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Amazon EC2 might be a nice way to get multiple dev servers on-demand without placing any additional burden on our existing servers.

There is a good (if slightly old) getting started guide and general introduction to EC2 here:

Amazon offers different-sized servers. We would probably want the "Small" instance type. We don't know if we want a Reserved instance or On-demand. Basic pricing is here:

Sun Microsystems offer multiple supported images of OpenSolaris to install onto an EC2 instance as well as a getting started guide (PDF).

Amazon have a new feature called Virtual Private Cloud which allows you to connect to your EC2 instances via VPN. This is currently in limited beta. We probably wouldn't bother with this yet.

When we understand the offerings better, there is a monthly charge calculator here:

Next steps

  • what kind of instance would we want, Reserved or On-demand?
  • choose an existing OpenSolaris AMI from the list
  • do we need to pay anything up-front?
  • use the calculator to guess at some costs
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    • On-Demand Instances - On-Demand Instances let you pay for compute capacity by the hour with no long-term commitments. This frees you from the costs and complexities of planning, purchasing, and maintaining hardware and transforms what are commonly large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs. On-Demand Instances also remove the need to buy "safety net" capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes.
    • Reserved Instances - Reserved Instances give you the option to make a low, one-time payment for each instance you want to reserve and in turn receive a significant discount on the hourly usage charge for that instance. After the one-time payment for an instance, that instance is reserved for you, and you have no further obligation; you may choose to run that instance for the discounted usage rate for the duration of your term, or when you do not use the instance, you will not pay usage charges on it.

    more on reserved instances here:

  1. We haven't spoken about what this means in terms of a differing hardware setup to our production server.

    Overall I think we're not massively concerned provided we can keep the software infrastructure as similar as possible (operating system, java version etc).

  2. Unknown User (t-am321)

    Reserved is (or used to be) for US customers only.

    1. Available for European customers since December 2008 I think!