Top 10 Best Practices to Make the Most of Amazon EC2
Amazon EC2 (Electronic Compute Cloud) provides you with scalable computing capacity in Amazon’s AWS Cloud. With EC2, you can develop and deploy apps way faster than usual as it eliminates the need for upfront investment in hardware. Not only does Amazon EC2 allow you to launch virtual servers as per your needs, but it also allows you to configure security & networking as well as manage the storage.
The best practices that you can follow to get the maximum benefits from Amazon EC2 –
- Understand the AWS Shared Responsibility Model
Familiarity with this model is essential to design an ISMS (Information Security Management System) in AWS. This requires AWS and the clients to work together to ensure enhanced security. The model offers infrastructure services, container services, as well as abstracted services, out of which, EC2 covers infrastructure services that manage the facilities, the hardware’s physical security, the network infrastructure, and the virtualization infrastructure. Take time to learn about these controls & leverage them to your benefit by including them in ISMS.
- Learn about the AWS Secure Global Infrastructure
Understand the following components –
- The usage of the IAM (Identity Access Management) Service to manage users and their security credentials. IAM enables you to create individual users within an AWS account and provide each of those users with their unique password, name, access keys, etc.
- The creation, distribution, rotation, and revoking of AWS access credentials to establish management policies and procedures.
- The AWS regions, availability zones, as well as endpoints, which are important components of the AWS Secure Global Infrastructure.
- Manage software with regular updates
Amazon Linux’s base distribution includes multiple software packages and utilities required for basic server operations. Many of the packages get updated frequently to fix bugs, upgrade features, or get protection against any security exploits. Therefore, make sure to regularly patch, update, and secure the OS as well as the applications on your EC2 instances.
- Storage for root device
There are two categories for all AMIs (Amazon Machine Image) to be backed up by – Amazon EBS or Amazon EC2 instance store. For data persistence, data backup & recovery, you need to understand the involvement of the root device type. The following command lines can be used to determine the root device type of the AMI:
- Describe-images – AWS CLI
- Get-EC2Image – the AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell
- Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store) volumes preservation
When the created instances are terminated, the ‘Delete on Termination’ attribute is used by Amazon EC2 for each attached EBS volume. It is to determine if the EBS volume should be preserved or deleted. You need to ensure that after the instance terminates, the data persists. For this, make use of separate Amazon EBS volumes for the OS and the data.
Further, understand that the data which gets stored in the instance store deletes when the instance is stopped, hibernated, or terminated. So, if you choose to use instance store to store a database, then create a cluster with a replication factor to ensure fault tolerance.
- Amazon EBS encryption
As a straightforward solution for encryption, make use of the Amazon EBS encryption for the EBS resources linked to your EC2 instances. By using this, you will be building, maintaining, or securing your key management infrastructure. Also keep in mind that while creating encrypted volumes & snapshots, the AWS KMS keys are used by Amazon EBS encryption.
- Managing Resources
To track & identify the AWS resources, you can use instance metadata alongside custom resource tags. An instance metatag is used for configuring or managing a running instance. It can also be used to access user data that was specified at the time of the instance launch. Further, to manage EC2 resources including instances, images, etc., metatags can be assigned to each resource separately in the form of tags. These tags will allow you to categorize the AWS resources in different ways.
Other than this, you should view the current limits for EC2 and plan your limit increase requests.
- Backup, Deploy, Design, and Monitor
Using Amazon EBS snapshots, ensure that EBS volumes are regularly backed up. With this, you should create an AMI (Amazon Machine Image) to save the configuration template for your future instances. Critical components of the app are to be deployed across various Availability Zones and then the data is to be replicated appropriately.
When the instance restarts, the apps are to be designed in a way that handles dynamic IP addressing. Also, the events are to be monitored and responded to.
- Elastic Network Interface
It is a logical networking component, representing a virtual network card. You need to ensure that you have a plan in case of a failover. As a basic solution, a network interface or Elastic IP address can be manually attached to a replacement instance. However, if you want an automated solution, then the Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling can be used instead.
Make sure to regularly test the instances recovering process and EBS volumes when or if they fail.
Set the TTL value i.e. the time-to-live value for the apps to 255 (for IPv4 & IPv6). However, if a smaller value is used, the TTL may expire while the app traffic is in transit. This can cause reachability problems for the instances.
These are some of the top best practices you can use to make the most of Amazon EC2. There are many more best practices used by developers and AWS professionals all over the world, some that have been prescribed by AWS, while some that they have learned from experience. What has helped most professionals is having top-notch skills and updated knowledge about the platform, which would help them understand things smoothly and come up with innovative solutions to improve existing processes as well as conceptualize new processes.
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