AWS (Amazon Web Services) is one of the most popular Cloud Computing platforms used in numerous organizations. Most organizations have adopted it, and others are on the verge of it. Most companies are shifting their business to the cloud because of its numerous features that allow them to store their data easily without the need for physical space. Accessing data has also become easier as they can do that from anywhere at any time using the Internet. AWS-certified professionals are one of the highest in-demand professionals today.
According to the jobs posted on LinkedIn, there are over 101,000 jobs open for professionals certified in AWS in the United States alone.
We will define AWS in detail in this blog. Some of the topics that we will discuss are mentioned below in AWS overview:
What is a Public Cloud?
A Public Cloud uses a cloud computing platform to offer its services remotely to the users. These services could be offered free for the users or on a subscription basis. Public Cloud services are sometimes also offered on a pay-as-you-use model. This helps companies cut costs as it reduces the expense of investing in on-site infrastructure and because of its scalability, it can be expanded as and when required.
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What is AWS?
AWS is short for Amazon Web Services. Previously, a factory would typically build an electricity plant and use it for their purposes. Then, power experts would manage electricity plants to provide reliable power supply at a very low cost to these factories as a whole. The electricity could be generated with greater efficiency and the price in this model is also low. AWS cloud follows a similar model where instead of building large-scale infrastructures, companies can opt for Amazon Cloud Services where they can get all the infrastructure they could ever need.
AWS is a growing cloud computing platform that has a significant share of Cloud Computing. AWS is geographically diversified into regions to ensure system robustness and outages. AWS has central hubs in Japan, eastern USA, two locations in western USA, Brazil, Ireland, Singapore, and Australia. There are over 50 services, such as application services, networking, storage, mobile, management, compute, and others, that are easily available for clients.
In startups, these services can be quickly deployed without much capital. As AWS is closely collaborating with GE, Pinterest, and MLB, cloud clients can pin, power, and play with the features in AWS cloud. Let’s now dig into the components of AWS.
History of AWS
Back in 2000, Amazon introduced Merchant.com and offered support with their e-commerce engine to enable third-party retailers to start their own online shopping websites. AWS was developed as a means to segregate the services and move to a centralized developer platform. It, however, faced quite a lot of difficulty when it came to deploying applications as they were not able to develop them any faster. This was because every project required its own resources and offered no reusability and scalability. On top of that, it took months to build the database and storage components for a single project. They needed a set of common infrastructure services that would serve as a template.
By now, Amazon had become an expert in handling cost-effective, scalable, and reliable data centers due to their excellent management and delivery of orders. So, in 2003, they realized they could use those services as an operating system for the internet.
Today, AWS is capable of facilitating any organization or developer to run their applications on top of Amazon’s technology infrastructure platform.
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AWS Services and the AWS Ecosystem
To assess the cloud computing capabilities of AWS we have to first look into the core components of the cloud. There are various components of AWS but we are elucidating on only key components.
Also known as Amazon Compute, AWS has Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), and Lambda as the lead computing services. It is due to the virtue of these instances that companies can scale up or down as per their needs. System admins and developers use EC2 instances to get a hold and boot the compute instances in the cloud. The pricing is based on usage. First-time users of AWS get around 750 hours of EC2 per month for the first year. Beyond this, AWS has three pricing models, on-demand, spot instance, and reserve instance.
Depending on location, size, complexity and storage requirements on-demand prices range from $0.13 to $4.60.
Reserved instance pricing is where the users are expected to reserve the instance well in advance in the range of one to three years. AWS offers upto 75% discount on on-demand pricing when users reserve the cloud instances.
Spot instance pricing lets users bid on computing instances that are not used. Spot prices differ based on usage, time of day, week or month.
For less human intervention and fault tolerance, AWS ELB distributes the applications widely throughout the EC2 instances. The ELB service is free within 15GB of data processing and 750 hours of monthly service for a year. Larger loads are charged on an hourly basis and each GB transferred.
“When I get into complex customer situations that leverage combinations of AWS services, AWS Certification has allowed me to immediately add value.”
– Ryan Fackett, Director, Foghorn Consulting, Advanced APN Consulting Partner, AWS Certiifed Solutions Architect – Professional
Availability zone (AZ) is an isolated area within a region. AWS provides services from dozens of data centers spread across multiple AZs. An AZ is a location that has multiple physical data centers. Such locations are generally far away from populated areas and are highly secured. Data centers in availability zones are stored to achieve high reliability. In general, a business chooses more than one AZ due to various reasons such as compliance and proximity to end customers.
Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic block storage (EBS) and CloudFront are the three storage choices of Amazon. Storage in AWS is provided through a pay-as-you-go model. Amazon S3 is a storage offering of AWS that can store any amount of storage which is required. It is used for various reasons like content storage, backup, archiving and disaster recovery, and also data analysis storage.
