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What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

Zach Cabading
Reading time: 5 minutes
Amazon has come a long way since the days when it only sold books. Nowadays, it seems like you can buy anything and everything from the online retailer. But did you know that Amazon also offers a variety of web services for businesses? Their slew of offerings is known collectively as Amazon Web Services (AWS).
AWS has a huge number of programs that can help your business scale functionality, lower IT costs, and maximize its efficiency. Let’s dive into all the things Amazon Web Services can do and answer your questions about it.

What is Amazon Web Services?

Amazon Web Services has a wide array of cloud computing services. If you’re unfamiliar with cloud computing, here’s a quick breakdown for you.
Cloud computing is when you can store and access data over the internet rather than on a computer hard drive. When you save a file on your computer, the file is stored on the hard disk inside. But if you were to save a file on the cloud, it would be stored on a separate server that’s located elsewhere - possibly hundreds or even thousands of miles away from you. But you can easily access your stored data over the internet.
Popular cloud services include Google Drive and Dropbox. The difference between those services and Amazon Web Services is that AWS is specifically designed for businesses. Sure, you can store small files and documents on an AWS server. But AWS is really designed to handle large swaths of data - it can run mobile applications, enterprise applications, and even websites.

How can I use AWS with my website?

You can host your website on an AWS server, but AWS also enables you to get analytics on your website. The Amazon Athena program makes it easy for you to run SQL queries on your website so you can quickly and easily acquire data sets you need for marketing and business development.

What does “scalability” mean?

Businesses can really benefit from AWS because it offers them scalability with their network infrastructure. “Now what the heck does that mean?” you ask.
Think about it like this. When a company first starts up, they need to decide what size office they’d like to rent. They don’t want to rent an office that’s too small, because if the company expands then they won’t have enough space for more employees. But they don’t want to rent a space that’s too large, either. Larger offices cost more money, and it would be wasted money if the company doesn’t wind up filling the space.
The same problem occurs with servers. Website and application servers cost a lot of money to set up and maintain, and it’s difficult for a company to determine how much server infrastructure it will need to handle future growth in web traffic.
Amazon Web Services is “scalable” because it enables businesses to easily and inexpensively expand or reduce their server infrastructure. Amazon owns a huge number of servers that businesses can rent out, and businesses can rent more or less storage space depending on their needs. It’s much cheaper than having to install additional servers on-site, and it’s less risky from a cost-management perspective.

Is AWS secure?

Security might be a top concern for anyone unacquainted with AWS. After all, AWS infrastructure is located off-site, and the data has to travel across the internet to reach your computer. However, AWS has plenty of great security features that will ensure your data is protected.
First, know that AWS servers are spread out across 12 global regions, and each region has multiple server facilities. Because the physical storage locations are diversified, your data is granted extra security from cyber attacks and on-site malfunctions.
Second, AWS servers utilize advanced encryption techniques that keep your data private and undecipherable as they travel across the web. And Amazon constantly maintains the servers to ensure they’re working properly and that they’re safe.
Third, Amazon Web Services does allow businesses to establish private and hybrid cloud servers. A private cloud server is a cloud server that’s maintained on-site at the company facility. A hybrid cloud server enables a company to have some cloud computing services managed on-site, while other cloud computing services are managed by an AWS server facility. These options let businesses establish additional protections for data that’s ultra-sensitive.
Last, but not least, AWS provides secure migration and transfer services if you need to transfer data from one database or server to another. They can do it in a way that keeps your data safe from accidental deletion.

What else can I use AWS for?

AWS has a wide array of integrated programs that can help your online-oriented company. Here are just a few of the areas in which AWS can boost your business:

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are some of today’s most exciting technologies. You can design your own AR and VR experiences with Amazon Sumerian, which is part of AWS. With Sumerian, you’re able to create virtual environments to explore in VR platforms like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The interface is very simple so you don’t need to have any expertise in VR design. You can use VR environments to assist in:
  • Employee education
  • Training simulations
  • Field service productivity
  • Virtual concierge operations
  • Design for creative professionals
  • Retail and sales

Business applications

AWS has a few business applications you can use in the office. Alexa for Business has business-optimized tools for the Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, which can help you and your employees improve your workflow in the office. Additionally, you can improve the ease of conference calls by using Amazon Chime, and you can enjoy an integrated email and calendar system with Amazon WorkMail.

Customer engagement

Amazon Web Services makes it easy for your business to launch customer engagement initiatives. You can use Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) to manage email marketing campaigns, or you can use Amazon Pinpoint to personalize user engagement across channels.
There’s so much more you can do with AWS. Visit the website to view all of their available programs.

Azure vs. AWS

Microsoft Azure also offers cloud computing services for businesses, and it’s often compared with Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services has a much larger selection of cloud computing services that can assist businesses in many different fields, and for that reason, it’s much more popular than Azure. But one advantage that Azure has is that it integrates all of Microsoft’s applications, which could be very useful for you if your business has Windows-based computers.
Check out the AWS website to see Amazon Web Services in action. Their cloud computing services can drastically improve the way your business manages its data.

About the Author

Zach Cabading is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Zach is a content creation specialist based in Southern California, and creates a variety of content for the tech industry.

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