Amazon Web Services or AWS is one of the world's most popular and reliable cloud computing platforms. It includes a wide range of compute, storage and content delivery, database, mobile and other services, and it's a great way to host simple websites as well as complex web or mobile applications in the cloud.
If you're new to the cloud, the easiest way to get started with Amazon Web Services is with Bitnami. Bitnami provides pre-packaged application images for AWS Cloud servers, so that you can get productive with your new server immediately. You can access and launch these images in three ways:
Through the free Bitnami Launchpad for AWS Cloud, which gives you an intuitive Web-based dashboard to create and manage your AWS Cloud servers;
Through the AWS Marketplace, Amazon's online application library;
Through the AWS Console, Amazon's online dashboard for AWS users.
In this tutorial, I'll walk you, step by step, through the process of using the AWS Marketplace to create and provision a new AWS Cloud server. And since AWS offers a Free Tier valid for 12 months, you'll have plenty of time to experiment with your server and Bitnami images without worrying about being billed for usage.
|TIP: To learn about launching servers with the Bitnami Launchpad for AWS Cloud instead, refer to this tutorial. To learn about launching servers with the AWS Console instead, refer to this tutorial.|
If you're interested in creating a personal or small business blog, chances are that you're going to use WordPress. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world, in use on over 60 million websites (according to Wikipedia). It's not hard to see why: WordPress is incredibly easy to use, comes with thousands of extensions and themes, and is completely free and open source.
In this tutorial, I'll launch a cloud server with the Bitnami WordPress Stack, which gives you a pre-configured WordPress blog that you can start using right way. But WordPress is just an example: there are hundreds of other Bitnami applications to choose from, and they're all equally easy to set up.
Here are the steps you'll follow in this tutorial:
The next sections will walk you through these steps in detail.
|At the end of this step, you will have signed up for the Amazon Web Services free tier. If you already have an Amazon Web Services account, you may skip this step.|
Begin by creating an AWS account, by browsing to http://aws.amazon.com and clicking the "Sign Up" button at the top of the page. You will need an existing Amazon account to log in and sign up; if you don't have one, create one to proceed.
Once you've signed in to Amazon, sign up for AWS by providing some basic contact information and your mobile phone number.
Once that's done, proceed to the next stage by entering your credit card information.
If you're worried about how much you'll be billed for services, relax. When you first sign up for AWS, you get automatic access to the AWS Free Tier, which entitles you to 12 months of free usage up to certain limits. This includes 750 hours per month of free usage of Amazon EC2 micro servers, which are just right for development or low-traffic website hosting. So long as your usage falls within the limits of the free tier, your credit card will never be billed. However, Amazon still needs your credit card information for security purposes, to avoid service misuse and to confirm your identity.
|IMPORTANT: You should fully understand the limits of the AWS free tier to avoid being unduly charged for service usage.|
Amazon will now verify your identity, by making an automated call to your mobile phone number and prompting you to enter the PIN number displayed on the screen.
Once your identity is verified, choose the "Basic" support plan (also free) and confirm your account.
The AWS account registration machine will churn away for a minute or so, and you will then be redirected to a welcome page, which includes a link to the AWS management console. You should also receive an account confirmation email, which tells you that your account is good to go.
|At the end of this step, you will have generated an SSH key pair to access your AWS servers.|
This is also a good time to generate an SSH key pair, which you will need to log in to your AWS servers. To do this:
Log in to the AWS Console.
From the Amazon Web Services menu, select the EC2 service.
From the Amazon EC2 dashboard, select the "Key Pairs" option in the "Network & Security" menu.
Click the "Create Key Pair" button. In the resulting dialog box, enter a name for the new key pair and click the "Create" button.
A new key pair, consisting of an SSH public and private key, will be generated. You will be prompted to download the private SSH key to your computer.
|NOTE: You will only be able to download the private SSH key once. Store it safely as you will not be able to log in to your AWS servers without it.|
|At the end of this step, your WordPress blog will be running on an AWS cloud server.|
The next step is to launch a cloud server with WordPress running on it. The AWS Marketplace lets you do this in just a couple of clicks. Follow these steps:
Log in to the AWS Marketplace.
Search for the Bitnami WordPress Stack by entering the search term "bitnami wordpress" in the search bar at the top.
Select the stack in the list of search results.
On the resulting detail page, review the description and hourly fees for different server sizes. Select the region in which you wish to launch your server and click "Continue" to proceed.
On the resulting page, review the information in the "1-Click Launch" tab. This includes information on the server configuration (CPU, memory and storage), together with your estimated monthly costs. You can choose from a "micro" server, which uses 1 virtual CPU, to a "large" server, which can have up to 40 virtual CPUs. For more information, refer to the AWS pricing sheet.
|TIP: A "micro" server will work fine for a low-traffic WordPress blog or for WordPress development.|
On the same page, verify that the correct key pair (created in Step 2) will be used for the server.
Confirm your selection by hitting the "Launch with 1-Click" button.
The AWS Marketplace will now begin spinning up the new server.
The process usually takes a few minutes, and you can use the EC2 Dashboard to check the status of the server. Once the server has launched, you will be able to obtain its public IP address from the EC2 Dashboard, as shown below:
At this point, you should be able to browse to the cloud server, by entering the cloud server IP address directly into your browser's address bar. You should now see your WordPress blog's home page with a sample post, as shown below.
|At the end of this step, you will have the credentials needed to access your WordPress blog.|
You're almost done but, before you can log in to WordPress, you need the administrator credentials. Follow these steps:
To get the administrator username, browse to the cloud server's public IP address in your web browser to access your application, and click the Bitnami badge on the bottom right corner of the page. The resulting page shows the application username.
To get the administrator password, follow these steps:
Log in to the AWS Cloud Console.
In the left navigation bar, select the "Instances -> Instances" menu item.
Select your instance in the dashboard.
From the "Actions" drop-down menu, select the "Get System Log" menu item.
Review the system log until you find the application password.
|IMPORTANT: This password is only shown the first time you start the image. Please save your password in a safe place. We also recommend changing it to a different value using the WordPress dashboard.|
|At the end of this step, you will have logged in to WordPress and created a new blog post.|
To log in to the WordPress dashboard, follow these steps:
Browse to the WordPress dashboard, usually at the URL http://SERVER-IP/wp-admin.
Log in with the administrator credentials from the previous step.
You should now arrive at the WordPress dashboard, which allows you to manage posts, pages and comments; customize your blog with themes and plugins; import and export content; manage navigation menus; add or delete new user accounts; and much more.
You can now add a new post using the following steps:
Enter a title and content for the post. You can use the formatting tools at the top of the content area to format your post and add hyperlinks or images.
Optionally, choose the format and category for your post.
And now, when you visit your blog's front page, you should see your new post.
Congratulations! You now have a working, fully-functional WordPress blog in the cloud.
You can keep your WordPress installation up-to-date with the WordPress automatic update feature. To access this:
Select the "Dashboard -> Updates" menu item.
Review the resulting page to see if WordPress needs an update. If an update is available, you can install it by clicking the "Update Now" button. You can also re-install WordPress if needed with the "Re-install Now" button.
To learn more about the topics discussed in this tutorial, use the links below: