My understanding of the process is this for EE:
1. Swapping RDS addresses for the current mysql addresses in the EE config files.
2. Picking an AMI to use.
3. Customize it.
4. Uploading the content to a persistent directory and then moving it to the server or doing a sym link to that directory.
5. Getting an elastic IP from Amazon.
6. Build and upload the new AMI
7. After testing, switching DNS entries to point there.
If anyone has additional tips (e.g. a good AMI to use, whether to use a persistent directory and sym link or what?) or steps that are missing etc, I would love to hear them.
This is coming from an avid AWS user, but not Expression Engine (I run several sites on ASP.Net hosted on EC2).
First of all, Amazon has made AWS ridiculously simple. All of the steps I’m about to describe involve clicking around in the web app at http://aws.amazon.com/console/, unless otherwise specified.
Second, yes, signing up for this stuff and using it does cost money to mess with, but it’s pennies. Experimenting with it might cost you $5 at most, probably more like $2. It’s really cheap so just set it up.
There are basically 3 pre-built AMIs for Windows provided for you by Amazon, making the selection process very simple. They have obvious differences of size and cost - use the instance named “Getting Started on Microsoft Windows Server 2008” if you’re not sure - launch it on a Small Instance.
Once you’re signed in, get an Elastic IP (point and click - it will be obvious).
Launch your AMI, and assign your Elastic IP to it. Begin installing the necessary software over Remote Desktop. While it installs, create an EBS volume, then Attach it to your Instance and name it /dev/sda2. Then go back to Remote Desktop and open Disk Manager. The EBS Volume appears as an unformatted drive - format it and give it a drive letter. You want to put your content on this second drive.
At this point you might want to backup what you’ve done so far. Select your Instance in AWS and click Instance Actions > Create Image (EBS AMI). This will take your Instance offline for about 20 minutes while AWS freezes the instance and copies everything over to an AMI backup. Should your Instance ever fail in the future, you can launch it again from this AMI. Since it freezes your Instance, you want to do this infrequently - only after Configuration changes to your Windows instance.
For changes besides Windows Configuration (content, app code, etc), those should all live on your second EBS Volume you attached. To back that up you select it and click Create Snapshot. The Snapshot is created without freezing anything, almost instantly. You’ll want to do these frequently (once a day, or once an hour, depending on your backup policy).
There’s an additional detail of configuring both firewalls - the AWS firewall (“Security Group”) and the Windows Firewall to let in all the traffic you want (basically open port 80) - I can cover that later if anyone is curious.
Launching an RDS instance is less simple - it doesn’t have an AWS Console option yet, so you need to use the command-line to launch an RDS instance:
--allocated-storage 20 --db-instance-class db.m1.xlarge --engine MySQL5.1
--master-username root --master-user-password root
--db-name EE --headers
Obviously use a harder to guess user/pass than root/root.
Follow the instructions in the above link to open up access to your EC2 Security Group, and probably your current IP for now, then get the name of it via the command-line - it will look something like:
Then connecting to it is as simple as connecting to any MySQL server. Use whatever tools you normally use to interact with MySQL and enjoy.
If at any time you need to shut all this down and want to come back to it later, just save off an AMI of the RDS and the EC2 instance and shut them down. You’ll be charged pennies (really, a few cents a month.. it’s next to nothing) to keep storing the AMIs until you come back to them, so don’t fret the cost of storing them between when you have time to explore.