Seven weeks ago we had an introduction to cloud computing, so now, having some background, we can take a better look at one particular cloud provider. We will talk about why Amazon Web Services is currently so hot topic, a bit of history, some basic terminology, architecture, most important services and alternatives to AWS.
AWS is currently the most popular, largest and fastest growing cloud platform in the world. Since first quarter of 2016, Amazon is making more money on cloud services than on selling books. Check out this article if you want to know more about the numbers. Amount of organizations migrating their stuff to AWS and starting new projects there is growing so fast, that familiarity with this platform became very valuable skill on the IT market, and it’s a good investment for any software developer.
Rise of Amazon
History of AWS starts somewhere in the beginning of 21st century, with the realization, that the company need a clean, internal infrastructure as a service thing to operate more efficiently.
- 2003: A paper on infrastructure vision was presented by Benjamin Black and Chris Pinkham.
- 2004: SQS is the first experimentally available service. AWS blog is launched.
- 2006: AWS officially launches with S3 and EC2.
- 2007: AWS is publicly available to everyone. S3 region in Europe.
- 2008: Netflix announces migration to AWS, which is finalized 8 years later. EBS and CloudFront launch.
- 2009: Zynga and Reddit moves to AWS.
- 2010: Amazon.com fully migrated to AWS.
- 2011: AWS GovCloud dedicated to US government is launched.
- 2012: First Re-Invent conference.
- 2013: Certifications launched.
- 2015: AWS earns 6 billion $ per year and almost doubles every year.
- 2016: AWS scores as number one provider of IaaS for the sixth consecutive time in Gartner report.
AWS infrastructure is divided into geographical areas called Regions, which consist of data centers called Availability Zones. As of December 2016, there are 16 regions consisting of 42 availability zone. At least two new regions are scheduled to launch in 2017. Aside from that, there are 54 so called edge locations, that are used by content delivery network services to reduce latency to the customers. Currently, the AWS infrastructure is larger than entire Google infrastructure, which seemed to be unsurpassable few years ago.
At Your Service
After creating a free account and examining the management console, you can notice, that Amazon Web Services are currently divided into 18 categories. Let’s take a closer look at three most basic of them.
Compute is the core service category of AWS and provides various server capabilities. User is charged by EC2 instances and Lambda executions, but ECS, Beanstalk and Batch are assisting services that are free of charge.
- EC2 or elastic compute. Virtual servers coming in many sizes and optimized either for CPU / GPU power, memory or IO.
- Lambda allows for an execution of code as a response to an event from other services, without the context of web application or server and charged per request.
- ECS or EC2 Container Service. Allows to manage Docker containers and run them on EC2 instances.
- Elastic Beanstalk is an orchestration service bounding together several other services and simplifying applications deployment, provisioning and monitoring.
- Batch supports automatic provisioning of resources and management over massive batch jobs.
- Lightsail is a simple virtual private server.
Storage category comprises of various ways of storing data, depending on how it will be accessible. Trivia: Amazon is planning to get rid of all magnetic HDD in favor of SSD by the end of 2017.
- S3 or Simple Storage Service. Is a generic object store that can be used directly from the web or in conjunction with other services like EC2.
- EFS or Elastic File System. Used closely with EC2 instances as dedicated storage used to install operating systems and other software.
- Glacier is a very cheap backup storage with access time within counted in hours.
- Store Gateway supports integration of on-premise storage infrastructure with the cloud.
Networking category is all about moving data around: configuring sub-nets, connections, load balancing, routing, proxies etc.
- VPC or Virtual Private Cloud, let’s you define you own network environment within the cloud.
- Cloud Front is a Content Delivery Network dedicated to serving static content with maximum performance.
- Direct Connect is a generic connectivity service between local network and the cloud.
- Route 53 is a DNS service.
Is there any competition to AWS?
According to Gartner, Azure comes quite close, and is the only service classified as leader’s tier in the report. Then, there is a long gap, and Google comes third, and only one in visionary’s tier. Then again long gap, and then all the rest: Rackspace, CenturyLink, Virtustream, VMware, IBM, NTT and Fujitsu. In my current project, I happen to work on Google Cloud Platform, so perhaps I will come up with some kind of comparison between those two in a future article.
In the next episode, we will have a bird’s-eye view at other building blocks that AWS offers. Stay tuned and subscribe to get an email notification of new articles :)