Amazon Web Services Zoo

20 Apr

Episode 66

Two weeks ago we started our small AWS adventure with an introduction. Aside from basics we took a look at Compute, Storage and Networking. Week ago we went through Security, Databases, Migration, Developer and management tools and Messaging. Let’s continue with the rest of the list.


Artificial Intelligence category is where things are starting to get interesting. Those services are based on machine learning technology that has access to massive (and I mean massive) amount of data belonging to AWS users. Yes, AWS AI pokes into your data. No privacy, sorry.

  • Lex is speech recognition and natural language understanding service, powered by the same engine that sits behind Amazon Alexa.
  • Polly is a text to speech conversion service.
  • Rekognition is image recognition and tagging service.
  • Machine Learning is a tool, that supports building and running machine learning models.

Analytics category covers services that helps to get some insights into the data stored and being uploaded into the cloud.

  • Athena is a query service, that allows to use standard SQL to analyze data from S3.
  • EMR or Elastic Map Reduce is a big data framework management system, primary for Hadoop, but supporting also Spark, HBase, Presto and Flink.
  • CloudSearch is an AWS version of search engine meant to be integrated into applications.
  • Elasticsearch Service is, well… a managed elasticsearch service, suitable for log and big text analytics.
  • Kinesis is a platform for loading streaming data into AWS storage, database and analytics services.
  • Data Pipeline is a data processing and transformation service.
  • QuickSight is a high-level business analytic tool for visualizations.

Application Services category comprises of high-level application building blocks and orchestration. If you prefer clicking on diagrams instead of coding… More on the category in Episode 80.

  • Step Functions is a framework for orchestrating Lambda functions, so that they work as part of state machine.
  • SWF or Simple Workflow Service is about orchestrating background jobs, flows and batch processing.
  • API Gateway is an API management tool and an external facade for further processing via other AWS components.
  • Elastic Transcoder is a service, that performs conversion between various media formats, file types, resolutions etc.

Mobile Services category covers development, testing and monitoring mobile apps.

  • Mobile Hub is an orchestration / support service that organizes other components in this category.
  • Cognito manages users sign-up and sign-in to mobile apps, as well as data synchronization.
  • Device Farm is an automated testing service that uses vast array of models of mobile devices to ensure that your stuff work correctly (almost) everywhere.
  • Mobile Analytics tracks mobile apps usage, user retention and other metrics that can be used to optimize user engagement.
  • Pinpoint helps understand mobile apps user’s behavior and create targeted push notification marketing campaigns.


Business Productivity category is about mundane office software as a service, including:

  • WorkDocs is high-level storage, organizing and sharing service, somehow similar to Google Docs.
  • WorkMail is business email and calendar service.
  • Chime is conferencing / chat / communicating software.

Desktop & App Streaming category covers workstations virtualization.

  • WorkSpaces is a generic virtual desktops provisioning service, something useful if we want to save on powerful workstations under the desks (and piss off developers).
  • AppStream focuses on running and streaming single resource-heavy application. If we would like to play The Witcher III on uber settings on a computer that can barely run a browser, that’s something to try out. In theory.

Game Development category cover support for building and running games in the cloud.

  • GameLift is a solution dedicated to hosting session-based multiplayer games. Hey, Blizzard, maybe you should look into it when you will be launching Diablo IV or something, so that all that hyped millions of gamers can log in for the first time without looking for three hours at Error 37?
  • Lumberyard is a game engine integrated with Twitch.

IoT category is about dealing with massively growing number of devices connected to the internet, that don’t necessarily have a lot of computing power.

  • IoT Platform supports connecting devices to the cloud.
  • Greengrass is about synchronization of data with devices that lose internet access periodically and running some of AWS services locally when offline.
  • IoT Button is a support service for a small physical device – the AWS Dash Button.

Last but not least, just one position in this category.

  • Connect is an automated call center platform, or broadly speaking customer contact center, including chat and voice bots based on Alexa.

Are we there yet?

Yes, we are. Mostly. This is a combination of a walk over the current AWS console that you can explore after creating an account, and product categories at AWS homepage. Most of them overlap, some are present in one place, but not in the other, some are subcategories of other subcategories.

The goal now (and last week, and the one before) was to give a very brief, general overview of what AWS has to offer, trying to sift all the marketing babble there is. Yes, everything is flexible, scaleable, easy, fast, cheap, fault tolerant, your 3-year-old can configure it in five minutes, blah, blah, blah. I’m kind of reluctant to some high-level ideas, since I believe that creating software systems is more about coding than dragging and dropping, but nevertheless there is a lot of stuff we can use, at various levels of abstraction, without reinventing the wheel all over again. Don’t get lost / eaten in the rain forest, subscribe if you like the content, and see you next week!


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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in AWS, Cloud, Technology


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