Amazon Web Services as a team project platform. George Blank Spring 2009. AWS Cloud Computing. http://aws.typepad.com/photos/. Amazon Web Services.
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AWS is a platform for “cloud computing,” where users are provided a networked computing platform with a variety of services available. Students get root* level control of a server at a static IP address.
I believe that I may be the first instructor at NJIT to use this platform for class team projects, and I wanted to share my experiences with others who may be considering it.
*Because all students were on the same account, Dr. Wolosh actually controlled much of the AWS functionality.
All teams set up shopping applications using storefront presentation aids from AWS EC2.
The DL Team actually developed a complete working site that allows anyone to actually purchase any music advertised on the Amazon shopping site. If they do, the team gets a 4% commission. This technology is more accessible to undergraduates than integrating AFS into the project. They installed the MySQL database on the AWS server. I recommend that future students use the database integrated in AWS.
All three classroom Teams used JBoss on AWS to connect to Prophet using Tomcat on AFS.
You need someone capable of basic Unix System Administration on each team.
Student Joe DosAnjos developed a document to guide future students through connecting to EC2, setting up user accounts, installing Tomcat, Apache Web Server, MySQL, and and installing and using PHPMyAdmin to administer the database. There are also troubleshooting hints. I plan to make this available to students as well.
I offered my students a bare platform, with much of the functionality controlled by Dr. Wolosh as the holder of the master identity. They got a single CPU Linux box with 2 GB of persistent storage. I should have also specified services that teams need to get started. The list of features on the next slide is recommended.
I used Linux because it uses single CPU platforms that normally rent for 10 cents an hour where the Windows platforms use 8 processors and rent for 80 cents an hour. DB storage is normally 10 cents a GB per month. I think there is also a usage charge for uploads and downloads. All services have been provided by an AWS grant at no cost to NJIT, but the cost should be trivial for short projects.
Open ports 80 (HTML), 21 (FTP), 22 (SSH) and 8080 (Apache Tomcat Web Services)
Give each student team access to these Amazon Services: EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) with S3 (Simple Storage Services), Simple DB, Cloud Front (presentation) A2S (Amazon Associates Web Services and SQS (Simple Queue Service). This should also give them access to Amazon Widgets.