Intro to cloud computing using AWS

By Jake Warner UNCW center for bioinformatics


If you’re on this page, you’ve likely been tasked with getting an analysis pipeline, web server, or other such utility onto the cloud. This guide covers how to set up an AWS ec2 instance, how to sign into an aws instance using ssh, and how to transfer files to an ec2 instance using scp.

Getting started:

First things first. If you don’t have an Amazon ec2 account now’s the time to register. Note that they have a free tier (which is just barrrrely enough to get a web server running fyi…) and an Educate program.

Amazon offers a variety of virtual machine configurations, termed instances, with different cpu, memory, and storage configurations. You’ll likely use a T2 or C5 instance if you’re like me. In addition to these there are a variety of options for storage volumes that can be mounted to an instance.

For the sake of this tutorial we will walkthrough the spin up of a t2.micro instance (free tier eligible).

Once you log in to Amazon ec2, click ‘Launch a virtual machine’:

On the next page, you will be prompted to select an Image, which is essentially a collection of software that comes pre-installed on the instance. You can make and save your own image FYI for routine work, and there many community images that include all the useful stuff like anaconda, python, R, etc. For this tutorial we will just start a basic ubuntu image:

On the next step, choose the instance type. Check this for a description of your options.

On this step you can add additional storage. Check this for storage options.

Click through to the security step. This one is important. Here you’re going to want to white list your local computer’s IP address so that you can log onto the instance. Note that if you have a dynamically assigned address, or if you are constantly logging in from different networks, you will have to update this white-listed IP each time your address changes. If you have a static IP (like for your work computer that lives at work) then you’re good to go.