If you already have an account with Alibaba Cloud, you know how easy it is to spin up a new cloud server. Just head to the Elastic Compute Service section on your control panel, click on Create Instance, and select a region. You can then choose the server's specification, before heading to the Image section to select an operating system.
By default, the Image section will show you the Public Image tab. Here, a wide variety of operating systems are available to you. There are currently 11 different versions of Windows Server, for example, and flavors of Linux including CentOS, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Debian and SUSE. There's also FreeBSD. Once your chosen server and OS are up and running, you can go ahead and install or enable any additional software that you need, such as web server, PHP, a content management system, a relational database, and so on.
But here's a great tip that can save you lots of time and effort. If you have only ever used the Public Image tab when choosing your operating system, try clicking the Marketplace Image tab and explore a whole host of ready-made production-ready server configurations that give you not just a base OS but a complete software stack that's installed and ready to use.
There are currently more than 300 images to choose from, of which almost 90% are free to use with no additional monthly charges on top of the server instance.
From within the Marketplace Image tab you can search the collection of images by operating system, category, or both. Categories comprise business software, developer tools, and software infrastructure.
There's a huge choice of images available to you. To manage web content and e-commerce, for example, there's WordPress, OpenCart, Drupal, ForumBB and Joomla. If you want to create a Nagios installation to monitor the performance and status of your Linux server estate there's an image available for that too. For your customer support department there's osTicket. For e-commerce there's ZenCart, osCommerce and Magento. All of these are free of any additional charges, are ready to use, and include all the necessary components.
A range of enterprise-level security products is also available as marketplace images. These include Fortinet's FortiGate firewall, Windows Server complete with SQL Server, and the latest Web Application Firewall from F5. In some cases, products are available on a BYOL basis (bring your own license), meaning that you can quickly deploy a product that you've already licensed as a fully working cloud-hosted appliance instead of having to host and maintain it in-house.
To explore the server image marketplace for yourself, just click on the Marketplace Image tab next time you're creating a new Alibaba Cloud server instance. Or check out https://marketplace.alibabacloud.com for details of everything that's available.
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