How to Make the Most of an AWS Deployment

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Cloud computing is now a standard part of digital workflows. If you watch Netflix or visit LinkedIn, you’re using Amazon Web Services, also known as AWS. Cloud computing has hidden challenges. It takes an expert to guide you through the cloud journey.

Cloud computing is revolutionary, but it’s not exactly user friendly. There are a lot of AWS services to choose from, and you need to know which ones are right. Otherwise, you might rack up a major bill. Cloud services are not set it and forget it.

Keith Gregory is the AWS technical practice lead at Chariot Solutions. He has a dozen years experience working with AWS services. “When I first heard about AWS, I was putting together some demo applications. And this was back when the only services were EC2 and S3,” explained Keith. “It was great. I could do a demo application. And I could deploy it onto an EC2 virtual machine, let it run in the cloud, do my demo, shut it down afterwards, all for a cost of about 10 cents. And I wouldn’t have to carry a lot of things around on my personal workstation.”

How AWS Benefits Business

The business benefit of AWS depends on the size of your company, according to Keith. “A startup may only be able to exist because of AWS.” A startup founder has an idea and can quickly bring that idea to reality. With AWS, you can bring up the equipment you need, scale it as your needs grow, and pay a monthly fee. While that strategy may be more expensive than if you were to manage hardware yourself, you have much more control.

As a company grows bigger, its needs change. “I had an experience about 10 years ago with a midsize company,” said Keith. “We were starting up a new joint venture with our European sister company. At the very first kickoff meeting, we don’t even know exactly what we’re building yet. Our project manager said, ‘Okay, so what do we need for hardware on this?’ And that’s the sort of thing that AWS lets you say, ‘I don’t know. We’re going to implement this plan, then we’re going to figure out our hardware needs.’”

For a lot of midsize and large companies, because AWS is a global cloud, it provides the ability to run in Europe for a European customer that might want to have data stored in a European data center. “AWS provides a whole range of European, Asian and South American data centers. So you’re not stuck with using a data center based in the United States,” said Keith, who added that moving the processing of data closer to clients speeds up interaction with the data.

Take Advantage of Hardware Upgrades

You may think that AWS is excellent for its constant maintenance and upgrading of the hardware, which differentiates it from a company buying its own hardware. But Keith explained that it’s not a “set it and forget it” situation. But you have to be prepared to take advantage of the upgrades.

As AWS has changed over the years, new hardware has come into play, and new ways of deploying applications now exist. “One company that I worked with was still stuck on the first generation of AWS hardware because of the way that it had deployed its system. It was about a three week project to get them to the point where they were able to upgrade,” said Keith. Companies running hardware may not have a dedicated operations team, and may lose track of potential upgrades. “I helped another company that had deployed their software three years ago. And the machines that the software was running on had not been patched, and had not been restarted in three years.” You don’t know what security holes are open.

Liked this article? Check out part two, High Availability and Disaster Recovery in the Cloud. Starting an AWS project? Let Chariot be your guide. Use our contact form to start a conversation at any time.