It has become a common phrase for someone to say that they are doing something “in the cloud”. Cloud computing has become an essential aspect of modern computing and is being utilized by both private and public users. But what is cloud computing exactly? Cloud computing is a term used for any type of process or computing which is hosted through the internet. At present, there are many services and processes provided by cloud service providers. For example, data storage and maintenance can be provided and hosted by a cloud service provider instead of having it in-house with an IT staff and physical servers on premises. Software and programs can also be provided within the cloud. Many computer-based technologies can be hosted within the cloud including services like email, data, office productivity tools and other communication software.

Image credit: www.forbes.com

Image credit: www.forbes.com

What Is Amazon Web Services?

As one of the pioneers of cloud computing, Amazon Web Services, or AWS is described as a collection of remote computing services or web services that make up a platform for cloud computing. This platform is offered and provided over the internet by the parent company Amazon.com. It can also be described as an evolving and comprehensive cloud computing platform.

The most well-known and central platforms are Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2. The Amazon service is marketed as being able to provide a large computing capacity, which is faster and more affordable as compared to building a physical server farm. The first AWS services were launched in 2006 to provide online services for client-based software, applications and websites.

The Amazon Web Services are spread across different regions to minimize the impact of possible outages and to ensure the robustness of the different systems. The regions are divided into central hubs which include Eastern USA, Western USA, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Ireland, China and Singapore. Each of these regions are made up of smaller geographic areas known as availability zones. Each of these regions is contained within a single country, thus all of its services and data stays within the designated region. These regions have multiple availability zones with distinct data centers that provide AWS processes and services. To prevent the outages from spreading between zones, each availability zone is isolated from one another.

The History Of Amazon Web Services

Amazon officially launched its cloud in 2006 and ever since, it has dominated the cloud industry. AWS’s APIs is the de facto standard within the cloud industry and almost all well-known start-ups has used its services. Many organizations and enterprises are falling in line to acquire their affordable infrastructure-as-a-service technologies (IaaS) that range from basic data storage to advanced data analytics. Because of its scale, AWS is gaining a big lead over its competition. Most of the services provided are not directly exposed to users, but offer functionality that other expert developers can use in building their applications. The services are accessed through HTTP using the SOAP and REST protocols. All services and processes are billed based on their usage. Usage billing will differ from service to service.

Chronological Facts And History of AWS

  • 2003: Benjamin Black and Chris Pinkman presented a paper that envisioned Amazon’s retail computing infrastructure which was automated, standardized and relied on web services extensively for processes like storage. They mentioned the possibility of selling services like virtual servers and mentioned that the company will generate greater revenue from the new infrastructure.
  • 2004: The first service launched was called Simple Que Service. This service was built by a team in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • 2007: Amazon stated that 180,000 developers signed up for AWS.
  • 2010: all Amazon.com retail web services transferred to AWS.
  • 2011: some parts of AWS suffered major outages. A part of the volume that utilizes the EBS or Elastic Block Store was stuck and so was unable to read and write requests. It took 2 days for the problem to be fixed.
  • 2012: another major outage occured. It affected many sites including popular sites like Pinterest, Reddit and Foursquare. A latent bug in an operational data collection agent was the cause of the crash.
  • November 2012: AWS hosted the 1st customer event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • December 2012: another major outage occured, affecting such sites as Netflix as well as other sites in North-eastern US. Issues with the Elastic Load Balancing service was the main cause of the crash.
  • 2013: Amazon Web Services started offering certification programs for computer engineers who are experts in cloud computing.
Image credit: usum.in

Image credit: usum.in

Amazon Web Services As Seen By Experts

According to Carl Brooks of Tier 1 Reasearch, cloud computing and infrastructure analyst, “Amazon invented the business we have now. The company did not cannibalize the business from other hosting services and providers. The large amount of revenues that comes into being basically new and within the IaaS niche, there is no competition specifically when you account their scale”.

Most experts also agree that one AWS advantage over competitors is their retail background which they apply in retail economics. Price cuts and lowest common denominator services are just a few of their retail economics. The company only builds technologies where they see a definite demand and identifying possible potential consumers of their services and targeting them with a process that makes cloud transition easier. Since Amazon has added a constellation of services to its cloud, it has fostered the creation of 3rd party ecosystems like the Amazon-enabled apps through their AWS marketplace. When different businesses look at the cloud, they are able to see that there are only a few options that can equal Amazon Web Services.

The AWS  Scale Advantages

Because of the scale of Amazon, the company is able to monitor the different types of processes and jobs to create and then launch products and service responses to the demands of customers. Because of their large scale operations, Amazon has a natural research and development advantage over their competitors. As stated by researcher Dave McCrory, “Amazon is so large that they have leverage over what’s being used by developers and the whole cloud ecosystem”. One example of this is the creation of the workflow service in response to startups that develop technology and then sell to AWS clients. The creation and eventual development of this technology ecosystem has two advantages for Amazon – it provides more services, resulting in more ROI and the binding of different companies more tightly into its own system.

Amazon is promoted as the “iPhone of cloud” because of its dominance in today’s market. The company’s scale, the set of overlapping strategies that focus on both online developers and the largest organizations and enterprises, is an indication of its benchmarking capabilities. It’s because of these reasons that competitors are still trying to find ways to take the lead from Amazon.

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.