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Career Column: Amazon Web Services


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Amazon Web Services is a cloud-based service that allows people to deploy a full range of computing infrastructure to host web applications. AWS consists of a wide range of different services that allow for complete control over the server computing environment. This makes it ideal for many companies as deploying a web application on AWS is significantly cheaper than building and hosting physical web infrastructure. AWS is rather multifaceted, and an overview of Amazon Web Services can help people better understand how this technology can be beneficial.

Overview of Amazon Web Services

  • EC2
  • EC2 stands for Elastic Cloud Compute, and it is the central element of AWS. This lets people create Virtual Private Severs that can run a wide range of operating systems. These are known as instances, and they are hosted in Amazon data centers for high availability. When creating an EC2 instance, it is necessary to select the zone where it will be hosted. There are nine of these located all around the world, and it is best to choose a zone that is near where users will be located. EC2 pricing is based on the type of instance needed, and people can choose the amount of computing resources that they will require. There are a number of different types of instances that range from relatively low-powered VPSs to those that are capable of handling large amounts of traffic. Elastic IPs allow EC2 instances to have a static IP address, and these are free as long as they are attached to a running instance. In addition, it is possible to use Elastic Load Balancer when applications are distributed amongst multiple servers.

  • S3
  • S3 is short for Simple Storage Service, and it gives people a cheap and secure way to store static files. Individuals may use S3 in conjunction with both applications that are hosted on AWS in addition to those that are hosted elsewhere. S3 files are held in what is known as a bucket, and each Amazon account can have up to 100 buckets with an unlimited number of files.

  • RDS
  • RDS is the preferred way to host a database on Amazon Web Services. While it is possible to host an application and database on the same instance, this can become a problem when scaling infrastructure later on. RDS stands for Relational Database Service, and it creates a separate instance for relational databases. Supported databases include SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL and MySQL. Amazon DynoDB is a similar service that allows people to use NoSQL databases within Amazon Web Services.

  • ElistiCache
  • People who would like to use caching on AWS can use ElastiCache. This service supports both Redis and Memcached. While it is possible to run caching directly on a server instance, ElistiCache is a very convenient way to share caching when running applications on multiple instances.

  • SQS
  • Simple Queue Service allows people to take care of background tasks in AWS. This reasonably priced service is similar to storing queued tasks in Redis, but it only retains messages for 14 days and only gives developers the ability to delay messages for 15 minutes. Applications will need to be written specifically to interact with SQS, but there are relatively simple ways to do this in most popular web programming languages.

    Elastic Beanstalk

    Elastic Beanstalk is a free abstraction layer that allows people to create and provision EC2 instances in addition to deploying them using the command line. This can greatly speed up the time that it takes to set up everything needed for a customized server environment. Elastic Beanstalk supports a number of languages that include .NET, Java, PHP and Ruby on Rails.

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