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Along with free EC2 instances for the first year, AWS also offers 5GB of cloud storage and 20,000 GET requests, and 5,000 PUT requests from S3 free for the first year. After the first year, the pricing is $.0300 for 1GB up to 1TB per month. EBS is very helpful in scaling the EC2 instances. Pricing is based on geographic regions like the disk technology used and the GBs of provisioned storage required. AWS CloudFront is a great storage option for developers and business organizations which facilitates low latency and high data transfer speeds.
There are certain types of storage services offered by Amazon. Below we have discussed them one by one:
Amazon S3: Amazon S3 stands for Simple Storage Service; it provides scalable object storage for data backup, collection, and analytics. Generally, data and files are stored in S3 objects, which can range up to 5 GB.
Amazon Elastic File System (EFS): It provides block-level storage volumes for persistent data storage when using EC2 instances. Amazon EFS offers managed cloud-based file storage.
Amazon Snowball: Businesses use Snowball to migrate data to the cloud via storage transport devices. Amazon Snowball uses AWS Storage Gateway to allow on-premise apps to access cloud data.
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Databases, Data Management
Along with in-memory caching and data warehousing facilities in the range of petabytes, AWS also scales relational and NoSQL databases. DynamoDB is the NoSQL database that offers high-scale, low-cost storage. Using EC2 and EBS, users can operate on their own databases in AWS. Relational Database Service(RDS) and Amazon Redshift are the two database services from AWS.
To operate and scale MySQL, Oracle, SQLServer or PostgreSQL servers on AWS, Amazon RDS is used. Based on the instance hours and storage amount, RDS pricing is used. Redshift is a data warehouse service through which users can store data in columns rather than in rows. Pricing is based on the instance hours like $0.25 per hour.
Migration, Hybrid Cloud
Cloud Migration: Moving data, applications, and other resources to a cloud computing platform is known as Cloud Migration. AWS offers a wide range of tools to help users migrate to its cloud platform. AWS Migration Hub helps manage the migration from on-site infrastructure to cloud. EC2 Systems Manager takes it up from there and helps configure the rest.
Hybrid Cloud: Hybrid Cloud is a mixed computing platform which basically integrates on-site infrastructure, public and private cloud services. AWS has partnered with various companies to incorporate hybrid cloud capabilities for its users. For example, AWS has partnered with Red Hat to bring their operating system on AWS.
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Administration and security
AWS Directory Service directly links AWS clouds to on-premises. CloudWatch monitors cloud resources of Amazon Web Services. AWS CloudTrail records API calls for user AWS accounts. CloudTrail does this for no charge at all.
AWS’s Networking Services offer a cloud platform that is highly secure and connects a physical network to a private VN with a high transfer speed.
Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) provides a versatile networking capability in AWS which means that it provides built-in security and a private cloud. VPC comes free with EC2.
AWS Direct Connect Service lets users directly connect to the cloud bypassing the internet. It is priced on an hourly basis.
Amazon Route 53 is a cloud DNS web service, which is highly scalable and available. It is a cost-effective method to route end users to cloud applications by translating the text address into an IP address.
AWS Analytics Services offers data analytics solutions on all fronts like Hadoop, orchestration and real-time streaming, and data warehousing. EMR (Elastic MapReduce) is the analytics facilitator which is used by Businesses, data analysts, researchers, and developers to process data chunks. Pricing is done on an hourly basis. Redshift also provides some analytics capabilities.
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To automate workflow between different services Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service) is used. A dedicated queue is present which is used in storing messages. The service is free upto 1 million messages per month and after that $0.50 is charged for every million messages.
SWS (Simple Workflow Service) is a task management and co-ordination service for AWS. 10,000 activity tasks, 30,000 workflow days and 1,000 initiated executions for a year are free for users. Above that per workflow users pay around $0.0001.
Management and Monitoring
Elastic Beanstalk uses Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python and Ruby to deploy and scale web applications. Application health and log files can be easily monitored.
CloudFormation helps businesses and developers gather and provision important AWS resources. It aids in monitoring these resources in one place to reduce the management time and use that time to develop applications. The developers can manage their cloud infrastructure in a text file or a template.
Amazon CloudWatch is another monitoring tool for AWS resources and customer applications running on the AWS platform. It helps gather and access all operational data in the form of logs from a single interface.
Developer tools help a user in application source code development, deployment, and automatic running. It updates the server and instance on the workload as well.
- AWS CodeStar, as a service, is designed to manage application development in a single place.
- AWS CodeBuild eliminates the hassle of physical server management and helps developers in building and testing code with continuous scaling.
- AWS Pipeline is a continuous integration service that delivers and automates the pipeline for faster updates.
- AWS CodeDeploy is a deployment service that continuously deploys software services to different compute services.
- AWS Command Line Interface is Amazon’s own coding interface.
