Next Level Ops Podcast: Using Cloud Services for Your Hosting or Website with Lukas Hertig

Hello Pleskians! This week we’re back with the sixth episode of the Official Plesk Podcast: Next Level Ops. In this installment, Superhost Joe welcomes back Lukas Hertig, our Highest Order Pleskian, to have a chat about hyperscale cloud services.

In This Episode: Cloud-Washing, Competing in a Hyperscale Cloud Environment and Specializing Your Niche

What do we mean when we’re talking about cloud services? What is a hyperscale cloud provider? How can hosting companies compete in a hyperscale cloud environment? Joe and Lukas get the ball rolling on cloud computing in this week’s Next Level Ops. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of “cloud-washing” out there in the market,” says Lukas.

“If you want to use cloud services, it depends highly on your use case or your business. All the great stuff that we’re personally using today - Netflix, Uber, Shopify - is backed by cloud services.”

Lukas Hertig

The main idea behind cloud computing is that it lets you share resources. Amazon was the first to consider this idea when it wanted to scale its services back in the 2000s. Companies can now run their applications on top of technology infrastructure provided by Amazon Web Services. These days, cloud computing is available globally. And a few big competitors have entered the market. One of the biggest advantages cloud services provide is that you can keep your data and your services where your customers are.

That said, in what circumstances can a company use cloud services? “If you want to use cloud services, it depends highly on your use case or your business,” says Lukas. “All the great stuff that we’re personally using today – Netflix, Uber, Shopify – is backed by cloud services.”

Key Takeaways

  • Advantages of using cloud services. There has been concern among European companies about privacy in the cloud. However, today cloud providers are fully compliant with GDPR and local privacy regulations. This has made it easier for businesses to use such services. Using cloud services also depends on your use case. If you are a large enterprise, it allows you to spin up servers closest to your customers at the click of a button. When you are a start-up, it allows you to scale your services very fast.
  • Competing in a hyperscale cloud environment. Hyperscale cloud providers have made cloud infrastructure a commodity. So you need to find new ways to compete on a different layer, not just at the infrastructure level. For hosting companies that means moving from “generalist” to “specialist” managed services. Hosting companies should investigate what niche their customers belong to. This will enable them to provide more targeted technologies and services to their end users.
  • Partnering with hyperscale cloud providers. You can partner with companies like AWS and DigitalOcean using their partner programs and build on top of their hyperscale cloud. These companies are huge but they’re also human! It’s not all about competing but using existing services and building strategic relationships for growth.
  • Benefiting from hyperscale cloud technology. The rise of the platform plays a role here, i.e. look at platforms like Wix and Shopify who are actually using hyperscale cloud infrastructure to provide services to their users. Companies can develop more customized solutions using technology from hyperscalers. These solutions may not even be possible without hyperscaler technology!

…Alright Pleskians, it’s time to hit the play button if you want to hear the rest. If you’re interested in hearing more from Lukas, check out this episode. If you’re interested in knowing more about cloud service models, take a look at this guide. Remember you can find all episodes of the official Plesk Podcast here and here. And if you liked this episode, don’t forget to subscribe and leave a rating and review in Apple Podcast. We’ll be back soon with the next installment.

The Official Plesk Podcast: Next Level Ops Featuring

Joe Casabona

Joe is a college-accredited course developer. He is the founder of Creator Courses.

Lukas Hertig

Lukas is the SVP Business Development & Strategic Alliances at Plesk.

As always, remember to update your daily podcast playlist with Next Level Ops. And stay on the lookout for our next episode!

Top 8 AWS Developer Tools You Should Know About

Top 8 AWS Developer Tools

Amazon is launching a set of AWS Developers Tools whose goal is to simplify DevOps so IT professionals can work faster, easier and more efficiently. The main purpose behind these AWS tools is to have the customer or developer be continuously “confident they’ll be able to find a tool for their job”, says Aron Kao, Amazon Web Services’ Senior Manager Product Marketing. So how about you – ready to code, test and deploy automatically with the help of AWS?

AWS CodeDeploy

The CodeDeploy tool lets you automatically deploy applications and update servers and instances of any size. This means a significantly easier workload for developers and quicker releases of new products and features.

