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Background :

I have built an app that runs well on an EC2 micro instance. I want my friends to use this app too, but they aren't quite good with computers.

Question :

  1. How do I make it easy for everyone to install and use it?
    a. They wouldn't use it if they have to learn what is an instance, AMI and all.
    b. Every individual should be able to have his own credit card billed for the AWS.
    c. I can provide .rpm so that the app installs comfortably in silent mode :)

  2. If I decide to sell my product sometime later, how do I do that?

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How would I sell it with respect to Amazon EC2 ? –  Shrinath Jun 8 '11 at 4:17
    
Just curious OT Question.. What is this app? what does it do? –  Anand Jeyahar Jun 14 '11 at 1:06
    
@Anand Jeyahar : Company privacy policy :) You could figure it out easily though :) –  Shrinath Jun 16 '11 at 5:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+50

Amazon EC2 isn't simple, it's designed to be high performance and even getting started is a steep learning curve.

The easiest solution to problem 1 would be; Get your friends to sign up to AWS
Set up a script to automate deployment and configuration of your app, using the AWS API
Get your friends to give you their AWS access credentials so your script could do all the work for them

The 'script' could be as complex/advanced as you need it to be, it could just be a shell script that takes two argument variables (AWS access key and secret key) right up to a full on web app with GUI front-end, it all depends what sort of scale you're talking about (I.E. if it's two or three of your 'friends' I would suggest doing it manually, get them to send you their AWS login and just do it yourself. If it's going to be hundreds/thousands of users you should automate it).

Compared to 1, 2 is quite simple. There are hundreds of payment gateways around, if you set up your deployment script as a web-app you could integrate with PayPal or something similar to collect payments. When it comes to cost, it would probably be easier to run everything from your AWS account and lets users sign up directly with you, pay you and then you pay AWS (Example: Heroku runs on EC2/AWS, but if you're a Heroku user you pay them directly, all the instances run from their account with their frontend/tools). Doing it that way, you could completely eliminate the need for everyone to have their own AWS accounts they could just work directly with you.

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Following on Nick's answer, Cloud Computing management softwares like RightScale and Scalr (Disclaimer: I work at Scalr) solve these problems. Amazon Web Services does not make it easy as they focus on the infrastructure rather than on the services on top of it. Cloud Management softwares are an additional layer on top of cloud public infrastructure like Amazon Web Services or Rackspace. You will need to give your credentials to allow them to do API calls for you.

Within Scalr, you will be able to set up different accounts and manage permissions for your friends. Scalr is open-source or available through a hosted version. You may be interested in enStratus as well.

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just an idea but have you looked into commercial AMI?

you can create a clean instance with all your code etc installed and configured. barring a few configs. Then create an AMI with it.

I have sen some people sell them on Amazon. a lot of commercial AMIs around now. You could sell yours too.

its not very complicated either to make an AMI.

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People would have to deal with AMIs in this case. The opener himself stated that the users do not want to learn how to work with AWS. –  Francisco Jun 16 '11 at 7:45
    
you dont need to which is why I mentioned it. the application can call the relevant AWS services which will be quite minimal requiring only the user to have their account information at hand and key it into the interface (not amazon but own application). I know I would use this approach or I wouldn't recommend it. –  Vangel Jun 17 '11 at 4:13
    
ahh i see samarudge's answer is exactly what I am referring to except the AMI will make it easier and less complex to script –  Vangel Jun 17 '11 at 4:15

Although I generally avoid having to purchase additional services there is a third party solution that you might be looking for.

Rightscale has a cloud management platform that sits on top of the Amazon layer and provides you with the management to push templates, a web-based dashboard, multi-cloud interoperability and an easy to configure and manage console.

you mentioned you want to share that app and with a solution like this you can distribute it and not only to amazon cloud but other clouds as well avoiding cloud-lockins.

I don't work for rightscale but have worked with them. http://www.rightscale.com/

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+1 :) Like the approach –  Shrinath Jun 16 '11 at 5:09

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