APEX in the Cloud

Run APEX on 11g in the cloud using Amazon Web ServicesThis post about running APEX in the cloud by Jason Straub came across OraNA last week.

I’m surprised Chet didn’t pounce on it, being the APEX devotee that he is. Basically, you can now run APEX on Amazon EC2 for 60 cents.

Oracle has recently been rolling out more offerings with AWS, including database and backup images preconfigured for EC2 and S3; you can read more at the Oracle Cloud Computing Center on OTN. This is interesting to me, since about 18 months ago, we were searching for just such a packaged AWS 11g offering on which to run Mix. Instead, we had to find and procure hardware to put into an Oracle datacenter.

EC2 with Oracle pre-installed and configured for backup to S3 is awesome. Total win.

I’d like to see more promotion of this offering because since AWS was launched in 2002, startups (and their customers) have embraced EC2 and S3 for their, ahem, mission-critical apps and operations. Armeded with flexible computing power and backup, startups could easily find pre-configured MySQL installations, which led to web apps built in PHP (e.g. Facebook) and Rails (e.g. Twitter).

Sure, to scale, successful web apps like Facebook and Twitter eventually had to raise venture funding to spend on infrastructure, but they already had users and an established service.

I’ll bet Ma.gnolia would still be in business if they’d opted for an AWS image with an Oracle installation and backup preconfigured.

Anyway, now you can get APEX too, although I’m not entirely clear on how the cost breaks down, i.e. if it’s 60 cents per something or a flat rate. If you know, please enlighten in comments.

FYI, Jason’s post and the demos on the Cloud Computing Center spend a fair amount of time on configuring PuTTY to connect via SSH and copy files with SCP. These steps are for Windows users; Elasticfox, the Firefox add-on built by AWS to manage EC2 services, generates a key pair on its own. Windows doesn’t support SSH very well natively, and PuTTY is frequently the tool used to do SSH and SCP on Windows.

OS X and Linux should work better with SSH out-of-the-box, so if you don’t run Windows, the setup has fewer steps.

At any rate, APEX is a neat tool. OraTweet is built in APEX, and so is Aria, Oracle’s internal employee directory. In another life at Oracle, I kicked the tires on APEX for an internal project. A lot of people swear by it, and now you can test drive it yourself over AWS. No need to provision testing hardware or worry about installing it on an existing machine.

Pretty cool.

Tempted to try it? Already use Oracle and AWS? I’m curious to hear what you think. Find the comments.

Update: Jason has more details in a new post today, including pricing.

Another update: Jason breaks his pricing assumptions down in comments.




  1. You know what I would liked to have seen? Oracle hosted applications (database) in the Cloud. I looked and looked, even calling Oracle. I just had a small app (ufalumnialley.com) that friends wanted me to build…I knew Oracle and it was “easy.” But no go. I ended up finding, I think, scorpions.net, which went out of business about 6 months after I started using them.

    I keep spinning up images via AWS, but I've yet to actually log in to the database. I'll get there soon enough.

    I love what people are doing now. Probably a bigger reason I didn't jump on it is because it's just the natural extension of the database now (11g anyway). No other parts needed.

  2. Hi Jake,
    You can use ElasticFox or the new AWS Management console that Amazon has in Beta. You can get a small server for 10 cents per hour, all the way up to a big one at the 80 cents per hour mark. You can spool up one of the Oracle AMI's and run it, but be aware if you bundle it and use it for your own when you start it back up you have to go change the hostname in the listener.ora file (the hostname changes every time you startup the image) or if you pay for an Elastic IP you could use that, but there is a charge for those when they are in use and when not. Here is a link to the price lists:
    http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/#pricing . You can also find out a ton of stuff on aws.amazon.com (but I'm sure you knew that). From my testing APEX on EC2 runs fine (have only tested XE with it). Nothing in production yet, still wrestling with issues around how to make the server part of our corporate network.
    I've been experimenting with Oracle Ebusiness Suite on EC2, but no prototype up and running yet.

  3. How was scorpions different than AWS? Did they handle the hosting too? Or are you just shaking your fist at the past 🙂 Your app reminded me of a beef I have with APEX. The URLs are very unfriendly. Very.

  4. Very nice. I've seen the EC2 pricing, but the 60 cents figure for APEX wasn't (and isn't) clear to me. Sounds like you're doing a lot with AWS. Interested to hear your experiences, especially if/when you spin up EBS on EC2.

    Very, very interested. I've been wondering how long it would take for a customer to do that.

  5. I should have been more clear about the pricing. The original post was based on a 20/cent per hour machine. I estimated that it would take 3 hours to startup the instance, upgrade Application Express to 3.2, and then complete the 3.2 specific OBE's. You can then shut down the instance and only be out 60 cents.

    My follow-up post was about making the database persist, and moving it to a cheaper, 10 cent/hour machine.

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