[OSM-dev] Amazon web services (EC2 and S3)

Nathan West nate.ewest at gmail.com
Sat Aug 16 18:20:30 BST 2008

Let me say upfront, I'm still pretty new to OSM...

I have seen in the wiki a couple of shots at coming up with an alternative
to the current way of rendering (particularly the mapnik slippy map).
I was wondering if Amazon's web services with EC2 (elastic computing cloud)
and S3 (Simple Storage Service) and possibly the Amazon SimpleDB.

AWS page here: *www.aws*.*amazon*.com

I have just started playing around with these web services for my personal
use and it basically works like this:

You create an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that defines a virtual EC2
environment for you. This AMI is uploaded to S3 where it takes off and is

They have prebuilt AMIs or you can create your own. From what I understand
this can be completely automated. Among the pre built images are
images designed to be your own personal "cloud" so one image delegates tasks
to others.

AMIs can also be defined to have certain specs, designed for different
tasks. So there could be an instance designed specifically for serving the
slippy maps.
Or there could be AMIs desgiend specifically for rendering. Since you can
dynamically create and destroy AMIs and it is scriptable, you only pay per
hour for what is used.
I understand that in general it is cost effective. (I only pay slightly more
for my personal use, and it's overkill for what I am doing)

So every time there needs to be a rerender done an compute intensive cloud
could be created. Specs just below

   $0.80 - High-CPU Extra Large Instance
      7 GB of memory, 20 EC2 Compute Units (8 virtual cores with 2.5 EC2
      Compute Units each), 1690 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform

Pricing is per instance-hour consumed for each instance type. Partial
instance-hours consumed are billed as full hours.

*EC2 Compute Unit (ECU)* - One EC2 Compute Unit (ECU) provides the
equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon
processor.   See Amazon EC2 Instance
details on available instance configurations and a complete
of an EC2 Compute Unit.
I don't know details about the current rendering environment for mapnik
tiles, but I think that instance sounds pretty beefy, and if you can run say
5 at once, with a load distributing instance the rendering time could
potentially be cut down to an hour at a cost of $4 (Prices are in USD) per
rendering session. That's $200/year just for rendering the mapnik slippy
maps at the current rate (once per week).

Someone with more detailed knowledge of server load can use the below
calculator to come up with a fairly accurate estimate of what it would cost
to run OSM off of Amazon compared to what it currently costs (I can't find
any details about that)...

http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html <-- AWS calculator.

I might just be crazy, but clouds just fascinate me... We could also
potentially work a deal with Amazon to be highlighted in one of their case
studies or featured solutions to gain more press.
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