AWS is becoming more and more useful for our research, given its ease to build clusters, and the generous sponsor from people.co, we are using it extensively for research. To save cost, we definitely want to shut the machines down when they are not in use. However, the fact that I am the "manager" who pays the bill also means only I can turn on the machine through the AWS console.
This is of course not elegant. And therefore we wrote a simple system managing all this. As the following figure shows, we have a web server providing a very simple interface. Our team members can then hit a button (after authentication) to turn on the machine.
What happens behind the scene is, the php accepts the request, and invokes a python script to tell AWS to turn the EC2 instance on via boto (an AWS SDK for python). After some delay, the script also associate the EC2 instance with a pre-allocated Elastic IP. So that the public IP will not bounce and we can still use a single IP/domain name to log on the machine.
The code has been put on github. Enjoy!