AWS System Administration
Best Practices for Sysadmins in the Amazon Cloud
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: August 2014
Pages: 278

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After getting over the excitement of the scaling and cost-saving possibilities offered by Amazon Web Services, system administrators quickly come up against complexities and gotchas in the management of systems. How can they make sure auto-scaling kicks in when it is suppose to? How do they make sure DNS sends traffic to the right systems? How do they integrate automated management tools such as Chef and Puppet?

This book is a comprehensive guide to the administrative features of AWS and how to make the most of them to minimize your administrative work. You’ll learn how to configure and manage powerful AWS tools, such as CloudFormation, OpsWorks, Elastic Load Balancing, and Route 53. AWS administration is no easier than stand-alone server administration—it's just different, and very rewarding once you set up your automation right. This book shows you how.

Topics include:

  • CloudFormation
  • Access Management and Security Groups
  • Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing
  • Opworks
  • Building Reusable Components
  • Log Management
  • DNS with Route53
  • Monitoring
  • Backups
Table of Contents
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About the Author
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oreillyAWS System Administration
 
4.8

(based on 4 reviews)

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4.0

A valuable title for any DevOps

By Jascha

from Barcelona

About Me Developer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Well-written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Expert
    • Intermediate

    Comments about oreilly AWS System Administration:

    A vast and complex ecosystem such as that of AWS, with new features and services continuously released, requires, on the one hand, the right attitude to read, learn and keep improving; on the other hand, the availability of valuable material centered around these new features, rather than just another introduction to the basics, which is something that we can freely get through the excellent free online documentation. The shelves have been recently hit by a horde of titles dedicated to AWS. Some of them try to give the reader a quick introduction to what the Amazon Web Services are and how to get started; others focus on one of those services or move at a higher level and show the enthusiast how to combine some of them to properly setup a production environment in the cloud. AWS System Administration belongs to the latter category: it gives DevOps precious material to automate the deployment of self-healing environments on AWS through real-world examples.

    As every avid reader out there knows, as well as most cloud architects, most of the titles dedicated to AWS, despite their misleading title, do one thing: introduce some of the basic services to get anyone started. These titles often come with copy/pasted material from the Amazon's official documentation and are both a waste of money and time for the professionals. This recent trend made me doubt of AWS System Administration at first: such a thin book with such a generic title. After finishing it (it was so good that I have really devoured it!), I must admit that I am very satisfied with Ryan's efforts. While not a masterpiece, it provides very valuable material for a DevOps. The topics covered are exhaustively discussed and the examples, not borrowed from AWS!, are real-world and interesting. But let's dive into the contents.

    The author focuses on automation: self-deployment and self-healing. This translates in CloudFormation, which is the main course of the whole book, but also Auto Scaling. Other topics and services are covered, of course. But CloudFormation is the guest star. On top of this, Puppet. Ice on the cake.

    Throughout the book the author presents a complex web application build with Python Mezzanine, a fork of Django, and Celery. Pythonists rejoy! This web application is gradually built through the chapters, as different concepts are introduced as discussed. At the same time the CloudFormation stack is revisited over and over, with additions and improvements.

    A couple of notes here: first, while the author does indeed uses Django, Celery and, as aforementioned, Puppet, he does not teach you any of them. Among them, Celery is by far the hardest beast to tame, so unless the reader knows how to handle it, he could end up spending some time on Google or Stack Overflow. Puppet examples are not very complex and cover version 3 of the language. Despite this, the author shows interesting pieces of code on how to integrate it with CloudFormation, which is what we are all here for. Learning Puppet, or Celery, deserves a book on its own and there are some good ones available. Fabric is also slightly taken into the discussion, but again, do not expect to learn it here.

    Aside from this, there are a(nother) couple of things that I have particularly enjoyed and that are worth mentioning. The first is the presence of many hint boxes, short advices that provide tips to avoid common pitfalls. And second, I find particularly interesting the discussion on the different strategies to deploy EC2 instances: per role or on pre-configured AMIs.

    Before tying it all up, a word about the last chapters, those covering backups, logs and monitoring. While still interesting, they are significantly shorter and the quality of their content is lower than the previous ones.

    Overall, a book that I have really enjoyed. There are many things that I have highlighted while reading it, which suggests it has helped me improving. Certainly suggested to all DevOps out there.

    As usual, you can find more reviews on my personal blog: books.lostinmalloc.com. Feel free to pass by and share your thoughts!

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Good practical information

    By Jake

    from Taipei, Taiwan

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about oreilly AWS System Administration:

        This has a lot of good practical information to get you started. The complete example of deploying a Django app is very useful. And it covers other topics like logging. My one complaint is that it uses Puppet, where I would prefer Chef.

        (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Favorite book for AWS cloud-based apps

        By Shentonfreude

        from Arlington, VA

        About Me Developer, Sys Admin

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Easy to understand
        • Hands-on
        • Helpful examples
        • Practical

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Expert
          • Intermediate
          • Novice

          Comments about oreilly AWS System Administration:

          This is the best book I've read on using AWS to build cloud-native apps. It's really pragmatic, with code examples showing common patterns you'll encounter building your own apps. I switch back and forth between the AWS docs and this book, for details and for more HOWTO information, and back again once I start getting things working. For example, the AWS docs tell you about Roles but don't show clearly what this book does -- that you need to associate a Policy, then an instance Profile.

          The author seems to have a ton of experience with apps on AWS, and the many services it offers. Great resource for those like me who don't have such a long term exposure.

          It's not complete yet, but something I refer to extensively as I build out my app.

          Thanks for a very helpful book.

          (0 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Great Book

          By Baz

          from Amsterdam

          Comments about oreilly AWS System Administration:

          Love it

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