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What is AWS? A Detailed Guide For Beginners

What is AWS

Companies are increasingly migrating to the cloud due to the space-saving data storage solutions it offers. They save their customers the hassle of owning and managing infrastructure and hardware. With its cloud computing solutions, clients can use their website resources on a pay-per-use basis.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most prominent vendors in modern cloud computing, and AWS-certified professionals are needed for the booming AWS services. But it’s not just the increasing demand, but also the fact that it’s one of the highest-paying certifications in the IT field.

In this comprehensive blog, we’ll answer “What is AWS?” by exploring its history and range of services. We will also talk about what is an AWS certification and how a good online cloud computing program can help pave the way to becoming an AWS professional.

The History of AWS

As one of the world’s most successful and influential companies, Amazon has a fascinating story behind its cloud computing division, AWS. For the uninitiated, here is a quick peek at the history of AWS. From its humble beginnings as an internal project to its current status as a leader in the cloud industry, the timeline is nothing short of inspirational.

  • 2002: Amazon launched its first web service, the Simple Queue Service (SQS).
  • 2006: AWS officially launched its cloud platform with three core services: the Simple Storage Service (S3), the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and the SimpleDB database service.
  • 2012: AWS had its first customer event, re: Invent, in Las Vegas.
  • 2015: AWS achieved $4.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • 2016: AWS surpassed the $10 billion revenue target and launched AWS Snowball and AWS Snowmobile, two physical data transfer devices.
  • 2019: AWS released approximately 100 cloud services, including AWS Outposts, AWS Wavelength, and AWS Bracket.
  • 2020: AWS continued to innovate and grow, facing increasing competition from other cloud providers.
  • 2021: AWS launched AWS Graviton3, its most powerful Arm-based processor yet.
  • 2022: AWS launched Nitro System 6, its latest custom-designed hardware platform for EC2 instances.
  • 2023: AWS launched Nitro System 7, its latest custom-designed hardware platform for EC2 instances, and AWS SageMaker Canvas, a new low-code machine learning (ML) service.

Also Read: Cloud Engineer Job Description: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What is AWS: An Overview of AWS Services and Ecosystem

AWS offers comprehensive services for creating applications, websites, and data storage solutions. Within AWS, users discover a vast ecosystem that caters to virtually all their application needs. This ecosystem extends to third-party and partner services hosted on AWS, resembling a modern marketplace of computing capabilities.

Before we get into the services, one of the most common terms you will hear about cloud computing is “instance.” So, what is an instance in AWS? In short, an instance is a virtual machine running on cloud infrastructure.

Moving on, the AWS ecosystem comprises three key subsystems:

AWS Computing Services

With over 25 services and continuous additions, AWS empowers users with many cloud computing tools. One of the core services offered by AWS is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, commonly known as EC2. We’ll dig into the answer to “What is EC2 in AWS?” later in the article.

Third-Party Integration

AWS seamlessly integrates third-party services, enabling the creation of applications that go beyond AWS’s native offerings. This flexibility is helpful for use cases not directly supported by AWS.

PaaS and SaaS Compatibility

Amazon Marketplace serves as a hub for AWS-enabled applications. With integration with third-party services, users can be assured of compatibility and reliability when utilizing Marketplace applications.

What is AWS: Components of the AWS Ecosystem

The AWS ecosystem comprises various components that help businesses use cloud computing power. Here is a look at the components of AWS:

Amazon Compute

This is the core of AWS’s computing services. It provides flexible and scalable resources for running applications. It includes EC2, ELB, and Lambda.

Availability Zones

These are isolated regions within AWS’s global infrastructure. It helps in bringing high reliability and redundancy. Businesses can choose multiple AZs for different purposes.

Storage

AWS offers three main storage options: S3, EBS, and CloudFront. So, what is S3 in AWS? S3 stands for Simple Storage Service, which provides unlimited storage capacity for various uses, such as backup and analysis. EBS provides block-level storage for EC2 instances. CloudFront is a content delivery network that speeds up web content distribution.

