Amazon Web Services: A cheat sheet

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The rise of cloud computing gives companies the power to rapidly provision computing assets with out the pricey and laborious activity of constructing information facilities, and with out the prices of operating servers with underutilized capability attributable to variable workloads.

Amazon Internet Companies (AWS) was the primary giant vendor of simply inexpensive cloud infrastructure and providers, and stays the one largest participant within the cloud computing market. For startups, this low barrier to entry has enabled the rise of standard photograph sharing providers resembling imgur, whereas established firms like Netflix have transitioned their workloads to AWS to lower the complexity of their deployment whereas lowering prices.

This information to AWS is each an simply digestible introduction to Amazon’s cloud ecosystem, in addition to a “residing” information that might be up to date periodically to maintain IT leaders within the loop on new AWS providers and methods during which they are often leveraged.

SEE: Cloud computing coverage (Tech Professional Analysis)

Govt abstract

  • What’s AWS? AWS is a group of varied cloud computing providers and functions provided by Amazon.com. The preferred of those providers embrace Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Easy Storage Service (S3).
  • Why does AWS matter? AWS has no upfront prices or considerable time delay in useful resource provisioning—capability is offered on demand. With a usage-based billing formulation, it’s a cheap different to on-premises servers.
  • Who does AWS have an effect on? AWS gives providers related to any group, giant or small, with an web presence or a necessity for personal information storage and retrieval.
  • When was AWS launched? The AWS platform launched in 2006, although new providers and “areas” (information facilities) have been added regularly since launch.
  • What providers compete with AWS? Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are two of the highest opponents to AWS.
  • How do I turn into an AWS engineer? Amazon has a proper certification out there for AWS DevOps engineers, however the certification is not essential to carry out the job. Regardless, professionals must discover ways to handle AWS cases, which entails many various abilities.
  • How do I get and use AWS? You may get began with AWS utilizing the free tier, which permits restricted free use for as much as one yr. For pricing on the US East area, S3 pricing begins at $zero.023 per GB, whereas EC2 cases begin at $zero.0059 per hour.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and sensible particular person’s guides

Picture: iStockphoto/zakokor

What is AWS?

AWS is a platform consisting of a variety of cloud computing services offered by Amazon.com. Instead of building an in-house data center, or leasing general purpose servers from traditional data centers, the costs of resource provisioning on AWS reflect actual usage, not reserved capacity. The service in question is also a factor in billing—pricing varies based on the individual product and storage type.

For example, pricing for S3 is divided into three tiers. Presently, in the US-East region, the standard storage tier starts at $0.023 per GB per month for the first 50 terabytes, with discounts thereafter. Infrequent access storage starts at $0.0125 per GB, and Glacier storage, designed to host backups and data archives, starts at $0.004 per GB.

In addition to the aforementioned EC2 and S3 services, other services exist in the AWS portfolio. CloudFront, a content-delivery network (CDN), mirrors resources at “edge locations” to improve page loading time. Relational Database Service (RDS) is a scalable database server that supports MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server, as well as Amazon’s own Aurora implementation of MySQL. Similarly, DynamoDB offers scalable NoSQL database support. Elastic Beanstalk allows users to quickly deploy and manage applications in the cloud from preconfigured container images.

AWS also offers specialized resources that are applicable to specific use cases. Video stored on S3 can be easily transcoded for mobile devices using Elastic Transcoder, and for any process not yet automatable simple tasks can be completed by remote workers in Mechanical Turk—though, this is more crowd computing than cloud computing. Amazon Connect is a cloud-based contact center service delivered through AWS, allowing businesses to scale to thousands of customer support agents.

SEE: What is cloud computing? Everything you need to know about the cloud, explained (ZDNet)

At the 2016 AWS re:Invent conference, a substantial emphasis was placed on AI services, with the announcement of Amazon Rekognition, a deep-learning based image recognition system; Amazon Polly, a text-to-speech system that supports 25 languages, and differentiates for different dialects of English, Spanish, and Portuguese; as well as Amazon Lex, the speech recognition and natural language processing technology that powers the Alexa virtual assistant, used in the Amazon Echo speaker and Fire TV digital media player.

