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What is Amazon Web Services and Why Should You Consider it?

What is AWS and why are businesses choosing it

“I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict it would grow as big or as fast as it has.” – Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services(AWS) CEO

Jassy’s predictions may not have been on point, but his idea certainly was, which eventually translated into Amazon Web Services, the best-in-market Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) company that has grown to spread across 190 countries since its launch.

Businesses no longer have to plan for IT infrastructure such as servers in advance. They can access thousands of servers virtually within minutes by leveraging the power of cloud computing. And while AWS is the top choice for businesses, here’s why and how it works.

AWS eliminates up-front capital infrastructure costs that, in turn, help scale up a business. It is a smooth sailing product-market fit that hundreds of thousands of businesses rely on. In fact, AWS has outcompeted Google Cloud too — Amazon dominates the public cloud market with its share accounting for 39%.

A Statista Report that highlights how Amazon Web Services is winning the cloud computing race

Why Use Amazon Web Services?

Amazon continues to lead the worldwide IaaS market with an estimated $15.5 billion of revenue in 2018 and a market share of 47.8% – Gartner

Here’s what makes Amazon AWS a world leader in the cloud market.

1. Enhanced Security

Amazon Web Services make for a durable and secure technology platform. To ensure the safety and integrity of your data, Amazon’s data centers and services have several layers of physical and operational security. AWS also conducts regular audits to ensure its infrastructural security.

It has also implemented best practices in security along with offering documentation on how to deploy the security AWS features. It ensures the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of your data and provides end-to-end privacy and security.

Amazon AWS is quite serious about the cloud security they provide. Their latest addition to security services is the Amazon Detective that makes data investigations faster and more efficient.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

One of the most promising Amazon Web Services advantages includes its pay-as-you-go pricing model. This implies that you pay only for the specific service that you subscribe to and only for the time you need it for. This is a step forward towards an agile-driven product development organization.

AWS pricing is similar to how you pay for utilities like water and electricity. You only pay for the services you consume, and once you stop using them, there are no additional costs or termination fees – Amazon AWS

There are other plans as well that hold valid for specific AWS services. Here’s an overview to help you understand which Amazon cloud computing cost plan will be the best fit for your organization.

  • Save When you Reserve: This offer holds valid for specific services such as Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS. Here the upfront cost is directly proportional to the discount accrued, i.e., if you decide the pay the entire cost up-front, you’ll receive the maximum discount and vice-versa.
  • Pay Less by Using More: For specific AWS services such as S3 or data transfer OUT from EC2, the more the usage, the less you pay per Gigabyte (GB). These are volume-based discounts that help benefit in the long run.
  • AWS Free Tier: When a new account is created, access to over 60 AWS services is offered for free. However, these free offers are further sub-divided into three offers depending on the type of product a business decides to use.

Free tier plans made available by Amazon AWS

3. Flexibility and Openness

Amazon web services are platform-agnostic to operating systems and languages. You can select the programming model or development platform that can be most beneficial for your business.

Businesses receive a virtual environment that lets them access software and services that the specific application requires. Thus, no restrictions or rigid protocols when subscribing to Amazon cloud services that not only help ease migration but also help build new solutions.

Also, you can use the programming languages, architectures, operating systems and databases you are familiar with. In this manner, there won’t be any need for your IT personnel to pick up new skills, and the overall time to market and productivity will significantly improve.

4. Elasticity and Scalability

AWS cloud lets you iterate, experiment, and innovate quickly through its huge global cloud infrastructure. To leverage scalability, AWS can easily manage the workload increase by allocating the resources based on the demand, that too within minutes. You can also use new apps rather than wait for months for hardware and avoid resource provisioning upfront for projects with short lifetimes and variable consumption rates.

Illustrating Scalability- Low demand vs high demand

You can use Amazon Web Services to allot resources through API calls, in place of buying hardware, setting it up, and maintaining it to allot resources to apps.

Illustrating elasticity- Low demand vs high demand

Thus, auto-scaling and elastic load balancing can scale up Amazon cloud-based resources automatically in case of the unforeseen increase in demand and also scale them down if the demand is reduced. The AWS cloud also proves useful for jobs recurring at regular intervals, jobs that are mission-critical and jobs in the short term.

What is AWS EC2 and Why Businesses are Opting for it?

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) provides scalable computing capacity in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Using Amazon EC2 eliminates your need to invest in hardware upfront, so you can develop and deploy applications faster – Amazon AWS

Introduced in 2006, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) lets you use Amazon’s environment for computing and control your computing resources completely. You can rapidly scale capacity based on your computing needs as Amazon EC2 allows you to get and boot new server instances in a few minutes.

It also protects against common scenarios of failure and provides developers with tools to develop mobile applications that are failure resilient. A perfect example can be GE Appliances, which has constantly been growing with the help of these EC2 instances.

Prominent Features of Amazon Web Services EC2?

AWS EC2 has various features that help develop enterprise-class and scalable apps, which are resilient to failure. Some of them are listed below.

1. Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)

EBS provides persistent storage for instances of Amazon EC2. Amazon EBS volumes are attached to the network and persist without being dependent on an instance’s life. These can be attached as a standard block device to a running Amazon EC2 instance or used as the boot partition of an Amazon EC2 instance and are highly reliable.

You can stop and restart Amazon Web Services EC2 instances as required when you use Amazon EC2 as a boot partition. In a single availability zone, Amazon EBS volumes are replicated automatically.

If you need greater durability, you can create point-in-time consistent snapshots of your volumes (stored in Amazon S3), which are replicated automatically for various availability zones, through Amazon EBS.

You can also save your data for durability by using the snapshots as starting points for new Amazon EBS volumes. These snapshots can be easily shared with other AWS developers and co-workers.

2. EBS-Optimized Instances

You can launch a few chosen Amazon EC2 instance types as EBS-optimized instances for a low hourly fee. EBS-optimized instances make it possible for EC2 instances to utilize the IOPS provisioned on an EBS volume completely. Depending on the kind of instance used, throughput anywhere between 425 Mbps and 14,000 Mbps can be delivered by EBS-optimized instances between Amazon EC2 and Amazon EBS.

Contention between Amazon EBS I/O and other traffic from your EC2 instance is minimized via dedicated throughput, and this provides the best performance for your EBS volumes. EBS-optimized can be used with both provisioned and standard IOPS Amazon EBS volumes.

Provisioned IOPS volumes can deliver within 10% of the provisioned IOPS performance 99.9% of the time and can achieve single-digit millisecond latencies when attached to EBS-optimized instances.

3.Elastic IP Addresses

Static IP addresses that can be used for dynamic cloud computing are known as elastic IP addresses. An elastic IP address is not associated with a particular instance but with your account and, until you release it, you can control that address.

By remapping your public IP addresses programmatically to any instance in your account, elastic IP addresses let you mask availability zone failures or instances.

Amazon EC2 lets you work around issues with software or instance by rapidly remapping your elastic IP address to a replacement instance. So you don’t have to wait for DNS to propagate to all customers or wait for a data technician to replace or reconfigure your host.

4. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud

You can define a virtual network where you can launch AWS cloud resources. This can be done through a section of the AWS cloud logically isolated with the help of Amazon VPC. You can configure network gateways and route tables, create subnets and choose your own IP address range. That’s because you can control your virtual networking environment completely through Amazon VPC.

You can also create a hardware virtual private network (VPN) connection between your VPC and your corporate data center to use AWS cloud as an extension of your corporate data center.

5. Amazon CloudWatch

Starting with Amazon EC2, Amazon CloudWatch monitors Amazon cloud applications and resources. Network traffic, disk reads and writes, and CPU utilization is among the metrics that Amazon CloudWatch provides you for visibility into overall demand patterns, operational performance, and resource utilization.

You can set alarms, view graphs, and get statistics for your metric data. You simply have to choose the Amazon EC2 instances you want to be monitored, to use Amazon CloudWatch. You can also provide your own application or business metric data. Amazon CloudWatch will collect and store monitoring data that can be accessed using command line tools or Amazon web service APIs.

Here’s an example of how Amazon CloudWatch is providing insights on the application’s health for .Net and SQL servers.

6. Auto Scaling

In accordance with the conditions you outline, auto-scaling lets you scale your Amazon EC2 capacity up or down. You can minimize costs during spikes or lulls in demand through auto-scaling that automatically scales up or scales down the Amazon EC2 instances you are using.

For apps that undergo weekly, daily, or hourly usage variability, auto-scaling is highly suitable. Amazon CloudWatch enables auto-scaling and lets you only pay only for what you.

7. Elastic Load Balancing

This automatically allocates incoming application traffic to various Amazon EC2 instances. Responding to incoming app traffic, elastic load balancing provides the load balancing capacity required to help you get greater tolerance for faults in your apps.

Elastic load balancing sends traffic to healthy instances until the unhealthy instances have been repaired. For the consistent performance of mobile apps, elastic load balancing can be enabled within one or more availability zones.

Request latency and request count are the operational metrics that can be captured using Amazon CloudWatch. Moreover, you don’t have to pay anything other than the fees for elastic load balancing.

Airbnb is using Elastic Load Balancing, which automatically distributes incoming traffic between multiple Amazon EC2 instances – Airbnb, Amazon AWS

8. Auto Recovery

Auto recovery is an Amazon CloudFront EC2 feature that automatically recovers all the supported instances if case system damage is identified. It is an easy task to enable the auto recovery feature by creating an AWS CloudWatch alarm. An added perk of this feature is that it narrows down its ability to keep an instance running while the instance gets recovered on the new hardware. Thus, there is no need for instance migration.

9. Enhanced Networking

This EC2 feature enhances the packet per second performance, along with providing lower network jitter and lower latencies. Enhanced networking utilizes a new network virtualization stack that holds power to offer better I/O performance and low CPU utilization. All you need to do is launch an HVM AMI in VPC, and install a compatible driver.

