Amazon Lightsail: How To Set Up Your First Instance

In 2016, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched a new service called Amazon Lightsail. Amazon Lightsail is a flat-rate, low-cost computing solution with easy setup and low maintenance. In the server hosting world, these systems are known as Virtual Private Servers (VPS).

Amazon Lightsail VPS is a scaled-down version of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). For production workloads, EC2 instances require a range of fine-tuning like choosing the right Amazon Machine Image (AMI), placement in a virtual private cloud (VPC), assigning security groups, configuring network interfaces, and so on.

Amazon Lightsail instances don’t need any of these. This ease of set up and operation means that Lightsail instances don’t need to be maintained by dedicated server teams. They are ideal for developers, enthusiasts, and small teams.

In this post, I will show you how to set up an Amazon Lightsail instance and we’ll talk about why Amazon decided to get into the VPS market. In part two of this series, we will compare Amazon Lightsail to an established VPS provider like DigitalOcean.

Amazon Lightsail: Setting up your first instance

Setting up a Lightsail VPS is fairly straightforward. The Lightsail website can be accessed from the AWS console.
AWS Compute Solutions
In the following images, we are setting up a bare metal Ubuntu server from the main Lightsail console.
Creating an AWS Lightsail Instance
Choosing AWS Lightsail Instance Base OS
There is also an option to create servers from one of the base images. These images provide applications bundled with an operating system so you don’t have to install them manually:
Amazon Lightsail Application Images
We are not using any launch scripts:
AWS Lightsail Instance Launch Script
Note that if you want Lightsail to create the SSH key for the instance, you can download the private key only once. You can also upload the public part of an existing SSH key, and Lightsail assumes that you have access to the private key.
Generating SSH Key
Downloading SSH Key
We also chose to assign our server 1 GB of RAM, 1 vCPU, and a 30 GB SSD disk with a monthly data transfer rate of 2 TB. The instance will cost is $10 per month (USD). We have named our instance “Test_Ubuntu”:
Choosing AWS Lightsail Instance Size, Location, and Name

It takes less than a minute to provision the server, and it will also be assigned a public IP address. Clicking on the three vertical dots on the instance resource will open a menu from where we can stop, restart, delete, connect to, or manage the instance:
Popup Menu for AWS Lightsail Instance
The connect option will open a new browser window with SSH access, as shown below:
AWS Lightsail Instance Direct_SSH Access

Selecting Manage from the menu or clicking on the instance name in the dashboard will take us to a different screen:
Managing AWS Lightsail Instance
Clicking on “Connect using SSH” will again open the separate SSH screen in the browser. Most users would want to access the instance with a terminal program like PuTTy or from the OS command prompt. Other tabs of the instance’s property page are used for different purposes:

  • Metrics: The performance metrics for Lightsail instances are the same as those available for EC2, only fewer in number. As with CloudWatch metrics, these are available for up to two weeks. The metrics include:
    • CPU Utilization (%)
    • NetworkIn (incoming bytes received by all network interfaces)
    • NetworkOut (outgoing bytes sent by all network interfaces)
    • StausCheckFailed_Instance (if the instance VM itself failed AWS connectivity tests)
    • StatusCheckFailed_System (if the host containing the instance has a failure)
    • StatsuCheckFailed (a combination of StausCheckFailed_Instance and StatusCheckFailed_System)
  • Networking: From here, you can check the public and private IP addresses of the instance. As with EC2, rebooting the instance will assign it a new public IP. You can also assign a static IP to the instance.
Public and Private IP Addresses of AWS Lightsail Instance

Creating a Static IP for AWS Lightsail
Users can also create firewall rules for the instance from the Networking tab:
Firewall Rules can be Enabled for AWS Lightsail Instances

  • Snapshot: For virtual servers, snapshots are like a “point in time” copy of the entire instance. This is a common feature in all virtual server environments and Lightsail is no exception. Users can create snapshots of their Lightsail instance from this tab.  Snapshots are available even after an instance has been terminated, so you can also recreate the instance later. The Snapshots tab lists the last five snapshots of the instance.Creating Snapshots of AWS Lightsail Instances is easy
    The List of Snapshots of AWS Lightsail Instances
  • History: This displays all of the events associated with the Lightsail instance. The image below shows five events: the instance was created, it was assigned a static IP address, and then a snapshot was made. After that, the instance was stopped and started:AWS Lightsail Instance History
  • Delete: This tab allows you to delete the instance.

Advanced Features

There are several advanced features available in Lightsail, including the ability to create static IP addresses and DNS zone records.
Static IPs are fixed public IP addresses attached to an instance. The instance keeps the IP even if it’s rebooted. This is ideal for internet facing servers. Static IPs can be detached from an instance and reassigned to another.
For DNS, Lightsail enables you to create A, CNAME, MX, and TXT resource type records for registered domains:
Creating DNS Zone Record for AWS Lightsail Instance
Creating DNS Records for AWS Lightsail Instance
This means that Lightsail customers can take advantage of the AWS Route 53 service to register a domain name and use that for an instance without having to go to a separate provider.

