Servers in Three Minutes with BitNami Cloud Hosting

Want to get a cloud server going fast? BitNami's new service is the tool to use.

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Three minutes.

Three minutes of my life was how long it took me to set up a fully functioning Joomla! server on Amazon Web Services. That includes Amazon's set up, the minimal amount of tweaking to assign the IP address to my domain, and the boot time for the Ubuntu-based Amazon Machine Instance.

Actually, it was a bit more than three minutes: I clocked the start to finish at 3:07. Still, that's a pretty respectable time to get a running instance of Joomla! installed and started, so if you take nothing else from this blog today, there's this: BitNami's latest Cloud Hosting feature is just about the easiest way to set up cloud-based servers and services in cloudspace today.

If a BitNami product that sets up customized stacks to use for services either virtually or on the cloud sounds familiar, you're not imagining things. BitNami Studio has been doing just that for quite a while now. What BitNami Cloud Hosting does is take a lot of the functionality in Studio and streamlines the process to make it far simpler and much faster. It also caters to one specific, and growing, customer base: users who just want instances on Amazon's Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) service.

Unlike Studio, where you need to step through a few configuration processes before the instance you need is ready, Cloud Hosting trims it down to just a few steps. Once logged into the Cloud Hosting site, you just choose from a selection of applications and services, set the size of the Amazon instance's processor (small to micro to large), the amount of storage, and off you go. You can add multiple services on the same server instance, and better yet, as you use the nifty slider interface to choose the parameters of the instance, the Cloud Hosting site will give instant feedback of exactly how much it will cost to run the instance on Amazon.

This is an especially cool feature, since you can know if the instance is going to bust the budget. If it does, you can scale the machine down a bit if need be.

The Cloud Hosting service does more than just kick off instances. Some monitoring capabilities will be included, as well as scheduling abilities. If you don't want to run your accounting instances over the weekend, you can turn them off automatically and save some money on your monthly Amazon bill. You can even resize machine instances as needed,

This level of instance management is something that goes beyond the Studio project, according to Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock, the company that manages the BitNami Project. The BitNami Project is the brainchild of BitRock, which launched BitNami in 2007. BitNami also serves as a nice showcase for what the talent at BitRock can do with commercial offerings, such as BitRock InstallBuilder and its Custom Stacks and Virtual Appliances service.

The kind of customer Cloud Hosting is well-suited for, Brescia explained, is the customer who needs "the convenience of not having to deal with hardware but also not having to deal with a hosting provider."

Currently BitNami Cloud Hosting is in beta, but sign up is easy, and BitNami is not being to stingy with beta invites right now, Brescia tells me. At present, only PHP and Rails apps are available to run on an instance, but Java-based apps are on the way.

This is a very easy app to use, and affords users with a very fast way to get things going in the cloud. Anyone interested in getting public cloud-based services going should take a serious look at Cloud Hosting soon.

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