AWS 101: The Champion’s Guide to Amazon’s Cloud Giant
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November 1, 2021
Ever since its debut, AWS has spurred on billions of dollars in growth and gave rise to an economy of its own. But why exactly is AWS so relevant?
Say you’re looking to create a new product or app. It’s loaded with features and founded on a concept good enough to disrupt a whole industry. You are sure you’re the next game changer in the arena.
And the best part? Your idea is one of those rare ones that can actually scale globally and deliver value in several different countries.
Great! Just get started already, right?
For starters, you’re severely lacking in compute power. No servers. No tech resources. No full stack developers. No designers. Even before you set out for a run, you’re effectively hamstrung.
Think of AWS as an invisible gargantua-sized Lego set. It comes packed with tiny blocks that fit into each other to be combined in a million different permutations and combinations to create the product you want.
This happens because of how modular AWS really is. Storage, computing, databases all became simple and singular components developers could pick and choose as they work on an ad hoc basis.
Essentially, Amazon succeeded in breaking the power of an enterprise-level data center down into something a university student in their dorm could use as they pleased.
The AWS Rationale
As numero uno analyst Ben Thompson points out in his timeless piece, Amazon’s cloud arm could well be an offshoot of a book Jeff Bezos fell in love with ages ago — Creation: Life and How To Make It by Steve Grand.
The book talks about a game called Creatures. The game let players design and nurture intelligent life by using building blocks called primitives. By simple rules of addition, one could build an entirely unique life form by choosing different kinds of primitives.
And this is the solution Amazon capitalized on. AWS didn’t have to be responsible for preempting every issue developers have and figuring out how to solve it, for that would be a Sisyphean ordeal.
All they had to do was give them the tools they need to solve problems on their own. This saw the rebirth of cloud computing services as the PaaS model: Platform as a Service.
Today, thanks to AWS’ giant strides in making the power of serverless computing and cloud security so accessible to players of every size and shape, almost every hot new startup in the tech world is an Amazon Web Services subscriber.
But for the uninitiated, AWS could seem quite daunting. It has countless services and apps that one could use to scale their business.
Naturally, this gives rise to a lot of questions around the whole thing. But, in reality, it’s anything but complicated.
So, to help you out, we looked at the things inside AWS that people had the most trouble grasping and decoded it for you to understand instantly!
Let’s get cracking.
What is Amazon S3 and what do I use it for?
The answer lies in the three S’s: Amazon Simple Storage Service. S3 is essentially simple internet storage backed by a powerful promise: store any amount of data and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere on the web.
This means that businesses of all sizes (from Fortune 500s to your neighbourhood grocery store) can use S3 to store and protect their data for an unlimited number of different reasons — including data lakes, mobile apps, websites, enterprise apps, IoT devices, Big Data analytics, or the trusty old backup-and-restore.
It’s easy-to-use UI lets you configure the platform to comply with your company’s unique requirements — so you’re not stuck adapting to a strange and foreign system’s rules. And the cool part? It’s built for eleven 9’s of durability: 99.999999999%!
What is Amazon RDS? How does it help?
Before we answer that, what exactly is a relational database?
Coined by IBM’s E.F. Codd in 1970, the term Relational Database refers to an arrangement of information where the data points can be related to one another.
For instance, an Excel spreadsheet with neatly split rows and columns would be the classic picture of a Relational Database. Inside it, data resides in rows and columns. The rows house the data entries and the columns split them into the categories they belong to.
Relational databases can be of any size. They could be short and simple, like listing down a class of schoolchildren with attributes like names, grades, and ages.
Or, they could be incomprehensibly big, like Walmart’s rumored database which holds every line item from every receipt for every customer from EVERY Walmart dating back to the company’s first ever sale.
But storing that much data on your PC or on your server is expensive and inefficient. So Amazon’s RDS gives you unfettered access to their cloud compute might and lets you set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.
It is inexpensive and easy-to-manage, letting you run a lean business powered by serverless architecture and serverless applications.
What is AWS EC2?
Probably one of the greatest achievements of Amazon, the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud is the poster child of the pay as you go basis.
Think of the quiet before the storm, or the dull storefronts a few days before Black Friday. But when Black Friday arrives, these stores are bursting to capacity and drowning in absolute consumer chaos.
That’s just how business is. Sometimes it waxes, other times it wanes.
EC2 understands this and lets you scale the computer capacity you’re using in minutes. While at it, it gives you a choice in the processors you use (Intel, AMD, or Arm-based) and is still the only cloud provider that supports MacOS even when compared to Google Cloud or Azure.
Think of EC2 as one giant collection of virtual machines just waiting to do your bidding.
What is AWS Lambda?
The Hardy to EC2’s Laurel, AWS Lambda is a thing of pure wonder. It falls into the FaaS category: Function as a Service.
What makes Lambda so interesting is its ability to lap up any code you write, interpret it, run it, deliver results, and bill you only for the milliseconds it was active!
So if you need to run several instances of code in one go, all you need to do is upload a .zip file to Lambda and get back to work while it handles the execution.
Where do I start my AWS journey from?
Despite how simple serverless technology has become with Amazon, businesses prefer curated solutions that have already been tried and tested on AWS.
Enter the Marketplace.
Amazon calls it a curated digital catalog that customers can use to find, buy, deploy, and manage third-party software and services. We call it a classic buyer-meets-seller platform for service SaaS.
Businesses can log on to AWS Marketplace and scout through listings by Partners to compare solutions they offer across thousands of categories and requirements, including networking, security, machine learning, and business intelligence among others.
Think of it as the most comprehensive classifieds for cloud computing services in existence.
Who do you go to for help with AWS?
This is where the Amazon Partner Network (APN) kicks in.
Almost 90% of the Fortune 100 companies and almost every single one of the Fortune 500 companies use APN to source the best AWS talent for help with different types of cloud computing requirements.
These are people (or firms) who have already navigated through the cloud infrastructure — making their services a value add to your business acumen.
You don’t have to invest in building an in-house AWS team from the ground-up or sourcing expensive talent. You can just rope in a Select Partner’s expertise and keep your focus narrowed down to your business objectives.
What value can AWS add to your business?
Business acumen today is decided by how well it leverages AI and ML. Moving to the cloud will let your business instantly sort through data and use advanced analytics for both everyday as well as critical decision-making.
The upcoming decade looks set to favor firms that digitize themselves. These will be marked by serverless businesses that maximize human productivity with digital smarts to unlock their latent potential.
That’s why finding the right partner to work with on AWS is so key. After all, to navigate an ocean’s tides, you’d pick a hardy sailor, not a regular Joe. Having helped Fortune 500s and cutting edge startups deploy AWS to great success, our team of award-winning engineers may just be the differentiating factor you need.
Reach out to us over here in case you’re looking to understand how AWS could help your business accelerate its growth. In our experience, sometimes one conversation is all it takes to spark the greatest ideas.