What is AWS? Understanding AWS and Its Services

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What is AWS? To keep it brief, it is the leading provider of cloud services in the world. Specifically, AWS has the biggest market share of cloud computing, almost double than Microsoft Azure, which is the second-biggest cloud player.

Google Cloud and IBM Cloud are the third and fourth, respectively, biggest cloud services providers. Before going in-depth into the AWS platform and its offerings, let’s first briefly discuss the concept of cloud computing and cloud providers.

Cloud Computing and Cloud Providers

Cloud computing refers to the give and takes of on-demand computing resources, most notably computing power and storage. Unlike traditional computing, end-users of cloud computing services are free from managing the underlying physical resources.

The cloud is a much cheaper option than traditional computing. Hence, that’s why it has gotten so popular in recent times. Moreover, it is much more flexible and robust both in terms of flexibility and security.

While some features, like storage and database construction, are universal, other cloud-based features like content caching are determined by the geographical location of usage.

The cloud market represents the market segment belonging to the cloud computing services. Needless to say, it is booming right now. In a way, cloud computing can be considered as the successive strategic step in the evolution of the internet.

The scenarios where organizations depended on expensive and inflexible physical servers for accomplishing their operations are no longer the norm. Today, everyone ranging from students and individuals to professionals and full-fledged organizations, leverage cloud computing.

An organization offering cloud services is, naturally, labeled as a cloud provider. Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are the big three of the cloud services segment. Aside from the leading trifecta, other reputed names in the cloud market are:

  • Alibaba Cloud
  • IBM Cloud
  • Oracle
  • Rackspace Cloud
  • Salesforce
  • SAP
  • VMWare

P.S. - Check out this detailed comparison of AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure.

Amazon Web Services - The Undisputed King of Cloud Computing!

Type - Cloud Services Provider
H.Q. - Seattle, Washington, United States
CEO - Andy Jassy

AWS is a subsidiary of the Amazon conglomerate that targets the cloud services market. AWS stands for Amazon Web Services. Now, the name in itself gives out what it represents i.e.; it is Amazon’s take on the cloud computing segment.

The leading cloud provider offers an array of services to everyone around the world, varying from learners and individuals to organizations and even governments. And that, too, with an increased level of flexibility, robustness, and security. AWS has an array of options for:

  • Analytics,
  • Application services,
  • Computing power,
  • Database configuration,
  • Deployment,
  • Developer tools,
  • IoT tools,
  • Management,
  • Mobile-oriented,
  • Networking,
  • Security,
  • Storage,
  • Workload, and more

Amazon Web Services, since its inception, has succeeded in developing a tight grasp over the cloud computing market. As such, you might have come across advertisements and related content about learning AWS at some time. Fascinatingly, it has become a niche of the edTech market in its own right.

A Brief History of Amazon Web Services

AWS started its journey in July 2002 with the intent of selling its unused Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The first AWS service for the public, SQS, was launched in November of 2004.

It was fully-developed and relaunched in March 2006. Two brand-new AWS services, S3 and EC2, were also released the same year. These were followed with the launch of many more AWS offerings, including:

  • VPC in 2009
  • Route 53, SNS in 2010
  • Elastic Beanstalk in 2011

The trend of organizing big events to collect valuable customer feedback, announcing new products, discussing emerging technologies and trends, etc. started in 2012. As of today, AWS hosts a range of events, including:

  • AWS re: Invent
  • AWS Summits
  • AWS re: Inforce
  • AWS Innovate
  • AWS re: Mars

AWS offered its first certification program in April 2013, which has now evolved into a full catalog of AWS certifications. APN a.k.a. AWS Partner Network was launched in 2014. It helps AWS-based organizations to grow by collaborating with AWS and following AWS best practices.

By 2016, AWS took steps to help customers to migrate their services to the platform. The cloud services provider launched an automatic scaling service in January 2018. AWS generated a little over $35 bn in revenue in 2019.

