Uncharted Waters

Jun 22 2011   10:08AM GMT

Your First Public Cloud – Part II

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

So far, we’ve signed up for a personal Amazon Web Services Account, learned a little bit about the Amazon Management Console, and, yes, even created a server in the cloud. Now if only we could actually do something with it …

Suddenly I have an idea for a follow-up post. 🙂

Today I’ll show you how to connect to that server in the cloud, accessing it through Remote Desktop, run software on it, and finally, so your credit card does not get dinged, how to shut the server down.

First, you need to follow the instructions in the previous tutorial; you should end up looking at the Amazon Web Services Console, something like this:

AWS Management Console

Now things get interesting.

The green light there indicates that the server is booted, but it may not yet have all services running … especially the services we need to connect. The easiest way to get to our server is to wait, about a half-hour, for Amazon to make sure the server is ‘clean.’

In the mean time, we need something:  Remote Desktop software to connect to our server. Remote desktop comes standard on Windows Vista and newer machines, but is you have XP or a Mac, you’ll need to download it.  You can get that software for free online; both the WindowsXP Version and the Macintosh Version have a free download.

Once we have Remote Desktop, you’ll have to wait; my recommendation is a half-hour, for all the services to be up.

Now Get The Windows Password

Once the services are up, we’ll need to retrieve the the administrative password for the machine. To do this, check the checkbox to the left of the instance to indicate it, then click on instance actions and “Get Windows Password”.  (See example below)

Get Windows Password

Once you click retrieve, you’ll be asked for a private key, in order to decrypt the password from the server:

AWS Retrieve Password

Do this this you will need that .pem key file you created earlier. Once you upload the file you will get a windows password. Save that to a file, or at least copy it to your clipboard with control-V.

Whew. Now we can actually connect to the machine.

It’s time to Log in to our cloud-based server. Yay!

One more time — use instance management again and click connect. This should bring up another dialog box, and you’ll have the opportunity to download a shortcut file , with the extension .rdp. If remote desktop is configured correctly, you can open the file with remote desktop. (Otherwise, save the file to your hard drive, open remote desktop, and tell it to open the file.)

Once remote desktop has the file loaded, Click Connect on remote desktop and you’ll come to a login screen:

Remote Desktop Password

Paste the password, leave domain blank, and click ok; ignore any certificate warnings.

Congratulations — you are in your server!

Looking in Our Server

But … what can we do with it?

Of course, the value of any server is limited to the application we had in mind. Our goal today was to have a server, which isn’t saying much.

Three things we could do with this server are to test in internet explorer 8, to test installing applications on Windows Server 2008 (if we didn’t have a box handy), or to use the server as a storage place for files.

And that;s the real rub of cloud computing. Without an application, ‘give us some of the cloud stuffs’ doesn’t really mean anything.

More on cloud-based apps to come, but today promised to keep things under an hour. Today we wanted to get a real, live server up and running in the cloud, and I do believe we’ve done that.

With this foundation in place, we can add more in the future. For now, though …

Off — Off — Turn it Off!!!

In control panel, select Instance Management->Terminate, then Yes, Terminate. Please do, this, you must do this. If you do not do this, expect a ding from your credit card in a year.

Terminating An Instance

Closing the loop – what we’ve learned

If you followed the instructions in this tutorial, you create an AWS personal account, created a server, and got into it with remote desktop.

Congratulations; suddenly the “cloud” is a less mystical and magical place, and more a think you can touch and feel, or at least a little bit more of a thing.

You’ve also probably recognized that feeling of “my goodness, this doesn’t actually do anything”, and you’re right. That’s what those cloud application vendors I introduced you to earlier have been saying for years:  Building applications on top of the cloud is expensive and time consuming, why build when you can rent?

Why build indeed?

More to come.

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