AWS

AWS is one of the world's largest and most versatile cloud platforms, with a wide range of resources for deploying both applications and websites. But its scale and full-service approach make it much, much more than that.

You may be thinking, "OK. I understand the value of AWS as a cloud platform, and I understand why it is the best choice for deploying web-based applications and other services that must reach a broad range of locations. But can AWS really accommodate all of the needs of my business?"

The answer is yes. In this post, we will explain why you can and should run your entire business in AWS.

What Does Your Enterprise Need?

The main computing needs of the typical business can be broken down into a handful of basic categories:

  • Standard business and office services. This includes services traditionally provided by desktop applications, such as correspondence, spreadsheet-based calculations, small-scale database services, and the production of reports, charts and presentations. It also include services which are often outsourced, such as payroll.
  • High-volume core business functionality. This could include inventory, e-commerce, transaction processing, customer recordkeeping, and the frontend interfaces required by these services.
  • Industry and niche-specific services. These include such things as real-time data processing, streaming media delivery, multimedia production, product development, and many marketing-related services. These can also include specialised databases, specialised engineering and design software, and services which must comply with specific regulatory standards.
  • Infrastructure. This includes everything from local area networks to Internet-based operations and services, along with data storage and retrieval, long-term storage and backup, and the servers, resources, and underlying services required to support these functions.
  • Customised services specific to your operations. This is a broad-range category that can include applications developed in-house to perform specialised functions, as well as customisations of infrastructure and services listed in the other categories.

Can AWS actually support all of these basic needs? The answer may surprise you.

AWS and Infrastructure

You know that AWS provides excellent infrastructure, but you may not be aware of the extent of infrastructure-related services and support that are native to AWS. Along with operating systems (Linux and Windows Server), AWS includes a full range of application development tools and services, as well as extensive database, network, and security infrastructure services.

These include a full-service suite of tools for ongoing infrastructure deployment and development, as well as a wide range of migration services to help you move your existing operations into the cloud.

Infrastructure-level AWS services include flexible options for backup, and high-volume, relatively slow access-time data storage. This allows you to move away from on-premises backup and storage with its associated costs and drawbacks, such as high power consumption, maintenance, and its physical footprint.

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AWS and Business Software

AWS offers a wide variety of business applications, covering areas such as e-commerce, content management, and customer relations management. Along with backend office-related services, AWS provides a whole range of desktop applications and suites, including industry-standard office and productivity software, and applications for such key functions as business intelligence, project management, design, and billing and finance.

In addition to the standard applications and services offered through the AWS marketplace, you can also install your own licensed copies of the desktop applications which your operation requires. This means that you can bring your own key productivity, management, development, and design applications with you to the cloud, effectively reproducing your current office environment in AWS.

Customisation and Development in the AWS Environment

What about customised services and in-house software development? Needless to say, AWS offers a full range of software development and support services, along with a variety of options for deployment.

EC2 for Heavy Lifting

The highly scalable EC2 platform makes it easy to quickly spin up multiple instances of the operating system of your choice, running full container ecosystems. Whether you are providing web-based services to clients, or running customised applications for in-house use, the speed and flexibility of EC2 make it the natural choice for deploying even the largest and most complex applications.

Lambda for Background Services

For the development of small-scale, standalone applications and services, AWS Lambda provides a stripped-down, easy-to-use serverless platform. Lambda-based applications can be used as high-volume or resource-intensive background services on an as-needed basis, without tying up your large-scale EC2-based applications.

Even Heavier Lifting

AWS also provides a variety of services for specialised types of data acquisition and storage, including large-scale physical transport of data, if necessary. These and related services make the migration of even the largest and most storage-intensive data operations not only easy but also economical.

The Tradeoffs Are Easy

At this point, you may be wondering, "But what do we give up by making a full migration to AWS?"

The truth is that you don't give up very much at all. You can still maintain local physical backups of crucial data. In practice, you retain as much control over infrastructure, applications, and data as you would have with on-premises servers.

The level of security provided by AWS is extremely high, and the levels of virtualization which are built into the AWS infrastructure actually reduce attack surfaces in comparison to on-premises hardware. And of course, AWS handles all hardware-level IT services, eliminating in-house maintenance and component-replacement costs.

Services Plus Synergies

Taken individually, the services and features offered by AWS make up a package which is more than adequate to meet the IT needs of virtually any business. Working together, however, they add up to much more than that. The synergies provided by the close integration of AWS services, and by the overall architecture on AWS, make it not only possible but easy to innovate, to expand your IT Services, and to put into operation data processing, customer outreach, and creative services which previously existed only on your company's wish list.

This is true not only of the services offered as part of AWS, but also of the off-the-shelf and customised applications which you bring to the AWS ecosystem. The range and flexibility of the AWS infrastructure allow you to take full advantage of the API capabilities of any application running in that infrastructure.

In Good Company

Who is using AWS? You'd be surprised. You've probably heard of Netflix's migration of all of its business operations (with the exception of the proprietary Netflix video streaming technology itself) to the AWS platform, but you may not know about some of the other major, enterprise-level corporate players making good use of the resources offered by AWS.

  • Dow Jones, for example, now uses AWS for all of its traffic in Asia, including WSJ.Com. In addition, Dow Jones uses AWS for its internal chat and communication service, which it plans to make available to its customers in the near future.
  • Kellogg, which, like many high profile, consumer-oriented food product companies, must continually manage and track a wide variety of often complex product promotion programs and initiatives, has moved its data- and storage-intensive promotional tracking and analytics operations to AWS.
  • In addition, companies such as NASDAQ, Pinterest, and Yelp use Amazon Redshift, the rapid and highly scalable AWS-based data warehousing system, to quickly transfer, manage, and store high volumes of data in an environment which allows flexible queries and very rapid retrieval, along with high-volume, high-speed analytics.

The bottom line? There is simply no reason for most businesses to continue to maintain hardware-based IT on-premises, with its added maintenance and staffing costs, and its energy and floor-space footprint. With AWS, business IT become simply another low-overhead service, with a high degree of reliability, flexibility, and scalability, but without the expenses and maintenance problems that are all too typical of in-house IT. 

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  • Benjamin Wootton

    Co-Founder and CTO

    Benjamin Wootton is the Co-Founder and CTO of Contino. He has worked with tens of enterprise organisations on DevOps transformation and is a hands-on DevOps engineer with expertise in cloud and containers.

    More Articles by Benjamin