The Differences that Distinguish AWS
AWS is readily distinguished from other vendors in the traditional IT computing landscape because it is:
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The first key difference between AWS and other IT models is flexibility. Using traditional models to deliver IT solutions often requires large investments in new architectures, programming languages, and operating systems. Although these investments are valuable, the time that it takes to adapt to new technologies can also slow down your business and prevent you from quickly responding to changing markets and opportunities. When the opportunity to innovate arises, you want to be able to move quickly and not always have to support legacy infrastructure and applications or deal with protracted procurement processes.
In contrast, the flexibility of AWS allows you to keep the programming models, languages, and operating systems that you are already using or choose others that are better suited for their project. You don’t have to learn new skills. Flexibility means that migrating legacy applications to the cloud is easy and cost-effective. Instead of re-writing applications, you can easily move them to the AWS cloud and tap into advanced computing capabilities.
Building applications on AWS is very much like building applications using existing hardware resources. Since AWS provides a flexible, virtual IT infrastructure, you can use the services together as a platform or separately for specific needs. AWS run almost anything—from full web applications to batch processing to offsite data back-ups.
In addition, you can move existing SOA-based solutions to the cloud by migrating discrete components of legacy applications. Typically, these components benefit from high availability and scalability, or they are self-contained applications with few internal dependencies. Larger organizations typically run in a hybrid mode where pieces of the application run in their data center and other portions run in the cloud. Once these organizations gain experience with the cloud, they begin transitioning more of their projects to the cloud, and they begin to appreciate many of the benefits outlined in this document. Ultimately, many organizations see the unique advantages of the cloud and AWS and make it a permanent part of their IT mix.
Finally, AWS provides you flexibility when provisioning new services. Instead of the weeks and months it takes to plan, budget, procure, set up, deploy, operate, and hire for a new project, you can simply sign up for AWS and immediately begin deployment on the cloud the equivalent of 1, 10, 100, or 1,000 servers. Whether you want to prototype an application or host a production solution, AWS makes it simple for you to get started and be productive. Many customers find the flexibility of AWS to be a great asset in improving time to market and overall organizational productivity.
Cost is one of the most complex elements of delivering contemporary IT solutions. It seems that for every advance that will save money, there is often a commensurate investment needed to realize that savings. For example, developing and deploying an e-commerce application can be a low-cost effort, but a successful deployment can increase the need for hardware and bandwidth. Furthermore, owning and operating your own infrastructure can incur considerable costs, including power, cooling, real estate, and staff.
In contrast, the cloud provides an on-demand IT infrastructure that lets you consume only the amount of resources that you actually need. You are not limited to a set amount of storage, bandwidth, or computing resources. It is often difficult to predict requirements for these resources. As a result, you might provision too few resources, which has an impact on customer satisfaction, or you might provide too many resources and miss an opportunity to maximize return on investment (ROI) through full utilization.
The cloud provides the flexibility to strike the right balance. AWS requires no up-front investment, long-term commitment, or minimum spend. You can get started through a completely self-service experience online, scale up and down as needed, and terminate your relationship with AWS at any time. You can access new resources almost instantly. The ability to respond quickly to changes, no matter how large or small, means that you can take on new opportunities and meet business challenges that could drive revenue and reduce costs.
In the traditional IT organization, scalability and elasticity were often equated with investment and infrastructure. In the cloud, scalability and elasticity provide opportunity for savings and improved ROI. AWS uses the term elastic to describe the ability to scale computing resources up and down easily, with minimal friction. Elasticity helps you avoid provisioning resources up front for projects with variable consumption rates or short lifetimes. Instead of acquiring hardware, setting it up, and maintaining it in order to allocate resources to your applications, you use AWS to allocate resources using simple API calls.
Imagine what would happen to a traditional IT shop if traffic to an application doubled or tripled in a short period. For example, during benefits open enrollment periods, many corporate users generate significant traffic to internal applications. You need to be confident that your existing infrastructure can handle a spike in traffic, and that the spike will not interfere with normal business operations. Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling can automatically scale your AWS cloud-based resources up to meet unexpected demand, and then scale those resources down as demand decreases.
The AWS cloud is also a useful resource for implementing short-term jobs, mission-critical jobs, and jobs repeated at regular intervals. For example, when a pharmaceutical company needs to run drug simulations (a short-term job), it can use AWS to spin up resources in the cloud, and then shut them down when it no longer needs additional resources. When an enterprise has to quickly deal with the effects of natural disaster on its data center (a mission-critical job), it can use AWS to tap into new storage and computing resources to accommodate demand. Furthermore, AWS can preserve computing resources and reduce costs for regularly repeated tasks, such as month-end payroll or invoice processing.
AWS delivers a scalable cloud-computing platform that provides customers with end-to-end security and end-to-end privacy. AWS builds security into its services in accordance with security best practices, and documents how to use the security features. It is important that you leverage AWS security features and best practices to design an appropriately secure application environment.
AWS provides a low-friction path to cloud computing by design. Nevertheless, as with any IT project, the move to the AWS cloud should be done thoughtfully. You should hold your cloud-computing partner to the same high standards that you would expect of any hardware or software vendor. The trust that you place in your cloud-computing vendor will be critical as your organization grows and your customers continue to expect the best experience.
The AWS cloud provides levels of scale, security, reliability, and privacy that are often cost-prohibitive for many organizations to meet or exceed. AWS has built an infrastructure based on lessons learned from over sixteen years’ experience managing the multi-billion dollar Amazon.com business. AWS customers benefit as Amazon continues to hone its infrastructure management skills and capabilities. Today Amazon.com runs a global web platform serving millions of customers and managing billions of dollars’ worth of commerce every year. AWS has been operating since 2006, and today serves hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide.
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