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What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an on-demand, subscription-based cloud computing service. It offers individuals, businesses and organizations access to a variety of virtual products and services. These include computing power, storage, developer tools, networking, content delivery and analytics. Many businesses turn to AWS to secure enterprise level cloud computing resources, without making large upfront investments often required for hardware, implementation and ongoing maintenance.

What are the most popular AWS Services?

AWS offers a range of cloud-based services designed to meet the unique needs of individuals, business and organizations worldwide. Needs of each account holder are different. The following are considered some of the most widely used AWS services:

  • Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)
  • Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)
  • Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service)
  • Amazon CloudFront
  • Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud)
  • Amazon SNS
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • AWS Lambda

What is Amazon S3?

Amazon S3 is a web-based cloud storage service that is ideal for backing up or archiving data. It is a storage platform that can be used to store and access data from anywhere. S3 is a pay-as-you-go, scalable storage solution that can accommodate growth without compromising on reliability or performance.

What is Amazon EC2?

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a scalable virtual machine that provides individuals and organizations with access to cloud-based RAM, CPU, etc. to manage large amounts of data. Data is managed on the cloud, so on-premise hardware resources aren’t over tasked.

What is Amazon RDS?

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) allows users to create and operate scalable relational databases within the cloud. This provides a database solution that is both secure and affordable. Currently, AWS offers six database engines to use; Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle, MariaDB, and Amazon Aurora. Additionally, users can choose to replicate or migrate their existing database to Amazon RDS.

What is Amazon CloudFront?

Amazon CloudFront is a global content delivery network (CDN) service. CloudFront users can distribute video, APIs, documents and a variety of other data, while maintaining high transfer speeds and low latency.

What is Amazon VPC?

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) allows for a logical division between the public cloud and the defined virtual network of the private cloud. The VPC allows users network control over a network environment. It enables the ability to configure network gateways, create sub nets and select specific IP address ranges. VPC can provide enhanced security, data control, and flexibility to your cloud service activities.

What is Amazon SNS?

Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) is a publish/subscribe (pub/sub) messaging and mobile notification service. It provides a way to coordinate the delivery of messages from a software application to a subscriber. Amazon SNS increases efficiency of decoupling and scaling activities for serverless applications, microservices and distributed systems.

What is Elastic Beanstalk?

Elastic Beanstalk can be used to deploy web applications and other services that are developed with a variety of programming languages and platforms. These include .NET, PHP, Java, Go, Ruby, Python and Node. This service automates application setup within AWS infrastructure.

What is AWS Lambda?

Lambda offers developers the opportunity to write application code without the need of server provisioning or management. Subscribers that use AWS Lambda are charged on a usage basis. This is based on the number of times specific code is triggered. If code is not running, no fee is incurred.

Why use AWS Lambda?

As Lambda users only incur fees while using compute cloud resources, one of the most attractive benefits of Lambda is the cost-saving nature of this server-less service. Benefits and capabilities can extend well beyond that;

  • Use of ‘triggers’ such as data fluctuations, system state changes or user actions to execute code, providing real-time data.
  • Track application activity such as click stream, social media analysis and log filtering.
  • Create serverless backends to handle third party API requests, as well as those originating from the web or IoT devices.

How much will AWS cost me?

AWS offers over 100 pay-as-you-go cloud based services. AWS subscribers can secure on-demand services, with no flat rate fees or long-term contract requirements. This allows for flexible use, based on needs and budget. Pricing is unique for each AWS service, for each user account. A complete list of services and prices is available on the AWS website. The AWS calculator can help users estimate the cost for each service.

What AWS services are free?

AWS offers a free usage tier. It provides access to the cloud as well as a variety of services. Some services are free for the duration of AWS membership. Other AWS services expire within 12 months of sign-up (or until usage limits are exceeded).

Free services are typically limited based on time, space or value. For example, after using 750 hours a month of Amazon EC2 Compute Cloud access, users will be required to pay for additional service. The following AWS services remain free after a 12-month introductory period;

  • Amazon DynamoDB
  • Amazon Cognito
  • AWS CodeCommit
  • Amazon CloudWatch
  • AWS X-Ray
  • AWS Database Migration Service
  • AWS Storage Gateway
  • Chime
  • Glue
  • CodeBuild
  • SWF, SQS and SNS
  • Amazon Elastic Transcoder
  • Key Management Service
  • CodePipeline Device Farm
  • Step AWS Step Functions
  • SES
  • QuickSight
  • Glacier
  • Macie
  • AWS Lambda

The following AWS Services are charged for after a 12-month introductory period;

  • EC2
  • S3
  • EFS
  • RDS
  • Amazon Cloud Directory
  • Amazon Connect
  • Amazon GameLift
  • Data Transfer
  • Amazon Data Pipleine
  • Amazon ElastiCache
  • Amazon CloudFront
  • Amazon API Gateway
  • Amazon Sumerian
  • Elasticsearch Service
  • Amazon Pinpoint
  • AWS Opworks (Chef Automate and Puppet Enterprise)
  • Polly
  • AWS IoT
  • Lex

How do I sign up for AWS?

