Using Amazon EC2 for Business Continuity with Vantage

One of my longstanding goals is to provide for some business
continuity capability for my company. Given that we've now migrated
completely to Vantage 8.03, that's my primary target.

Amazon's Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) service is quite cool and very
inexpensive, and they've recently added 64-bit Windows Server 2003
server instances with MSSQL 2005 preinstalled and ready to go.

The problem with EC2 is that the instances lose their state (meaning
your data) when they're shut down (although not when they're rebooted).
Amazon does provide nice integration with their Elastic Block Store
(EBS) service, so you can create persistent EBS volumes of any size and
keep your data there, separate from the system image (which is a good
idea anyways).

You can 'bundle' a modified instance (say with your custom software
and config installed), save that as an instance, and boot copies of your
custom image, and so on. So I can imagine setting up your custom server
with Vantage (you'll have to copy the installation files over, which
will take a while), getting it completely setup, then freezing the
config by bundling the image, and using that plus a copy of your
database to run Vantage. Combined with Citrix and Citrix Web Access
this should work just fine (might not perform great, but this is a BC

One challenge is that the machine instance size is limited to 10GB so
this might take some planning but my Vantage application files
(including Sonic) seem to be about 5GB. Most of those installs could be
directed to an EBS volume as well.

One could also take an existing system, and using VMWare
physical-to-virtual conversion tools and some other tools create an
Amazon machine image, but again the 10GB limit probably creates issues.

Basically I'm wondering if 1) anyone is doing or contemplating doing
something with EC2 and 2) would be interested in collaborating. This
is so fantastically cheap compared to other options ($20-30/month for a
capability we're likely to never use, fingers crossed).

I suppose another alternative would be to get a dedicated Windows
virtual server host from a hosting company, but to get enough RAM, etc.
compared to Amazon is a lot more in monthly fees.



Brian W. Spolarich ~ Manager, Information Services ~ Advanced Photonix /

<mailto:bspolarich@...> ~ 734-864-5618 ~ <>

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