10. VM Import/Export

This EC2 feature facilitates the import of virtual machine images from the source to EC2 instances and export to the same source at any given time. You also get to export any previously imported EC2 instances to its source whenever the need be. However, there is a standard usage threshold beyond which there are additional charges to use the service.

11. High Performance Computing (HPC) Clusters

Businesses that are dealing with computational workloads such as application sensitive to network performance can manage to achieve the required high performance with the help of this Amazon Web Services EC2 feature. C5 instances are specifically built to perform network-intensive operations and can be divided into clusters, thereby offering low-latency network performance that is further needed for tightly-coupled, node-to-node communication.

12. Optimized CPU Configurations

You can benefit from cost advantages, flexibility and elasticity of Amazon EC2, and also achieve the kind of high network and computing performance that is achieved through custom-built infrastructure even with complex computational workloads like apps sensitive to network performance and tightly coupled parallel processes.

Apps can get low-latency network performance needed for node-to-node, tightly coupled communication by programmatically launching high memory, cluster GPU, and cluster compute instances into clusters.

High memory, cluster GPU and cluster compute instances have been designed to provide high-performance network capability. Cluster instances are suitable for customer applications that are required to perform network-intensive operations and provide considerably increased throughput.

What Benefits Does Amazon EC2 Offer?

After maneuvering through the plethora of features that EC2 provides, here are some add-on benefits to note.

Highlighting the benefits of Amazon EC2

1. Uncomplicated To Begin With

Getting started with EC2 is simple and quick. All you need to do is select pre-configured software on Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) by visiting the AWS Marketplace and get started right away with Amazon EC2. Use the EC2 Amazon web services console or through a single click launch to install the software.

2. Web-Scale Computing With Elasticity

Your app can automatically scale to-and-fro because Amazon EC2 is controlled through web service application programming interfaces (APIs). You can commission any number of server instances at the same time to increase or decrease capacity in a few minutes through Amazon EC2 which, in turn, makes it a profitable AWS service.

3. Low Costing

The monetary benefits of Amazon’s scale are passed on to customers. You pay only for the computing capacity you use and at a rather low rate. While EC2 is free to try, there are also paid instances that you can choose. In any case, you only pay for what you’ve chosen, without any sudden or hidden expenses.

4. Complete Control

You can interact with the instances as you would interact with any machine since you have root access for each of them. So you completely control your Amazon Web Services instances. You can save data on your boot partition when you stop an instance and restart it later using the web service APIs. By rebooting instances remotely through web service APIs, you can also access your instance’s console output.

5. Security

Your computing resources are secured, and the networking functionality made robust by Amazon EC2 working along with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC).

  • You decide the IP range for the VPC within which your compute instances are placed. You specify the instances that remain private and those exposed to the internet.
  • For even more isolation, you can run your instances on dedicated hardware. These are known as dedicated instances and run on resources provisioned through EC2.
  • You can use industry-standard encrypted IPsec VPN connections to connect resources in your VPC with your existing IT infrastructure.
  • You can control network access to and from your instances through network access control lists (ACLs) and security groups.

To leverage VPN connections, private subnets, network ACLs and outbound security group filtering, among other advanced networking features, you can create a VPC and introduce instances into it, if you don’t have a default VPC.

6. Flexible Services for Cloud Hosting

There are various software development packages and operating system instance types that you can select through Amazon EC2. You can choose a boot partition size suitable for the operating system and app you have in addition to instance storage, CPU and memory configuration through AWS EC2.

7. Dependability

Dependability helps in quick and predictable replacement of instances through the flexible environment that AWS EC2 provides. The service leverages Amazon’s data centers and network infrastructure to provide 99.95% availability in all Amazon EC2 regions (in accordance with the Amazon EC2 service level agreement).

8. Works In Conjunction with Other AWS Components

For a variety of apps, Amazon EC2 provides storage, query processing, and computing solutions by working in conjunction with Amazon Simple Queue Service, Amazon Simple Storage Service, Amazon SimpleDB, and Amazon Relational Database Service.

Conclusion

In the current market space where on-demand services are on the rise, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has emerged as a viable solution for businesses looking for reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services

With distinct operations in 22 geographical regions, AWS helps companies manage a range of services including development, game development, data processing, warehousing and many more.

A notable advantage of AWS is that your business gets access to EC2 which in turn provides a virtual cluster of computers through the internet. Thus the job of hardware resources gets imitated by these much-helpful server farms located across the globe.

Whether you are a startup or an established enterprise, AWS is an ideal solution that can offer extensive cost savings, maximum uptime, and continuous support – a great return on investment, indeed.

Amazon Web Services Consultation by Net Solutions

Rajnish Kumar Sharma

About the Author

Rajnish Kumar Sharma is a Project Lead at Net Solutions and is a part of Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), and security initiatives. Apart from exploring new technologies and handling technical challenges, Rajnish is equally passionate about movies, cricket, and traveling.

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