On Thursday 27th April 2017, Dan Wallace and MSc student Jaya Vignesh Madana Gopal delivered a workshop on Cloud Computing using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. The goals of the workshop were to introduce participants to the platform and its current commercial use, motivate its potential utility as a research computing tool, and provide practical experience with two of the main services which Amazon offers; the Simple Storage Service S3, and Elastic Compute Cloud EC2.
Amazon Web Services is used by many large businesses due to the wide coverage offered by its global network of server farms, upon which virtual servers can be launched on either a long-term or temporary basis. A comprehensive set of management tools facilitate automated load balancing between these server regions, meaning brief peaks of demand to web traffic, for example, due to a popular event or promotion can be handled without requiring a large datacentre full of physical servers which would not be fully utilised. The "Pay-As-You-Go" pricing model offers a low barrier to entry for smaller companies testing the platform.
Self-paced activities included launching an EC2 instance, passing data between an Amazon S3 "Bucket" and a virtual server, and hosting a static webpage. Instructions for these activities can be found at the Computational Modelling Blog. An Amazon Web Services login is required - students can register for a student account which provides $40 of opening credit (correct at the time of writing) with AWS Educate.