AWS From A to Z


There are a LOT of AWS services to get to grips with. Inspired by AWS in Plain English, I’ve created my own list to make sure I know my Cloud Front from Cloud Trail and Athena from Aurora.


Alarm
Bucket
CLI
DB Snapshot
Edge Location
Firehose
Group
Hosted Zone
Image
Job flow
KMS
Lifecycle
Messages
NAT Gateway
On Demand Instance
Persistant storage
Query
Read replica
Scaling
Tagging
Unit
Virtual Private Cloud
WAF
X.509 certificate
Yobibyte
Zone

Alarm

Amazon CloudWatch collects and tracks metrics for your AWS resources.

If you are new to AWS you may want to add a Billing Alarm. It makes sure you don’t run into any unexpected charges as it’s easy to forget something is running.


Bucket

An S3 bucket is where objects are stored, similar to files and folders on your local machine. Each object consists of:

  • Key (the name of the object),
  • Value (the data in the file itself made of bytes),
  • VersionID,
  • Metadata

There are four storage tiers:

  • S3 – Most expensive and reliable option
  • S3:IA – For infrequently accessed files that are cheaper to store but if needed immediately incur a charge
  • Glacier – Extremely cheap long-term storage

CLI

The AWS CLI allows you to issue commands from the command line. It’s useful for uploading files to S3 buckets and launching EC2 instances.


DB Snapshot

Amazon RDS creates a storage volume snapshot of your entire instance. Creating this snapshot results in a brief I/O suspension that can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Multi-AZ DB instances are not affected by this I/O suspension since the backup is taken on the standby.

When you create a DB snapshot, you need to identify which DB instance you are going to back up.  Then give your DB snapshot a name so you can restore from it later. You can do this using the AWS Management Console, the AWS CLI, or the RDS API.


Edge location

Amazon CloudFront is the AWS CDN. It caches information closest to the user to the next user can download a copy faster. CloudFront can distribute content including dynamic, static, and streaming content from services like S3 or your own server.


Firehose

Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose is exactly what it sounds like, a reliable way to stream data in near real-time. Data can be streamed to S3, Redshift or Elasticsearch. Hearst Corporation used this service to build their data science capabilities and real-time data for decision makers.


Group

AWS Identify and Access Management allow you to securely control individual and group access to your resources. Users by default have no access until you assign them a role. Roles define a set of permissions for making AWS service requests.  Most often these are used to assign Groups of Users permissions to perform tasks or access services.


Hosted Zone

Amazon Route 53 is Amazons Domain Name System (DNS) web service. It gives developers a cost-effective way to route end users to Internet applications.

It translates domain names into IP addresses that computers use to connect to each other. AWS named the service Route 53 because all DNS requests are handled through port 53.


Image

An Amazon Machine Image is a type of virtual appliance used to create a virtual machine within the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). It serves as the basic unit of deployment for services delivered using EC2.


Job Flow

Amazon EMR provides a scalable framework so you can run Spark and Hadoop processes over an S3 data lake. The Run Job launches an Amazon EMR cluster and starts running steps based on the specified schedule. Once the job completes, the EMR cluster is terminated.


KMS

The AWS KMS Service makes it easy to create and control encryption keys. The service leverages Hardware Security Modules (HSM) under the hood which guarantees security and integrity of the generated keys.


Lifecycle

To manage your objects so they are stored cost-effectively, configure their lifecycle. A lifecycle configuration is a set of rules that define actions that Amazon S3 applies to a group of objects. For example, you might choose to transition objects to the Standard_IA storage class 30 days after you created them, or archive objects to the Glacier storage class one year after creating them.


Messages

Amazon SNS allows applications to send time-critical messages to multiple subscribers through a “push” mechanism. This eliminates the need to periodically check or “poll” for updates

Amazon SQS stores messages in a queue. Where it waits for an external service to poll SQS and grab messages from SQS.

By using Amazon SNS and Amazon SQS together, messages can be delivered to applications that require immediate notification of an event. Then persisted in an Amazon SQS queue for other applications to process at a later time.


NAT Gateway

A virtual private cloud (VPC) is a virtual network dedicated to your AWS account. It is logically isolated from other virtual networks in the AWS Cloud. You can launch your AWS resources, such as Amazon EC2 instances, into your VPC.

You can use a NAT device to enable instances in a private subnet to connect to the internet, but prevent the internet from initiating connections. A NAT device forwards traffic from instances in the private subnet to the internet or other AWS services, then sends the response back.


On-Demand Instance

There are four ways to pay for Amazon EC2 instances:

  • On-Demand – pay for capacity by per hour or per second depending on which instances you run.
  • Reserved Instances – provide a reservation at 75% off the On-Demand price, giving you confidence in your ability to launch instances when you need them.
  • Spot Instances – request spare Amazon EC2 computing capacity for up to 90% off the On-Demand price.
  • Dedicated Hosts – provide EC2 instance capacity on physical servers dedicated for your use.

Persistent storage

Amazon EBS is a persistent storage device that can be attached to a single EC2 instance to be used as a file system for databases and storage.

Amazon EFS is a managed, scalable network file system that can be shared across multiple Amazon EC2 instances.


Query

Amazon RDS makes it easy to provision a managed database instance in the cloud. At the time of writing the following database engines were available.

For cases when a NoSQL database is more appropriate AWS offers DynamoDB. Netflix uses DynamoDB to run it’s A/B testing and personalisation experiments.


Read replica

Read replication can be part of your disaster recovery plan. You can promote a read replica if the source database instance fails.


Scaling

Auto Scaling launches and terminates Amazon EC2 instances automatically according to user-defined policies. You can use Auto Scaling to maintain a fleet of AWS EC2 instances that can adjust to any presented load. You can also use Auto Scaling to bring up multiple instances in a group at one time.


Tagging

Using tags in your metadata helps to identify who is using each resource and gain control over costs. You can then use these in conjunction with the Monthly Billing Report


Unit

Metrics are the fundamental concept in CloudWatch. A metric represents a time-ordered set of data points that are published to CloudWatch. Think of a metric as a variable to monitor, and the data points represent the values of that variable over time.

Each data point has a time stamp and a unit of measure. When you request statistics, the returned data stream is identified by namespace, metric name, dimension, and the unit.


Virtual Private Cloud

A VPC is a virtual data centre which is a logically isolated section of AWS that can span availability zones. VPC’s are made of Internet Gateways, route tables, network access control lists, subnets, and security groups.


WAF

AWS WAF protects web applications from attacks by filtering traffic based on rules that you create.

AWS WAF can be deployed on Amazon CloudFront, protecting resources and content at the Edge locations.


 

X.509 certificate

You can use x.509 certificates in AWS Certificate Manager to identify users, computers, applications and other devices internally.


Yobibyte

OK, I cheated here, but this is a really interesting post that puts it all together: AWS Explained by Operating a Brewery


Zones

AWS hosts its infrastructure in data centres called Availability Zones (AZs). There are multiple AZs in a Region which means that if there is a problem in one AZ another can pick up the slack. For some services, you can host your application in multiple Regions.

 


 

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