Fundamentals of AWS
Before the onset of cloud computing, operating a data center was a rather expensive affair and a huge barrier of entry to small businesses and startups. This is because it took considerable investment for any business to even host a data center within or without its premises, not to mention the number of CPUs and RAM required to run all its applications efficiently. The introduction of cloud computing changed all this to suit all businesses, large and small, not just affordable IT resources, but also a level playing field for them. Cloud computing gives companies easy and affordable access to large and efficient storage, compute, networking, and other facilities available in the cloud and has, in recent, become the most viable option for businesses that require to host or create scalable infrastructure, systems, and/or applications.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), a pioneer, entered the cloud market in 2006 and has grown to be the most popular cloud service provider accounting for 32% of the market share thanks to the growing awareness of efficiency, scaling, and cost-effective benefits of the cloud. AWS took advantage of a time when most businesses were considering shifting their operations to the cloud. Then, the best that professionals who were also new in the field could do is to learn AWS basics. Today, cloud computing is a much more established field that has attracted many players like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Oracle, and many others. If you are a developer or a professional in cloud computing, chances are that you will use AWS at some point in your career and so get certified in AWS.
An overview of AWS
AWS is a secure cloud platform that provides a wide range of services including database, storage, compute, analytics, networking, and others to clients on a pay-as-you-go pricing model. This makes it cost-effective and convenient to access services on demand and take care of the changing business requirements. AWS users provision scalable applications, infrastructure, and other solutions on its platform without incurring a high upfront initial capital.
To date, AWS delivers more than 175 cloud services to individuals and businesses across 190 countries across the globe.
Basic AWS services
Most AWS services fall under IaaS and PaaS categories. Yet, one benefit we all appreciate with AWS services is the flexibility that comes with provisioning only those services that your business needs at its level and accruing expenses based only on usage. Of the more than 175 services offered by AWS, we highlight the basic and the most widely used services. These include:
AWS compute resources resemble virtual servers on which users run their systems and applications. Compute resources are, in essence, the processing power that enables a company’s applications to perform computational tasks based on input instructions. AWS offers several types of compute resources to meet a range of performance requirements, including:
- Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) to run and scale applications and resources on Amazon’s computing platform.
- Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service) runs applications inside Docker containers.
- EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service) runs features and applications using Kubernetes.
- AWS Lambda, a serverless platform for running code and business functions on the cloud.
- Elastic Beanstalk that automates deployment and provisioning processes of highly scalable resources on the cloud.
AWS offers a complete range of object, file, and block storage solutions to its users that allows for convenient storage, easy access, and effective analysis of data. These include:
- S3 (Simple Storage Service) for storing a wide range of data including files, objects, images, folders, documents, and accessing the data from anywhere.
- EFS (Elastic File System) is designed to automatically scale on-demand without interrupting operations. This storage option is used with EC2 instances that run both on Amazon cloud and on-premise servers.
- Glacier designed for secure archiving and backing up data that does not need frequent access or retrieving. S3 storage allows you to automatically move files that are older than the number of days you have set to Glacier storage.
- The storage gateway, a hybrid on-premise virtual storage that provides access to cloud storage.
AWS also provides a host of database services including
- RDS (Relational Database Service) lets users run relational databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle on AWS cloud. Upon installation, management, governance, and security of the databases transfer to AWS to let users concentrate on their core business.
- DynamoDB, a NoSQL database designed with high scalability and performance functions.
AWS analytics facilitates fast and efficient data processing and extraction of insights for data-driven decision-making. These popular AWS analytics services are:
- Amazon Athena is a serverless interactive SQL query service that allows data analysis on S3 buckets.
- EMR (Elastic Map Reduce) is a big data analytics function that allows users to process large datasets on distributed frameworks like Hadoop, Spark, Splunk, and HBase as well as Amazon S3 and Amazon DynamoDB.
- Amazon Kinesis service allows for real-time analysis of streaming data on a large scale and has the capacity to store terabytes of data every streaming hour.
- Amazon CloudSearch service lets users configure, manage, and scale their website(s) search function on the cloud.
- Amazon QuickSight lets users create visualizations of their data. It features a rich dashboard that is compatible with Amazon S3, DynamoDB, and other databases.
- Networking and content delivery
With AWS networking services, users can run and easily scale their workloads on secure, reliable, and high-performance cloud infrastructure. Also, networking lets users connect to physical, private, and virtual networks. These are services such as:
- AWS Direct Connect with which users establish a high-speed dedicated network connection between AWS and a data center or Availability Zone.
- CloudFront, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service used to deliver data, applications, and APIs to customers fast. CloudFront integrates seamlessly with other AWS services like Amazon S3, Amazon EC2, and others.
- Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) allows users to provision and manage their AWS cloud service in a virtual network environment. This includes users’ own IP address range, network getaway, subnets, and route tables configuration.
- Security, identity, and compliance
AWS offers its users among the best and most secure cloud environments to run their operations. Whether it is user identities, user and customer information, or applications, AWS features several security services to meet different user requirements. AWS security, identity, and compliance services include:
- IAM (Identity Access Management) service that allows users secure control over access to their services, applications, and other resources hosted on AWS cloud. Customers determine control over individual user access, group access, access policies, and permissions.
- Amazon Inspector is an automated security assessment agent that is installed on virtual machines or networks to gather vulnerability reports and deviation from best practices regularly.
Other services include management tools, developer services, application functions, and many others.
AWS may have a steep learning curve for professionals who are new to the field. However, being the most popular cloud service provider, immense rewards comes with earning AWS. This is because the demand for AWS skills is still on the rise as much as the use cases of AWS services.