What is AWS? Everything You Need to Know

Joe Martin

Amazon is the go-to place for just about everything these days. Need a new WiFi router? Go to Amazon. Looking to pick up the latest NYT bestseller? Go to Amazon. Want a knitted sweater for your Norewegian Forest cat, Snuffles? You get the idea…

We all buy loads of consumer goods from the Seattle-based ecom giant. But did you know that it sells cloud computing services, too? It's true! And this side of its business is booming.

So in this blog post we're going to look at Amazon's cloud computing services, known as AWS, and give you the complete rundown on them. Keep reading to learn:

  • What is AWS?
  • What is AWS Used For?
  • What Are the Benefits of AWS?
  • Why is AWS so Popular?

Sound like a plan? Great, let's dive in!

What is AWS?

The logo for Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Source: Twin State Technical Services

According to the company itself, Amazon Web Services, AWS for short, offers "reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services" to companies of all sizes.

In other words, it's a collection of 200+ cloud computing and API services that allow individuals, companies, and governments to store files, build applications, and much more. Despite these benefits, AWS is a pay as you go platform, which makes it quite affordable.

AWS launched in 2006 and has since acquired some of the largest brands in the world as customers. Some of these brands include Netflix, Adobe, and Facebook.

What is AWS Used For?

As mentioned above, AWS comprises more than 200 services, which means it can be used for A LOT of different things. Here are a few of the more popular use cases:

  • Store Files: Store your screenshots, videos, and other files for easy access.
  • Host Websites: Run web and app servers to host your dynamic website.
  • Build Applications: Design the next hit game or must-have web application.
  • Manage Your Database: Use MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, etc. to store data.
  • Deliver Content: Send content to a global audience quickly and affordably.

AWS also includes services related to machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), ecommerce, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and analytics. To put it simply, just about any cloud computing need can be addressed with Amazon Web Services.

What Are the Benefits of AWS?

A man happy to be using AWS.

Now that we know what AWS is and what it's used for, let's talk about why it might help your business. There are three main benefits that AWS provides to its users:

1. Ease of Use

First off, AWS is easy to use. According to Amazon, the platform is "designed to allow application providers, ISVs, and vendors to quickly and securely host your applications – whether an existing application or a new SaaS-based application."

This is great news! It doesn't matter how awesome your offerings are if they're a pain in the butt to use. You won't have this problem with AWS.

2. Reliability

AWS is also extremely reliable and secure.

How do we know that? Because Amazon uses it as the backbone of its incredibly popular, multi-billion dollar generating website. If AWS couldn't be trusted, Jeff Bezos and company would use something else. There's too much money at stake.

Plus, the engineering team behind AWS have been honing the platform's services for more than a decade, much longer than many of its competitors in this field.

3. Cost Effectiveness

Lastly, AWS won't break your bank thanks to its pay-as-you-go fee system. This means that you only "pay only for the compute power, storage, and other resources you use, with no long-term contracts or up-front commitments."

If you use AWS for business purposes, you'll also benefit from the increased productivity of your staff, which will help cut costs in other areas, making AWS even more affordable.

Why is AWS So Popular?

According to recent reports, Amazon Web Services accounts for 31% of the cloud market—55% more than Microsoft Azure and 443% more than Google, it's two biggest competitors. So the question is, why is AWS so popular?

There are a few reasons worth mentioning:

  1. First to Market: It pays to be the first to the party, at least when it comes to business. AWS was the first to really invest in its cloud computing platform, which allowed it to refine its product and build a solid customer base with little competition.
  2. Grade-A Features: Like we talked about earlier, AWS offers its customers a ton of awesome services they can use for cloud computing purposes. Each of these services is easy to use, reliable, cost-effective, and scales with companies as they grow.
  3. Vision: Amazon has a deep understanding of how its customer base uses cloud services. The company uses this understanding to develop new services and infrastructures it knows its target market wants.

It's not hard to see why AWS is so popular. When you're the first to market, create stuff your audience wants, and commit to constant innovation, your business will succeed.

Does AWS Have Any Disadvantages?

Like any service, AWS has a couple of drawbacks that must be considered. If you're thinking about making the move to Amazon Web Services, keep these two things in mind:

1. Amazon EC2 Limitations

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, AKA Amazon EC2, is part of the AWS ecosystem. The service essentially allows users to rent virtual computers in order to run their own apps.

Unfortunately, Amazon EC2 isn't perfect. For example, AWS limits the number of resources (images, volumes, snapshots) developers can launch per area. These limitations are designed to protect users from hackers, but they can be frustrating.

Fortunately, you can request a resource increase if you need more of them. 

2. Technical Support Fees

Additionally, AWS charges a fee for immediate technical support. If you need Amazon's help now rather than later, expect to pay them for the privilege.

How much you pay depends on what category you fall into: developer, business, or enterprise. The fees for each category are as follows:

  • Developer: $29/month
  • Business: Greater of $100 – or –
    10% of monthly AWS usage for the first $0–$10K
    7% of monthly AWS usage from $10K–$80K
    5% of monthly AWS usage from $80K–$250K
    3% of monthly AWS usage over $250K
  • Enterprise: Greater of $15,000 – or –
    10% of monthly AWS usage for the first $0–$150K
    7% of monthly AWS usage from $150K–$500K
    5% of monthly AWS usage from $500K–$1M
    3% of monthly AWS usage over $1M

How to Get Started With AWS

There are classes to help you get started with AWS

If AWS sounds like the right cloud computing platform for you, you might be wondering how to get started. There are a lot of services to check out, details to understand…

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources on the internet to help! Here are three top choices:

1. AWS Fundamentals Specialization

New to the world of cloud computing? Then you should definitely take a look at the AWS Fundamentals Specialization class, available exclusively on Coursera. The course, which was created by the AWS team, is split into four distinct parts:

  1. Going Cloud Native: Learn about AWS's core services and infrastructure.
  2. Addressing Security Risk: Learn proper security when building apps on AWS.
  3. Migrating to the Cloud: Learn how to transfer your current workloads to AWS.
  4. Building Serverless Applications: Learn to build and use serverless applications.

Through the use of presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on exercises, this class will teach you the basics of AWS, which you can then build upon with other courses. 

2. AWS Certification Courses

Maybe you already know how to use AWS and need a class to help you prepare for certification. Then search for AWS Certification Courses on Udemy. There quite a few quality classes available on the platform, but these are the ones we recommend:

Each of these certification courses can be purchased for around $100, making them pretty affordable. But Udemy does discount them from time to time if you're short on cash.

3. AWS Training Courses and Tutorials

If the Coursera and Udemy courses don't get you excited, perhaps the AWS training from LinkedIn Learning will. This platform has multiple classes that will teach you everything you need to know about the AWS ecosystem including:

  • Cloud Fundamentals
  • Developer and Architect Training
  • AWS For Networking
  • Certification Exams

Unlike the Coursera course mentioned above, the training from LinkedIn is self-paced. This means you can take as long as you need to become an AWS expert—no pressure!

Boost Your Business With AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) gives individuals, companies, and even government agencies access to top-level cloud computing services. With these services, users can accomplish a wide range of tasks, from storing screen recordings to building award-winning applications.

While AWS isn't the only cloud computing platform available—both Microsoft and Google have platforms, too—it's the most popular and well-established.

Because of this, as well as the fact that AWS is easy to use, reliable, and cost effective, Amazon Web Services might be the perfect platform for your needs. We encourage you to give the service a try to know for sure. Good luck!


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