This post is written by Fahad Mustafa, Cloud Application Architect, AWS Professional Services

There are many ways to deploy ASP.NET web apps to AWS. Each with its own use cases and differing pricing models. But what if you have a small website and database that you must deploy rapidly, manage, and scale? What if you want a cost-effective simple monthly plan? In these cases, Amazon Lightsail is a great choice. This post shows you how to take a containerized ASP.NET web application that connects to a PostgreSQL database and deploy it to Lightsail. So that you can get your ASP.NET web app up and running.

Product Overview

Amazon Lightsail is an easy way to get started on AWS. It gives you building blocks to deploy an application or website and provision a database at an affordable, monthly price.

Lightsail is perfect for students, small businesses, and startups to get their website or application up and running in the cloud. By providing a secure, highly available, and managed environment Lightsail does all the heavy lifting like setting up IAM roles and policies.

Lightsail can also run containers! By pointing Lightsail to a public image on Amazon ECR or Docker Hub, or uploading an image from your local machine, you can easily run the container, scale it, monitor it and use a custom domain.

Overview of solution

To deploy an ASP.NET app that connects to a PostgreSQL database, you create a Lightsail container service and PostgreSQL database through the AWS Management Console. Create your app and container image. Push the image to Lightsail and finally create the Lightsail deployment to run the container.

solution diagram

Overview of steps

In this post, you create a sample ASP.NET web app through the .NET CLI. Alternatively, you can use Visual Studio to create the app.

This is the sequence of steps I review in this post:

  • Create a PostgreSQL database
  • Create a Lightsail container service
  • Create an ASP.NET web app
  • Create a Dockerfile and build image
  • Upload the image to Lightsail
  • Deploy and run the image

Prerequisites

For this walkthrough, you should have the following prerequisites:

Walkthrough

Create a PostgreSQL database

In this step, you create a PostgreSQL database through the Lightsail console.

Create the database

  1. Sign in to the Lightsail console.
  2. On the Lightsail home page, choose the Database
  3. Choose Create database.
  4. Choose the Database location by changing the AWS Region and Availability Zone.
  5. Choose the database engine. In this example, select PostgreSQL 12.6.
  6. Optional – Specify login credentials. If not changed, AWS generates a default secure password.
  7. Optional – Specify the master database name. If not changed, AWS will use “dbmaster” as the default.
  8. Choose the database plan. Compare the plan’s memory, CPU, storage, and transfer quota to decide which best fits your needs. The smallest database plan is Free Tier eligible.
  9. Identify your database by giving it a unique name.
  10. Choose Create database.

Creating and configuring the database can take a few minutes. Once ready, the status changes to Available. For more information and options on creating a database in Lightsail, see Creating a database in Amazon Lightsail.

available database

Now you are ready to connect to the database and create a table. To connect, see Connecting to your PostgreSQL database in Amazon Lightsail. This sample uses a database named aspnetlightsaildb and a table named Person that you can create by running the following script using PgAdmin. Note that the Owner value is dbmasteruser. This is the default username AWS generates. If you changed the default, then use the username you specified in step 6.

-- Database: aspnetlightsaildb
CREATE DATABASE aspnetlightsaildb WITH OWNER = dbmasteruser ENCODING = 'UTF8' LC_COLLATE = 'en_US.UTF-8' LC_CTYPE = 'en_US.UTF-8' TABLESPACE = pg_default CONNECTION LIMIT = -1; -- Table: public.Person
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS public."Person"
( "Id" integer NOT NULL GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY ( INCREMENT 1 START 1 MINVALUE 1 MAXVALUE 2147483647 CACHE 1 ), "Name" text COLLATE pg_catalog."default", "DateOfBirth" date, "Address" text COLLATE pg_catalog."default", CONSTRAINT "Person_pkey" PRIMARY KEY ("Id")
)
TABLESPACE pg_default;
ALTER TABLE public."Person" OWNER to dbmasteruser;

Now your database and table is created and you can create a container service.

Create a Lightsail container service

In this step, you create a Lightsail container service that is ready to accept your container images.

Create the container service

  1. Sign in to the Lightsail console.
  2. On the Lightsail home page, choose the Containers Tab
  3. Choose Create container service.
  4. In the Create a container service page, choose Change AWS Region, then choose an AWS Region for your container service.
  5. Choose a capacity for your container service. For more information, see Container service capacity (scale and power).
  6. Skip the Set up your first deployment step as you’ll create the deployment after creating the container image on your dev machine.
  7. Enter a name for your container service. Take note of this name, you’ll need it later to deploy the container to Lightsail.
  8. Click Create container service.

After a few minutes, your container service status changes from Pending to Ready. This indicates you can now deploy images. If this is the first time you created a service, it can take 10–15 minutes for the status to become Ready.

container service

Create an ASP.NET web app

Using the .NET CLI, you’ll create a sample ASP.NET web app. In an empty directory run the following command:

dotnet new webapp --name HelloWorldLightsail

The “webapp” segment of the commands specifies the project template to use. In this case, it’s a default ASP.NET web app. The “name” parameter is the name of the ASP.NET project.

