Alibaba Cloud was founded in 2009, and offers a range of services from their data centers throughout Asia, the Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe. To meet the database needs of their customers, they offer the ApsaraDBservice, which supports the following database types:
● ApsaraDB for RDS
● ApsaraDB for Redis
● ApsaraDB for MongoDB
In this article, I’m going to introduce you to ApsaraDB for RDS, which is Alibaba’s Relational Database Service (RDS), and is available with MySQL, SQL Server, and PostgreSQL.
ApsaraDB for RDS and the Benefits of Cloud-Based RDS
Alibaba Cloud hosts ApsaraDB for RDS as an on-demand service for all cloud customers. In addition to providing database functionality, Alibaba also takes care of managing the database and supporting the underlying infrastructure, which can free you up to develop additional functionality and take care of your customers.
In addition to taking care of routine maintenance, data backup and recovery, and general maintenance, users of Apsara DB for RDS are also protected against network attacks, brute force attacks, and can intercept SQL injections.
Because Apsara DB for RDS is an on-demand service, you don’t need to invest in upfront hardware costs or extra space in your data center to house that hardware. Alibaba Cloud also offers new customers a $300 account credit to try their services out, which I’ll talk more about at the end of the article.
Let’s look at how you can get up and running with a MySQL instance in a couple of minutes.
Configuring Your Own ApsaraDB RDS Instance
The very first thing you’ll want to do is sign up for your own Alibaba Cloud account if you haven’t yet done so. Once you’ve signed up, log in to your Alibaba Cloud account. ApsaraDB instances are managed from the RDS Management Console, which you can navigate to from the main console, or go directly to https://rdsnew.console.aliyun.com
Figure 1. The RDS Management Console
You can create your first database instance by clicking on the Create Instance button.
You will be taken to a configuration page where you can select from a variety of options. One of the features that I particularly like about the instance creation process is that the cost is displayed at the bottom of the screen, and is updated as options are selected.
You will be able to choose between:
● Billing method
○ Subscription based
○ Pay-as-You-Go, based on an hourly cost.
● Datacenter Region and Zone
○ 16 combinations exist for you to select from.
● Database Engine
○ MySQL (Versions 5.6 and 5.7 available)
○ Microsoft SQL Server (Versions 2008r2, 2012, 2012 Web and 2016 Web available)
○ PostgreSQL (Subscription Only; Version 9.4)
● Instance Type
○ 1 Core, 1 GB through 60 Core, 470 GB depending on your needs and the options selected above
○ 5 GB up to 2000 GB
● Network Type
○ Classic or VPC
● Quantity (1 through 10)
I selected the following options for this demo for an Instance Cost of USD 0.045/hour, and then clicked on the Buy Nowbutton.
Figure 2. Overview of Selections for a New MySQL Instance
The next screen is an order confirmation screen, which requires you to agree to the Product Terms of Service and Service Level Notice, and then click on the Active button to submit your order and begin the creation process.
Figure 3. Order Confirmation Screen
Instances usually take between one and five minutes to create. You can view the status of your instance by returning to the RDS Management Console. (I also received an email notifying me of the successful creation of my RDS instance.)
Once my instance was running, I clicked on the Manage link on the right-hand side of the instance row. The first thing I did was to add the public IP address of my workstation to the Whitelist. The Whitelist allows you to control which devices can access the database instance.
My next steps were to create a new user account and password under the Accounts tab, and then to create a new database which could use the new account under the Databases tab.
Armed with a database, username, and password, I was then able to set up an Elastic Compute Server from the ECS Console and use the database to support a hosted WordPress installation. You may also want to apply for an Internet Address if you would like the database to be accessible from outside the Alibaba Cloud environment.
My Experience and How It Compares with Similar Offerings
I’ve spent the better part of the last three years developing and supporting cloud-based applications. While most of my experience has been with Amazon Web Services (AWS), I’ve also experimented with Microsoft Azure. My experiences with Alibaba thus far have been limited to the Elastic Computing Service and ApsaraDB for RDS.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to transfer my experience with AWS to Alibaba Cloud. I found the interfaces to be clean, intuitive, and easy to navigate. Something I appreciated was the direct connection between creating a new instance and the cost associated. The ease with which cloud resources can be created and scaled is both a benefit and a curse to organizations which choose to adopt a cloud platform, and keeping the cost at the forefront of the user’s experience may help to manage this.
You can find additional information on managing your RDS instance, and setting up hosted instances for SQL Server and PostgreSQL in the Document Center.
Finally, don’t forget that by signing up for a free trial with Alibaba Cloud, you’ll be able to receive a $300 credit for services which you can use to experiment with ECS, RDS and many of the other services available. Sign up for the trial at https://www.alibabacloud.com/campaign/free-trial#free-products
Mike Mackrory is a Global citizen who has settled down in the Pacific Northwest — for now. By day he works as a Senior Engineer on a Quality Engineering team and by night he writes, consults on several web based projects and runs a marginally successful eBay sticker business. When he’s not tapping on the keys, he can be found hiking, fishing and exploring both the urban and the rural landscape with his kids. Always happy to help out another developer, he has a definite preference for helping those who bring gifts of gourmet donuts, craft beer and/or Single-malt Scotch.