Learn How to Speak AWS
At our July Orange Slice, we accepted the challenge to talk about AWS in fifteen minutes or less. While this was a rather daunting task considering the breadth and depth of all the different services and topics we could have talked about, we decided the most beneficial way to meet this challenge would be to help all of us teammates to walk away being conversant in key AWS terms.
So, in fifteen minutes, we take you through a 15,000 ft overview of AWS services from EC2 to IAM and CloudWatch, so you too can learn how to speak AWS. We have included both the video and the slides, as well as a few main takeaways below the video to help you along the way.
Tech Talk Video: Learn How to Speak AWS
If you want to see the entire presentation, click on the slides below.
Most of the government, and a lot of the commercial world are turning to the Cloud. It’s very important to know some of the general concepts of why they’re going to the Cloud, so we’ll look at that first.
Benefits of the Cloud
- High Availability – Up times tend to be more reliable
- Fault Tolerance – with replication across several different data centers
- Elasticity – You don’t have to plan for capacity, you can scale quickly
- Cost Savings – Avoiding capital expenditures, overspending, and capitalizing on economy of scale
Breaking Down AWS Terms Using a Traditional Web Architecture
We’ll walk through and replace the front-end components one by one looking at the AWS equivalent. The good news is that for most of these terms you’ll already know the concepts, its just learning the terminology for them.
Virtual Machines > Elastic Compute Cloud Instances
First, we’ll start with your Virtual Machines (VMs) that are running your Tomcat or your Solr Clusters. In AWS those are Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. EC2 instances act just like other Virtual Machines, creating and destroying them on the fly.
Very tightly coupled to them is Elastic Block Store (EBS). EBS Volumes are basically your removable disk drives that attach to your Virtual Machines. They give you the flexibility to setup your disk volume. Then, if you need to grow your instance, blow away your instance, or create a larger one with more RAM or more CPU, and then reattach your EBS Volume to it.
Load Balancer > Elastic Load Balancing
Next, you may have a Load Balancer that distributes traffic across your cluster. In AWS that’s your Elastic Load Balancing (ELB). It behaves just like you would expect.
Admin Page > AWS Console
Next, you may have an admin page that allows your administrator to bring Virtual Machines up, or take them down. In AWS that’s the AWS Console, aka “CAP.”
Roles Page > Identity Access Management
Now you could have a Roles Page that allows your administrators to manage different accesses and roles. In AWS this is called your Identity Access Management (IAM). IAM also controls user policies and services. So for example, you can set that some EC2 instances can have read only access to certain things and then some EC2 instances can only write. So different services can actually have different permissions inside your cloud.
Auditing > CloudTrail
After that we have Auditing of course and in AWS that’s called CloudTrail. CloudTrail only logs the different management of your services, so if someone takes down a Virtual Machine or EC2 instance, it would log that. It doesn’t necessarily log what goes on inside your EC2 instance.
Mail Notifier > Simple Notification Service
Next, your Mail Notification System in AWS you can use Simple Notification Service (SNS) for that. SNS actually provides more than just email notifications. It can also provide text or Apple and Android notifications, pushing them out to your administrators or even your users.
Breaking Down AWS Terms from the Back-End
Virtual Machine Cluster > EC2 and EBS
Now looking at the back-end, you’d have your Virtual Machine Cluster and again you’d replace that with EC2 and EBS.
Queue > Simple Queue Service
You may have a queuing service like ActiveMQ, that sends messages or allows you to share messages between your different services. In AWS this is simply called Simple Queue Service (SQS).
Memory Cache Database > ElastiCache
Then you may have a memory cache database that perhaps caches queries for your relational database so that you can instantly return results without having to go into the database. In AWS this is provided by ElastiCache. In ElastiCache you can even chose which engine, either Redis or MCacheD for the underlying engine.
Database > Relational Data Service
Next, for the database they provide Relational Data Service (RDS). Similar to ElastiCache, with RDS you can chose between six different database engines. You can chose between several different options like MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle.
NoSQL Database > DynamoDM
Next, for your NoSQL Database, Amazon provides DynamoDB.
File Stores > Simple Storage Service
Then, your file stores, where you’ll be storing your files which is very important, you’d use Simple Storage Service (S3). S3 is a core component of AWS. It’s a key store, so it’s not a file system. S3 is fantastic for serving static content, but you do not want to run a file system off of it, or anything that you’re rapidly changing.
Tape Archive > Glacier
After that we have your Tape Archive. The equivalent for AWS would be Glacier. Glacier is super cheap to store things long term, however, as the name sounds it is very slow. It can also get very expensive if you’re pulling lots of data out frequently, so its best to use Glacier for backups.
Virtual Private Cloud
Lastly, we have your Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Another very critical component in AWS which gives you the ability to make private clouds and private clusters inside your one account. So you can have several VPCs and it’s a logical way to distinguish between them. So very often you’d have a production VPC, a development VPC, and a test and integration VPC, which you can associate different security policies to each as well.
In the video, we also compare the different storage options listed above (EBS, S3, Glacier) since Amazon really does provide you with different options for different scenarios. As well as, define and compare some other AWS terms like Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), CloudFormation, CloudTrail, and CloudWatch.
We hope you enjoyed this video and that you are now more prepared to converse in all the above AWS terms.