came across Scalr by accident when I was browsing projects in Google Code. It appears as though Scalr has become a pay service to manage your AWS instances along similar lines to RightScale. But the main difference is that Scalr charges a scant $50 a month. From the Scalr Google Code page:
Scalr is a fully redundant, self-curing and self-scaling hosting environment utilizing Amazon’s EC2.
It allows you to create server farms through a web-based interface using prebuilt AMI’s for load balancers (pound or nginx), app servers (apache, others), databases (mysql master-slave, others), and a generic AMI to build on top of.
The health of the farm is continuously monitored and maintained. When the Load Average on a type of node goes above a configurable threshold a new node is inserted into the farm to spread the load and the cluster is reconfigured. When a node crashes a new machine of that type is inserted into the farm to replace it.
Multiple AMI’s are provided for load balancers, mysql databases, application servers, and a generic base image to customize. Scalr allows you to further customize each image, bundle the image and use that for future nodes that are inserted into the farm. You can make changes to one machine and use that for a specific type of node. New machines of this type will be brought online to meet current levels and the old machines are terminated one by one.
I would love to hear some comments from those already using the service and how it compares to RightScale.
Saw this article when looking for information on using OpenVPN with Amazon Web Services. It is not exactly what I am looking to do with my latest project. But it is some good helpful information for those with existing infrastructure looking to use AWS. There is also VPN-Cubed which is another option if looking for a supported product. I have not used it but would love to hear some comments by those who have.