- AWS Serverless Application Model helps provide developers with a simulated environment so they can test Lambda functions.
- AWS Amplify includes a command line interface, UI components, and a set of open-source libraries to integrate your backend in any mobile or web app.
Security and Governance
These tools help create a safe environment for the AWS resources through limited user authorizations.
AWS IAM or Identity Access Management is a framework that gives one Shared access to an AWS account and Secure access to AWS services that run on the AWS EC2.
KMS enables users to create and manage encryption keys. It includes a key generation method, which makes digital signs within an application more convenient.
Big Data Management and Analytics
AWS has a lot of applications to support these services, including:
- AWS Glue – It helps with transforming, extracting and loading data.
- Amazon Athena – It helps analysts in querying data.
- Amazon Kinesis – It helps in analyzing and processing data that is streaming.
- Amazon QuickSight – It helps in analyzing visual data.
- Amazon Elastic MapReduce – It helps in processing huge amounts of data using the Hadoop framework.
- Amazon Elasticsearch Service – It helps in monitoring application performance, log analysis, etc. with the help of the Elasticsearch tool.
AWS offers a suite of AI tools, which includes the following:
- Amazon Polly – It helps in text-to-speech translations.
- Amazon Lex – It helps with the text chatbot and voice technologies.
- Amazon Rekognition – It helps in analyzing images and faces.
Amazon Cognito and Mobile Analytics are two popular AWS mobile services. AWS Cognito IDs users and syncs data across their mobile devices. Upto 10GB of cloud sync storage and 10 lakh, sync operations per month are free here. Beyond that users are liable to pay around $0.15 for every 10,000 operations.
Usage data within 60 minutes is delivered by Mobile Analytics which tracks applications at scale. Upto one million events usage is free and above that the pricing is $1 for every million.
In addition to the myriad of services that AWS offers, there are also preconfigured virtual machines with already installed and configured software components for quick and easy use like:
- Image manipulation
- Video transmission or streaming
- Application integration with one another
- Application performance monitoring
- Application security
- Billing and subscription operations
- Healthcare claim management
- Real estate for sale
- Genomic data analysis
- Website hosting
- Customer support
And really, this list barely scratches the surface of what’s available within AWS. In a way, AWS is a modern-day bazaar, providing an incredibly rich set of computing capabilities from anyone who chooses to set up shop, to anyone who chooses to purchase what’s being offered.
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Messages and Notifications
AWS offers services to help its users with communication.
- Simple Queue Service (SQS) – It is a managed service that stores, sends and receives messages.
- Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) – It helps businesses send notifications to their customers.
- Amazon Simple Email Service (AWS SES) – It helps in sending and receiving Emails.
AR & VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality)
Amazon Sumerian service offers AR & VR development tools. It allows users to create AR & VR apps without any need of being trained in programming or graphic design. It can be used in:
- 3D applications
- Training simulations
- Online education
AWS also offers its services for game development. Companies like UbiSoft, uses AWS platform to develop their games.
AWS GameLift is a service that lets users host dedicated game servers.
The AWS ecosystem has three distinct subsystems:
AWS computing services: Amazon currently provides more than 200 AWS fully-featured services and is launching more all the time. AWS offers extensive cloud computing services.
Computing services provided by third parties that operate on AWS: These services tend to offer functionality that enables you to build applications of a type that AWS doesn’t strictly offer. Many companies and individuals offer services that are complementary to AWS. This enables users to quickly build richer applications.
Applications by third parties that run on AWS: These convenient SaaS services can be used over a network without installing them on hardware. An interesting trend can be seen within AWS. Traditional software vendors are increasingly migrating their applications to AWS and offering them as SaaS.
AWS Pricing Models and Competition
AWS has a pay-as-you-go model. Users can choose to either pay per second or pay per minute, according to their needs and convenience. A user also has the option to opt for a prepaid model where they can reserve an amount of computing capacity or they can take a one-year or three-year subscription. These are offered at a discounted price.
AWS Free Tier offers users to gain experience with AWS by offering them access to about 60 products for free. There are three offers under Free Tier – always free, one year free and free trials.
AWS’ biggest competitors are Microsoft Azure, IBM, and Google.
How does AWS work?
You basically need to sign into an account with AWS. This would require credit card details from your part. Upon creating the account you can start exploring AWS Management Console and view their services. Amazon hosts in its site 10-minute tutorials in launching a Virtual Machine with Amazon EC2, using S3 how you can upload files to the cloud, and also using DynamoDB how you can create and query a NoSQL database. These are only from compute section, and you can view the same how-to videos on database, developer AWS tools, messaging, storage and content delivery, and much more.
“If we wouldn’t have gone through AWS training then our progress would have much slower. There would have been a lot of pitfalls.”
– Christian Boehm, Head, Data center infrastructure, Siemens
Why use AWS?