AWS CodePipeline

AWS CodePipeline essentially automates the process of releasing a new software and works following the previous models the developer created. CodePipeline automates the phases of compilation, testing and implementation of the launch process each time someone makes an update or modification to the code.

AWS CodeCommit

This cloud-based source control service works with Git tools so you can avoid managing and scaling a version control system. Amazon Web Services released this solution to improve software quality and reduce the time it takes to continuously release new updates.

AWS CodeBuild

AWS CodeBuild works alongside AWS CodePipeline to provide a simpler method of building and testing code. AWS CodeBuild helps you avoid delays in producing software packages as it continually escalates and processes several compilations at the same time, thus removing them from the waiting queue. Also, there’s no need to set anything up or update as this service is fully-managed from the get go.

Blue-Green Deployment on AWS Quick Start

You can Blue-Green Deployment in order to create a CI/CD pipeline in under 20 minutes. It works with AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which is useful to deploy and manage apps in the cloud with no support infrastructure limits. This tool even lowers the risk of you accidentally using identical Blue-Green environments.

AWS Config

We recommend using Config to track AWS resource configuration changes and evaluate them against defined rules. It also verify if any change violate the rules. If it happens, AWS Config will mark the resource.

AWS Amplify for Mobile Development Framework

Building mobile backends have never been so easy. The Amplify tool includes UI components, a command line interface and a set of libraries to integrate your backend in any mobile and/or web app.

AWS Cloud Development Kit

Currently in developer preview, this AWS Cloud solution can give your team a high-level, oriented framework that helps you define your resources in whatever programming language you’re using. You can also build your AWS infrastructure using AWS Construct Library – a set of modules pre-built by the company.

Which AWS Development Tool do you think is most useful? Tell us in the comments.

Cloud giant AWS is one of our top hyperscale partners, allowing Plesk users to scale into the cloud and tap into AWS resources that can help grow their business exponentially. Try Plesk on AWS to experience all these solutions and more.

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities (1): Hosters, Cloud Providers & Plesk

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities - Hosters, Cloud Providers and Plesk - Plesk

Cryptocurrencies lost a chunk of their value in the last nine months – and I lost most of my money! Blockchain and legal cryptocurrency issues – Ring any bells? You may have heard about the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto inventing the first cryptocurrency in the world – Bitcoin (more details in this Bitcoin whitepaper). And thus, hidden Blockchain opportunities for hosting and cloud providers.

Being active in global closed Blockchain user groups, like Crypto Explorers and Nextblock, I learned from higher profiles than myself. Now I’m a Chainstack advisor, which is like Plesk for Enterprise Blockchains – a spin-off of our partner, Acronis. And here’s my take on all the Blockchain hype.

Blockchain opportunities across different levels

Blockchain started by solving what any cryptocurrency solves: the “double spend problem”. So if you think about copy/pasting files today, they’re all identical files. With cryptocurrencies – that can’t happen. And there’s more to come.

Like storing in a secure, decentralized (not controlled by a company/person) system that nobody can change. Since they’re decentralized, they’re all open source!

Moreover, the organizations owning the intellectual properties are mostly consensus and direct democracy-based foundations. This is to make sure intellectual property survives any commercial failures a company may have. Here’s a 2-minute video that sums it up nicely:

But that wasn’t enough. Later came Ethereum, based on a more advanced concept allowing a “smart contract” on top of Blockchain. Basically, self-executing computer programs that are legal contracts. But with more dependencies and automatic execution of clauses than possible with a traditional contract. Here’s a 90-second Ethereum overview and how smart contracts work on top of a Blockchain:

This not only changes legal models across many industries, but economic ones too! The following 15 minutes dig into a range of opportunities for kids to experienced adults to experts:

And what about other cryptocurrencies like EOS, IOTA, Tezos, NEO, DASH and more? They’re just different blockchains (decentralized encrypted computing networks and protocols), similar to Bitcoin, but mostly to Ethereum.

What’s Plesk doing in the Blockchain space?

We have a network of 382,000 servers, hyper-decentralized across various data centers worldwide. So we’ve already developed prototypes. Soon you may be able to offer your Plesk server’s spare hard disk space on the decentralized storage network. And vice versa, backup your server or website into decentralized storage.

