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The other cloud: Getting started with DotNetNuke using Amazon Web Services (AWS)

As DotNetNuke is based on .Net and as it has seen great improvements last year when it comes to “cloud“ DotNetNuke is kind of married with Azure as a cloud platform. So far, so good. Go ahead and try it. It’s simple, powerful and … beautiful ;).

However, let me try to explain this. Perhaps you’ve heard that Azure is not the only cloud platform on the market ;). There are other big players offering their services on the cloud market. Let’s call them yellow. Yes you got that right: I am talking about Amazon.

So as Amazon (AWS) offers a lot Microsoft related IaaS, you can easily run DotNetNuke on AWS. Storage, database services and Windows Servers (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)) are offered. Just to name a few of their services. What’s offered by Amazon is simply easy to use and pay as you go infrastructure.  A nightmare for every hosting company but a great playground for developers and customers!

However, since today it was never so easy to build your DotNetNuke playground. Just use a preconfigured AWS machine image.
At the end of this step by step tutorial, you will have a newly installed and preconfigured Windows Server 2012, IIS8, SQL Server Express 2012 (no user instance; integrated AppPool authentication) running DotNetNuke CE 7 on AWS. We will have all needed stuff on one machine, comparable to your existing Windows server. If you always wanted to run DNN on AWS: This is one pretty easy way to do it! Think about a test machine or a sample environment you need for one of your customers.

What we will do:
  1. Create an AWS machine (instance)
  2. Set security rules
  3. Run DotNetNuke
We will not use any other offered services like RDS (managed database service) as this is a beginner’s guide.

So, what do you need? Of yourse you need an amazon account. If you don’t have one … this must be your very first day on the internet. If that’s correct, no idea how you found this blog post! However, you better turn off your PC and enjoy life now. For all others having an amazon account already: let’s do it!

First, go to and complete the registration process to enable AWS for your amazon account. If you have used AWS before: just login. At the landing page / dashboard, just click on EC2.

Now, on the EC2 Dashboard make sure to select the AWS region US East (N. Virginia) in the upper right corner and then click on “launch instance”.

On the next screen just click on “continue”.

Now, switch to the “Community AMIs” tab and search for (guess what) “dotnetnuke”. The search is quit slowly. So be warned. If you selected (as mentioned above) the AWS region N. Virginia correctly you will find an AMI (Amazon Machine Image) as shown. It was preconfigured by myself: use it on your own risk (as always). As of today, you should only find one image containing the name “dotnetnuke” (ami-32cd5b5b; DotNetNuke CE 07.00.03). It contains everything you need. Go ahead and select it.

At the next step don’t forget to select your “Instance Type”. M1 will work great; a smaller one will do it, too. But don’t worry, you can change the instance type later if you want. Proceed for now.

At the next two screens, just click continue.

Now it’s time to give the instance a name.

And now, if you are new on AWS, you need to create a Key Pair to request the Windows Administrator password later. You need it if you want to connect to your sever using the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). If that’s not necessary for you and you only want to see DNN running on AWS (sometimes HTTP is enough) you could optionally also proceed without a Key Pair.

At the next step you need to set name and rules of the so called “Security Group”. This is a kind of firewall around each AWS instance or a group of instances. Type in a name, select and add the predefined rules HTTP, HTTPS and (if you want) RDP.  You can change the rule set later.

That’s it. Launch now!

After you launched your instance … get a coffee … drink it. Take a long breath. What I’m trying to say here: Leave the instance some time to initialize. It needs to boot, configure and start all services. This may take about 4 to 5 minutes.
After you had your coffee, select the instance in the dashboard (you already did that, right!) and copy the URL to your clipboard … and open it in a new browser window.

Now, if you gave the instance enough time, the default DotNetNuke 7 installation will show up. If this doesn’t happen: time for coffee. And try again some minutes later.
Enter a host username and password. You don’t need to change the database information. Just keep it.

Done. Congrats.

As you pay as long as your instance is running, you perhaps want to shut it down or even terminate it; or if you want to connect to the instance by RDP to see what you have done, you will need your Windows Administrator password. You will find all the needed functionality in the “Actions” menu.

So, what’s next: play around! And don’t forget to take a look at the brilliant EC2 documentation.


