Amazon Machine Image (AMI) Plus Its Elastic Compute Cloud

Basically, a virtual machine image is a template for creating new instances like in the case of Amazon Machine Image (AMI). Whereby, you can choose images from a catalog to create images or save your own images from running instances.

In reality, specialists in those platforms often create catalog images, making sure that they are created with the proper patches. And that any software is installed and configured with good default settings. Above all, the images can be plain operating systems or can have the software installed on them.

Such as databases, application servers, or other applications. Not forgetting, images usually remove some data related to runtime operations. Such as swap data and configuration files with embedded IP addresses or hostnames.

You can deregister an AMI when you have finished with it. After you deregister an AMI, it can’t be used to launch new instances. Existing instances launched from the AMI are not affected. For more information, see Deregistering Your Linux AMI.

What Is The Amazon Machine Image (AMI)?

By definition, an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) is a supported and maintained image provided by AWS — it provides the information required to launch an instance. To be clear, you must specify an AMI when you launch an instance. Realistically, you can launch multiple instances from a single AMI when you require multiple instances with the same configuration.

In short, an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) provides the information required to launch an instance. But, you must specify an AMI when you launch an instance. For instance, you can launch multiple instances from a single AMI. More so, when you need multiple instances with the same configuration.

Bear in mind, that you can use different AMIs to launch a variety of instances. For instance, when you need instances with different configurations. That aside, the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) includes various key Amazon EC2 driving forces and principles to note.

Consider the following:
  • One or more EBS snapshots, or, for instance-store-backed AMIs,
  • A template for the root volume of the instance (for example, an operating system, an application server, and applications),
  • Launch permissions that control which AWS accounts can use the AMI to launch instances,
  • A block device mapping that specifies the volumes to attach to the instance when it’s launched, etc.

On the same note, it’s worth mentioning the role of Amazon EC2 as a key element. Perse, such as the preconfigured templates for your instances — rather, known as Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that we are discussing herein.

Toolkits that package the bits you need for your server — including the operating system and additional software. For more information about running your website on AWS, see Web Hosting to gather more details. Read also more about Amazon EC2: (Secure and resizable compute capacity in the cloud. Launch applications when needed without upfront commitments.)

What Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)

Technically, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) provides scalable computing capacity in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. Significantly, one benefit of using Amazon EC2 is that it eliminates your need to invest in hardware upfront. So that you can develop and deploy applications faster. You can use Amazon EC2 to launch as many virtual servers as you need.

Or rather, launch as few virtual servers as you need. As well as configure security and networking, and manage storage. Broadly, Amazon EC2 enables you to scale up or down to handle changes in requirements or spikes in popularity. Whilst, reducing your need to forecast traffic. That said, for more information about cloud computing, see What is cloud computing in detail.

Amazon EC2 provides the following features:
  • Virtual computing environments, known as instances
  • Various configurations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity for your instances, known as instance types
  • Secure login information for your instances using key pairs (AWS stores the public key, and you store the private key in a secure place)
  • Storage volumes for temporary data that are deleted when you stop, hibernate, or terminate your instance, known as instance store volumes
  • Persistent storage volumes for your data using Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), known as Amazon EBS volumes
  • Multiple physical locations for your resources, such as instances and Amazon EBS volumes, known as Regions and Availability Zones

Considerably, there’s also a firewall that enables you to specify the protocols, ports, and source IP ranges that can reach your instances using security groups. As well as Static IPv4 addresses for dynamic cloud computing, known as Elastic IP addresses. In addition to Metadata, known as tags, some that you can create and assign to your Amazon EC2 resources.

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In addition, by all means, with virtual networks, you can create that are logically isolated from the rest of the AWS Cloud. Optionally, something that you can connect to your own network — better known as virtual private clouds (VPCs). To be more clear, for more information about the features of Amazon EC2, see the Amazon EC2 product page that has more details.

So, how do you get started with Amazon EC2? First, you need to get set up to use Amazon EC2. After you are set up, you are ready to complete the Get Started tutorial for Amazon EC2. Whenever you need more information about an Amazon EC2 feature, you can read the technical documentation.

Moving on, to set up to use Amazon EC2, you’ll need to complete the tasks in the section below. More so, in order to get set up for launching an Amazon EC2 instance for the first time. This means, that if you have an AWS account already, you can skip to the next tasks that follow. However, if you don’t have an AWS account, use the following procedure to create one.

To Create An Account:

Part of the sign-up procedure involves receiving a phone call and entering a verification code on the phone keypad. Keep in mind, that when you sign up for Amazon Web Services, your AWS account is automatically signed up for all services in AWS — including Amazon EC2. What’s more, you are charged only for the services that you use.