To connect to your PostgreSQL Db from ASP.NET, you must install the “Npgsql” Nuget package. In the root directory of the project run the following command in the terminal:

dotnet add package Npgsql.EntityFrameworkCore.PostgreSQL –-version 5.0.6

Once installed, you create a Model class to represent the data and a DbContext class to connect and query the database.

public class Person { public int Id { get; set; } public string Name { get; set; } public DateTime DateOfBirth { get; set; } public string Address { get; set; } } public class PostgreSqlContext : DbContext { public PostgreSqlContext(DbContextOptions<PostgreSqlContext> options) : base(options) { } public DbSet<Person> Person { get; set; } }

The next step is to add the connection string to appSettings.json. In the root of the settings file add a new ConnectionStrings property as shown below. The following properties are required:

  • lightsail-endpoint: The database endpoint as shown in the Lightsail console.
  • db-name: The name of the database you want to connect to.
  • db-username: The username as shown in the Lightsail console.
  • db-password: The password as shown in the Lightsail console.
"ConnectionStrings": { "AspnetLightsailDb": "Server=<lightsail-endpoint>;Port=5432;Database=<db-name>;User Id=<db-username>;Password=<db-password>;" }

Next step is to tell ASP.NET where to find the connection string and which DbContext class to use. This is done by configuring the DbContext in Startup.cs. Under the ConfigureServices method add the following line of code:

 services.AddDbContext<PostgreSqlContext>(options => options.UseNpgsql(Configuration.GetConnectionString("AspnetLightsailDb")));

 

Now, you are ready to perform operations against the database. This is done by performing operations against the Person property of the PostgreSqlContext instance.

For example to fetch all records form the Person table:

public IList<Person> Person { get;set; } public async Task OnGetAsync() { Person = await _context.Person.ToListAsync(); }

You now have an ASP.NET web application that can query the “Person” table against the PostgreSQL database.

Create a Dockerfile and build image

In order to containerize the web app, you must create a Dockerfile. This file provides instructions to Docker on how to build the container image.

To create a Dockerfile and build image

  1. In the root directory of the project, you created (where the .csproj file lives) create an empty file named “Dockerfile”. Note this file does not have an extension.
  2. Open the file with a text editor or IDE and insert the following:
# https://hub.docker.com/_/microsoft-dotnet
FROM mcr.microsoft.com/dotnet/sdk:5.0 AS build
WORKDIR /source # copy csproj and restore as distinct layers
COPY *.csproj .
RUN dotnet restore # copy everything else and build app
COPY . .
RUN dotnet publish -c release -o /app --no-restore # final stage/image
FROM mcr.microsoft.com/dotnet/aspnet:5.0
WORKDIR /app
COPY --from=build /app ./
ENTRYPOINT ["dotnet", "HelloWorldLightsail.dll"]
  1. To build the image, open a terminal in the same directory as the Dockerfile. Run the following command to build the image.
    docker build -t helloworldlightsail .
    The “-t” parameter is a human readable tag you give the image to make it easy to identify.
  2. After the command completes, you can verify that the image exists by running
    docker images
    You should see the newly created image.newly created image

Upload the image to Lightsail

In this step, you upload the newly built image to the Lightsail container service that you created earlier.

To upload the image to Lightsail

  1. Ensure you have configured the AWS CLI to access AWS.
  2. In a terminal enter the following command:
    aws lightsail push-container-image --region ap-southeast-2 --service-name aspnet-helloworld --label helloworldlightsail --image helloworldlightsail:latest
    The –-region and –-service-name parameters should match the container service you created through the AWS Management Console. The –-label parameter is a descriptive name you give the image when it’s stored in the container service. This will help you track the different versions of the image. The –-image parameter consists of the image name and tag on your local machine that you want to push to Lightsail. Read more about how to push images to Lightsail.
  3. After the command runs successfully browse your container service in the Lightsail console and click the “Images” tab. You should see the uploaded image.

3. After the command runs successfully browse your container service in the Lightsail console and click the “Images” tab

Deploy and run the image

Now that your image is uploaded to the container service it’s time to create a deployment to run the app.

To create a deployment

  1. Go to the Deployments tab in the Lightsail console.
  2. Click on Create your first deployment.
  3. Enter the Container name.
  4. Click Choose stored image and select the image you uploaded in the previous step.
  5. Click on Add open ports to add a port mapping to the container. This allows Lightsail to forward web traffic to your ASP.NET web app. By default ASP.NET web server will listen to port 80.
  6. Under the Public endpoint section, select the container from the drop-down. This specifies which container Lightsail will forward traffic to since a single deployment can have more than one container.
  7. Click Save and deploy

Your configuration should looks like this. Read more about creating container services deployments in Lightsail.

configuration overview

After the deployment is complete, you can navigate to the Public domain of your container service. You will see your ASP.NET web app in action!

public domain

Conclusion

In this post, I demonstrated how easy it is to create a PostgreSQL DB and deploy an ASP.NET web app to Amazon Lightsail. Going from a container on your dev machine to a publicly accessible, scalable, and secure cloud environment within minutes.

You can now add a custom domain to your web app through the Lightsail console. Additionally, you can increase the scale of your container to keep up with demand based on the useful CPU and memory metrics provided in the console.

If you have more advanced needs for your web app, you have the whole robust ecosystem of AWS at your disposal. You can deploy your ASP.NET web app to Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) or even decide to go completely serverless and utilize AWS Lambda and API Gateway.

Visit the Amazon Lightsail homepage to get started with your next idea and read the docs for more details about container services on Amazon Lightsail.