Migrate an EBS backed AWS AMI to a different EC2 Region

by Alexander Weiß

One feature I really miss in the EC2 cloud is the possibility to move AWS AMIs to another region. If every region would have the same characteristics, this feature wouldn’t be so important. But some regions are cheaper than others and some offer more features than others. So moving your instances to another AWS region can have many good reasons.

In the days when AMIs were S3 backed everything was in order. If you wanted to move an AMI to another region you just had to launch your favorite shell and execute a single command. Today, with EBS backed AMIs, there is no way out of the box to migrate AMIs to a different region with a single click or API call.

If you want to do the migration by using the API Tools, you have to have quite some time on your hand, because the process is time consuming and error prone. You have to execute many different commands and if only one of their parameters is wrong the whole process might fail. But if you are new to the EC2 cloud or AWS in general it is maybe a good way to learn. 😉

Here are a few guides for inter EC2 Region migration of AMIs by using the API Tools:

If you are running Windows you might want to check out this article:

If you want to use the EC2 Management Console these guides are for you:

Besides that you can use a Perl script to migrate the AMI:

Last but not least there are also third party tools available which provide many additional features. There’s only a single free one though:

  • Cloudy Scripts: You shouldn’t use this website for the migration, because it has to have full access to your EC2 infrastructure and you don’t want to give away your credentials to a stranger, or do you?

If you don’t want to give away your credentials you can launch a CloudyScripts instance from AWS Marketplace or you can download the Ruby sourcecode and create your own CloudyScripts Server.

For these tools, you have to pay:

  • Bolt Migration tool from Yuruware: Pricing starts at 199$ for 3 months.
  • enstratus: If you only have a few servers and users the service is free, otherwise you have to pay at least 50$. Before you invest into the service you can check it out, because there is a free trial available.
  • Rightscale: You can sign up for a free account, but it is only free for the first 60 days. After that you have to pay a fixed amount for support and a variable amount depending on the actions you perform. Community support is free, but bronze support starts at 500$ per month.
  • Scalr: Scalr is opensource, so you can run it for free. If you want professional support you have to pay for it. Pricing starts at 99$ per month for the most basic package. There is a 30-day trial package available.
  • Ylastic: Pricing starts at 25$ per month. A one week trial is available at their homepage. Here you can see the interface for migrating AMIs.

On some sites I have read that people want to migrate to another region, because there is an outage in their EC2 region. If you are reading this post because there is an outage in your region and you want to migrate to a different region, I have to disappoint you: All of the tools I mentioned here only work if both EC2 Regions – the source and the target region – are up and running. If you want to know how to prepare for a cloud outage read my post here.

As soon as I have enough time I will write a review of the tools I mentioned in this post. If you are interested in a specific tool review, please contact me. Maybe I will find some time to review it sooner than later. :-)

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