Amazon Web Services: Can They Really Solve Your Problems?

I recently attended an interesting overview of Amazon web services and thought I’d share the ‘best parts’ … enjoy it …

Amazon’s AWS offering has now become a huge operation compared to its launch in 2006 … when I say huge, I mean huge. To give you an idea of ​​the scale, the comparable computing power and infrastructure that supported the entire AWS offering in 2006 are now added every day to meet growing demand.

AWS is spread across eight geographic areas, with local edge locations to provide proxy caching closest to your location. This provides redundancy, high availability, and improved performance.

AWS provides a fairly comprehensive set of services to run just about anything you want and pretty much on a scale that’s only really limited by how much you’re willing to spend. This gives CIOs and CTOs options to play with, but there are still some reluctants about what should or shouldn’t ‘go to the cloud’ …

So what can it offer you? Well, AWS provides ‘Reference Architectures’ to help you conceptualize particular architecture scenarios. You can find approaches that help you with large-scale processing, batch processing, disaster recovery, online gaming, and of course your basic e-commerce approach.

It is safe?

Debates continue to rage about “cloud security” and, while cloud services are maturing, it would be a mistake to simply assume that the security aspect will just somehow disappear.

AWS is probably as secure as possible, at least on paper. AWS will put you at ease with multi-factor authentication, encryption, and various security clearances down to military levels. You can even implement your own security models according to your own standards. However, the question must be answered, do you trust AWS to manage and protect your data and services? On the other hand, since AWS has ‘handed over the keys’ to the customer to build their own services, security becomes a shared responsibility. For each client, the view, the approach, and even the decision will be different. Local laws can also affect your decision about what kind of data you are allowed to host.

What technology is available?

The following are some of the key services and solutions offered on AWS …

Calculate Ec2 – These are the ‘elastic computing’ cloud virtual machine instances that can be ‘rented’ and configured based on the workload characteristic from mobile phone to large scale cluster systems. Dedicated hardware is allocated for high-level use.

Cloud Watch monitoring – This service will automatically scale your environment based on performance monitoring and add more instances as needed based on demand. Transport for London uses this service to scale its operations on demand.

Work space – This is a fully managed desktop environment using the G2 graphics instance that supports desktop products like Windows on Nvidia GRID GK104 Kepler GPUs

Simple storage – S3 is a highly scalable storage platform used by companies like DropBox, Shazam, and of course the Amazon retail business. Objects contained in S3 are copied around Availability Zones to reduce delays and improve caching.

Stretch Block Store – This provides persistent block-level storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances. Replicated in all Availability Zones.

glacier – Long-term archive backup. The price is based on the number of requests (measurements). Object retrieval may take 3-5 hours.

AWS Public Data Sets – These are free to use data sets hosted on a Hadoop platform that include data sets such as: NASA NEX, Human Genome, Census Data, and PubChem

Kinesis – Kinesis is an elastically scalable managed service for streaming big data processing and is used in conjunction with EC2 instances.

There is more?

In addition to these ‘virtual’ services, AWS can even provide dedicated physical connections, such as dual 10 gig lines, to your data centers from your offices should you require it.

If you’re doing research, AWS can help you from a grants standpoint. You can now use a prepaid solution where you can cancel costs / credits as you go.

If you are a heavy user, AWS also allows you to “bid” for services through its spot market. This is a pricing model intended for batch processing and allows ad-hoc provisioning at a lower rate than normal provisioning costs.

The conclusion

However, for the average business, you are more likely to go for a hybrid approach, where you choose to run your tightly coupled development in-house and just use AWS for everything else. The point is, you have a choice, and AWS will almost certainly solve at least some of your challenges.

And you should not forget that there are other cloud service providers available, although probably not on the AWS scale … Copyright © 2014 Gareth Baxendale

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