Pat Shuff's Blog

compute as a service

In an ongoing learning journey of trying to understand cloud services, I got accounts on the Amazon cloud, Azure cloud, and Oracle cloud. I thought I would start with the basics and grow from there. As an exercise, let's create a Linux server with no software installed in each three platforms. Apart from creating an account on all three platforms (which was non-trivial) creation of a compute server on each platform was relatively simple.

Amazon Web Services

The initial look and feel of the console starts the experience. It does show what the three companies are focused on. Let's start with Amazon (it is first in the alphabet and I had to pick something). The console lists a wide variety of services and things that you can purchase. Without doing research I would not have known that S3 stands for storage and EC2 stands for compute.

I get what a virtual server in the cloud is but how does that differ from a docker container and why should I care? Why should I care about managing Web Apps if I am just looking for raw compute? Why do I want to run code outside of a virtual machine? Which one should I choose? We are not going to go into depth on any of these subjects. If we are just looking at running a Linux instance, the simple EC2 should be adequate. We can install Docker as a package in our Linux instance to help us control how much of a processor is allocated to a service or program. We can install applications like Tomcat or WebLogic to run Web Apps. Linux gives us the foundation to do all of this with packages. Lambda is a totally different beast in that I can run code snippets to do things like voice command interpretation for an Amazon Echo or asynchronous events from devices and launch web sites or REST apis without having to install, manage, and configure an operating system. The rest of the world calls this a Node.js function and offers it as a separate service as well. I realize that I am oversimplifying this but you have to know what you are trying to accomplish before you start to create your first compute instance in the cloud.

Microsoft Azure Services

The Azure services are a little different in that they focus more on the user creation of virtual machines, SQL server, and some app services. Creation of a virtual image is relatively easy and it makes sense what you are doing. The console is relatively simple and clean with more options on the second page instead of the first page as is done with Amazon.

As you click on the Add button for Virtual Image you get an expanded set of operation system options and configurations.

Note that you can search for Oracle Linux and get a listing of various versions of the database. The virtual machine is easy to configure and create using the portal. If, however, you want to configure and create this via a command line, you need to download the PowerShell and run everything inside the application. The command line is Microsoft specific and difficult to port and migrate to other services. With Amazon and Oracle you can easily use RESTapi calls to provision and create services. Microsoft makes it a little more difficult to generically script but easily do this in their shell and language.

Oracle Cloud Services

The Oracle cloud compute services are new to the market. In the past compute services have been sold in bundles of 500 processors but have recently been made available in single processor consumption models. The cloud console has a different look and feel because the focus of the cloud services are more on the PaaS layer and less on the compute and storage layers.

Note that the screen shot starts with the storage and compute services but scrolling down shows database, java, SOA, and more PaaS layers.

To create a virtual image, you need to click on the compute cloud service - Service Console and it will allow you create an instance. The operating system selection is not as graphical or user friendly as the Microsoft interface but does list a variety of operating system options and configurations.

In conclusion, all three of these cloud consoles allow you to create a virtual image. In the next blog entry we will walk through the steps needed to create a Linux 6 instance on each of the three cloud platforms. We will not talk about how to create accounts. We will assume that you can find account setup and creation on your own. All three sites offer "try me" services that give at least 30 days evaluations. The eventual recommendation will be to use services like bitnami.com that takes public domain services like LAMP servers, Wiki engines, blog servers, and other public domain tools. The Bitnami site allows you to select a pre-configured instance and provision it into all three of these cloud services along with a few other cloud providers.

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