What happened to EBS Snapshot Scheduler?

Anyone who uses AWS knows the value of EBS snapshots.  Not only are snapshots the backbone for any solid backup strategy but can also assist with instance migrations and replication.  While manual snapshots are useful for testing changes or for AMI builds, a backup strategy depends on snapshot automation and retention policies.  When I first began working with AWS, automating snapshots was done through the EBS Snapshot Scheduler.  For AWS architects and system admins, this tool was invaluable.  An AWS provided CloudFormation template provided all required resources for the scheduler to run.  The CloudFormation template launched a single stack and prompted the user for a tag name, default snapshot time, whether to enable autosnapshot deletion and, if so, what the retention period should be.  Once your config was set, you simply tagged your resources with the custom tag you entered in the stack and your backups were on cruise control (of course any Admin “worth their salt” still performed period checks and snapshot verifications).

Read More

AWS: Using Openswan for site-to-site VPN

You’ve decided to join the growing group of smart, bold businesses trailblazers by moving your network operations to the “Cloud”. And, of course, you’ve done your homework and decided that AWS is the only way to go. Good for you! Now comes the big question—“How do I connect my on premise workstations to my AWS VPC (Virtual Private Cloud—click here if you need a quick VPC refresher). You can certainly get it done by using AWS’ managed VPN service. This service consists of creating a Virtual Private Gateway in your AWS VPC to establish a site-to-site connection with your on premise VPN firewall (don’t you just LOVE the smell of VPNs in the morning!!). While this is a solid solution, the rate of $0.05/VPN per hour (ouch!) can get a bit costly if you have more than one VPN tunnel running (think multiple remote offices, like a large real estate brokerage). A cheaper alternative is to use a “software VPN” like Openswan that runs on a Linux-based EC2 instance. Although the cost of an m4.large instance on a 3-year Reserved Instance convertible term is basically the same as the AWS managed firewall, you can manage several tunnels on a single Openswan instance, which results in a significant cost savings if you have multiple tunnels. If this sounds like something right up your alley (or, if you are the more adventurous type), we’ve put together a short “How to” that should have your Openswan VPN tunnels up and running in short order.

Read More

AWS Certifications

If you are interested in getting an AWS certification, you can find a great training course at https://acloud.guru

There are 3 tracks of AWS certification to choose from:

1. Certified Cloud Practitioner
2. Certified Solutions Architect–associate and professional
3. Certified DevOps–Developer Associate, SysOps Admin Associate, and DevOps Professional

Read More