Perks of Using Amazon Web Services

There are many benefits of using AWS, whether you’re an individual, professional, or an organization. Some of the best ones are:

  • Cost-efficiency: All services offered by AWS are available on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means that the less you use, the less you pay. However, the more you use, the less you need to pay per unit. What about when you don’t use it? In that case, you pay nothing.
  • Enhanced Security: AWS data centers and services follow a multi-layer physical and operational security. Additionally, timely audits are performed to ensure high infrastructural security.
  • Platform-Agnostic: You are free to pick architectures, databases, operating systems, and programming languages as per your liking, usually without worrying too much about compatibility.
  • Rapid Scaling: The on-demand infrastructure offers a good level of scalability. AWS adjusts the demand in workload within minutes.
  • Reliable and Robust: AWS products offer high reliability as the applications are backed by a robust and safe infrastructure.

Disadvantages of AWS

Is AWS free from flaws? Obviously, not. Despite its myriad of strengths, the cloud computing service has a few disadvantages that are important to take into account. These are:

  • No data access without internet access.
  • Resource usage is restricted depending on the region.
  • Security limitations.
  • Weird glitches and issues. (Although, these are rare.)
  • You have to pay for technical support.

AWS Offerings

Amazon Web Services offers the most comprehensive range of cloud computing services. As of 2021, Amazon Web Services has a giant catalog of 200+ services.

To deduce, AWS has practically a cloud service for fulfilling any type of cloud-based requirement. No matter whether it is personal, professional, or philanthropic.

Due to the very many AWS services, it is beyond the scope of this write-up to describe every one of them. So, the following list briefly explains 15 of the best AWS offerings:

1. Amazon DynamoDB

First available - January 2012

DynamoDB is Amazon’s implementation of NoSQL database technology. It is a fully-managed service that provides support for document data structures and key-value stores.

NoSQL databases, unlike relational databases, follow the CAP Theorem. These are preferred when:

  • A flexible schema is desired.
  • A schema definition is unavailable.
  • There is a need to store temporary data.
  • Unstructured data needs to be stored.

2. Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store)

First available - August 2008.

Amazon EBS helps in storing persistent data. It offers raw block-level storage that is attachable to EC2 instances. This makes moving data among various EC2 instances, convenient and cost-effective.

Although several volumes can be mounted on a single instance, each one of them can be attached only one at a time. The AWS service has a range of options, all of which can be grouped into one of these two types:

    1. SSD-backed storage for transactional workloads
    2. DIsk-backed storage for throughput-intensive workloads

3. Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)

First available - August 2006

AWS offers scalable computing capacity with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. It was one of the earliest offerings by Amazon Web Services.

Amazon EC2 allows developing and deploying apps quickly and in a cost-efficient way. The AWS service also lets users rent virtual computers for running applications as per their requirements.

4. Amazon Elastic Beanstalk

First available - January 2011

Amazon Elastic Beanstalk makes it easier for developers to deploy services and web apps without necessitating any infrastructure. It serves as an orchestration service for several AWS services, including CloudWatch, EC2, ELB, S3, and SNS.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk provides support for applications developed using a range of programming languages, such as .NET, Java, PHP, and Python.

5. Amazon Glacier

First available - August 2012

Amazon Glacier is a web-based online file storage service aimed at archiving data and preparing backups. It is an effective and low-cost storage option that lets users store data for durations ranging from a few days to several years.

6. Amazon Kinesis

First available - November 2013

Amazon Kinesis is meant to handle humongous amounts of real-time, streaming data. Supported sources include social media feeds and log events. It can be used for collecting, analyzing, and processing data. The service also provides support for IoT telemetry data.

7. Amazon KMS

First available - 2014

KMS is a contraction for Key Management Service. Admins leverage Amazon KMS for securing data against cyber attacks, hacking, and other types of malicious activities.

Users of Amazon KMS can create, delete, and manage AWS keys for encrypting data stored in AWS databases and products. The AWS security tool uses 256-bit encryption for safeguarding data.