AWS has specialized services for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, with particular emphasis on enabling encrypted communication between devices, and transmitting information to the cloud. AWS Greengrass is a service that allows local compute, messaging, data caching, and synchronization.

In 2018, Amazon introduced their first blockchain offerings at the AWS re:Invent conference. Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) is a fully-managed ledger database with a central trusted authority, and Amazon Managed Blockchain allows users to create and manage blockchain networks using Ethereum or HyperLedger. The company also announced AWS Outposts, a collaboration with VMware to bring AWS cloud services on-premises for hybrid cloud deployments.

Other new services introduced include Amazon Elastic Inference and AWS Inferentia for machine learning, FSx for native Windows file systems, Lake Formation for speeding up data lake building, Global Accelerator for increasing performance across regions, SiteWise for industrial data collection, RoboMaker dev service for building intelligent robotics apps, and AWS Ground Station for transmitting and processing data between satellites.

Amazon Web Services has also added non-Intel options for EC2 compute instances. First, AMD EPYC processors are available for M5 and T3 general purpose instances as well as R5 memory optimized instances, for 10 percent less than Intel Xeon-powered versions of those instances. Amazon announced custom Arm processors, called AWS Graviton, at re:Invent 2018. Graviton was developed internally at Amazon, and is based on 2015-era Cortex-A72 microarchitecture, though it has support for Arm Neoverse server extentions.

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Why does AWS matter?

AWS, like other cloud service providers, offers the ability to instantly provision computing resources on demand. Compared to the laborious task of planning and building on-site data center infrastructure, along with the requisite hardware upgrades, maintenance costs, server cooling requirements, electricity costs, and use of floorspace—particularly for offices in urban centers with associated real estate costs—the savings can add up very quickly.

The benefit of AWS extends beyond cost, however. Managed services of AWS reduce the administrative burden of IT, freeing them to work on new projects rather than spending time on general system upkeep. For example, in RDS, the administrative console can be used to automatically apply security updates to the underlying software stack, as well as manage backups, snapshots, deployments in multiple availability zones, and seamlessly replace an instance in the event of hardware failure.

SEE: Cloud v. data center decision (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Amazon has made AWS a leader in cloud-based machine learning. Since launching a long list of AI-based services at re:Invent in 2016 (mentioned above), Amazon has extended its offerings to make AWS competitive with Google’s Cloud AI.

Since 2016 Amazon has added services like SageMaker, which rapidly trains machine learning models for faster deployment, and AWS DeepLens, a deep-learning enabled video camera.

As the largest public cloud services provider, Amazon acts as a trendsetter for the industry. Their purchasing power and scale gives them the ability to influence the industry at large. As part of this, Amazon’s development of Arm-powered AWS Graviton CPUs is likely to result in an increased focus in open source on optimizations for server applications to harness the full power of the Arm architecture in a way in which smaller vendors would not be able to affect.

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Who does AWS affect?

Practically any organization that uses computers has a use case applicable to a service provided by AWS. Even for the most basic uses—such as using S3 Glacier for offsite backups—AWS is a compelling alternative to traditional solutions. While AWS started as a cloud-based replacement for simple storage and compute operations, it has expanded to cover practically every use case imaginable, with targeted services for databases, IoT development, business productivity, messaging, game development, virtual desktops, analytics, machine learning, and more.

SEE: Cloud computing policy template (Tech Pro Research)

Additionally, while established organizations likely have capital for traditional data center deployments, cash-strapped startups benefit from the absence of deployment costs and paying only for resources used, as opposed to paying for capacity provisioned, or being forced to pay for infrastructure hardware. Utilizing cloud service providers such as AWS also allows for scale as a company grows, as well as establishing cloud infrastructure early in its growth.