Cross-posted on ITM Labs


Rodney Joyce
Very interesting - so how does the service compare with Azure? Which is better for an average size website?
Rodney Joyce Thursday, August 29, 2013 2:33 AM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Hard to say ... the crucial question. Amazon is very strong in IaaS; Azure is rising, started with PaaS. If it comes to other for DNN Platform helpful infrastructure (i.e. CDN) AWS becomes really strong in my eyes. Perhaps this helps also:
Benjamin Hermann Thursday, August 29, 2013 5:25 PM (link)
Brien Parrett
What if you are a Professional or Enterprise customer. Does AWS offer those editions?
Brien Parrett Thursday, September 5, 2013 3:50 PM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
right now they are not available as "ready to run" images as shown above. However you can run them easily on AWS infrastructure. Perhaps one day DNN Corp starts to sell them as AWS appliance (pay as you go). Who knows.
Benjamin Hermann Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:42 PM (link)
Duncan Gallimore
How can I get this in other regions on AWS? I'm based in Europe.
Thanks, Duncan
Duncan Gallimore Thursday, November 14, 2013 8:01 AM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
you can start it up in US east and transfer it to every other region. If you like, I can transfer the image for you. just let me know.
Benjamin Hermann Friday, November 15, 2013 12:40 PM (link)
Great post! Thanks for the details and step by step instructions. However, I'm trying to figure out what route I should go before setting up another virtual environment, and I'm hoping I can get some feedback from users here. AWS vs Windows? I currently use powerdnn, and their support is great, but the prices just keep going up and up and up. specifically for memory. I run anywhere from 10 to 20 customer sites, 90% dnn, per vmachine. What route would you go if you were going to try and make a gradual transfer into something more affordable: aws or windows? This is also a dumb question but I'll ask it anyways: is plesk or something similar readily available on these virtual pay as you go setups? How do you manage the creation and configuration for a new domain for example? Thanks All!
Mike Tuesday, November 26, 2013 2:38 PM (link)
Bruce Chapman
@Mike you will find that AWS and Azure are incredible similar in pricing. If you're making the switch into using AWS/Azure Virtual Machines (their IaaS platforms) be sure to check your prices across everything including support- which you don't get in the basic plans. Neither support Plesk and many of the tasks such as assigning domains will be more hands on. I would go into each environment and test out the options for creating sites. Just using the IaaS platforms with AWS or Azure means you miss out on some cool features but if you want to take the leap, it just means taking on more control yourself.
Bruce Chapman Tuesday, November 26, 2013 6:28 PM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Want to to the same more or less manually:
Benjamin Hermann Wednesday, December 18, 2013 10:54 AM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Find DNN 07.02.00 in ami-8dedc4e4
Benjamin Hermann Wednesday, December 18, 2013 4:09 PM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Community AMI updated to 07.03.00 ami-d8a35eb0 for us-east-1 and ami-7d26e80a for eu-west-1 #dnncms sandbox
Benjamin Hermann Thursday, June 12, 2014 3:26 AM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Community AMI updated to 07.03.00 (IIS 8.5) ami-740ef31c for us-east-1 and ami-e36ca294 for eu-west-1
Benjamin Hermann Thursday, June 12, 2014 4:10 PM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
DNN Platform 08.00.00 CTP 1: ami-46f4c42e us-east-1
Benjamin Hermann Saturday, April 4, 2015 3:07 AM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
DNN Platform 08.00.00: ami-bd2c0ad7 us-east-1
Benjamin Hermann Wednesday, January 20, 2016 4:54 PM (link)
Dave R
I know this is old post but could you please tell me how can I apply purchased theme/skin on the amazon web services? I have selected "blank" template at the time of installation so I can apply "creative" template. generally I can do this in my folder by adding skin,container and selecting "creative" template from admin --> site wizard but how to do this on aws?
Dave R Sunday, March 20, 2016 10:15 PM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Well, just do it the same way as always. Upload the stuff using DNN itself or login to the server (RDP) and copy the content into the folders. There is no difference here to other web server or DNN installations.
Benjamin Hermann Monday, March 21, 2016 9:07 AM (link)
Dave R
I login to remote desktop and works fine. Thanks for the help.
Dave R Monday, March 21, 2016 9:21 PM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Switched to marketplace to get the AMI published in all AWS regions starting with DNN 08.00.04
Benjamin Hermann Thursday, September 15, 2016 5:19 AM (link)
Benjamin Hermann
Added frist DNN 9 AMI
Benjamin Hermann Tuesday, October 11, 2016 11:34 AM (link)

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