Meaning, that with Amazon EC2, you pay only for what you use. If you are a new AWS customer, you can get started with Amazon EC2 for free. But, for more information, you can see AWS Free Tier for more guidelines.

Simple Beginner Steps:
  1. Sign up for AWS
  2. Create a key pair
  3. Create a security group

When you are finished, you will be ready for the full Amazon EC2 Getting Started user tutorial. Notably, AWS uses public-key cryptography to secure the login information for your instance. A Linux instance has no password; you use a key pair to log in to your instance securely. Firstly, you’ll need to specify the name of the key pair when you launch your instance.

And then, secondly, you’ll need to provide the private key when you log in using SSH. If you haven’t created a key pair already, you can create one by using the Amazon EC2 console. Note that if you plan to launch instances in multiple Regions, you’ll need to create a key pair in each Region. For more information about Regions, check out the Regions and Zones for more guides.

Generally, if you’ll have more questions about whether AWS is right for you, just contact AWS Sales to get more guidelines. By the same token, if you’ll have technical questions about Amazon EC2, you can use the Amazon EC2 forum for more details.

Useful Amazon Machine Image (AMI) Topics:

Remarkably, the following diagram summarizes the AMI lifecycle. Whereby, after you create and register an AMI, you can use it to launch new instances. And, you can also launch instances from an AMI if its owner grants you launch permissions. Or even copy an AMI within the same region or to different regions — and when you no longer require it, you can deregister it.

By the same token, you can search for an AMI that meets the criteria for your instance. You can search for AMIs provided by AWS or AMIs provided by the community. For more information, see AMI Types and Finding a Linux AMI. After you launch an instance from an AMI, you can connect to it.

When you are connected to an instance, you can use it just like you use any other server. For information about launching, connecting, and using your instance, see Amazon EC2 Instances. The owner of an AMI determines its availability by specifying launch permissions. Launch permissions fall into three key categories — so, consider the following categories:


Launch permission


publicThe owner grants launch permissions to all AWS accounts.
explicitThe owner grants launch permissions to specific AWS accounts, organizations, or organizational units (OUs).
implicitThe owner has implicit launch permissions for an AMI.

Amazon and the Amazon EC2 community provide a large selection of public AMIs. For more information, see Shared AMIs. Developers can charge for their AMIs. Having said that, for more information, see Paid AMIs. Eventually, to create an Amazon EBS-backed AMI, see Creating an Amazon EBS-Backed Linux AMI.

Likewise, in order to create an instance store-backed AMI, see Creating an Instance Store-Backed Linux AMI for more details. In addition, to help categorize and manage your AMIs, you can assign custom tags to them. And in that case, for more information, see Tagging Your Amazon EC2 Resources.

How To Create Your Own Amazon Machine Image (AMI)

To create Linux AMIs backed by an instance store, you must create an AMI from your instance on the instance itself using the Amazon EC2 AMI tools.

AMI creation is much easier for AMIs backed by Amazon EBS. The CreateImage API action creates your Amazon EBS-backed AMI and registers it. There’s also a button in the AWS Management Console that lets you create an AMI from a running instance.

For more information, see Create an Amazon EBS-backed Linux AMI

You can launch an instance from an existing AMI, customize the instance, and then save this updated configuration as a custom AMI. Instances launched from this new custom AMI include the customizations that you made when you created the AMI.

The root storage device of the instance determines the process you follow to create an AMI. The root volume of a sample is either an Amazon EBS volume or an instance store volume. For information, see Amazon EC2 Root Device Volume. You can select an AMI to use based on various characteristics.

Consider the following:

Still, you are stuck on how to Deregister Your Amazon Machine Image (AMI), right? Well, you can deregister an AMI when you have finished with it. After you deregister an AMI, it can’t be used to launch new instances. Existing instances launched from the AMI are not affected. For more information, see Deregister your AMI.

Amazon Machine Image (AMI) Security Group Plus Prerequisites

Security groups act as a firewall for associated instances, controlling both inbound and outbound traffic at the instance level. You must add rules to a security group that enables you to connect to your instance from your IP address using SSH. You can also add rules that allow inbound and outbound HTTP and HTTPS access from anywhere.

Note that if you plan to launch instances in multiple Regions, you’ll need to create a security group in each Region. For more information about Regions, see Regions and Zones. As for Prerequisites, you’ll need the public IPv4 address of your local computer. The security group editor in the Amazon EC2 console can automatically detect the public IPv4 address for you.

Alternatively, you can use the search phrase “what is my IP address” in an Internet browser, or use the following service: Check IP. If you are connecting through an Internet service provider (ISP) or from behind a firewall without a static IP address, you need to find out the range of IP addresses used by client computers.

