Cloud-AWS 101

If you work in tech or if your job is remotely related to tech, I am sure that you have already come across or at least heard of the Cloud. If you are unsure of what the fuss is all about and how the cloud is going to revolutionize the way we design, build, and deploy software, well … this article is for you. So, what is the Cloud?

What is the cloud ?

Technically speaking the Cloud is defined as computing/storage/other services offered by third-party providers over the public Internet. It’s purpose is to delegate the undifferentiated heavy lifting of IT to the Cloud provider and allow companies to focus on their core business. Let’s take the example of an accounting firm. For the business to run, the firm needs application code to run on databases in order to keep track of client relationships; let’s say a basic CRM system. In order to put that in place, this firm would need to order servers, install the operating system and the required databases, patch those servers, and secure the infrastructure. With a Cloud offering, you can delegate all the nitty-gritty provisioning, installing, patching and securing operations to your Cloud provider. All of this is referred to as undifferentiated heavy lifting.

Another main advantage of the Cloud is that the compute/storage your company needs is available on demand and within seconds. All you have to do is create an account, connect to a console management and provision the machines that you need. You can build your startup in minutes. In comparison to the traditional way, which consists of ordering servers, waiting for them to arrive, installing the operation system and packages needed for the application to run, the process is very slow and can take up to 6 months. Most importantly, the Cloud does not require you to anticipate the amount of traffic that your new project would drive, as it is both scalable and elastic. You could find yourself in a scenario where you order 10 servers expecting your next application to be a big hit with a high daily traffic. However, you might realize that you have overestimated the success of your application and paid more than what you actually need (over provision). Even worse, your application might be the new unicorn that is attracting a lot of traffic. By only provisioning 10 servers, you are unable to scale and you would not be able to take all the load. Your only solution would be to order more physical servers and wait at least 6 months to meet your computing capacity (under provision). The point is, the Cloud offers several benefits, as listed below:

  • Computing on demand: you can ask for as much computing power as you need
  • Scalability: you can add more computing power to match the demand
  • Elasticity: you can reduce your computing power in times when not needed

We will explore in detail the scalability and elasticity of the Cloud in an upcoming dedicated article.

The last major advantage of the Cloud is that you can go global in few minutes. Imagine you are based in Europe and you want to expand to the US. Before the Cloud, you had to build a physical datacenter in the US in order to reach users with acceptable latencies. Nowadays, with the Cloud you can do it with a management console and some mouseclicks. Provisioning servers worldwide becomes a piece of cake.

In summary, the 4 main advantages of the Cloud are:

  1. Delegate the undifferentiated heavy lifting of IT so you can focus on creating value
  2. You pay for what you use (no over-provision or under-provision)
  3. You don’t have to pay for the hardware in advance
  4. You can go global in hours

Who are the main cloud providers on the market?

Amazon AWS (33% market share)

Microsoft Azure (20% market share)

Google Cloud (7%)

Alibaba Cloud (6%)

Others (34%)

What are the main types of cloud installation?

Public cloud: Computing, storage and other services offered by third-party providers over the public Internet.

Private cloud: Computing, storage, and other services environment made up of on-premises infrastructure using the provider services.

Hybrid cloud: Mixed computing, storage, and services environment made up of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and a public cloud with orchestration among the various platforms.

What’s Next?

Now that we have explored the very basics of the Cloud, let us focus on the most advanced Cloud provider available today with the richest offering: AWS or Amazon Web Services You would really be impressed with what AWS offers. We will explore these services in much more detail in upcoming articles, dedicated to each of the 4 core services listed below:

  • Core Compute Services (upcoming article next week)
  • Core Storage Services (upcoming article in 2 weeks)
  • Core Database Services (upcoming article in 3 weeks)
  • Core Networking Services (upcoming article in 4 weeks)

I am currently studying for the AWS Certified Cloud practitioner. I will benefit from this journey to share with you the rich environment and services that AWS offers. See you next week to explore together the core computing services of AWS.

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