Testing EC2 from Amazon by Building a Custom Image (AMI)

1. Ok, so I decided to try out EC2. The first thing – obviously – what you want to do is, build your own custom image. First Bummer: Amazon will not allow you to build and compile your own kernel! You will have to use an Amazon-Kernel found here. At the moment I am compiling Gentoo (amd64) according to this HowTo.

While my Gentoo compiles, some of the points I do not like about Amazons Communications:

  • What is the underlying hardware they are using?
  • What CPU’s do you get for your money, what is their speed? I tried to find out myself by doing “cat /proc/cpuinfo”
  • What kind of disks are the different instances running on? Are they SATA, SCSI, IDE, etc?

I really would love to see more transparency in above points by Amazon.

2. Somehow I also have the feeling that the “value for money” you get from Amazon EC2 for using their CPU’s is expensive (like buying a car vs leasing a car; leasing a car is always more expensive). The reason why I have this feeling is because I compared the prices for buying a server equivalent of the m1.xlarge instance. The price for such a server would roughly be USD 3000.-. Now traffic is cheap at EC2 but CPU’s are not. EC2 will give you comparingly “slow” CPU for your money if you compare to buying a new server. “cat /proc/cpuinfo” for the m1.xlarge instance shows me “Dual Core AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 270” processor.

3. Doing a “emerge -e world” – on a “m1.large” instance – and at the same time untaring the linux- makes the “untaring” take forever (more then 50 Minutes). Just for unpacking 53 MB. Is it possible that XEN still has some problems juggling the resources of an instance? I get the feeling that my instance only gets the CPU “to do one task at the same time”.

4. Ok, so now I started surfing the web about more detailed Feedback (also negative) on EC2 an I found the following to links:

and I must say that I am stopping my experiment right here. And yes, this is _totally_true_: “And I get a bit irritated when I come across sentences like Jinesh’s at RailsConf: “infinity auto-scalable on-demand computing resource”” – but just go an check it out for yourself! EC2 of Amazon is definitely still BETA.