How Buying, Sharing Plus Selling AMIs Works

After you create an AMI, you can keep it private so that only you can use it, or you can share it with a specified list of AWS accounts. You can also make your custom AMI public so that the community can use it. Building a safe, secure, usable AMI for public consumption is fairly straightforward.

That’s if you follow a few simple guidelines. For information about how to create and use shared AMIs, see Shared AMIs. You can purchase AMIs from a third party, including AMIs that come with service contracts from organizations such as Red Hat. Otherwise, you can also create an AMI and sell it to other Amazon EC2 users.

What about Amazon Linux 2 and Amazon Linux AMI? Well, there are some of the main features of Amazon Linux 2 and Amazon Linux AMI as provided by AWS that we can note.

Consider the following:
  • A stable, secure, and high-performance execution environment for apps running on Amazon EC2.
  • Provided at no additional charge to Amazon EC2 users.
  • Repository access to multiple versions of MySQL, PostgreSQL, Python, Ruby, Tomcat, and many more common packages.
  • Updated on a regular basis to include the latest components, and these updates are also made available in the yum repositories for installation on running instances.
  • Includes packages that enable easy integration with AWS services, such as the AWS CLI, Amazon EC2 API, and AMI tools, the Boto library for Python, and the Elastic Load Balancing tools.

For more information about buying or selling AMIs, see Paid AMIs that have more details. Whilst, for more information, you can also have a look at Amazon Linux in order to gather more information. See also Amazon EC2 instance root device volume in detail. With that in mind, the following table summarizes the key differences when using the two types of AMIs.


Amazon EBS-backed AMI

Amazon instance store-backed AMI

Boot time for an instanceUsually less than 1 minuteUsually less than 5 minutes
Size limit for a rooted device64 TiB**10 GiB
Root device volumeEBS volumeInstance store volume
Data persistenceBy default, the root volume is deleted when the instance terminates.* Data on any other EBS volumes persists after instance termination by default.Data on any instance store volumes persists only during the life of the instance.
ModificationsThe instance type, kernel, RAM disk, and user data can be changed while the instance is stopped.Instance attributes are fixed for the life of an instance.
ChargesYou’re charged for instance usage, EBS volume usage, and storing your AMI as an EBS snapshot.You’re charged for instance usage and storing your AMI in Amazon S3.
AMI creation/bundlingUses a single command/callRequires installation and use of AMI tools
Stopped stateCan be in a stopped state. Even when the instance is stopped and not running, the root volume is persisted in Amazon EBSCannot be in a stopped state; instances are running or terminated

By default, EBS root volumes have the DeleteOnTermination flag set to true. For information about how to change this flag so that the volume persists after termination, see Change the root volume to persist. Supported with io2 EBS Block Express only. For more information, see io2 Block Express volumes. Determining the root device type of an AMI using the console:

The New Console:
  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at
  2. In the navigation pane, choose AMIs, and select the AMI.
  3. On the Details tab, check the value of the Root device type as follows:
    • ebs – This is an EBS-backed AMI.
    • instance store – This is an instance of store-backed AMI.
The Old Console:
  1. Open the Amazon EC2 console at
  2. In the navigation pane, choose AMIs, and select the AMI.
  3. On the Details tab, check the value of Root Device Type as follows
    • ebs – This is an EBS-backed AMI.
    • instance store – This is an instance of store-backed AMI.

What if you want to determine the root device type of an AMI using the command line? Well, you can use one of the following commands. For more information about these command line interfaces, see Access Amazon EC2 in full detail.

Suffice to say, you can stop an instance that has an EBS volume for its root device. But, you can’t stop an instance that has an instance store volume for its root device. Eventually, this is what is commonly known as Stopped State, in a layman’s language.

What Stopped State Is All About

Stopping causes the instance to stop running (its status goes from running to stopping to stopped). A stopped instance persists in Amazon EBS, which allows it to be restarted. Stopping is different from terminating; you can’t restart a terminated instance.

Because instances with an instance store volume for the root device can’t be stopped, they’re either running or terminated. For more information about what happens and what you can do while an instance is stopped, see Stop and start your instance. What about default data storage and persistence?

Default Data Storage And Persistence

Instances that have an instance store volume for the root device automatically have an instance store available (the root volume contains the root partition and you can store additional data). You can add persistent storage to your instance by attaching one or more EBS volumes.

Any data on an instance store volume is deleted when the instance fails or terminates. For more information, see Instance store lifetime. Instances that have Amazon EBS for the root device automatically have an EBS volume attached. The volume appears in your list of volumes like any other.

