Cloud service providers are maturing their product catalogs at a staggering rate, each with plenty to offer organizations of all sizes. This article explores the benefits of using Amazon Web Services (AWS) in your company and how to get started, providing a glimpse into our forthcoming eBook: “AWS Introduction Guide.”
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Why the Cloud?
There are several cloud service providers, but the modern understanding of them was created and continues to be defined by Amazon's AWS. In the last ten years, cloud computing has snowballed from pure data storage of files to complex systems and applications. Indeed at this time, it’s almost impossible to run any system within your enterprise that doesn’t have cloud elements connecting into it. Consider this: if you’re using email, a smartphone, or documents, then your data is being stored in the cloud.
Cloud services such as AWS offer a "pay for what you use" model. This somewhat simplifies the cost of running services in the cloud, but it is the general model. In other words, child services such as databases charge by how often they’re used, down to each transaction. The benefit is that if you need to scale the cloud services up or down, then the pricing automatically flexes up and down accordingly.
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The Services AWS Offers
The number of AWS services can be daunting. The good news is that a few core services are most frequently used and offer good launching points into AWS. These core services include:
- Storing files
- Running a database
- Web app hosting
Saving files is often the first service you use with AWS, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an excellent place to start when using AWS. You’re already using S3 if you use Amazon Prime's photo back up service. The function of S3 is to store and retrieve digital files such as office documents, videos, and images.
AWS offers many ways to run different types of databases. However, there are two central databases you will use most often:
Relational Database with Amazon RDSAmazon RDS supports running leading relational databases such as MySQL, Oracle, or SQL Server.
NoSQL Database with DynamoDBDynamoDB is a NoSQL key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. Companies such as Lyft use DynamoDB to provide the performance they need for massive solutions.
These two leading database solutions offer you the ability to select what is appropriate for your organization’s needs—you’re not forced to use one type of database over another. On the whole, AWS is agnostic in supporting different tools within their services. You will see open source solutions rubbing shoulders with commercial database solutions such as Oracle.
Two or more AWS services can be combined. For instance, a dynamic web app that uses PHP with a database will require the support of the following services:
- Route 53 is a service that will link a domain name (such as https://www.simplilearn.com) to your web app
- Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) is a service that can run virtual servers that run server-side processing (such as PHP); also, you can run a database off EC2
- Cloud Watch is a service that gives you access to a dashboard and reports on the metrics of your web app
- Auto Scaling manages the addition and removal of servers to support increases and decreases in demand for your web app
As you can see, a web app is more complex and requires additional services to manage the app effectively.
The goal of mastering AWS is not to become an expert in all of the services, as there are just too many. Instead, you want to develop a strong understanding of how you can connect the facilities to build a solution that meets your needs. You can think of each of the core services as digital LEGO blocks that can relate.
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The starting place for AWS Support is directly in your AWS Console. The next level of support you receive will depend on the selection for your account. For this article, we’ve chosen the Free tier. You do get better response time with paid support, but even the Free layer has excellent support, including:
- A large collection of videos
- Knowledge center articles
- Access to resources such as AWS documentation
- Getting Started Guides
- AWS Forums, where you can ask a question to the more significant AWS user base
In addition to the authorized AWS groups, there are more than 100 AWS groups listed on Meetup. Check out what’s near your location. You also may want to search for DevOps and cloud Meetup groups as they often have AWS presenters.
A fun way to keep up to date on the news with AWS is to listen to one of the many podcasts dedicated to AWS and cloud service providers. The top podcasts include the following:
These shows and their irreverent personalities are a good source of up to date information on cloud services.
Bringing AWS into Your Organization
There is no longer an argument about whether you should be using cloud services in your company. Instead, the question is: how far do we go in using cloud services? You have been introduced to the fundamentals of AWS cloud services and should now have a basic understanding of what can be accomplished with AWS.
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