Up and Running with Amazon Web Services
Illustration by Richard Downs

Determining if AWS is a good fit


From:

Up and Running with Amazon Web Services

with Jon Peck

Video: Determining if AWS is a good fit

Amazon offers a wide variety of web services from standalone application components to enterprise grade parallel data processing. However, just using AWS isn't going to auto-magically fix your problems. Depending on your needs, it may be a square peg in a round hole; not a good fit. A good exercise is to determine at a high level what your actual needs are, then try to map them to the available services. Their pricing strategy, which in general is pay for what you use, offers flexibility which is especially good for resources that are only needed for short periods of time.

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with Amazon Web Services
1h 43m Intermediate Feb 19, 2013

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Discover how Amazon Web Services (AWS) can be leveraged to deploy and scale your web applications. Author Jon Peck demonstrates how to build a simple application leveraging the Amazon cloud services while introducing the wide variety of products and services provided with AWS.

This course starts with an overview of the foundational services, such as Amazon EC2 for virtual servers, Amazon S3 for online data storage, and Amazon RDS for a scalable database solution. Plus, explore how application services such as the Amazon Simple Notification Service can reduce overhead. Jon combines these services in the final chapter, where he builds, deploys, and monitors an application.

Topics include:
  • What is Amazon Web Services?
  • Understanding the AWS terminology
  • Exploring the foundation services
  • Using tools for managing and administration of AWS
  • Signing up for services
  • Launching and managing EC2 instances
  • Configuring the software development kit (SDK) with AWS credentials
  • Storing objects in Amazon S3
  • Pushing notifications
  • Managing the workflow
Subject:
Developer
Software:
AWS
Author:
Jon Peck

Determining if AWS is a good fit

Amazon offers a wide variety of web services from standalone application components to enterprise grade parallel data processing. However, just using AWS isn't going to auto-magically fix your problems. Depending on your needs, it may be a square peg in a round hole; not a good fit. A good exercise is to determine at a high level what your actual needs are, then try to map them to the available services. Their pricing strategy, which in general is pay for what you use, offers flexibility which is especially good for resources that are only needed for short periods of time.

Consider the overhead of purchasing, storing and maintaining hardware as well. CloudWatch also offers alerts on billing thresholds, which can be a good canary in a coal mine if a resource starts being utilized more than expected. Some AWS services can be used independently like using S3 for file storage. But if I were to use the relational database service with a remote web server, performance would really suffer. While this doesn't mean it's all or nothing, consider the service interdependencies and performance, as a transition from an existing solution to AWS, may be more involved.

Using Amazon Web Services and other Cloud service providers requires multifaceted trust, in particular that your proprietary and confidential code and data remains private, secure and reliable. With that said, Amazon Web Services is a well-established and known quantity. As an example one of the regions it's available is the AWS GovCloud. It was designed for US government agencies and their clients to address regulatory and compliance requirements. If it's good enough for the US government, it might be an option for you.

While I don't like using this phrase, cloud services does represent a paradigm shift. Some may find resistance within their own organizations from both those who are operating on stereotypes and aren't really familiar with cloud services, and those who have a deep knowledge of the risks and benefits of working with cloud services and may have had a bad experience. For example, one of my clients who provides cloud services was criticized in an internal security audit for using cloud services. This type of policy inconsistency is surprisingly common in large organizations.

As I learned from a previous employer, you can't turn a cruise ship on a dime, but you can steer it gradually until it's facing in the opposite direction. In short, this means change can be difficult for a large organization, but slow and steady persistence will see positive results. Finally, take some time and evaluate other solutions as Amazon is not the only Cloud service provider. Ultimately, you are the one who's in the best position to be able to determine what service provider, if any, is able to fulfill your needs. Research, comparison, and due diligence will save you potential headaches and money.

Now if you wanted to continue learning about Amazon Web Services, what are some directions you could take?

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