With most instance types, instances that have an EBS volume for the root device don’t have instance store volumes by default. You can add instance store volumes or additional EBS volumes using a block device mapping. For more information, see Block device mappings as we look at Boot Times also.

What Boot Times Are All About

Instances launched from an Amazon EBS-backed AMI launch faster than instances launched from an instance store-backed AMI. When you launch an instance from an instance store-backed AMI, all the parts have to be retrieved from Amazon S3 before the instance is available.

With an Amazon EBS-backed AMI, only the parts required to boot the instance need to be retrieved from the snapshot before the instance is available. However, the performance of an instance that uses an EBS volume for its root device is slower for a short time.

While the remaining parts are retrieved from the snapshot and loaded into the volume. Particularly, when you stop and restart the instance — it launches so quickly. Obviously, because the state is stored in an EBS volume.

How The Storage For The Root Device Works

All AMIs are categorized as either backed by Amazon EBS or backed by the instance store. On one side, there’s the Amazon EBS-backed AMI – The root device for an instance launched from the AMI is an Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volume created from an Amazon EBS snapshot.

While, on the other side, there’s the Amazon Instance Store-Backed AMI – The root device for an instance launched from the AMI is an instance store volume created from a template stored in Amazon S3. So, is the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) really that useful? Well, we’ll have an outlook on that shortly. So, stay with us till the end to learn more.

The Main Amazon Machine Image (AMI) Usefulness

Of course, image development is becoming a larger and more specialized area. As an example, one of the outstanding features of the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise is the image asset catalog. The asset catalog stores a set of additional data about images. Including a “Getting Started” page, or a parameter file specifies additional parameters needed when creating an instance.

As well as additional files to inject into the instance at startup. It also hosts forums related to assets. To enable feedback and questions from users of images to the people who created those images. Of course, saving your own images from running instances is easy, yes! But, making images that other people use requires more effort.

Fortunately, the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise asset catalog provides you with tools to do this. Because many users share clouds, the cloud helps you track information about images, such as ownership, history, and so on. The IBM SmartCloud Enterprise knows what organization you belong to when you log in.

Read Also: IBM SmartCloud Enterprise | How Do You Get Started?

You can choose whether to keep images private, exclusively for your own use, or to share with other users in your organization. And if you are an independent software vendor, you can also add your images to the public catalog. Some differences between Linux and Windows exist.

The file-like description of the Linux operating system makes it easy to prepare for virtualization. An image can be manipulated as a file system even when the instance is not running. Different files, such as a user’s public SSH key and runtime parameters, can be injected into the image before booting it.

In reality, most cloud operators take advantage of this for ease of development and to make optimizations. Not to mention, this is the same method of manipulating file systems — without booting the OS that cannot be done in Windows.

How The Amazon Machine Image (AMI) Charges Work

On the one hand, with AMIs backed by an instance store, you’re charged for instance usage and storing your AMI in Amazon S3. On the other hand, with AMIs backed by Amazon EBS, you’re charged for instance usage. As well as EBS volume storage, and usage, and also for storing your AMI as an EBS snapshot.

With Amazon EC2 instance store-backed AMIs, each time you customize an AMI and create a new one, all of the parts are stored in Amazon S3 for each AMI. So, the storage footprint for each customized AMI is the full size of the AMI. For Amazon EBS-backed AMIs, each time you customize an AMI.

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Or rather, when you create a new one, only the changes are stored. So, the storage footprint for subsequent AMIs that you customize after the first is much smaller, resulting in lower AMI storage charges. What about an instance with an EBS volume for its root device that is stopped?

Well, you’re not charged for instance usage. However, you’re still charged for volume storage. As soon as you start your instance, we charge a minimum of one minute for usage. After one minute, we charge only for the seconds used. For example, let’s say you run an instance for 20 seconds and then stop it.

In that case, they charge for a full one minute. If you run an instance for 3 minutes and 40 seconds, they charge for exactly 3 minutes and 40 seconds of usage. We charge you for each second, with a one-minute minimum, that you keep the instance running, even if the instance remains idle and you don’t connect to it.

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By all means, we hope the above-revised guide on Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for your brand, product, or business cloud computing needs was helpful and supportive enough. New to cloud computing? You can read this resource, which provides a rapid and thorough grounding in cloud computing.

In particular, with a focus on the basic concepts. As well as terminology definitions; types of cloud platforms, services, and products. In addition to how to start developing applications for the cloud and connections. Coupled with resources that can further expand your knowledge of the cloud.

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That’s it! Everything to know about the Amazon Machine Image (AMI), how it works, plus how to create your very own. Perse, you are welcome to share this guide with other readers like you who might find it interestingly resourceful.

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