Amazon Web Services Overview

Most people know Amazon as a great place to buy products online, and possibly to soon get a drone to fly to your front door. What many people outside of the tech world don’t know is that Amazon also hosts a great deal of the content on the web and has a myriad of services under the umbrella of Amazon Web Services or AWS for short.

AWS is a very complicated array of services and even looking at all those icons, much less knowing what each one does is honestly still giving me a headache. So here is the dimestore version, AWS is a central portal for a growing array of Cloud-Based computing services. Cloud based essentially means things that the services are out there in the internet and not at your office. You access cloud based services through your computer, smartphone and other devices and they are great for certain applications.

This site is intended for SMBs and I’m going to focus on a few services that are probably of interest to you, some of the other ones may be more interesting to your web developer or other tech staff, but as an owner, knowing about these is a good step into learning about cloud computing.

Amazon EC2

This is the center that lets you manage and create virtual servers in the cloud. They range in power and configuration, but basically, instead of building a physical server at your office or going to a hosting company and getting limited access to a virtual or dedicated server there, you can launch a virtual server (instance) and have full root access to it via SSH as if it were sitting in your office. Well, almost. You do need to use a special command to get root privileges, and you can’t just flip a switch if something goes wrong, but in practice its the next best thing.

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The ec2 management panel makes it easy to create, manage, restart, clone and backup any of your instances. Some good uses for virtual servers are web servers and web application hosts since the cloud is generally more available and resilient than on-premises.

Amazon S3

At it’s most basic, S3 is a set of buckets to store your files on the web. These buckets are redundant and are a great place to back things up or store files in the cloud that you need access to from multiple devices. A lot of people set up servers to back up their data to S3 so that if a premises is damaged or compromised as secure, encrypted backup exists off site. S3 is very affordable and off-site backups are priceless in terms of peace of mind. You can even host a simple website right from an S3 bucket if all you need is a simple html directory.

Amazon Glacier

Glacier is where you can backup your data really cheaply if you don’t need it back in a hurry as requests for retrieving data take several hours to process.

Current data storage pricing at the time of this post is:

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Just doing the math for you to backup a 1TB dataset would be $95 per month on Standard and $10 a month on Glacier

Obviously this is just scratching the surface of what you can do with AWS, much more to come on this blog.

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