EC2 units give world class performance at an hourly rate and 90% of the time traditional hardware is not used by large corporations. Huge maintenance is required for that kind of hardware which has to be considered also. During peak hours there is a chance that the hardware may not be sufficient in providing competent service. Hence if the organization had shifted to AWS all of these woes could essentially come to an end. Companies needn’t worry over the maintenance and the cost involved with it. No matter how much demand there is, this cloud service can scale to that level. It is also helpful in big data analytics. In AWS code deployment can be achieved continuously as DevOps processes are expertly supported.
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Scalability and adaptability of AWS
Scalability and adaptability are some terms which define AWS. Building a business from scratch is tough. AWS lightens the load in this regard as it provides all the tools which the companies can use to get started on the cloud. The cost of migration is low where enterprises can migrate their services from their existing infrastructure to that of the AWS. As we have said Netflix is the best example to this as almost every instance of the company has been migrated to the AWS cloud.
As AWS services can be flexibly used, customers need not worry about their computing usage. The usage can be very high or very low and the AWS will scale for whichever way the company wants. This high adaptability is what this cloud service stands for truly.
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AWS’s security and reliability
Compared to a company website that is self-hosted, AWS is more secure. Dozens of data centers across the world are continuously monitored and have a vigilant team watching over it. As the data centers are spread out, a natural disaster or outage at one location won’t affect other data centers. If you think that is bad then consider this.
How safe do you think the data is if all of it is centered in one location where many people can get their hands on it. This is the case with most of enterprises. The location of these data centers in the case of AWS is kept a top secret and any issues pertaining to them will be cleared promptly.
Advantages of AWS
Some of the advantages of AWS are:
- Ease of use
- A diverse range of tools
- Unlimited server capacity
- Reliable encryption and security
- Managed IT services
- Flexibility and affordability
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Applications of AWS
AWS enables businesses of any scale and industry to develop sophisticated applications ranging from hyper-scale web apps to big data analytical apps. Following are some of the common applications of AWS:
1. Storage and Backup – Amazon’s cloud storage is an easily accessible and useful service for businesses. It can store critical data and offers several types of storage to choose from based on requirements. AWS offers file indexing capability, high-performance writing or reading, storage, running critical business applications and archiving.
2. Enterprise IT – Amazon cloud services offer the ideal solution to enterprise IT’s time-consuming pace. AWS allows for fast development, testing, and running of secondary operations in the cloud. It accelerates the project launch and gives it a competitive edge.
3. Mobile, Web, and Social Applications – AWS, unlike any other cloud service, can launch and scale various applications, like e-commerce applications, mobile applications, and SaaS applications. New applications are developed on server-less platforms without the need for any OS and other systems. API-driven code can also be used on AWS for the development of scalable applications.
4. Big Data – The scalable storage offered by AWS is ideal for analytics at higher frequencies. It doesn’t require much space or any effort to index and it’s best for building data lakes or warehouses. AWS and Big Data work well with each other to come up with the power and infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of high-end intelligent software.
5. Websites – Websites can be hosted on the AWS cloud. It is also good for hosting CDNs, DNS, and domains.
6. Gaming – Gaming applications require a lot of computing power as well as the internet. AWS makes it easily available to the worldwide gaming network and provides gamers the best experience in online gaming across the globe.
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Companies Using AWS
The pay-as-you-go model is a great benefit for those who can’t afford an in-house infrastructure. Startups especially face this situation. They are usually cash-strapped and seek cloud services to fulfill their infrastructure requirements. Amazon says that the active users of its cloud are over 10 lakh.
Small and medium firms and startups make up a majority of that space with enterprise users being just around 100,000.
- Unilever is reaping the benefits of using AWS in increased speed at which marketing campaigns can be made and so forth.
- You can go through an exhaustive case study of Netflix on how it used AWS to grow massively in its game.
- Without the added cost of maintaining a separate data center Kellogg uses multiple AWS availability zones which provide high availability.
- GE achieved a whopping 52% reduction in overall ownership cost by migrating over half of its core applications to AWS
- Zynga now can easily plan, test, and develop proof of concepts (PoCs) without having to commit to long-term fixed IT assets.
- Xiaomi was able to quickly launch a new online business as they could satisfy the download speed that users worldwide required all by using AWS.
- To carry out computations for research and development Pfizer needed a secure environment which it got through AWS’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
- Samsung was able to deploy Samsung Printing Apps Center which provides scalability to handle periods using AWS
The reason why Amazon is so huge is because of AWS along with its retail arm. We have already said that AWS offers up to 75% discount when the instances are reserved in advance and despite that, the cloud service is in huge profit and is growing rapidly. Did you know AWS’s IaaS cloud is 10 times greater than the 14 competitors of AWS combined? This speaks volumes about the strong capabilities that this service possesses.
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