Soon, we’ll launch a new Plesk Extension: Cloudbric. Cloudbric is a spin-off of Penta Security Systems in Korea, and one of the leading cyber security companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Cloudbric offers an advanced WAF (Web Application Firewall) and is transforming into a Blockchain-based company. Soon available as a one-click experience within the Plesk ecosystem.

Plesk is also an alpha partner of STORJ, the decentralized cloud object storage that’s affordable, easy, private and secure. STORJ is Amazon S3 compatible and will be integrated as a Plesk Extension early 2019 as STORJ goes into production.

Besides focusing on simplifying the lives of web professionals, Plesk will add more useful tools and products on top of the platform. Helping cloud and hosting providers increase their success. Such tools might be extended with Blockchain use cases over time, so watch this space!

Current Blockchain drawbacks we can solve

First of all, you might have heard that operating any Blockchain network requires a lot of power and parts. Bitcoin and Ethereum need mining – computing puzzles that a decentralized network participant needs to solve to append the decentralized leger. The leger is where info is stored, unchangeable and encrypted via “blocks” that build a “chain”.

Bitcoin Mining requires hard-to-get ASIC chips and Ethereum needs scarce graphic cards. This process is inefficient and expensive to operate. However, it’s very secure, and is technically “Proof of Work.” Now, although Proof of Work is an operational requirement for many Blockchains, it isn’t the preferred way.

First of all, it’s expensive and only worth it if prices are high. And because of special hardware requirements, it’s not for everyone and not at scale. This is why other Blockchains and their cryptocurrencies invented “Proof of Stake” – something that Ethereum are still aiming to reach this year or next.

Blockchain benefits for hosters and cloud providers

Proof of Stake would result in being able to operate Blockchains on completely standard infrastructure and hardware – without any special requirements. Basically, making it available for everyone. And this is where hosting and cloud service providers come in.

You have 100s or 1,000s of servers on stock, and many of them idle or not fulfilling full potential. So take this opportunity to join a new world and spend computing power on a potentially more useful concept. Check the market leaders in the field – hyperscale cloud providers Amazon, Azure, Google and IBM – They’re already on it. What about you?

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Hidden Blockchain Opportunities series next Monday where we’ll dive into detailed use cases for hosting and cloud service provides!

How to deploy Plesk Onyx on Amazon EC2

Plesk on AWS

In the latest Magic Quadrant report for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide, for the 6th straight year, Gartner placed Amazon Web Services in the “Leaders” quadrant and named AWS as having both the furthest completeness of vision and the highest ability to execute. Today, AWS provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world.

What is AWS?

Amazon web services is the cloud computing platform by Amazon.com. Building and running your business starts with computing, whether you are building mobile apps, or running massive clusters to sequence the human genome. AWS has over 70 infrastructure services, such as computing power, storage options, networking and databases, delivered as a utility: on-demand, available in seconds, with pay-as-you-go pricing.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) forms a central part of Amazon Web Services, by allowing users to rent virtual computers on which to run their own computer applications. EC2 encourages scalable deployment of applications by providing a web service through which a user can boot an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) to configure a virtual machine, which Amazon calls an “instance”, containing any software desired.

A user can create, launch, and terminate server-instances as needed, paying by the hour for active servers – hence the term “elastic”. EC2 provides users with control over the geographical location of instances that allows for latency optimization and high levels of redundancy.

Amazon EC2Image: Amazon

AWS Global Infrastructure

AWS placed its data centers across 42 availability zones within 16 regions around the world: US West (Oregon, Northern California), AWS GovCloud, US East (Northern Virginia, Ohio), Canada (Central), South America (Sao Paulo), Europe (Ireland, Frankfurt, London), Asia Pacific (Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai) and China (Beijing). Each availability zone has at least one data center that has redundant power for stability, networking and connectivity.

AWS regionsImage: Amazon

Throughout the next year, the AWS Global Infrastructure will expand with at least five new Availability Zones in new geographic Regions: Ningxia in China and Paris in France.

Run any application

If you need to run any application, for example a WordPress website or control and manage server or cluster level functions such as scaling and deployment, well then AWS EC2 is the best! It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

  • You provision, scale, and manage server capacity. EC2 offers a wide selection of instance configurations optimized for every use case
  • You control the server, OS, and deployment software
  • You have flexible payment options to meet your business needs, including enabling BYOL

Benefits

    • Inexpensive

Amazon EC2 passes on to you the financial benefits of Amazon’s scale. You pay a very low rate for the compute capacity you actually consume. See Amazon EC2 Instance Purchasing Options for a more detailed description.

