Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an on-demand cloud computing platform owned by Amazon Inc. which provides cloud services such as virtual computing, web hosting, cloud storage and more. Amazon Web Services provides users with a virtual system of computers available 24/7 accessible through the internet with the same features as physical computer systems such as RAM, SSD storage, graphic processors, web servers, databases and more.
AWS was established in 2006 and currently offers over 70 services in the fields of networking, storage, computing, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), developer tools and more. AWS currently has the largest share of the Cloud Computing market with a 47.1 percent market share.
Top Amazon AWS Products & Services
The most popular AWS products are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). All AWS services are monetized with usage based pricing.
1. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (AWS EC2)
AWS Elastic Compute Cloud – EC2 is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform which provides users with scalable compute capacity in the cloud which can be controlled by an Application Programming Interface (API).
AWS EC2 allows you control your virtual computing resources on Amazon’s servers and charges you for only what you use thereby giving you access to top of the line hardware without the need to shell out huge sums to purchase them and hence allows you create and deploy applications faster and easier.
Amazon AWS EC2 Instance Types
AWS EC2 Instances are virtual computing environments on the AWS cloud platform. AWS provides a wide range of instance types to suit different customer needs. Types of AWS Instances include:
- General Purpose Instances
- Compute Optimized Instances
- Memory Optimized Instances
- Accelerated Computing Instances
- Storage Optimized Instances
You can use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor your EC2 instances.
2. Amazon Simple Storage Service (AWS S3)
AWS S3 is scalable cloud storage platform which provides an easy to use web interface to store and access any amount of data at any instant from any location on the worldwide web. It is used for web hosting, application data hosting, file backups and archiving, file storage and other services.
Amazon S3 is used by individuals, government agencies and large corporations to store data and host websites and is reported to store over 2 trillion objects as at April 2013.
3. AWS Command Line Interface (CLI)
AWS Command Line Interface is the platform through which users can issue commands to control multiple AWS services by means of command lines and also automate those using scripts. Also known as AWS Shell, its features include:
Fuzzy auto completion for commands, options and resource identifiers, it also provides Dynamic in-line documentation, OS shell command execution and more.
To use the AWS Command Line Interface, read the AWS Command Line User Guide which tells you how to install and configure the AWS CLI tool.
Amazon AWS Pricing
Amazon Web Services is a pay-per-use service meaning you pay the exact price for the specific amount of resources you use. Amazon AWS offers different pricing plans such as:
1. AWS Free Tier
This is offered to new clients to help them get started. As a new AWS customer, Amazon gives you a free EC2 Micro Instance for one year as well as free usage tiers for Amazon S3, Amazon ELB and Amazon EBS.
2. AWS Pay as you go
With this form of payment, there are no long contract requirements or minimum payments, you pay for the exact amount of resources you use, no more no less. You don’t need to pay any amount upfront, you pay per hour from the time you begin using a resource till the time you stop usage. For data storage and transfer, you pay per gigabyte used. Once you don’t need a resource anymore, you simply turn it off and billing stops.
3. Pay less when you reserve
This style of pricing allows users pay for reserved capacity in exchange for a discount on the hourly rate with cost savings of up to 60%.
4. Pay less per unit by using more
This pricing plan enables users save more as they use more AWS resources. Storage and data transfer users can pay less per gigabyte as they use more storage space and Amazon Compute users get up to 10% discounts if they reserve more resources.
5. AWS Custom pricing
Custom pricing is available for AWS users with high volume projects and large cloud service requirements. Clients who meet such criteria can contact AWS sales reps for assistance and more information.
6. AWS Pricing Calculator
The Amazon Web Services platform provides a pricing calculator which can be used to estimate your monthly bill. It provides a breakdown of service costs and a total monthly cost estimate. The AWS pricing calculator can also be used to see estimations and breakdowns of costs for common solutions.
Amazon AWS offers a number of services at no extra cost, these services include:
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS CloudFormation, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Auto Scaling and AWS OpsWorks.
With Amazon AWS, you can also use Consolidated Billing to consolidate all your AWS accounts and get tiering benefits
Amazon AWS pricing is based mainly on three features namely: Compute, Storage and Data Transfer Out. These features vary based on the AWS product used but have the biggest cost impact. Additionally, each AWS product has specific features which affect its overall pricing.
Amazon EC2 pricing is affected by the following factors: Clock Hours of Server Time, Machine Configuration, AWS region, number of cores, memory, Machine Purchase, Auto Scaling, additional Elastic IP Addresses, Operating Systems and Software, Number of Instances, Load Balancing and Detailed Monitoring
Amazon S3 pricing is affected by Storage Class, Storage, Requests and Data Transfer.
Amazon AWS FAQs
Here are answers to the most asked questions about AWS.
How to Register for Amazon AWS
To register for an Amazon AWS account, simply visit aws.amazon.com, click on the “Create My AWS Account” button on the top right hand corner of the webpage and follow the on-screen instructions, you can get more help on creating an Amazon Web Services account on the official AWS account creation support page.
How to Use Amazon AWS
After registering for an Amazon AWS account, visit the AWS Getting Started Resource Center to choose and read up how to use the AWS product you want, Amazon has built a large resource of articles to help guide you through the process seamlessly.