Databases and Data Management

AWS supports both relational and NoSQL databases, as well as data warehousing solutions. RDS (Relational Database Services) allows users to run and scale relational databases like MySQL and Oracle. DynamoDB is a low-cost NoSQL database that can handle large volumes of data. Redshift is a columnar data warehouse that integrates with various analytical tools.

Networks

AWS’s Networking Services enable secure and efficient cloud networking, connecting private and public networks. VPC allows users to create their virtual networks with integrated security features. Direct Connect Service provides direct access to the cloud without internet dependency. Route 53 is a DNS web service that routes users to cloud applications.

Management and Monitoring

AWS simplifies the scaling and deployment of web applications. It has tools like Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, and CloudWatch. Elastic Beanstalk supports multiple programming languages and automates the provisioning and configuration of resources. CloudFormation allows users to manage their cloud infrastructure with templates. CloudWatch collects and provides access to operational data and logs.

Analytics

AWS offers comprehensive data analytics solutions, including Hadoop, real-time streaming, and machine learning. EMR (Elastic MapReduce) helps users process large amounts of data using Hadoop frameworks. Kinesis enables users to stream and analyze data in real time. SageMaker is a fully managed service for building, training, and deploying machine learning models.

Developer Tools

AWS provides developers with tools for code creation, distribution, and automation. CodeStar helps users manage their application development lifecycle. CodeBuild, CodePipeline, and CodeDeploy facilitate code writing, testing, integration, and deployment. CLI offers Amazon’s coding interface.

Security and Governance

AWS ensures a secure environment with tools like IAM and KMS. IAM controls user access and permissions to AWS services and resources. KMS generates and manages encryption keys for data protection.

The diverse components in the AWS ecosystem enable businesses to access a wide range of services and products that suit their needs.

Also Read: How to Pass AWS Solutions Architect Certification Exam?

Applications & Use Cases of AWS

Now that we have covered AWS’s ecosystem and infrastructure, let’s look at how it translates into applicable solutions to everyday businesses.

  • Storage and Backup: AWS provides multiple types of storage, such as S3, EBS, and CloudFront. It can be used for various purposes, such as file indexing, data analysis, and backup.
  • Websites: AWS allows businesses to host their websites on the cloud, similar to other web applications.
  • Gaming: AWS provides high computing power and low latency for online gaming applications, using tools like GameLift and Lumberyard.
  • Mobile, Web, and Social Applications: AWS enables developers to build and scale mobile, e-commerce, and SaaS applications. It uses API-driven code that does not require any OS or system management.
  • Big Data Management and Analytics: AWS offers comprehensive data analytics solutions using services like EMR, Kinesis, Glue, Elasticsearch, Athena, and QuickSight.
  • Artificial Intelligence: AWS supports various AI applications. Some are voice and text chatbots, text-to-speech translation, and image and face analysis.
  • Messages and Notifications: AWS facilitates effective communication between businesses and end users using services like SNS, SES, and SQS.
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: AWS enables users to create AR and VR applications, such as 3D web applications, training simulations, and gaming, using Sumerian service.
  • Internet of Things: AWS provides a back-end platform to manage IoT devices and data ingestion, using services like IoT Core, IoT Button, and Greengrass.

What Are the Pros and Cons of AWS?

Businesses have been using AWS for a long time now. Its ever-evolving nature means there is constant improvement and the need for continuous evaluation. In this section, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of AWS.

Advantages of AWS

  • User-friendly: AWS provides a familiar programming model, architecture, database, and operating system that are easy to use and learn.
  • Cost-effective: AWS has a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which means you only pay for what you use and when you use it. You don’t have to make any long-term commitments or upfront investments.
  • Flexible: AWS allows you to quickly deploy and scale your applications in any location with a few clicks. You can also choose various services and products that suit your needs and goals.
  • Reliable: AWS has a global infrastructure comprising multiple isolated regions and availability zones, ensuring high availability and redundancy. You don’t have to worry about running and maintaining your data servers.
  • Secure: AWS provides a secure environment with tools like Identity Access Management (IAM) and Key Management Service (KMS) that control user access and encryption keys. You can also use various security features like firewalls, VPNs, and SSL certificates.

