A Lightweight DIY PaaS for Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) "Elastic Compute Cloud" provides low cost, instant on VMs that can be used to deploy any kind of service. AWS also provides a full set of APIs that make it possible to programatically allocate servers. Finally, AWS offers the ability to create "template" instances (Amazon Machine Images) that are VM snapshots.
The problem: For small scale nodejs projects, there's a lot of administrative boiler plate work that one must to set up a machine. You must install web server software, set up security policies and network access, copy up your keypair, determine how you'll deploy your software on the new VM, etc.
"Platform as a service" providers like heroku make most of these decisions for
you, providing a demand spun "vm-like" thing that you can deploy code on by
adhering to a couple conventions and
git pushing. Where heroku breaks down
is in generativity - you are limited to doing things that heroku has thought
of, and when you want to do something custom (install a new native software
library, run an experimental database for which you cannot find a third party
hosted provider) - you are screwed.
Also, heroku is relatively expensive. The moment you want to run two processes, you're paying 0.05$/hr for that process vs. on aws where you can purchase a "micro" instance for 0.02$/hr for the whole VM. The final area of expense is in "add-ons" - service providers that offer things like hosted databases, email sending, etc. A small scale database can cost another .015$/hr.
So what we want is the convenience of Heroku, and the pricing and freedom of amazon...
The solution: awsbox is a set of nodejs scripts, a command line utility, and a template image (AMI). Together it allows you to deploy a new server from the command line that is pre-configured to run your Node.JS service.
- nodejs focused - While other stacks could be supported in the future, awsbox is laser focused on node.js to start.
- full root access - awsbox just gets you started, after that you can do Whatever You Want.
- magic ssh key config - Your SSH key will be copied up and installed for you.
- git push support - After you provision a vm, it's pre-configured so you can push to deploy
- command line or programmatic usage - type at it, or script it.
- OS level user isolation - all deployed code is run with user permissions under a single account.
- HTTP forwarding with custom 503 page - http-proxy is pre-configured to forward requests to your nodejs process bound to a local port.
- SSL support - By default you're process runs with a self-signed cert. Enabling SSL support is as easy as copying up a private key and certificate in PEM format.
- WebSocket support - AWSBOX fully supports WebSockets, via socket.io or otherwise.