Category: Cloud Computing


Since the process of configuring Microsoft SQL Server is easy, but not exactly obvious, I’ve laid out step-by-step instructions on how to do this. Did I mention it is free? Well, 750 hours a month for free (I’ll wait while you do the math).

  1. Sign into Amazon Web Services console. If this is the first time working with AWS, credit card authorization ($1.00) and a phone call verification will be performed. From scratch, this process takes about 10 minutes to complete.
  2. Once the console is loaded , click “Launch Instance”.
  3. Select Windows 2008 x64 with SQL Express and IIS and click “Select”.
  4. On the following screen, make sure “micro” is selected and click “Continue”.
  5. On the Advance Instance Detail page, make sure shutdown behavior is “stop”, click “Continue”.
  6. A name can be entered on the Keys page to distinguish it from other servers, then click “Continue”.
  7. Creating a key pair will allow Remote Desktop Access to the EC2 instance. This is needed. Name the key, then click “Create and download”. Download the .pem file to a place where it will not be lost. You are using Dropbox, right? Click “Continue”.
  8. The Security Group page configures which ports will allow incoming traffic. It is like the external firewall. By default ports 80 (IIS), 3389 (RDP) and 1433 (SQL) are allowed. Create a new security group with these default settings and click “Continue”.
  9. Verify all the settings are correct on the last page. Pay specific attention to Instance Type (should be micro) Shutdown behavior (should be stop) and key pair name (should match what was created in step 7). Click “Launch”.
  10. The server will be created and configured, then it will spin up and be ready for use. This process usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes.
  11. Once the server is ready, check the box next to the new server name, then click “Instance Management”, when the context menu opens, click “Get Windows Password”.
  12. On the screen that opens up, click “Choose File” and browse to where the .pem file was saved from step 7. This will decrypt the administrator password. Copy and paste this password in a new note. You are using Evernote, right?
  13. Find the Public DNS Address in the instance details pane. Copy and paste this address into your Evernote note.
  14. Open a Remote Desktop Client – I’m partial to CoRD.
  15. Create a new RDP connection. The server name will be the address from step 13. The username will be administrator and the password will be from step 12. Go ahead and forward disks as well.
  16. Once an RDP connection is established with the new server (pretty cool right? Remember this is free!), go ahead and change the administrative password to something easier to remember. Click the Start menu, select Control Panel, click User Accounts and step through the wizard to change the password – make note of the updated password.
  17. Log off the server and reconnect using the new password.
  18. Internet Explorer is a nightmare on a server OS. I keep a standalone installer of Google Chrome in my Dropbox. This is why we forwarded the disks in step 15. Open up My Computer and browse to the installer file using the \\tsclient drives. This step is not relevant to this exercise, but it is just good practice.
  19. We are now ready to configure SQL Server. Click the start menu and browse to SQL Server Management Studio.
  20. Once it loads (it will take a little bit the first time), logon using the credentials that are pre-populated.
  21. Right click on the server name (at the top of the tree view) and select “Properties”. A dialog box will open up.
  22. Click the security tab and change the Server authentication to be “SQL Server and Windows Authentication mode”. This is also know as mixed mode. Click “OK” to close the dialog and press “OK” to the next dialog telling you to restart the server (it doesn’t mean the entire server, just the service running SQL Server – not exactly intuitive naming in my opinion).
  23. Right click on the server name and select “Restart”, click “Yes” to the “are you sure” prompt.
  24. Once the SQL Server is restarted, expand the “Security” node, then expand the “Logins” node. Right click “sa” and select properties.
  25. Create and confirm a new password. Then click into the “Status” pane and change it to  “Enabled” under “Login”. Click “OK”.
  26. At this point, Management Studio should be closed and reopened using the new credentials for testing. Change the Authentication mode to “SQL Server” and enter “sa” for the user and the password created it step 25.

We are finished! Management Studio can be opened up from a different computer, enter the address from step 13 and control the SQL Server instance remotely.

A couple things to remember.

  • There is only about 9 or 10 GB free after everything is installed and configured. This should not be used for Wikipedia clones.
  • There is only 613 MB of RAM. Make sure to log off Windows after finishing RDP sessions to conserve resources.
  • The Public DNS Address will change if the server is restarted from Windows or stopped and restarted from the AWS console. If this server is going to be used for anything other than testing, an elastic IP should be configured.