  • Elastic Web-Scale Computing

    Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is all controlled with web service APIs, your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs.

  • Designed for use with other Amazon Web Services

    Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Domain Name System (Amazon Route 53), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon SimpleDB and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) to provide a complete solution for computing, query processing and storage across a wide range of applications.

    Tip: Should you decide to make the move to the cloud with the Amazon Route 53 service, we recommend that you use the Plesk Onyx extension for automated provisioning of DNS zones to Amazon Web Services.

  • Reliable

    Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and predictably commissioned. The service runs within Amazon’s proven network infrastructure and data centers. The Amazon EC2 Service Level Agreement commitment is 99.95% availability for each Amazon EC2 Region.

  • Secure

    Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon VPC to provide security and robust networking functionality for your computing resources.

Simplify Server Administration

  • Managing Infrastructure

    For all server needs – small businesses and IT Pros that want to host a few websites, web developers and designers that need to host dozens of websites, shared web hosters that can grow to serve millions of websites – Plesk Onyx on AWS is the ideal solution for simplifying server administration, while scaling to meet your specific needs.

  • Easy to Start

    Quickly get started with Amazon EC2 by visiting AWS Marketplace to choose preconfigured software on Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). You can quickly deploy this software to EC2 via 1-Click launch or with the EC2 console.

AWS MarketplaceImage: Amazon

What is Plesk Onyx?

Plesk Onyx is the new benchmark in control panels, and is the only tool you ever need to build, secure and run websites and applications in the Cloud!

Plesk Onyx allows server administrators to set up new websites, manage accounts and e-mail, and oversee DNS entries and other relevant networking data and specs through an intuitive web-based interface. It is an intuitive control panel that any customer can easily use. The latest version of Plesk Onyx supports multiple Windows and Linux distributions, for example Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, and many more – meaning you have even less to worry about if you have a customized network setup or if you are unsure about compatibility.

Gain time, gain freedom.

Our biggest release to date simplifies the lives of Web Professionals by fully integrating Docker and Git. Server related tasks and components are automated to run and scale web projects as well as providing one-click web server security. The ultimate answer for Web professionals who work with SMB’s (small to medium-sized businesses), we like to think of Plesk Onyx as a tool which empowers end users to easily deploy their web projects and get their MVP’s to market sooner.

What are the benefits/features?

  • Build: Plesk’s easy-to-use intuitive interface provides an environment for web professionals to code directly in. This allows developers and designers to focus on their business and develop web apps and sites that scale in the cloud.

  • Secure: It is not uncommon to have well-functioning websites that do not take security concerns into consideration. Such an approach can have huge negative consequences as your services continue to run and be exposed. An estimated 90% of web developers realize specific security concerns or loopholes in their application only after it is too late. Plesk will handle all security protocols and take necessary measures for you, automatically.

  • Run: Manage your WebOps: In the past, a team of tech specialists was needed to ensure that everything worked together throughout the running and deployment of any given web application. This meant that you had to have someone dedicated to ensuring that everything from the deployment, running, maintenance and security to the patching and repairing of your app or system, runs smoothly and successfully. However, with the progress of time, these tasks have become more and more automated, to the point where you do not need the same expensive technical resources you needed a few years ago.

Plesk Onyx also includes a tightly integrated set of mass-management and security tools that can be used to protect and automate WordPress. All Plesk-powered systems come with built-in server-to-site security, promising more reliable infrastructure and reduced support costs.

Plesk Onyx Featured ApplicationsImage: Plesk Onyx

Now that you’re familiar with AWS EC2 and Plesk you’re ready to take the next steps. There’s no better way of finding out about the powerful capabilities of AWS than by trying out the platform.

Getting started with Plesk Onyx and AWS EC2

 

1. Creating an AWS Account

To access any web service AWS offers, you must first create an AWS account. An AWS account is simply an Amazon.com account that is enabled to use AWS products. You can use an existing Amazon.com account login and password when creating the AWS account.

From your AWS account you can view your AWS account activity, view usage reports, and manage your AWS Security Credentials.

