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AWS for Beginners – The Ultimate Guide 2019

March 6, 2019

11 Min Read
AWS for beginners
Reading Time: 11 minutes

AWS stands for Amazon Web Services. It’s a global market leader in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) industry, offering a wide range of remote cloud services. In this article, we will cover everything about AWS for beginners so that you can scale your business with ease.

AWS for beginners offers database storage options, computing power, content delivery, and networking among other functionalities to help organizations scale up. It allows you to select your desired solutions while you pay for exactly the services you consume only. AWS is cost effective, i.e. it helps you save your bucks, which adding more value without compromising on the performance of applications or user experience.

Today, millions of organizations are leveraging AWS cloud services to come up with sophisticated applications that help them increase their reliability, flexibility, and scalability.

What Is AWS Offering?

AWS offers a wide range of remote cloud services for application development like analytics, blockchain, AI etc. and can assist individuals and organizations in the development and sustainable growth of any application. Following are the key building blocks of the AWS environment.

i. AWS EC2

Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2 for short, is a virtual server that helps you run numerous applications on the AWS cloud infrastructure. It allows subscribers to run applications in a computing environment that is practically capable of serving an unlimited set of virtual machines.

With AWS, all you get is instances with different resource configurations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking. Each type is available in different sizes so that it can cater workload as required. Instances come from Amazon Machine Images (AMI). These machine images act as a template that configures an operating system, and determines the operating environment of the user. The users can also configure their own AMIs.

You can start deploying your cluster of servers as soon as you have selected your instance, along with the operating system of your choice. When it comes to creating an EC2 instance, there are three popular ways you can use for this purpose.

  • Compute Optimized – These are best suitable for instances that require high request rates and leverage industry leading processors.
  • Memory Optimized – These instances offer the most efficient memory cost.
  • Storage optimized – These instances are able to access SSD storage extremely fast to serve data retrieval requests.

AWS EC2 service offers flexibility and a variety of instance types for you to choose from. You can customize operating systems, network and security settings with ease. However, you will be responsible for provisioning capacity, monitoring fleet health and performance of your virtual servers.

ii. AWS Lightsail

AWS Lightsail is a simple cloud hosting framework that is comparatively more straightforward than most AWS services. While using AWS Lightsail, you can easily setup a server in just a few clicks. It automatically equips your system with WordPress on AWS, Magento, Joomla and other commonly used web applications so that you do not have to waste time on setting up.

Despite its simplicity, you must not restrict or categorize Lightsail as a service only for the beginners. AWS Lightsail offers a variety of options such as supporting a Windows server or a choice of Linux distros, thus helping core professionals to take advantage of this service package.

One of the best advantages of using AWS Lightsail is that the size of your website doesn’t matter. This service is able to host your website on the AWS network with ease. Moreover, with data centers in all major countries of the world, the users get to enjoy a seamless and a stable connection at all times.

Furthermore, the pricing is also quite reasonable. A basic 512MB RAM, 1 CPU core, 20GB storage and 1TB of monthly transfer is available for $3.50 per month only. If that’s too basic for you, there are other plans available. You can opt for a 4GB RAM, 2 CPU core, 80GB storage and 4TB transfer setup, just for $20 per month. It is really affordable. It offers great additional features alongwith, a large network that makes this service worthy enough for consideration.

iii. AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is an extremely powerful and cost-friendly medium that allows your business to enjoy power and scalability at all times. This compute service allows you to run codes without managing servers.

With Lambda, you can focus on developing your applications without worrying about the infrastructure, i.e. CPU, storage or memory. It doesn’t matter whether there are a few requests per day or thousands per second, it executes the code when needed and is able to scale automatically. It is a great platform to run applications in AWS environment. Also, it allows you to stretch your budget as you only pay for what you consume.

It further allows you to upload your code, also known as a Lambda function. You can configure it to execute under specific circumstances as well. As soon as the Lambda function is in place, it will operate as frequently as its parameters indicate.

With Lambda, you are only responsible for your codes, as it manages the compute fleet itself allowing you to enjoy smooth functioning of memory, CPU, storage and network.

But, there is one drawback with Lambda! Neither you can login to compute instances, nor you can customize the operating system, or the language run time. These constraints allow Lambda to execute operational and administrative activities on your behalf. These activities include monitoring fleet health, provisioning capacity, deploying your code, applying security patches, and monitoring your Lambda functions, etc.

