Getting Started with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Getting Started with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon is the biggest player in the cloud computing market today. While millions of users shop Amazon’s retail website every day, not everyone is aware that some of the most frequently used websites in the world are powered by a set of Amazon computing offerings called Amazon Web Services.

Amazon provides a collection of remote computing services (collectively called Amazon Web Services or AWS) that companies like Netflix, Reddit, and NASDAQ have used to build scalable businesses.

AWS offers a flexible, cost-effective, scalable and easy to use cloud computing platform which can used by individuals, educational facilities, and organizations of all sizes. AWS services can be used to store content in the cloud, run a static website, deploy and run an application in the cloud, manage large data sets, send bulk emails, and a lot more things.

AWS Services

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is AWS’s cloud computing platform, which allows users to use the computing resources to run their application. EC2 supports auto scaling by increasing the number of allocated computing resources when there is a demand peak and decreasing the allocated resource when the demand subsides. A user can create instances on the fly and only pay for the resources they consume.
  • Amazon Elastic Load Balancing can be used to distribute incoming application traffic across multiple EC2 instances to achieve better fault tolerance for your application, and increase the performance of your application. Elastic Load Balancing can detect unhealthy instances and direct traffic to healthy instances.
  • Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) supports handling large amounts of data using Hadoop clusters for providing data warehousing services in a cost-effective manner. EMR can be provisioned with scalable capacity to perform data-intensive operations without worrying about management or running of Hadoop clusters or hardware.
  • Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is used to provide logical isolation of computing resources running in AWS, allowing your application to be private to your organization. It supports IP range selection, creation of subnets and configuration of route tables and network gateways.
  • Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) service which supports reliable and cost effective ways to route traffic. Amazon Route 53 works in tandem with EC2, Elastic Load Balance and Amazon Simple Storage Service (which we will discuss below) to support applications to run reliably.
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) provides scalable storage in the cloud. S3 provides a simple web interface to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere.
  • Amazon Glacier is an extremely low cost storage services for data archiving and backup.
  • AWS Import/Export is used for moving large amounts of data into and out of AWS S3 using portable storage devices for transport.
  • Amazon CloudFront is Amazon’s content delivery network offering which is used to distribute content to end users with low latency and high data transfer speeds.
  • Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) allows users to easily set up and operate a relational database in the cloud. It supports Oracle, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server database engines.
  • Amazon DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data in a simple and cost effective manner.
  • Amazon CloudSearch is used to easily build search solutions in the cloud that can support searching across web pages, document files, forum posts, and product information.
  • Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWF) can be used to build custom workflows (a series of steps with decision steps) that can operation in a reliable and scalable manner.

Besides these services, AWS also offers services for message queuing (Simple Queue Service), sending email (Simple Email Service), push notifications (Simple Notification Service), and transcoding media (Elastic Transcoder)

Benefits of AWS

Using AWS is advantageous for the following reasons:

  1. Pay as you go model
  2. Scalable services
  3. Reliability
  4. No upfront infrastructure costs
  5. No operations costs beyond service charges.
  6. Proven model – Hundreds of businesses have leveraged AWS services successfully to run their businesses

How to Sign up

To sign up for AWS services, visit and click Sign up Now.


If you have an existing Amazon account, you can use that.

If you are interesting in evaluating AWS, you can try out the free tier.


There are 4 tiers currently available for AWS services.

  1. Free Tier
  2. Developer
  3. Business
  4. Enterprise

For developers, I recommend choosing the Free Tier or Developer tier.

Account Management

Once the signup is completed successfully, you can manage your AWS account at

Here, you can check on account activity and review charges to your account.

Accessing AWS

One can access AWS in any of the following ways:

  1. AWS Management Console – This is an easy to use Graphical interface to manage your AWS services. Almost all AWS services can be used from the AWS Management console
  2. AWS Command Line interface – This is a developer (geek) friendly way to access AWS services. All services support access through the command line. Command Line Interface would work for Windows, Linux as well as Mac devices.
  3. AWS SDK – AWS supports SDKs in Java, .NET, PHP, Android, iOS and Ruby which can be used to access AWS services.
  4. AWS Toolkits – AWS offers tools for Eclipse and Visual Studio that include programming libraries, and integrated ability to quickly deploy applications to AWS.
  5. AWS Web service APIs – Each AWS service supports API calls that developers can use to access the service.

Managing AWS Resources

Each AWS account has a set of security credentials associated with it that allow the account to manage AWS resources. AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) can be used to create sub-accounts to support restricted resource access control.


Help for AWS is available through the AWS Support team at, AWS Forums (, and documentation


In this article, we learned about Amazon Web Service offerings and how to get started with using AWS. I hope you have found this information useful.


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