To sign up for AWS, visit the AWS website and create an account. Creating an account is free. AWS subscribers have automatic access to services provided in the AWS free tier. AWS users are required to enter valid credit or debit card information, even if they intend to only utilize the AWS free tier. Once the account creation process is complete, users have access to all the AWS services, as well as a variety of AWS tutorials and educational resources.

Which AWS database should I use?

AWS offers a variety of databases that are purpose-built for the specific needs of users and the applications they utilize. Available databases include relational and non-relational databases, a data warehouse and an in-memory data store. Database selection should be based on your unique needs. A list of AWS databases and their defining characteristic or use cases are;

  • Aurora: MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible
  • Amazon RDS – Managed relational database
  • Amazon DynamoDB: NoQL database
  • Amazon Redshift: Data warehouse
  • Amazon ElastiCashe: In-memory data store
  • Amazon Neptune: Graph database
  • AWS DMS: Database Migration Service

What are AWS Regions?

Cloud services, including AWS are hosted in various locations across the world. These locations are broken down into AWS Regions and availability zones. AWS Regions are geographically defined. AWS users can select where resources are stored. AWS provides multiple distinct regions, including several available in the United States, Asia and the EU.

What AWS Regions should I choose?

To determine which AWS regions to select, consideration should be given to some of the below factors;

  • Supported services: Many AWS services are region dependent. Some services are not available in all regions. A good place to start is to list all the features or services you plan to use and verify what regions support all those services.
  • Latency & users: Different regions result in different levels of latency due to internet connection speeds and other external factors within a specific region.
    The best way to prioritize regions is to identify those that provide lower latency. This can be accomplished by reviewing the list of regions that support your necessary AWS services. Then perform load testing to determine which regions provides the best service to end users.
  • Cost: Costs can vary based on region. To determine if one region provides more affordable access to the services you need, use the AWS calculator.

Can AWS access my data?

AWS customers span many industries, many of which have strict privacy and data security needs. AWS implements a global privacy and data protection practice. This governs technical and physical controls, used to prevent unauthorized access to subscribed data. Additionally, AWS provides users with the ability to secure data in transit and at rest. Access is limited to those with proper login credentials. Stored content is not used without the consent of users.

What are AWS certifications?

AWS certifications are designed to evaluate and certify AWS users, based on their comprehension and proficiency within the AWS environment. Each certificate level works to clarify key AWS concepts. Basic Foundational and Associate Certifications provide introductory elements, required to engage with / adapt to customizable IT environments.

For individuals, AWS certifications can provide a means to expand their professional skill set. For business owners, AWS certification can ensure potential candidates and IT personnel maintain the knowledge and skills to manage cloud-based applications and services.

Which AWS certification should I get?

There are a variety of AWS certifications available. Some of them provide basic information on utilizing AWS and the AWS console. Others provide specialty training on various cloud services. AWS certifications are broken down into four different levels;

Foundational Certifications – The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certificate provides a basic understanding of the principles that govern AWS architecture. These are key services provided by AWS such as; basic security, compliance, deployment and operational concepts.

Associate – These are technical role-based certifications. They focus on a variety of skills and services. Associate level certifications include;

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect
  • AWS Certified Developer
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator

Professional – These are the highest-level certificates that can be achieved. Anyone who wants to complete this certification level, must first complete the relevant associate certification.

Professional certifications include;

  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer
  • AWS Solutions Architect

Specialty certifications – also available to those who have completed the Cloud Practitioner Certificate or any Associate certificate. Specialty certificates include;

  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking
  • AWS Certified Big Data
  • AWS Certified Security

What other AWS certifications can I get?

Individuals utilizing and engaging with AWS services, resources and features can consider applying for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Certification. It ensures proficiency in basic concepts and activities required for general AWS use. Beyond foundational certification efforts, AWS certifications are generally broken down into Architect, Developer and Operations.

Those responsible for fulfilling or engaging in any of those activities can seek Associate or Professional certifications, that align with core job requirements.

Architect:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Associates)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Professional)

Developer:

  • Developer (Associates)
  • DevOps Engineer (Professional)

Operational:

  • SysOps Administrator (Associates)
  • DevOps Engineer (Professional)

Why should I tag AWS Services?

AWS users can ‘tag’ resources by assigning metadata. Tags allow an efficient way to manage and analyze resources. Tags can be used to differentiate between purpose, environment, billing characteristics, owner and more. Tags can be managed automatically via an API.

Which AWS Services can be tagged? Resources within the following AWS services can be tagged;

  • CloudFront
  • EC2 & EC2 Simple Systems
  • Elastic File System
  • EMR
  • Glacier
  • Inspector
  • Machine Learning
  • Redshift
  • RDS
  • Route 53
  • Amazon S3
  • Workspaces
  • Auto Scaling
  • AWS Certificate Manager
  • AWS CloudFormation
  • AWS CloudTrail
  • AWS Database Migration Service
  • AWS Directory Service
  • AWS Storage Gateway
  • Elastic Load Balancing