AWS LightSail - AWS for beginners

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Amazon LightSail is the entry level cloud hosting framework provided by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. Unlike other AWS products which cater for businesses with a high demand, Lightsail offers a simpler and more straightforward solution. It is the most straightforward way for a developer, small business, or student for example, to begin with AWS if they need a virtual private server (VPS) that doesn’t have a high demand.

Lightsail can offer compute, storage, and networking capabilities that lets people manage applications in the cloud. Servers can be created in a couple clicks and popular apps such as WordPress, Magento, and Joomla can be integrated immediately.

While Lightsail is often pitched as the entry level solution, it does offer more complicated options. Some examples of these features include supporting Linux distros and, on launch of the server, being able to specify a shell script.

What can LightSail be used for?

Simple web applications

Push web applications live with a simple procedure and a couple clicks. Development stacks such as LAMP, Nginx, MEAN, and node.js are preconfigured to make the process less complicated.

Websites

Create and customise a website to suit your particular needs. Whether a blog, e-commerce, or personal site, predefined applications help to create a website how you want it.

Business Software

Business software can be run easily, whether open source or commercial. LightSail can assist with deploying line of business software such as file storage, sharing, backups, and financial software, as well as many others.

Dev / test environments

Create and manage testing environments to probe builds without the worry of breaking a wider ecosystem.


So with the above services in mind, what are some of the defining features of  AWS LightSail?

Easy Management

The management panel of Lightsail has been carefully crafted to optimise user experience (UX). Certain key areas are quick and hassle free to navigate to. Buttons and menu items make it straightforward to find commer operations, such as a server reboot. This is as well as navigating to the Firewall, SSH connection setting, and Network statistics.

Helping you rest easier, server monitoring is provided, meaning notifications will tell you if downtime has occurred for your app or site.

Uncomplicated Integration with the Wider AWS

Depending on the provider you decide to go with, there can sometimes be concern that the package you are using won’t be able to support your ecosystem further down the line. With Lightsail, this isn’t a problem. You can easily scale up and switch between pricing packages.

Safe Networking

The LightSail servers operate on the wider AWS network. This is one of the largest and most well protected networks on the market. A network can be configured easily and safely, this includes the IP address, DNS, and firewall, amongst others.

Fixed Pricing at Affordable Rates

One of the downsides to other AWS services such as EC2 was that bills could spiral out of control. All that was needed was a bad line of code that increased demand on computing power and a bill could rocket. With LightSail, Amazon has tackled this issue by implementing a fixed monthly cost for consumed application resources. This is particularly helpful for startups and single developers that need to manage budgets tightly.

For a Linux / Unix virtual server, prices start at $3.50 a month for 512 mb of memory, 1 core processor, 20gb ssd disk and 1 TB transfer. There are 7 pricing points, with the top of the scale being $160 a month, this offers 32 GB of memory, 8 core processor, 640 GB SSD disk and a 7 tb transfer.

Windows VPS’s start at $8 a month for 512 mb memory, 1 core processor, 30 gb SSD disk and 1 tb transfer. The top end of this pricing scale is $240 a month and delivers 32 GB memory, 8 core processor, 640 GB SSD disk and 7 TB transfer.

There is also the option to try Lightsail for free for 1 month.


Overall, Lightsail is quick, straightforward to use, simple to manage, is competitively priced and can scale easily. If you currently use AWS services it can be a good match, or if you think that you’d like to use AWS products in the future.