Get started with cloud hosting for free

Did you know that most cloud computing providers offer free hosting to get you started? My personal favourite is Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) and their free tier when linked to an EC2 instance. You can read about the offering direct on the AWS site here.

It’s a great way to get into the world of cloud hosting and elastic computing without any financial commitment. You can run your server almost 24 x 7 for up to 12 months and not pay a cent. In order to take advantage you need to sign up for an AWS account and enter billing details. You also need to be mindful not to leave the server running when you don’t need it as it may start accumulating costs.

We had a great example of this for my son this past weekend. He’s been talking about setting up a Minecraft server for some time. Several of his mates have had a go and he wanted to get involved. All his friends had set their server up using their own computer connection at home so game speed is limited by the speed of their own network connections. I helped him setup his server, leaning about several strategies for cloud and server computing.

We discussed and chose the following specifications for his server;

  • Asia Pacific – Sydney hosting
  • t2.micro instance
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Connect via RDP
  • Install, Google Chrome, Java and Minecraft
  • Open ports in AWS and on Windows Firewall for connectivity
  • Test everything is working

The t2.micro instance is probably not going to support his needs once he’s ready to game but it’s getting him used to what is needed and also allows him to test it with his friends.

Once he’s ready to launch with all his friends, he wants to learn how to upgrade (or launch new) instance and possibly assign an elastic IP address.

If you’d like help or advice on how to get started with AWS, please contact me today.

A new look with a new host

There’s been some talk lately on which web site platform to use. What it will cost, how long it will take so I thought I would jump on board and re-visit WordPress and setup a new site from scratch.

It’s as easy as ever when you know what you are doing and I have been able to halve my hosting costs each year. My needs are quite basic so costs are low already but I’m really happy with the end result.

If you need any help with a WordPress site, let me know and I can give you a hand for a great hourly rate and no long term commitment. I can also provide a fully managed service if that is what you prefer.

Coming soon … Should I use it?

What should you do when you have a new domain but you don’t have a website yet? Your website project is large and you have lots of ideas.

By the same token, you have a new business or product and you want to tell someone about it, or you have had your business cards printed and you don’t want your potential customers to receive an error message when they try to visit your website.

A coming soon or under construction page can provide your visitors with some basic information that they have found the right site, if done correctly it can help build excitement about a new product, service or business, but only if it’s for a short term.

If you’re final site is going to take weeks (or months) to build, you should consider either forwarding your new page to an existing location in your current website or using a free or low cost content management system to create a basic website very quickly which tells your customers something about your business.

There’s plenty of options out there and a web site need not take months to build unless it’s an e-commerce site. Even then, you can get the public site up and running quickly.

Am I over-engineering my website?

Just as with the adaptation “if you built it, they will come” the same should be considered for your online presence.

There is a fine line with delivering what you (or your client) needs today with trying to safeguard and future proof your technology choices. Time to market sometimes is sacrificed when trying to deliver a solution which meets every perceived eventuality.

With dozens, if not hundreds of applications available to you, how do you make the right choice for your business and then support you into the future. You need to ask yourself a number of key questions to help make the right first steps in your decision making;

What’s my scale? How many orders do I want a week or what’s the value of these orders?

If I must customise an application, will my customisation make it difficult to take on free (or licenced) upgrades when they are available from the vendor or community?

Has someone else already delivered my customisation and can I buy a plug-in to help me meet my business goals.

Do I need all these features today or can some of the functionality come later (someone may build it for you and you can leverage their development)

With these thoughts in place, try to select a platform which has a large array of plug-ins or 3rd party tools to extend the standard functionality as well as open architecture to allow for future integration opportunities.