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AWS Lightsail Review - Amazon's New Solution for Fast Setup and Effortless Management

As Ruby on Rails developers, we have used AWS for a long time at Netguru. Amazon’s services such as S3, EC2 or RDS made our work not only easier and more convenient, but also increased the security of many projects. A few months ago, during re:Invent 2016, which took place in Las Vegas, Amazon launched a new service, and we think we are all going to fall in love with it. The new service is AWS Lightsail.

Lightsail is a brand-new Web Service built by Amazon, which allows you to set up your very own Virtual Private Server (or VPS). So what is it all about, and why do we recommend it so much? Have a look below.

Fast Setup

Creating a new VPS for Wordpress, Gitlab, or even a pure OS like Ubuntu 16.04 takes only a few clicks – no excessive waiting time, no devops skills required. Your server will be ready in a matter of minutes. Simple and reliable.

Not sure if you’ll like it? You can test Lightsail for free for a month. Giving it a spin won’t eat up too much of your time, either.

Effortless Management

We need to admit that Amazon did a great job designing the management panel for Lightsail. Thanks to its fantastic UX, accessing things like the Firewall, SSH connection settings, or Metrics (including CPU utilisation and Network statistics) is extraordinarily straightforward. You’ll also receive server monitoring right off the bat, so you won’t have to worry that your app or website will suffer downtime without your knowledge.

You’ll save money on management work, and you’ll keep your developers happy, because any necessary actions will be carried out very quickly. A win-win situation, if you ask us.

Low Pricing

As Lightsail’s official website proclaims, the starting price for their VPS is 5$ per month for a single-core processor, 512MB of memory, 20GB of SSD storage and 1TB of data transfer, which is a genuinely competitive offer. Other VPS providers, such as DigitalOcean, won’t be able to win customers over by offering lower prices, because Lightsail gives – at the very least – the same value for a similar amount of money.

We recommend AWS not only because it’s trustworthy, but it will also reduce the amount of administrative work you’ll have to deal with. If your app requires AWS resources to host images, for instance, it will be easier to cover all the costs on one bill. A minor detail, perhaps, but if Amazon is happy to offer value for money, why not take it?

Easy to Connect with Any Other Amazon Web Service

You don’t need to worry that the Lightsail bundle you choose now won’t be enough for your app in a few months, as you can easily switch between pricing plans. If you need anything extra, you will most likely get it through other AWS services.

Behind the scenes, every VPS you launch in Lightsail is placed inside a so-called “shadow” Virtual Private Cloud (or VPC), which can’t be seen from the AWS Management Console. Yet, if you need to access any other AWS resource from your VPS, you can do this by enabling VPC peering in VPS settings from the Lightsail management panel.

A Good Choice Overall

Lightsail is fast, simple to use, easy to manage, cheap, and scalable. We recommend it, especially if you already use AWS or if you think you will require any of their services in the future.

We scored some of the most important aspects of Lightsail for your convenience:

Setup speed: 5/5

It’s fast, easy and painless.

Management cost: 5/5

Very low!

Price: 4/5

Cheaper options exist, though they are not necessarily a better choice.

Performance: 4/5

It’s good but not the best out there in all situations. Lightsail seems to fall a bit behind Linode in terms of memory, for example. You can find more details here.

Overall: 4/5

A good choice as a starter server for Ruby on Rails projects.

Further Reading

You can read more about Lightsail in the blogpost written by Jeff Barr. And if you think you could still use some advice on choosing the perfect server for your app, here’s a guide we wrote some time ago. You can also get in touch with us directly and ask!

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