Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS pioneered the introduction of IaaS clouds in 2006. AWS mission “Enable businesses and developers to use web services (what people now call “the Cloud”) to build capable, sophisticated applications.”
AWS is essentially is a self-service infrastructure outsourcing business. It’s the third segment of Amazon.com’s business – consumer business, marketplace and IT infrastructure.
AWS business model is utility computing. Simply put this is a business model for on-demand delivery of computing power; consumers pay providers based on usage (“pay-as-you-go”), similar to the way in which we currently obtain services from traditional public utility services such as water, electricity, gas, and telephony.
Rapid Business Model Shift. In the IT infrastructure industry we are seeing the value migration to cloud (or utility computing) models. The concept is that computing is always there like electricity. When plugging an electric appliance into an outlet, we care neither how electric power is generated nor how it gets to that outlet. This is possible because electricity is virtualized; that is, it is readily available from a wall socket that hides power generation stations and a huge distribution grid. When extended to IT, this concept means delivering useful functions while hiding how their internals work.
AWS is a very sophisticated model that allows systems to be built from distributed components such as processing, storage, data, and software resources. AWS offers a variety cloud services, most notably: S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers), Cloudfront (content delivery), Cloudfront Streaming (video streaming), SimpleDB (structured datastore), RDS (Relational Database), SQS (reliable messaging), and Elastic MapReduce (data processing).
The ElasticCompute Cloud (EC2) offers Xen-based virtual servers (instances) that can be instantiated from Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). Instances are available in a variety of sizes, operating systems, architectures, and price. CPU capacity of instances is measured in Amazon Compute Units and, although fixed for each instance, vary among instance types from 1 (small instance) to 20 (high CPU instance). Each instance provides a certain amount of nonpersistent disk space; a persistence disk service (Elastic Block Storage) allows attaching virtual disks to instances with space up to 1TB.
Elasticity can be achieved by combining the CloudWatch, Auto Scaling, and Elastic Load Balancing features, which allow the number of instances to scale up and down automatically based on a set of customizable rules, and traffic to be distributed across available instances. Fixed IP address (Elastic IPs) are not available by default, but can be obtained at an additional cost.
At the core, AWS provides the following features: multiple data centers available in the United States (East and West), Europe, Asia and Latin America; CLI, Web services (SOAP and Query), Web-based console user interfaces; access to instance mainly via SSH (Linux) and Remote Desktop (Windows); advanced reservation of capacity (reserved instances) that guarantees availability for periods of 1 and 3 years; 99.5% availability SLA; per hour pricing; Linux and Windows operating systems; automatic scaling; load balancing.
Case Study of Large Corporations
- Shell is apparently a big user of AWS since April 2010. It created a hybrid environment (AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)+ Traditional IT). For certain workloads like Dev/Test in Shell, AWS is the chosen model.
- Samsung is running several services on AWS. Example Smart-‐TV Hubsite: Samsung TV application, is on AWS. Saved CapE by $34M. Reduced OpEx by 85%
What does the future hold? The AWS Cloud is evolving quickly with new services, features, and tools. Each day AWS adds the equivalent server capacity to power Amazon when it was a global, $2.76B enterprise(circa 2000).
More and more common solutions and workloads are moving to the AWS Cloud: Big Data, Web Applications, Enterprise Applications, Disaster Recovery, and more. This is a game changer in my opinion that other traditional providers are going to work hard to match. Wish i had the foresight to buy Amazon.com stock in the 2008 crisis.
Notes and References
- See Amazon Web Services: A Quick Reference Guide
- Delivering computing as a utility is not a new concept. Technologies such as cluster, grid, and now, cloud computing, have all aimed at allowing access to large amounts of computing power in a fully virtualized manner, by aggregating resources and offering a single system view. Doing this in a global distributed scale is however a massive engineering feat that AWS is now mastering.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) characterizes cloud computing as “. . . a pay-per-use model for enabling available, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
- The roots of clouds computing lie in several technologies, especially in hardware (virtualization, multi-core chips),Internet technologies (Web services, service-oriented architectures, Web 2.0), distributed computing (clusters, grids), and systems management (autonomic computing, data center automation).
- AWS Regions — US East (Northern Virginia); US West (Northern California); Europe (Dublin); Asia Pacific (Singapore); Asia Pacific (Tokyo); Latin America (Sao Paolo, Brazil).