4.6 Cloud computing

Cloud computing uses networks of remote servers, instead of a local computer, to store and analyse data. It is now becoming increasingly popular to rent cloud computing resources.

4.6.1 Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is one of a number of providers of this service. EC2 makes it (relatively) easy to run R instances in the cloud. Users can configure the operating system, CPU, hard drive type, the amount of RAM and where your project is physically located.

If you want to run a server in the Amazon EC2 cloud, you have to select the system you are going to boot up. There are a vast array of pre-packaged system images. Some of these images are just basic operating systems, such as Debian or Ubuntu, which require further configuration. There is also an Amazon machine image that specifically targets R and RStudio.

4.6.2 Exercise

To assess whether you should consider cloud computing, how much does it cost to rent a machine comparable to your laptop in the cloud?