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An introduction to Amazon Web Services - Everything you need to know

A comprehensive introduction to Amazon Web Services for IT professionals.

Published onMarch 1, 2021

What is AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the name of Amazon’s comprehensive suite of cloud tools for business and professionals, known as a “cloud platform.”

See also: What is Microsoft Azure? Azure certification for professionals

With an ever-growing number of companies relying on these types of services, familiarity with AWS is an increasingly sought after skill. If you are an IT professional, gaining AWS certification could increase the range of jobs you can apply for as well as your potential salary.

This post will serve as your broad introduction to AWS. You’ll learn what services the platform offers, how businesses use them, and how to learn the ropes.

What is AWS?

While most programs and apps you use daily run natively on your device, many of their most critical features are actually outsourced to remote servers.

Many of the most critical features of apps are actually outsourced to remote servers.

For example, if an app offers speech recognition, then the computation necessary to understand natural language will often require more power. Thus, your voice is recorded and sent securely (and anonymously) to a server to be interpreted by servers with built-in NPUs (neural processing units).

Likewise, any time you log-in with your Google or Facebook details, you are sending information off your device. That’s especially true when those accounts also store information about your app usage.

Cloud platforms simply provide these types of services to businesses. Those consist of both hardware and software solutions that work together to offer always-on solutions. Cloud platforms are sometimes referred to as “infrastructure as a service.”

Why businesses need cloud platforms

Amazon Web Services provides countless useful services for businesses. These include tools that offer security, backup, machine learning, hosting, and more. To this end, many companies that have an app, an interactive website, or an online/regularly updated software service (Software as a Service SaaS) require AWS products.

As an AWS-certified professional, it will be your job to help businesses set up these tools, to manage and maintain existing systems, and to diagnose issues that may occur.

Introduction to AWS

The competition

AWS is the most widely used cloud platform in the industry, with a significant lead over competitors like Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (AWS has a 33% market share).

Read more: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud – Which certification is best for professionals?

That said, each cloud platform has its unique benefits and drawbacks. Google Cloud is generally considered the go-to option for companies that need machine learning, thanks to its powerful Tensor Flow platform. Microsoft Azure, meanwhile, benefits from close integration with Microsoft’s other business products such as Office, Teams, etc.

See also: What is Google Cloud certification and should I get it?

How useful AWS certification proves to be will ultimately come down to which platform the employer chose to use. Where possible, IT pros should consider gaining certification in all three platforms. The more the merrier!

Services offered

AWS offers the most comprehensive range of services and tools of any cloud platform. Specifically, this entails over 175 different products. These range in complexity, price, and accessibility.

For example, AWS Lambda provides clients with an “event-driven, serverless compute platform.” This means you can run code on Amazon’s machines with no need to pay a fixed fee for hosting said code. You only pay as the code gets used! Using AWS Lambda requires programming knowledge, familiarity with JSON, and an understanding of APIs and servers.

Conversely, Amazon Chime is a straightforward conferencing service, similar to Zoom. Chime is free to use if you only need basic features, and you don’t even need an AWS account. However, it is still considered part of the AWS cloud platform.

Broad categories of services provided by AWS include:

AWS Free Tier

One of the biggest criticisms of AWS is the complex pricing strategy. Many users find that it’s difficult to anticipate precisely how much they will be charged for their use of the platform, especially as each product uses drastically different calculations. This is one of the advantages that products like Google Cloud offer over AWS.

Related: AWS Free Tier: what is it and who qualifies?

The good news is that there is a free tier for those looking to learn the ropes and try out the basic features. All first-time AWS users qualify for the free tier, and this will be applied to a new account by default. The bad news is that the free tier is confusing. Free tier only covers 85 of the 175+ products available. Different products within AWS free tier follow different rules, too. Many tools have multiple different limits based on both time and usage.

If you are a professional learning AWS for the first time, you will need a free tier account to begin learning. Just make sure you read the small print, or you could be hit with an unexpected bill.

How to get started with AWS

If you want to get started with AWS, then you should check out our guide to using AWS for beginners. Here, you’ll learn how to set up your AWS account and create your first Lambda script.

Next, consider purchasing an AWS course. The best courses provide a basic overview of the platform, but also provide specific exam preparation. This means you’ll be ready to sit one of the exams offered by Amazon to hopefully earn a professional certificate.

See also: The best AWS courses for professionals

We’ve partnered with some of the top course providers to offer massive discounts to Android Authority readers, so act quickly!

After that, you’ll be ready to attempt an exam. Amazon offers four different paths for professionals:

  • Cloud Practitioner
  • Architect
  • Developer
  • Operations

Which is right for you will depend on the type of work you wish to find, as well as your current level of expertise. You can learn more about the differences by checking our guide to AWS certification.

Don’t miss: What is AWS certification?

Closing comments

AWS certifications

So, that’s AWS at a glance! You should now have a good idea of what AWS offers for businesses and professionals. If you’d like to learn more, follow the links to check out AWS courses. It might just prove to be a great investment for your career!

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