The Lambda functions which you can use on instances instead of server-based architecture include:

  • Application Development – It allows you to write and execute any code without dealing with the complications of auto-scaling and infrastructure performance bottlenecks.
  • Amazon S3 Cloud – It allows you to run a Lambda function as soon as you upload a new file to an S3 bucket.
  • Amazon Kinesis – It allows you to trigger Lambda functions on specific logging events for e.g. new visitors to website.
  • CloudTrail in AWS – It allows you to launch needle-like events logged in the haystack of Cloudtrail logs like enabling or disabling permissions to access resources like APIs or S3 storage buckets.

Do remember, Lambda doesn’t support every programming language, but it does support many popular programming languages and scripting languages like Java 8, Node.js or Python.

AWS for Beginners – What Can You Connect Your Applications with?

i. Analytics

Measuring metrics to track your website’s performance in real-time provides valuable insights. AWS offers real-time web analytics with Kinesis Data Analytics solution that allows you to easily track your website activities. It allows you to see who visits your website? From where are they visiting? And what are they doing on your website?

aws for beginner: use analytic

It provides a framework to analyze and visualize the metrics so that you can add more metrics instead of managing underlying infrastructure.

ii. Blockchain

Amazon’s AWS is one of the simplest infrastructures that helps you develop a scalable blockchain network alongside ledger applications for your organization.

aws for beginner: use blockchain

Blockchain technology is mostly used to resolve two types of customer needs. First of all, multiple parties are able to work with a centralized, trusted authority. It allows them to maintain complete and verifiable record of transactions. Secondly, multiple parties transact in a decentralized manner without the need for a centralized, trusted authority.

If you are searching for a centralized ledger that records all application data changes, and maintains the records of the changes made, AWS is your premier choice. The database is high-performing, cryptographically verifiable and immutable which eliminates the need to set up a blockchain network or to build complex audit tables.

The blockchain service by AWS makes it easy to set up, deploy, and manage scalable blockchain networks. There is no need for you to rely on expensive consultation and implementations.

iii. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AWS offers a comprehensive set of AI services and machine learning for your business. The platform diligently focus on resolving tough challenges that hold back developers who lack knowledge when it comes to machine learning expertise. You can select pre-trained AI services for computer vision, language, recommendations, and forecasting.

aws for beginner: use artificial intelligence

Amazon’s SageMaker allows you to quickly build, train and deploy machine learning models. It also allows you to create custom models with the support for all popular open-source frameworks.

iv. Internet of Things (IOT)

There are billions of devices operating today in homes, offices, factories, banks etc. With the increase in the number of devices, you also need more solutions to connect, collect, store, and analyze data.

AWS IoT provides developers with a comprehensive yet smooth functionality by spanning the edge to the cloud. It allows you to build IoT solutions for a number of devices, thereby turning your devices into smarter ones that don’t need an internet connection.

The IoT services from AWS allow you to scale your business, with the most comprehensive security features, helping you deploy preventative security measures and respond to security issues promptly.

v. Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

Amazon Sumerian allows you to develop and run Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and 3D applications without the need of any specialized programmer or a 3D graphics expert. You can do everything from your browser.

aws for beginner: use AR/VR

With AWS Sumerian, you can build highly immersive and interactive scenes that run on popular hardware like Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive etc.

For instance, you can develop a virtual environment to train fresh employees within your organization(s). You can also create a virtual environment that allows people to take a virtual tour of a building or a neighbourhood.

AWS Sumerian makes it simple to align all the building blocks you need to develop a an interactive 3D experience. You can easily add specific objects like characters, furniture, or landscape. It makes designing, animating, and scripting the environment a piece of cake.

What’s in It for AWS for Businesses and Individuals?

AWS cloud storage solution offers various benefits for entrepreneurs. As described by Amazon cloud tutorial, “AWS offers a wide range of global compute, storage, database, analytics, application, and deployment services that help organizations move faster, lower IT costs, and scale applications.”

The top five benefits of AWS for beginners are:

i. Scalability

AWS services are affordable for businesses of all sizes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a startup or a well established online business with heavy traffic. One of the benefits of AWS for beginners is that it allows you to scale your business effectively by offering flexibility and storage solutions.

ii. Commitment Free

Another advantage of using AWS cloud services is that you don’t need to go under any commitment or contract. Moreover, there’s no defined minimum spend in order to use their service. There is a per hour charge for all server-based services. It allows you to terminate the services at any time without damaging your pocket further. This feature is very helpful for businesses that do not want to overpay for storage or services they don’t use or need.

iii. Security

AWS offers enhanced security features like:

  • 24/7 access to data experts
  • Built-in firewall which allows very specific access from highly restrictive to public domain
  • IAM services for tracking user access
  • Multi-factor authentication and encrypted data storage capabilities