Advantages of Amazon AWS
Amazon Web Services is one of the best cloud services worldwide and they offer superb services, some of the many advantages AWS has are:
- An Easy to Use Intuitive Platform: AWS’ Management Console makes it easy for users to control their AWS resources.
- Affordability: The Pay as you go pricing model makes payment convenient for users.
- Flexibility: AWS resources are fully customizable and hence make it very suitable for migration from other platforms.
- Scalability: Upgrading is very easy with AWS as the system has enough resources for any level of scaling
- Trustworthy: AWS has built a reputation over the years and is trusted by government agencies, large corporations and educational institutions.
- Security: AWS implements several layers of security to ensure users data remains protected at all times.
Amazon Web Services has a basic support plan for all clients with 24/7 access to customer service, whitepapers, support forums and documentation. It also has a premium support system for technical support and extra support needs. The premium support plans are:
Developer Support Plan: Has a minimum charge of $29 per month and is billed as 3% of monthly AWS usage.
Business Support Plan: Has a $100 minimum charge and is billed from 3% to 10% of the monthly AWS usage depending on four different price levels.
Enterprise Support Plan: Has a $15,000 minimum bill and is billed from 3% to 10% of the monthly AWS usage based on four different price levels.
Comparison between Amazon AWS and its Competitors
Amazon Web Services’ Biggest Competitors are Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine and IBM Softlayer.
AWS is currently leading the cloud service industry due to a number of reasons including but not limited to:
- Early Adoption: Amazon Web Services was established in 2006 and was the first cloud computing platform hence they were able to get clients more easily and have also been able to keep those clients and also increase their customer base.
- Pricing: AWS offers the most flexible and competitive pricing for all cloud services.
- Numerous Products: AWS offers several cloud products which many competitors do not offer.
- Locations: Amazon AWS covers more locations worldwide than its competitors.
- AWS’ provisioning capacity is six times more than that of all its other competitors combined.
Other Amazon Web Services Products
1. AWS Networking Services
AWS offers a number of networking services some of which are:
- Amazon VPC: AWS’s Virtual Private Cloud provides AWS resources which are connectable with a VPN.
- AWS Elastic Load Balancing (ELB): Distributes traffic from external sources over multiple Amazon EC2 instances.
- AWS Route 53: Provides Domain Name System (DNS) services.
- Amazon Direct Connect: Connects dedicated connections to AWS data centers.
- AWS Elastic Network Adapter (ENA): Provides AWS EC2 instances with up to 20Gbit/s of bandwidth.
2. AWS Content Delivery Services
- AWS CloudFront: Is a content delivery network (CDN) which distributes objects to locations nearest to the request. It is integrated with other AWS products to easily serve content to users with high speeds and low latency.
3. AWS Contact Center Service
- AWS Connect is a cloud-based contact center self service platform which provides businesses with better customer service solutions at affordable prices.
4. AWS Storage Services
- AWS Glacier: Is a more long term storage service as compared to Amazon S3, it is suitable for data archiving and has high redundancy, high availability and low frequency access time.
- AWS Storage Gateway: Is a block storage service with cloud backup
- Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS): This provides AWS EC2 with consistent block level storage volumes.
- AWS Import/Export: This speeds up the movement of large quantities of data to and from AWS with the use of portable storage devices.
- Amazon Elastic File System (EFS): Amazon EC2 instances file storage service.
5. AWS Database Services
- Amazon DynamoDB: This provides NoSQL online databases backed by Solid State Drives (SSDs), has low latency and is scalable.
- Amazon ElastiCache: This service provides web applications with in-memory caching.
- Amazon SimpleDB: Provides developers with the ability to run queries on structured data.
- Other Amazon Database services include AWS Relational Database Service (RDS), AWS Redshift, AWS Data Pipeline and Amazon Aurora.
6. AWS Deployment Services
Amazon AWS Deployment products include AWS CloudFormation , AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS OpsWorks and AWS CodeDeploy
- AWS Cloudformation: is a free AWS service which provides customers with tools needed to create and maintain infrastructures needed by their application software to run on AWS.
7. AWS Management Services
These include Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Directory Service, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Management Console (AWS Console), AWS CloudHSM, AWS Key Management Service (KMS), Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS)
- AWS Management Console: AWS Console is the web interface used to monitor the Amazon AWS suite of products including Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon Cloudfront and others. It is also available through its Android app which supports some of the main console’s management features.
8. AWS Application Services
Amazon Application services offers products such as Amazon API Gateway, Amazon CloudSearch, Amazon DevPay, Amazon Elastic Transcoder, Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Workflow (SWF), Amazon Cognito, Amazon AppStream 2.0.
9. AWS Analytics Services
Some of Amazon’s analytics services include Amazon Athena, Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR), Amazon Kinesis, Amazon Elasticsearch, Amazon QuickSight, Amazon Fulfillment Web Service, Amazon Historical Pricing, Amazon Mechanical turk, Amazon Product Advertising, Amazon Gift Code On Demand (AGCOD).
- Amazon Machine Learning: This tool enables all levels of developers learn and use machine learning technology.
- Amazon Marketplace Web Service (MWS): AWS Marketplace lets users manage shipment processes completely using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
10. AWS status
You can check the status of any AWS service in any location as well as the status of your personal AWS services using the Amazon AWS Service Health Dashboard.