To set up a new account

1. Open https://aws.amazon.com/, and then choose Create a Free Account.

2. Follow the online instructions.

3. Part of the sign-up procedure involves receiving a phone call and entering a PIN using the phone keypad.

Note: You will not be charged unless your usage exceeds the free tier limits, which is great to explore the services and even host a real app without being charged.

 

2. Go to the AWS Marketplace

AWS Marketplace is a new way to find and buy software that runs in the AWS Cloud. In order to simplify installing on Amazon, Plesk provides a variety of AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) with the most popular configurations.

Plesk Onyx at AWS Marketplace Image: Amazon

Thus, no actual installation is required. In Amazon terminology, the user needs to launch the instance from the appropriate AMI. All available AMIs can be found at AWS Marketplace.

Note: In this How-to we use the ‘Bring Your Own License’ (BYOL) instance of Plesk Onyx CentOS 7 which allows you to use your own Plesk license. If you don’t have one yet, you can get a free trial license here.

Bring Your Own License

 

1. Click on Plesk Onyx ‘Bring Your Own License’ (CentOS 7), read the product description to make sure that it suits your needs.

2. Expand Region, and select the region you want from the list. The price is different for different regions.

3. Click the Continue button.

Plesk Onyx - Bring Your Own LicenseImage: Amazon

4. On the next site choose 1-Click Launch which uses predefined settings for Plesk Onyx.

5. Choose the configuration on the EC2 instance type. You will see the pricing information change under Pricing Details to match your selection. You can also review the Monthly Estimate in the right pane.

6. Create new Security Group based on seller settings. The Security Group created by AWS Marketplace based on recommended settings for Plesk ‘Bring Your Own License’ CentOS 7 version 17.0.17.

Plesk Onyx 'Bring Your Own License' (CentOS 7)Image: Amazon

7. Select the Key Pair to be used for connection to the instance (an existing Key Pair is required for connection to the Plesk instance). A Key Pair can be generated in the AWS Management Console.

8. Read the User End License Agreement (EULA) and AWS Customer Agreement and click Launch with 1-click button.

9. An instance of this software is now deploying on EC2. Software and AWS hourly usage fees apply when the instance is running and will appear on your monthly bill.

An instance of this software is now deploying on Amazon EC2Image: Amazon

10. Click on the AWS Management Console link in the right pane to get your instances list.

3. Connecting the instance via SSH

When Plesk is installed on an Amazon EC2 instance, the admin password is generated automatically. You need to obtain the generated password in order to access Plesk GUI for the first time.

Amazon EC2 - Connecting the instance via SSHImage: Amazon

1. Open up your favorite SSH client application and connect to the instance utilizing the public IP address assigned to the instance, that can be found in the right pane of the instances description.

2. User name: The remote user to log in as. The default admin user, or Superuser, is centos for Centos, ubuntu for Ubuntu.

Note: If you added a public SSH key to your instance when you created it, you must have the private SSH key of the key pair (and passphrase, if it has one).

3. Generate a one-time login for logging in to Plesk Onyx.

Run the following command:

 # sudo plesk login | grep -v ec2.internal

SSH into your instance

4. Copy the generated link into your browser.

4. Running the Installation/Configuration wizard

1. When you log into Plesk Onyx, you will see the View Selector page. On this page, you can choose the appearance of the panel as per your requirements.

Plesk Onyx Installation WizardImage: Plesk Onyx

Once your purpose has been identified, a second drop-down menu will emerge asking you select your preferred layout. This can be changed later.

2. Then comes the Settings page. Here you need to fill in your hostname, IP configuration, and admin password.

  • New hostname: Fill in your hostname (Public DNS).
  • Default IP Address: Select your IP address
  • New password: Change the default administrator password.

Plesk Onyx settingsImage: Plesk Onyx

3. Next is the Administrator information page. Just fill in the information asked and proceed to the next page.

4. After that comes the license key install page. You can order, retrieve and install a 14-day full-featured trial license from this page. Since you have already purchased a license key, proceed with installing the license key.

5. On the Create your Webspace page you can specify the domain name of your first subscription, and system user account username and password that you will use to manage it. This will create a subscription for hosting multiple sites.

6. Woohoo! Plesk is now configured!

Plesk Onyx Image: Plesk Onyx

Thank you to the whole Amazon team for co-authoring this write-up and for providing feedback and technical insights on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Be well, do good, and stay Plesky!