An Introduction to Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Introduction

AWS covers a broad range and increasing spectrum of cloud services. In a nutshell Amazon delivers cloud-based computing services and resources and like any other cloud services and resource provider this model is based on a pay-as-you-use basis.  It is widely believed that Amazon started the cloud revolution and today it’s a leader in web services.

Amazon is experienced in running large-scale networks and cloud services. Amazon built a large scalable network and infrastructure for themselves and then realised that they did such a great job at it that Amazon could scale and resell the network and services to the world.  Consequently by utilising the AWS offering you as an individual or organisation are afforded the advantages of Amazon’s expertise, experience, geographic resilience and scalability in the area of web services and the comprehensive benefits of cloud computing. With exceptional cost benefits due to the large economies of scale and volumes (hundreds of thousands) of organisations and users globally that Amazon now support and provision the subscription benefits are substantial.

Like other vendors of cloud computing services and resources, Amazon asserts similar cloud benefits: flexibility, scalability, elasticity, security and cost effectiveness. Probably the most distinguishable factor is their experience level and proven success in the area of cloud computing and web services. Having launched their services in 2006, Amazon has served the masses globally and in an approach that has proven to be dependable.

Amazon is a large well-funded entity with a proven track record.  They have the resources to rapidly accommodate and scale user requirements and by adapting to the ever-changing computing environment requirements. Amazon stay abreast and offer up-to-date resources and services.

Amazon is continually evolving and has the global presence, infrastructure and expertise to accommodate a broad range of user requirements effectively, making it challenging for the competitor to compete in this area.  The challenge is getting your design and requirements aligned with what is available in the myriad of services offered by Amazon. A new breed of cloud consultant is emerging that leverages cloud services.

Some of the Services under the AWS Umbrella

AWS cover services/products for computing, storage, database, analytics, application and deployment services.

The broad products offered by AWS include the following:

Compute Services

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)- cloud computing and database storage requirements
  • Amazon (EC2) Container service-container management service
  • Auto scaling-flexible scaling for (EC2)
  • AWS Lambda-compute service
  • Elastic Load Balancing- end user load management

Storage and Content Delivery

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)- static file cloud storage
  • Amazon Glacier-low cost storage for archiving and backup
  • AWS Storage Gateway-connecting onsite with cloud-based storage
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS)-block level storage volumes
  • AWS import and export-moving large data volumes in and out of AWS
  • Amazon CloudFront- web content delivery service

Content and Networking Delivery

  • Amazon Redshift
  • Amazon ElastiCache
  • Amazon Virtual Private Network (VPC)-provision a private cloud
  • Amazon Route 53
  • Amazon Direct connect

Database Services

  • Amazon DynamoDM- NoSQL database service
  • Amazon RDS- relational database service

Analytics

  • Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR)-processing data and indexing and search functionalities
  • Amazon Kinesis-real time data streaming and processing

Application Services

  • Amazon AppStream-streaming of applications
  • Amazon Cloudsearch
  • Amazon SWF
  • Amazon SES-email service
  • Amazon SNS-notification service
  • Amazon SQS- queue service for messages
  • Amazon Elastic Transcoder- cloud media transcoding

Deployment and Management

  • AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • AWS Directory Service-connect AWS resources with onsite directory
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk- deploying and scaling web applications and services
  • AWS CloudFormation
  • AWS CodeDeploy-automates code deployments
  • AWS Data Pipeline-reliable process and moving of data
  • AWS OpsWorks- application management
  • AWS Config-inventory of resources
  • AWS CLoudHSM-compliance and data security
  • AWS Key Management Service-create and manage encryption keys
  • AWS CloudTrail-records API calls and issues logs

Mobile Services

  • Amazon Cognito-identity and data synchronisation across mobile devices
  • Amazon Mobile Analytics

Enterprise Applications

  • Amazon Workspace-desktop computing cloud service
  • Amazon Zocalo-secure storage and sharing service

Why Choose AWS

If you’ve read this far into the article you would have realised the vast number of services, products and solutions offered through AWS, the expanse is huge. AWS offerings cater for the small as well as large global user.  If it’s good enough, reliable enough and secure enough for the large corporate ventures using the services, it seems to be an easy decision to make.

Let’s consider some of the reasons one might choose AWS over an alternate provider:

  • Pricing Model

The pay-as-you-use model expands to all the AWS products.  During times of reduced usage you can benefit from reduced cost, which is not achievable when utilising onsite or alternative hardware.  Amazon provision large volumes of users and systems to support these users and thus is able to provide the services at competitive pricing.  With the cost+pricing model and fixed margin, reduced pricing is also achievable.

  • Free Tier Model

For users who are less knowledgeable of AWS and are doubtful of jumping in without the knowledge of the workings of AWS, Amazon provides a free tier model to get users started and learning without involving cost.

  • Performance

AWS offers speed and reliability that surpasses most global private datacentres.  The performance is noted across the AWS services but that of the storage service is especially great.

  • Flexibility

The superb flexibility is probably one of the most appreciative features of AWS. The compatibility of all the services to communicate and work together to achieve the best computing performance is evident. The services are unassuming, robust and scalable.

  • Speed of deployment

Amazon provides rapid deployment (provisioning of servers), which could traditionally take days to achieve, is achievable in minutes with AWS.

  • Knowledge of consumer requirement

Amazon has the expertise and insight into consumer service requirements. Amazon has constructed AWS in a way that it’s relatively easy to use and inexpensive.  Amazon has the expertise to realise where emphasis should be placed on services, such a services for developers, and by staying up-to-date they can easily maintain a lead in the area of cloud computing.

  • Innovation and speed to evolve

Amazon has an engineering culture with long-term roadmap, research and Amazon is future thinking, which allows for evolution and the release of features at a speed that is difficult to equal.

Conclusion

Amazon is a large, scalable and well-funded organisation that has over 10 years of cloud experience; Amazon is by far the most advanced cloud provider in the market.  It’s a good choice for cloud services when compared to what’s available in the cloud today and reduces vendor lock-in, which must be a concern in this day and age.

Amazon provides a myriad of reasons for selecting them as a cloud provider of choice.  Amazon knows enough to shape the areas of most demand that include placing emphasis on services for developers and to maintain a low barrier to entry which is essential.

Amazon are building with the future in mind, they have rethought the entire IT stack with focus on next generation applications and requirements.  Amazon is quickly defeating all ‘small’ competition in the market, the playing field being left open to the largest competitors-AWS, Google and Microsoft.

1 thought on “An Introduction to Amazon Web Services (AWS)”

  1. Amazon has been making a lot of innovation with their Amazon Web Services and many companies are now using it for their cloud and data needs but it can be hard to understand what exactly AWS is but this article does a great job explaining AWS which is very helpful.

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