We created a static IP for our Test_Ubuntu server and configured DNS zone records for a domain name. The zone record (A) points to the static IP. The resource screen in Lightsail now looks like this:
AWS Lightsail Resources

Amazon Lightsail instances can connect to other AWS resources. This is made possible when we enable the VPC peering option from the account properties:
AWS Lightsail Advanced Properties

Conclusion

This was a very brief introduction to Amazon Lightsail. We find it to be a cheap, user-friendly platform that allows you to rapidly set up infrastructure and deploy applications. However, if you are looking for some extra features from your VPS provider, you may want to shop around to see what other vendors have to offer. This is what we will do in the second part of this series, so stay tuned for Amazon Lightsail, part two.

Avatar

Written by

Sadequl Hussain

Sadequl Hussain is an IT pro based in Sydney, Australia. He comes from a strong database administration backround and has more than 15 years of experience in development, database management, training, and technical writing. Sadequl also holds a number of vendor certifications, including one from AWS. He loves working with cloud technologies, NoSQL / Big Data databases, automation toolsets, open source technologies and Windows / Linux system administration. When he is not doing any of these, Sadequl loves to spend time with his young family.

Related Posts

Avatar
Jeremy Cook
— September 17, 2019

Cloud Migration Risks & Benefits

If you’re like most businesses, you already have at least one workload running in the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud migration is right for everyone. While cloud environments are generally scalable, reliable, and highly available, those won’t be the only considerations dri...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Cloud Migration
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 12, 2019

Real-Time Application Monitoring with Amazon Kinesis

Amazon Kinesis is a real-time data streaming service that makes it easy to collect, process, and analyze data so you can get quick insights and react as fast as possible to new information.  With Amazon Kinesis you can ingest real-time data such as application logs, website clickstre...

Read more
  • amazon kinesis
  • AWS
  • Stream Analytics
  • Streaming data
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 6, 2019

Google Cloud Functions vs. AWS Lambda: The Fight for Serverless Cloud Domination

Serverless computing: What is it and why is it important? A quick background The general concept of serverless computing was introduced to the market by Amazon Web Services (AWS) around 2014 with the release of AWS Lambda. As we know, cloud computing has made it possible for users to ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 3, 2019

Google Vision vs. Amazon Rekognition: A Vendor-Neutral Comparison

Google Cloud Vision and Amazon Rekognition offer a broad spectrum of solutions, some of which are comparable in terms of functional details, quality, performance, and costs. This post is a fact-based comparative analysis on Google Vision vs. Amazon Rekognition and will focus on the tech...

Read more
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • AWS
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Google Vision
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 30, 2019

New on Cloud Academy: CISSP, AWS, Azure, & DevOps Labs, Python for Beginners, and more…

As Hurricane Dorian intensifies, it looks like Floridians across the entire state might have to hunker down for another big one. If you've gone through a hurricane, you know that preparing for one is no joke. You'll need a survival kit with plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, and n...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • New content
  • Product Feature
  • Python programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 27, 2019

Amazon Route 53: Why You Should Consider DNS Migration

What Amazon Route 53 brings to the DNS table Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) service offered by AWS. It is named by the TCP or UDP port 53, which is where DNS server requests are addressed. Like any DNS service, Route 53 handles domain regist...

Read more
  • Amazon
  • AWS
  • Cloud Migration
  • DNS
  • Route 53
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 22, 2019

How to Unlock Complimentary Access to Cloud Academy

Are you looking to get trained or certified on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, DevOps, Cloud Security, Python, Java, or another technical skill? Then you'll want to mark your calendars for August 23, 2019. Starting Friday at 12:00 a.m. PDT (3:00 a.m. EDT), Cloud Academy is offering c...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloud academy content
  • complimentary access
  • GCP
  • on the house
Avatar
Michael Sheehy
— August 19, 2019

What Exactly Is a Cloud Architect and How Do You Become One?

One of the buzzwords surrounding the cloud that I'm sure you've heard is "Cloud Architect." In this article, I will outline my understanding of what a cloud architect does and I'll analyze the skills and certifications necessary to become one. I will also list some of the types of jobs ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Computing
Avatar
Nitheesh Poojary
— August 19, 2019

Boto: Using Python to Automate AWS Services

Boto allows you to write scripts to automate things like starting AWS EC2 instances Boto is a Python package that provides programmatic connectivity to Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS offers a range of services for dynamically scaling servers including the core compute service, Elastic...

Read more
  • Automated AWS Services
  • AWS
  • Boto
  • Python
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 13, 2019

Content Roadmap: AZ-500, ITIL 4, MS-100, Google Cloud Associate Engineer, and More

Last month, Cloud Academy joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider, and it put us in an excellent position to solve a massive skills gap problem. As a result of this collaboration, you will see our training library grow with additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Google Cloud Platform
Avatar
Adam Hawkins
— August 9, 2019

DevSecOps: How to Secure DevOps Environments

Security has been a friction point when discussing DevOps. This stems from the assumption that DevOps teams move too fast to handle security concerns. This makes sense if Information Security (InfoSec) is separate from the DevOps value stream, or if development velocity exceeds the band...

Read more
  • AWS
  • cloud security
  • DevOps
  • DevSecOps
  • Security
Avatar
Stefano Giacone
— August 8, 2019

Test Your Cloud Knowledge on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform

Cloud skills are in demand | In today's digital era, employers are constantly seeking skilled professionals with working knowledge of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. According to the 2019 Trends in Cloud Transformation report by 451 Research: Business and IT transformations re...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud skills
  • Google Cloud
  • Microsoft Azure