As mentioned many times in this space, cloud-based services are becoming increasingly attractive to businesses of all sizes for all kinds of applications, from web servers and e-commerce to big data, machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT). With its convenience, security, flexibility, and low cost, cloud has many advantages over building, equipping, and staffing an on-premise data center.
Recognizing this, AndPlus has been leveraging the cloud for our clients for several years. On Amazon Web Services (AWS) alone, we have deployed over 200 solutions, with no signs of slowing. In fact, as AWS continues to add features and services, there’s good reason to believe that there will only be more deployments for our clients in the future.
What Is AWS?
AWS gets a good deal of press, but to the average person, many business leaders, and even some IT people, it’s not all that clear what it is or how to take advantage of it. Part of the problem is that the service offerings are so numerous. So, by way of providing some clarity, here’s a breakdown.
At its most basic, AWS is a global network of data centers populated with high-performance server hardware. With this hardware and high-speed network connections, AWS is able to offer a large array of services:
- Compute. From general-purpose Windows and Linux servers to specialized arrays of graphical processing units (GPUs) for serious number-crunching, AWS Compute services enable computing capacity that can automatically scale up (or down) depending on the subscriber’s demands. Compute services also support Docker and Kubernetes containers.
- Storage. AWS offers scalable storage for any application, including garden-variety shared folder hosting, backup, archiving, and more. AWS can even provide on-premise storage devices that can collect terabytes of data before being shipped to AWS for transfer to cloud storage.
- Database. The AWS Database portfolio includes several different solutions, including traditional database services such as SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL; non-relational databases, such as NoSQL; and petabyte-scale data warehousing.
AWS also offers numerous specialized services, such as cloud migration assistance, content delivery networks, game development environments, streaming services, security services, and more.
From an application development and deployment perspective, there are numerous benefits to AWS:
- Ease of experimentation. AWS makes it easy to spin up and configure a server, take a snapshot (a stored summary of the server’s configurations), and deploy an application on it as a proof of concept. If things go awry, it’s a simple matter to get rid of it and restore the snapshot on a new server instance.
- Scalability. Your server environment can grow as your needs grow. Need more CPU or GPU cores? Done. More memory and disk space? Done. All without requiring anyone to set foot in a data center for hardware upgrades.
- High availability. The global AWS network of data centers means that your environment can be replicated many times over, so that there’s always an instance ready to take over seamlessly if something goes wrong.
- Security. As mentioned previously in this space, security for your environment can be as tight or lax as you need.
Perhaps the best part: Subscribers pay only for the resources they use. Thus both the up-front and ongoing costs are quite low compared to setting up similar capabilities in your own data center.
AWS is able to keep its pricing competitive because it automates much of the administration of its services. Creating, configuring, updating, and (if necessary) destroying server instances are all completely automated, along with such functions as resource scaling and installation of software from its Marketplace service.
Is There a Downside?
The disadvantages of AWS are few. There have been occasional outages affecting one or more AWS services, some of which have affected major websites. However, the risk of such an outage is vanishingly small compared to the risk of an outage at your own data center.
Overall, the risks are low and the benefits are compelling, and that’s why more of our clients are interested in seeing what the cloud can do for them. We will be happy to explore cloud solutions for your business problems, too. Whether you’re a two-person startup or a major corporation, we can build a cloud-based solution that’s right for you.