5 Essential AWS Services for Cloud Admins
About 16 years ago, Amazon.com launched a little-known and seemingly insignificant side business. That side business was Amazon Web Services (AWS), although it didn't have that name at the time. In the early 2000s, the internal systems developed to support their e-commerce aspirations slowly changed into internal infrastructure services accessible to their software engineers.
What began out of a necessity to address the exponential growth and scale that Amazon experienced sprouted into something far more extensive. Fast forward to today, and AWS is far more than a side business. It's become the global leader in providing cloud-based services.
As recently as the last decade, there has been a significant shift in IT as businesses move from localized data centers to cloud-based services. There are plenty of opportunities for the IT professional to engage in a full-fledged career shift or gain new skills through micro-credentials working with cloud-based services, specifically within the AWS environment.
Understanding AWS Basics
The primary mission of AWS is to allow organizations and companies to run applications using AWS's technology infrastructure, what is known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). AWS advertises itself as the "world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform," boasting over 200 services across a global infrastructure.
The services offered vary from computing, storage, and databases, to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things. The scalability for many of the services is flexible and secure enough to meet the technological and business requirements from startups to large enterprises.
The cloud service industry is forecasted to grow from $445.3B to $947.3B by 2026. AWS has remained the leader in cloud services and experienced an average rate of 30% growth in recent years. By many accounts, AWS owes a solid third of the overall market.
Understanding AWS's dominance in the cloud services market makes it easy to see why many companies choose AWS over its competitors. Even with the suite of services offered, there are several reasons why AWS remains the IaaS provider of choice.
A strong factor is the pay-as-you-go business model. This is a cost-effective way for many companies to pay only for the services they need. Another strong reason customers choose AWS is the ease of use and access to data and services. As companies grow and application demands increase, AWS services scale up or down based on these needs or requirements.
Five Essential Cloud Services
AWS offers a wide range of products and services that appeal to many different businesses across nearly every industry. For IT professionals looking to pivot to a career developing or supporting AWS environments, there are a few essential, foundational services to know.
The bedrock of many AWS environments, Compute products and services start with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Amazon EC2 offers virtual cloud servers that are secure and scalable. They support many of the most popular processors, including Intel, AMD, and ARM. Amazon EC2 virtual servers are excellent for application development and migration and can run macOS for Apple projects.
Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling is a service that will dynamically scale computing needs, up or down, to meet usage demands. Many of the computing, memory, and storage services provide an optimized performance tailored to workloads that help maintain or improve performance.
Amazon AWS provides several different types of cloud-based database services. Aurora, RDS, and Redshift are the main choices for traditional managed relational database and data warehousing services. Amazon RDS supports popular SQL databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB. For those looking for specific data models and flexible schemas, AmazonDB is a NoSQL, non-relational database.
Other supported database types include key-value, in-memory, and graph. For a business that needs to store data and does not frequently access it, Amazon DynamoDB Standard-IA provides this service.
3. Security, Identity, & Compliance
As with any environment, in the cloud or otherwise, security, identity, and compliance are significant factors. AWS provides many choices and services that offer the right level of cybersecurity for a business. One of the main layers of security is identity and access management. Amazon Cognito, Single Sign-on, and Identity & Access Management are all services that provide account access and security.
Other services focus on data protection, threat detection, network and application protection, and data privacy compliance. AWS Key Management Service is a free service that manages the creation and control of encryptions data keys using hardware security modules. AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) filters malicious web traffic to protect applications and APIs.
Data-driven information and decisions are a significant part of any business's strategic growth and customer engagement. AWS offers a broad selection of analytical services that are scalable and designed to fit the analytical data needs of companies of varying sizes.
Amazon Athena is an interactive SQL query service. Amazon Kinesis is a service for organizations that need to analyze real-time data. Insights from Kinesis include video, website traffic, and Internet of Things telemetry. AWS analytics also offers scalable data lakes to store and process large amounts of data.
AWS analytics provides plenty of customization for businesses to define and manage their analytical needs. Other analytical services include Amazon Redshift for data warehousing needs and AWS Glue and Glue Databrew for cleansing, normalizing, and moving data. AWS Database Migration Services replicate data from SQL and NoSQL databases to move them to data stores and analytical systems.
5. Front-End Web & Mobile
The Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that supports the end-to-end process for application development. The strength of the API Gateway is its ability to process large amounts of RESTful or WEBSOCKET API calls. Amazon Location Service is a way for developers to add location functionality to websites and applications, a critical data point for many businesses.
Getting Started with AWS
Deciding to embark on a journey to learn AWS and gain certification in this rapidly growing industry is an excellent way for IT professionals to diversify their experience and resume. Cloud-based services are quickly becoming the preferred choice for business, and AWS looks to continue leading the market share.
There are several ways to gain AWS training and certification. Amazon AWS offers a wide range of training options, including certification programs, focused training courses, and partner training. AWS Academy provides higher education schools with a cloud-computing curriculum. Perhaps more for the junior IT professional, AWS Educate is a free, self-paced program geared towards beginners.
Going through AWS is far from the only way to skill up on cloud-based training or certifications. Local colleges or universities may offer stand-alone courses or even full-fledged degrees. Another popular option is exploring what dedicated IT training companies provide, such as CBT Nuggets. We offer a host of training and certification options geared for a career in the cloud. With AWS, students have plenty of choices on their learning path. Whether a beginner, skilled practitioner, cloud engineer, or architect, we have course offerings specifically for your field. For the cybersecurity-focused or AWS developers, we have plenty of material for you.
There's never been a better time for IT professionals to position themselves for a career in the cloud.