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AWS EC2 Primer!
on September 4, 2011
Before you get your hands into the Amazon Cloud, this book is a must read. This should be a required manual (or sorts) especially if you're thinking about skipping the free documentation available on the Amazon Web Services site.
Even before you buy this book, you can be sure that the author, Jurg van Vliet, knows AWS concepts very thoroughly because this author has also developed an iPhone and an Android app for AWS, called "Decaf". Decaf uses native AWS API calls to interact with your AWS account. Search for this author on YouTube and you'll find an interview describing this book.
This book may be slightly outdated now as the cloud space is constantly changing (read: improving). However, the core concepts around the EC2 that are covered in this book are still the same. This book gives you a great start into the core EC2 (and AWS) concepts that you must understand before you get started with EC2. For example, this book explains the differences between EBS-backed and S3-backed instances in such detail that I could not find in the EC2 documentation. This book also provides you details instructions on how to get the command-line tools set up.
A prerequisite for this book should be that you do need to have some basic understanding of programming and/or scripting. For this book (and for EC2 in general), you should also have some system administration experience (Linux or Windows). This book will not show you how to host your site on AWS but it will show you how to get started toward that goal. AWS is much more than a hosting solution so if you're only looking to host website, you may be disappointed by the contents of this book.
Currently this is the only book that covers AWS (and EC2 in particular) in this much depth. I have also read Jeff Barr's Host Your Web Site In The Cloud and if I had to pick one book out of the two, I would pick this Jurg van Vliet's book because it focuses more on EC2 and provides more in-depth coverage of topics that someone using the EC2 as utility computing will need.
The title of this book is slightly misleading because the book doesn't just cover EC2 exclusively. It goes into many of the other AWS services such as RDS, S3, CloudFront, Auto Scale, SQS, SimpleDB and SNS. I would have titled the book "Programming Amazon Web Services" because it doesn't just talk about EC2 which is just one of the many services within the AWS offering.