Since data storage and security are important elements for businesses, when an organization switches to a cloud service platform, it makes sense when they expect security to be high class. The AWS services ensure that the security remains robust for businesses of all sizes.

iv. Reliability

Amazon has a massive reach and a huge team of experts. It has facilitated them to build a solid network that is dependable and consistent. Many businesses enjoy secure and reliable connections to data which allows them to support and build their data infrastructures. This is why AWS cloud service is a premier choice for many businesses.

v. Flexible and Customizable

AWS allows you to select the programming language, operating system, and database of you liking, hence enabling you to develop a solution that’s best for your organization and your team.

The flexibility and customization of Amazon Web Services for beginners helps them to grow. Amazon’s level of customization coupled with its simplicity and user-friendly cloud platform convinces many businesses around the world to opt for their AWS services.

The Flip Side: AWS Can be Intimidating

AWS offers a huge ecosystem that places a lot of power in the hands of the users. They have access to a robust infrastructure that supports a wide range of applications and websites (including ecommerce stores and corporate portals). So, AWS hosting for eCommerce store is possible. The design of the AWS ecosystem is such that the users have a lot of latitude in pursuing their project’s objectives.

For this, Amazon ensures that its policies and AWS architecture management doesn’t get in the way of users. From the point where the users log into their account area to the day-to-day maintenance of their servers, AWS allows the users complete freedom to plan the use of the server as they see fit.

However, there is a not-so-small segment of AWS for beginners who prefer the power and robustness of the AWS infrastructure without the challenges of managing their servers AND their projects at the same time. This segment includes both the users who lack either the technical competency (and/or resources) or time to manage their AWS servers.

The challenges range from the server provisioning to the security and maintenance of the servers. Since AWS servers are pretty much barebones at the start, it takes some effort to setup the server and prepare it for the actual application that you have in mind. Once the server and the application are up and running, the user (or the sysadmin of the team) is mainly responsible for administration and security.

The Simple Solution of AWS for Beginners – Managed Hosting

This seemingly big problem of lack of time or expertise has a simple solution – managed Amazon hosting, which turns these barebones infrastructure by ensuring AWS for beginners a reality.

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These services are provided by third-party providers who build their infrastructure on top of AWS’s, leveraging the power and flexibility of AWS for all their customers. In almost all cases these customers experience a managed experience that takes away the complexities of the AWS infrastructure while allowing access to the power of the AWS servers.

These services cover the entire spectrum of the AWS experience starting from server creation to server security. While the specifics and delivery of the services differ from vendor to vendor, the basic offering are quite similar.

In many cases, the service provider specializes in a particular application (WordPress is the most common choice). However, popular vendors do offer a choice of applications such as PHP, Magento, etc to cater to a wide requirement sets of their customers.

The managed hosting of AWS for beginners offers a simple way of creating and setting up the server. Usually, this happens through a simple one-page form that collects all the server specifications and then pass them along to the underlying processes for server provisioning. The process usually takes a few minutes and the server and the application is ready for the user.

Now depending upon the way the service delivery is structured, the user might not get to deal with the server directly. Instead, they interact with a feature-rich portal that offer a point-and-click interface for setting and managing their AWS server (and the deployed application).

The service offering continues as the managed hosting provider takes care of server maintenance. This involves offering the best mix of server level components that come together to provide a smooth and fast hosting experience to the users. This means offering the users choices for adding and removing cache subsystems, databases and related features.

Finally, these managed AWS hosting providers are partially responsible for the security of the server. The cloud engineers ensure that the stack remains properly patched and the security processes such as firewalls and intruder detection system (IDS) remain active to deter any intruders.

It is important to note that each managed hosting of AWS for beginners host your application on top of the AWS infrastructure and thus you can enjoy the flexibility of AWS ecosystem without worrying about the challenges or “lost” time.

To Sum Up,

Amazon’s AWS cloud computing service is secure and it is here to assist you in reducing your business data infrastructure costs. Therefore, opting for AWS cloud services will prove beneficial for your organization and will allow you to scale your business on a leading cloud infrastructure platform exponentially. Hopefully, you learned a great deal from our AWS tutorial for beginners. If you think we missed out anything worth sharing, do let us know in the comments section below.

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Salman Saleem

Salman is a software engineering graduate and digital marketer by profession. He works as a Digital Marketer Strategist at Cloudways. He loves to create value for the Startup community & help entrepreneur reach their goal. He is a big fan of cricket and does play AAA games in his free time.

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