The Journal Of A Linux Sysadmin

Amazon EC2 European Cloud

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Amazon just extended its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to Europe. S3 has bee available for Europe for about one year, and now we can also run EC2 instances in Europe to achieve lower latencies with EU locations. The new EU region called is completely isolated from the US region ( to achieve the greatest possible failure independence and stability. This means that resources found on the US region (like ami’s, ssh keypairs, etc.) are not available to the EU region and will need to be created (or copied/mirrored) here also.

“With today’s launch, you can take advantage of the latest features for Amazon EC2 including multiple Availability Zones, Elastic IP addresses, and Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS). In the near future, Amazon EC2 will also add support for Windows Server and SQL Server in the EU which is a new feature that was recently introduced on Amazon EC2 in the U.S.”

The new Amazon datacenter is located in Ireland, and from our tests the latency from a UK location is about 14ms (compared with 78ms for a US instance), and from the office here in Romania it averaged 66ms (compared with 125ms for a US instance). Respectively the EU instance has shown a ping latency of 118ms from a US location (compared with 46ms for a local US instance).


The prices for the EU resources are little more expensive compared with the US ones: Standard (per instance hour consumed) $0.11 for small instances $0.44 for large instances $0.88 for x-large instances

High CPU (per instance hour consumed) $0.22 for medium instances $0.88 for x-large instances

Data Transfer $0.10 per GB – all data transfer in $0.17 per GB – first 10 TB / month data transfer out $0.13 per GB – next 40 TB / month data transfer out $0.11 per GB – next 100TB $0.10 per GB – over 150T

Elastic IP Addresses $0.01 per non-attached Elastic IP address per complete hour $0.00 per Elastic IP address remap – first 100 remaps / month $0.10 per Elastic IP address remap – additional remap / month over 100

Our first EU EC2 instance

In order to use regions we need to use API Tools version 1.3-30349 and WSDL/API version 2008-12-01, or newer. To check your version run:

1.3-30349 2008-12-01

Let’s see what regions we have available:

REGION        us-east-1
REGION        eu-west-1

(where we can see the new EU region). and the zones:

ec2-describe-availability-zones --region eu-west-1
AVAILABILITYZONE        eu-west-1a      available       eu-west-1
AVAILABILITYZONE        eu-west-1b      available       eu-west-1

By default the amazon api tools will run new instances in the US region, just like before. If we want to run our instances in EU we need to explicitly define this using:

export EC2_URL=

or using the –U command line option of ec2run (_ec2run -U https://eu-west-1.ec2.amazonaws.com_)

Now we can start the instance as usual (keep in mind that ami’s from US are not automatically available to EU; check for their availability first; you might have to upload them to EU and the new api tools have a new command to help with this: ec2-migrate-bundle)

You will have to recreate your ssh keypair and security groups (region specific). Name the ssh keypairs differently if you use both zones to not have confusions:

ec2-add-keypair gsg-keypair-eu

and finally run the instance:

ec2-run-instances <ami-id> -k gsg-keypair-eu

And so we have our first running European EC2 instance ;–)  (that was used just for this article to test the latency from various locations).

This is a great news not only for European companies and developers but also for US ones that have a user base in Europe that will benefit from running local instances to achieve lower latency for their users.