Disadvantages of AWS

  • Support: AWS has different support plans, depending on the response time and technical assistance you need. You may have to pay extra money for more intensive or immediate support.
  • Cloud Computing Issues: AWS may encounter some common cloud computing problems. Some common issues are backup protection, downtime, and limited control. You may also face compatibility issues when migrating your applications to the cloud.
  • Resource Limitations: AWS sets default limits on the resources you can use in each region, such as volumes, images, or snapshots. You may have to request an increase in these limits if you need more resources.
  • Performance Variability: AWS may change your hardware system without notice. This can affect the performance of your applications.

Top Companies That Use AWS

Perhaps one of the best ways to understand “What is AWS” is to see how it’s being used in the real world.

The success of AWS lies in its innovative approach and the “first comers” advantage or the first to launch this unique service. This is multiplied by being taken up by some of the biggest names in the business world. Some of the top companies that use AWS are:

  • Netflix: The streaming giant uses AWS for nearly all of its computer and storage needs.
  • LinkedIn: The professional networking site uses AWS for its analytics, testing, and development.
  • Facebook: The social media behemoth uses AWS for its messaging app WhatsApp, virtual reality platform Oculus, and online gaming service Facebook Gaming.
  • X (formerly Twitter): The microblogging site uses AWS for data analysis and machine learning, hosting some of its core infrastructure and user-facing features.
  • BBC: The British Broadcasting Corporation uses AWS for its online streaming service iPlayer, news website, and radio app.
  • ESPN: The sports media network uses AWS for video streaming, content delivery, and data analytics.
  • Unilever: The consumer goods giant uses AWS for its digital marketing, e-commerce, and business intelligence.

Prerequisites to Learn AWS Cloud Computing

As we mentioned before, there are many big players, as well as smaller ones, that use AWS for their operations. There is a soaring demand for professionals with expertise in the various AWS services.

So, how do you start a career in AWS?

If you want to learn AWS cloud computing, you need to have some prerequisites, such as:

  • AWS Developer Tools: These tools help you create, test, and deploy applications on AWS. e.g., CodeStar, CodeBuild, CodePipeline, and CodeDeploy.
  • AWS Management Tools: These tools help you monitor, manage, and optimize your AWS resources. e.g., CloudFormation, CloudWatch, CloudTrail, and OpsWorks.
  • AWS Best Practices to Master: These recommended practices help you improve your AWS applications’ performance, security, and reliability. They include the AWS Well-Architected Framework, the AWS Security Best Practices, and the AWS Cost Optimization Strategies.

Also Read: What is Cloud Computing? What You Need to Know to Get Started

The Benefits of AWS Certification

Many courses, bootcamps, and certifications provide you with credibility in terms of skills in AWS. As an aspiring professional aiming for AWS, here are some benefits of getting an AWS certification:

  • Recognition: You can demonstrate your credibility and competence as an AWS professional. You can also showcase your certification badge on your resume, LinkedIn profile, or website.
  • Opportunity: You can increase your chances of getting hired or promoted by employers who value AWS skills. Learning programs give you more exposure and networking opportunities as well.
  • Learning: Increase your knowledge and skills of AWS cloud computing by preparing for and taking the certification exam.

Start Learning AWS Today

AWS cloud computing is a powerful and popular platform that has been a front-runner in technology for a long time. With its head start and upper hand against other cloud computing services like Azure, it is a great option to take a specialization and kick start a career.

If you want an excellent opportunity to learn from the best industry experts, our cloud computing course is just what you might be looking for. With a comprehensive curriculum and capstone projects to give you practical experience, you can get ahead of the competition quickly. After this course, you can land your dream role as a solutions architect, technical architect, or IT enterprise architect.

You might also like to read:

How to Become a Cloud Engineer? A Complete Guide

Cloud Computing Technology: Your Complete Guide

Virtualization in Cloud Computing: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What Are the Different Types of Cloud Computing? A Comprehensive Guide

Cloud Computing Salary: 2023 Guide, Trends, and Predictions

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