Of note, Amazon’s largest brick-and-mortar competitor Walmart reportedly issued an ultimatum to suppliers and software vendors to cease using AWS for their businesses, at the risk of losing business with the big box retailer. While Walmart has contributed to the open source OpenStack platform, the company is not requiring its partners to use cloud services from a particular vendor.

Since issuing that ultimatum Walmart has begun using Microsoft Azure, but the company has said it isn’t abandoning its OpenStack investments as of July 2018.

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When was AWS launched?

AWS launched in 2006, though various services and geographic service regions have been added continually since launch. Presently, AWS services are available from 15 distinct “regions”: US East (Ohio and Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon and Northern California), Canada, (Montreal), Brazil (São Paulo), England (London), EU (Ireland and Germany), Southeast Asia (Singapore), East Asia (Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing), India (Mumbai), and Australia (Sydney). An additional region exclusively for GovCloud users exists in the Northwestern United States.

In November 2014, Amazon announced a plan to transition AWS to 100% renewable energy. By April 2015, one quarter of consumed energy was provided by renewable sources. At the end of 2016, over 40% of consumed energy was provided by renewable sources, while Amazon planned to reach 50% by the end of 2017.

In early 2018 AWS launched a unified auto scaling dashboard that can be found in the AWS Management Console. It allows administrators to control scaling of multiple AWS products easily from one location.

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What services compete with AWS?

According to Synergy Research Group, AWS comprised 33% of the public cloud market as of Q1 2018, with Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and IBM combined totaling less than 30% of the market.

In much the same way that Amazon as an internet retailer is intended to be everything to everyone, so is AWS. While competing cloud services offer alternatives for general use cases of AWS, no competing cloud service has an exact replacement for every product included in AWS.

In terms of scale, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and IBM are certainly capable of handling any amount of data or compute tasks you can generate.

SEE: Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)

For organizations looking to migrate from an on-premise SharePoint system, or with other deep dependencies on Microsoft products, Azure is likely the most compelling option for a seamless transition to the cloud.

Google Cloud Platform’s core strengths are in machine learning, big data tools, and extensive container support.

For IoT, the cloud provider market is still wide open, with tailored solutions available from GE Predix, Samsung’s ARTIK Cloud, and ThingWorx.

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How do I become an AWS engineer?

Tech professionals interested in becoming an AWS engineer should head over to Amazon’s AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certification portal and see what skills Amazon says are required in order to manage AWS instances. However, this certification isn’t necessary to perform the job functions of an AWS DevOps engineer.

SEE: How to become a DevOps engineer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

TechRepublic previously covered skills that are essential for cloud engineers to master, and while the list does include AWS, it also mentions several programming languages, automation suites, and analytics tools that are essential. In essence, AWS is a proprietary platform, but the basic skills needed to manage it are the same as any other cloud product.

Anyone who wants to learn more about the specifics of being an AWS engineer should check out the list of online courses that Amazon maintains in its AWS Training portal.

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How do I get and use AWS?

Developers can get started with AWS using the Free Tier, which is available to anyone without restriction for the first 12 months. It features 750 hours per month of EC2 t.2 micro instances of Linux or Windows, as well as 5 GB of standard storage in S3 with 20,000 GET and 2,000 PUT requests.

Also available is 25 GB of storage in DynamoDB with 25 units of write and read capacity each, which Amazon estimates to be sufficient to handle 200 million requests per month. It includes one million free requests in Lambda, and 20,000 free requests in AWS Key Management, and free access grants in a dozen other AWS services. After the 12 month unlimited period ends, some restrictions take effect. Free tier users should be sure they know all the details about products they need that may be affected by the end of the free tier unlimited period.

For startups, various tiers of free credits (up to $100,000) are available depending on your accelerator. These promotional credits can be applied to most AWS products, though are not usable with Mechanical Turk, AWS Marketplace, or some types of support requests.

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Note: This article was updated in August 2018 by Brandon Vigliarolo and by James Sanders in November 2018.

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