8. Amazon Lambda

First available - November 2014

Amazon Lambda frees users from the hassle of managing and provisioning servers. It allows running code without depending on a traditional server. The amount you will pay is determined by the time it takes to execute the code, known as the compute time.

Compared to other similar services, Amazon Lambda is far cheaper as it charges when the code is running. The AWS serves provides support for code written in Java, NodeJS, Python, and Amazon Linux-supported languages.

9. Amazon Redshift

First available - October 2012

The proprietary data warehouse service from AWS is dubbed Amazon RedShift. It provides access to structured data from existing JDBC, ODBC, and SQL implementations.

Amazon RedShift divides a bigger query into smaller ones and assigns the same to different nodes to achieve parallel execution.

10. Amazon Route 53

First available - December 2010

Amazon Route 53 is a scalable and H.A. (high availability) DNS service. It helps in routing users to several AWS services, such as EC2 instances. Additionally, Route 53 also allows for routing users to non-AWS infrastructure.

The name Route 53 references TCP or UDP port 53 that the AWS service uses to address DNS server requests. Amazon Route 53 provides support for full, end-to-end DNS resolution over the IPv6 protocol.

11. Amazon S3

First available - March 2006

Amazon S3 made its debut in 2006 with the relaunching of AWS. It was launched alongside the first-ever AWS service, Amazon SQS. Since then, it has become a non-official flagship product of Amazon Web Services.

S3 is the most inexpensive storage option from AWS. Additionally, it is a highly-scalable and speedy service that lets users upload, store, and retrieve apps and files from the cloud. Oh, and by the way, S3 stands for Simple Storage Service.

12. Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service)

First available - 2010

Amazon Simple Notification Service is a cloud-based notification service from AWS. It enables sending alarms, notifications, and other important information in the form of emails or SMSes to multitudinous subscribers simultaneously. It lets you do so using any cloud platform.

Amazon SNS follows a subscriber-publisher model, where the publisher generates the message(s) to be sent. Communication channels are used for sending messages using Amazon SNS to the subscriber instance i.e., the intended group of subscribers.

13. Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service)

First available - 2004

The very first service launched by AWS was Amazon SQS. It is a distributed message queuing service that facilitates inter-app communication, most notably for DynamoDB, EC2 instances, and S3.

Each message in the SQS queue has a maximum visibility timeout of 12 hours. Amazon Simple Queue Service leverages JMS (Java Message Service).

14. Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)

First available - September 2009

Amazon’s cloud avatar of the Virtual Private Network is dubbed Amazon VPC. The AWS service restricts data stored on Amazon servers from viewing by outsiders and unauthorized people. It does so by creating a VPN that is a logically isolated section of the AWS cloud.

15. AWS DataSync

First available - November 2018

To ease the process of transferring data between on-premises storage and Amazon S3, AWS offers AWS DataSync. It also facilitates data transfer to and from Amazon EFS and Amazon FSx. The service automates the data transfer process and can transfer terabytes of data quickly over the internet or AWS Direct Connect links.

The World Needs AWS to Fight Against COVID-19!

When it comes to technology, the world has come a long way, just like Amazon Web Services. Although the COVID-19 outbreak has slowed down technological development, its need has grown to an unprecedented level to win over the threat to mankind.

People around the world fighting the coronavirus epidemic from the frontlines are leveraging technology to win the battle against the SARS-CoV-2. Cloud computing is an important tool for doing so. AWS, as its leader, has thus, become more important than ever.

Conclusion

AWS is a mushrooming cloud services platform that has something for everyone to offer, whether it be a novice learner or a seasoned IT professional. If you’re interested to engage with a comprehensive cloud service provider, AWS is, undoubtedly, a sensible choice.

An AWS-based interview coming your way? Win it with these solved important AWS interview questions.

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Akhil Bhadwal

Akhil Bhadwal

A Computer Science graduate interested in mixing up imagination and knowledge into enticing words. Been in the big bad world of content writing since 2014. In his free time, Akhil likes to play cards, do guitar jam, and write weird fiction. View all posts by the Author

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