Get Your Head In the Cloud: An Introduction to Amazon Web Services

Get Your Head In the Cloud: An Introduction to Amazon Web Services

*dramatic movie voiceover* 

In a world where employees could only access work files, messages, and systems from a crotchety terminal at the office, software had to be installed manually on each desktop. Company data was stored on large machines in a room or closet that had to be well-ventilated to prevent overheating. And the loss or failure of a single device would be catastrophic.

It’s hard to believe that once was a reality and not just a scene from a cheesy and overly produced action film starring Tom Cruise. 

Thankfully for us, cloud computing has streamlined or eliminated many of these obstacles while also helping to save much-needed time, money, and stress. 

Today, cloud computing accounts for a hefty 33% of IT budgets worldwide. That’s a considerable glow-up from past data storage technology. The cloud lets businesses access applications from anywhere, decreases data loss with regular backups to other servers, and saves companies considerable money on server maintenance by using remote resources, among other things.

A mission made possible, if you will. Take that, Tom. 

But how do you know which of the cloud technologies out there are right for you?

It’s an important question and one that we’re here to help you answer. 

In the first part of our three-part series on cloud computing technology, we gave you a brief introduction to Microsoft Azure, one of the most well-known cloud technology platforms out there today. 

In part two, we will cover all you need to know about arguably the most popular and most used cloud computing platform on the market: Amazon Web Services (AWS)

So snatch up a spot on the couch, grab some popcorn, and get ready to dive into all things AWS!

AN INTRODUCTION TO AWS

The origins of AWS are kind of unintentional. Very much out of necessity, Amazon made the strategic technology decision to start building reusable modules for its internal development groups. As time went on, the collection of internal services grew, and people realized that there was a potential business opportunity there.

First launched in 2004, and then relaunched in 2006 with three public pay-as-you-go services, AWS set sail into the uncharted waters of what we now call cloud computing. 

Today, AWS is known as one of the leading IT companies in the world. It offers over a whopping 175 fully-featured services in over 190 countries while supporting over 2,000 government agencies, 5,000 educational institutions, along with a host of non-government and private sectors.

Oh, you’re good, AWS. You’re good. 

Something even more WOW-inducing? 

In 2021 alone, AWS brought in a record $14.8 billion (with a B!!!) in net sales, solidifying it as the primary profit driver for Amazon, accounting for 13% of their total revenue. 

If that’s not a seal of approval, we don’t know what is! 

WHAT DOES AWS DO?

So why all the hubbub about AWS? What does it do, and why exactly is it so popular? Let’s take a look, shall we?

The AWS platform provides over 175 specific and customizable services (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) to users based on their specific needs. These services include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Storage databases
  • Data management
  • Migration
  • Hybrid cloud
  • Networking
  • Development tools
  • Management
  • Monitoring
  • Security
  • Governance
  • Big data management
  • Analytics
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Mobile development
  • Messages and notification

Goodness. Is that all?

To break it down even further, AWS can be divided into three main products: EC2, Amazon’s virtual machine service, Glacier, a low-cost cloud storage service, and S3, Amazon’s storage system. 

All of these services operate globally in regions — 25 regions in all spread across six continents. Each region consists of multiple availability zones. These are the physical data centers where computers live and are geographically separated to reduce the likelihood of a local disaster taking out an entire region. Which, for all intents and purposes, would be very, very bad. 

Additionally, over 200 edge locations are scattered around the world as part of AWS’s content delivery network (CDN).

Whatever your computing needs are, you can be sure that AWS will take care of them for you. 

AWS PROS AND STRENGTHS

Like we did with our last post on Azure, we feel it best that we share both the strengths and weaknesses of the AWS platform to paint you the full picture of what it can and can’t do. 

Let’s first explore some of the pros and strengths that AWS brings to the table. 

  1. One of the most significant benefits of using AWS is its flexibility and agility. Instead of waiting weeks or months for hardware, AWS allows you to instantly deploy new applications, scale up as your workload grows, and scale down based on demand.
  2. Because AWS had such an enormous head start on current competitors, it also has the most robust and comprehensive offering. There are currently 175 services and counting. New features, enhancements, and services come out weekly. Many of these new features are the direct results of customer requests. 
  3. Additionally, AWS has a long history of price reductions and provides many tools and programs to help companies optimize their spending. It offers low, pay-as-you-go pricing with no up-front expenses or long-term commitments, which is a massive plus in our book.

AWS CONS AND WEAKNESSES 

While we had a hard time finding any drawbacks to using AWS, there are a couple which we’ll briefly highlight below.

  1. When you’re as big as Amazon, you’re bound to step on some toes. Many retail companies view Amazon as a direct competitor. They simply can’t bring themselves to give their rival any money whatsoever. This will probably get even more complicated as Amazon expands its reach into other industries. 
  2. Additionally, while AWS does not charge you to put your data into their cloud, you do have to pay a little bit to get that data back out. These are called “egress charges.” It’s not very much, given the potential value, but it is something to note.

AWS PROVES TO BE THE KING OF THE JUNGLE

To better understand AWS, it can help to wrap your head around how massive it is. As we’ve proven above, AWS is kind of a big deal. But just how big?

Well, to start, one in three sites you visit on the internet uses AWS services. That’s a bunch. 

Another interesting nugget: AWS is so large and in charge in the computing world that it's far outpaced its competitors. As of the first quarter of 2021, one independent analyst reports AWS has over a third of the market at 32.4%. Microsoft Azure trails at 20%, and Google Cloud at 9%.

GETTING STARTED WITH AWS

While there are many cloud computing services on the market today, AWS has proven to be one of the best. It truly is a testament to the amazing features offered that many businesses are no longer asking the question, “Why use AWS?” but instead are asking, “How can I begin using AWS?” It gives them the freedom of letting parts of their IT infrastructure or network host, develop, and deploy their applications quickly and successfully across various clouds and on-premises data centers. 

If you’re still on the fence about AWS, we think it’s time you hopped off and took a deeper look into this incredible platform. 

To help get you started, they even let you test-drive some of their services for free. All you have to do is sign up for an AWS account today and take advantage of some of their free tier products.

Can we get an AWW yes for AWS?!

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the next and final installment of this three-part series on cloud computing technology, where we’ll take a look at Google Cloud Platform. 


Wendi Hansen

About Wendi Hansen

Content Strategist

Oh hey, there! My name is Wendi, and I write the wordy words that help lead Inventive's marketing strategy and sales efforts. With over eight years of professional writing experience, there's nothing I love more than using the power of words and digital media to tell a story, inspire, connect and spark positive change. I speak fluent gify and still haven't met a pun or ridiculously bad dad joke that I didn't immediately fall in love with. My personal motto: Live big, love hard, be kind, and pet just all of the doggos. Have an idea or project you want to collaborate on? Let's chat! I'd love to hear it.

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