 

 

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Companies that have as many as 400 servers, including machines running internally as well as in public clouds, can start using a hosted management tool from ScaleXtreme, starting Tuesday.

ScaleXtreme has been offering a limited version of its hosted cloud systems management service but on Tuesday is launching the full commercial product, including a free version as well as a premium service.

“By being hosted in the cloud, we have this level of geographic independence and virtualization platform independence that we designed in that allows us to take machines from different providers like Amazon and Rackspace and pull them into a single pain of glass,” said Nand Mulchandani, co-founder and CEO of ScaleXtreme.

In addition to managing servers available from cloud services like Amazon and Rackspace, users can tie their internal clouds into the same ScaleXtreme management console.

To get started, an IT administrator must install an agent on the virtual machines to be managed in the ScaleXtreme service. For RackSpace and Amazon, users can automatically launch new machines from the ScaleXtreme tool. For internal machines or those hosted by providers that ScaleXtreme doesn’t yet support, a user must download the agent and upload it to the machines using an auto installer.

Because the agent runs on the virtual machine, users don’t have to open their firewall or open ports on the virtual machine itself, reducing security risks, Mulchandani said.

Once IT administrators have linked all their machines into the tool, they can live browse onto any of them, copy files between clouds, and deploy scripts on multiple machines that could be running in different geographies and by different providers.

“You can start running jobs and do system management across those clouds sitting on the couch at home,” Mulchandani said. “You don’t need a VPN connection and you don’t have to connect to all the different data centers to run those jobs.”

ScaleXtreme also includes a library where administrators can store scripts. It features version control so users can easily revert to previous versions. From the library, an administrator can run the scripts by choosing which servers to run it on.

Starting Tuesday, a free version of the service called ScaleXtreme Xpress will be available to anyone. It only allows for one log-in account and is limited to use on one cloud provider. A user can manage an unlimited number of servers, however.

The upgraded ScaleXtreme Xpert costs US$15 per server per month and supports multiple administrator log ins and other features such as the ability to batch management activities based on parameters such as the operating system running on the machine or the machine’s geographic location. Users can manage internal machines as well as machines run by multiple external cloud providers.

– IDG News Service

Just one day after Dell announced its first infrastructure-as-a-service offering, the company is jumping deeper into the cloud. Dell will offer a family of hosted software applications for small and midsized businesses, through partnerships with Salesforce.com, Microsoft, Intuit, and others, the computer maker announced Tuesday.

The first service, Salesforce.com’s CRM (customer relationship management) system, is available through Dell now, the company said. Next year Dell will offer hosted versions of Microsoft’s Dynamics GP ERP (enterprise resource planning) software and Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software, as well as other services, it said.

Dell’s pitch is that it will tie the services together on the back-end using its recently acquired Boomi integration software, so that a customer’s CRM software can talk to its accounting software, for example. It says it will integrate both cloud and on-premise applications. That’s something smaller businesses, without large IT departments, may not want to do themselves.

Dell will also offer, by the middle of next year, a hosted analytics service that works across all its hosted applications, providing managers with a “unified view” of their business through a “cross-platform dashboard,” Dell said in a statement.

The services are a smart move for Dell, said industry analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. They allow the company to draw on its large base of small and midsized business customers to build a software hosting business.

“A lot of SMBs aren’t going to want to do the integration of all these different applications in the cloud, so Dell is putting together a package that does it for them,” Wang said.

The services, called the Dell Cloud Business Applications, are being announced in conjunction with Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. They will be Dell-branded and delivered with “business grade single sign-on and security,” Dell said.

Some questions remain, such as how quickly next year Dell will roll out additional services. Executives at an event for press and analysts in San Francisco on Tuesday declined to give further details about timing. And they wouldn’t say whose software Dell will use for the analytics service, or how much that service will cost when it launches next year.

Dell is charging standard list prices for the Salesforce.com and Boomi services, said Steve Felice, president of Dell’s consumer and SMB businesses. A package including five Salesforce.com seats and a Boomi license to integrate two applications costs $565 per month, according to Dell’s Web site. Implementation services for Salesforce.com start at $5,000.

Dell isn’t hosting the Salesforce applications itself; they will remain in one of Salesforce’s own data centers, said Paulette Altmaier, a vice president with Dell’s “solutions” group. Dell will pull the customer’s Salesforce into one of its own data centers, where it will host the analytics and integration services, she said.

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