Cloud Computing | Technology

BizCloud Review of Amazon Web Services

From BizCloud cloud computing watch: Amazon grew humongous over time with thousands of product offerings and millions of customers worldwide. Their product range increased from few hundreds to many thousands in a small span of time. To cater this increasing trend and large customers database and concurrent users, Amazon heavily invested in cutting edge technology to improvise its transaction processing, with over $2 billion investment in technology upgradation alone. This gave Amazon a significant advantage and peace of mind in operating their large e-commerce storefront.

Amazon realized that their Information System architecture is never utilized to its full extent; the storage wasn’t efficient enough and was always underutilized. This gave spark to innovation, and Amazon launched their Cloud Computing services in the market. This not only gave Amazon a more efficient control over their infrastructure, but they were also able to offer these services to other customers who could use the same infrastructure for their own web applications.

With AWS, you can take advantage of Amazon’s global computing infrastructure, which is the backbone of Amazon’s multi-billion retail business and transactional enterprise and whose scalable, reliable, and secure distributed computing infrastructure has been honed for over a decade (Amazon 2010).

By the introduction of Amazon Simple Storage Server (S3) and Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2), Amazon was not only able to fulfill their technology needs but these new technology services allowed their customers to ramp up and take advantage of this new cutting edge technology without investing a single buck into it upfront.

Amazon Web Services can be availed easily with a very easy signup process, no initial upfront payment required and based on a utility computing model, where you pay only for what you use. Simple Storage Servers (S3) allows a customers to have unlimited online storage which is reliable and flexible. It gives the end-user an impression that they have limitless storage capacity available which can be accessed any time through a simple online interface. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud provides virtual servers infrastructure that can be used to deploy large mission critical applications. The end users never have to worry about the underlying infrastructure that is managing their storage and computing requirements, neither they have to maintain anything.

Subscribers

When Amazon launched their web services, target market was independent developers and small sized companies that don’t have enough financial backing to build their own computing infrastructure. The biggest customers in both number and amount of computing resources consumed are divisions of banks, pharmaceutical companies and other large corporations who tried AWS once for a temporary project, and then got hooked (TechCrunch 2008). Powerset is an upcoming natural language search engine which will use Amazon servers as their powerful and robust engine to fuel all the queries issued by the end users. Even Microsoft utilizes Simple Storage Servers to expedite the downloading speed of software for their users.

Advantages

Amazon web services with its flexibility and ease of use has many advantages to its customers. With S3 the customers can scale their applications much more easily and in affordable manner, no up frontal cost to avail them, pay for the services based on the utility computing model where you pay for what you use. Amazon EC2 will give you computing power for as little as 10 cents an hour, and time is measured only when the cloud is actually working on behalf of a user, so if it’s idling you’re in the clear (Technosailor 2009).

Simplicity is another advantage bundled with these services where no prior hardware or software needs to be installed by the client to use them. It gives an end user fast, simple, scalable and inexpensive data storage that has 99.99% availability assurance. EC2 use Amazon’s servers for the customer computing needs, which are designed for handling real-time applications of huge user base. Independent developers can take advantage of the EC2 by developing and deploying their applications and small businesses won’t have to worry about the network and server management overhead.

Disadvantages

Though there are many significant benefits of using Amazon Web Services for cutting edge mission critical applications, there are few drawbacks which need to be considered before choosing Amazon as your virtual infrastructure provider. Amazon doesn’t provide Service Level Agreement which guarantees a user what will happen in case of a disaster and how they will be compensated for such loss if it occurs. Also there is a huge question mark on Amazon’s own infrastructure and whether it is viable enough to sustain the growing needs of Amazon and their customer base.

Target Customers

When Amazon launched its web services it had startups and micro-sized businesses in mind as target market, but later on many midsized and large organizations like Microsoft, opted for AWS. There are no specific businesses which can be excluded from the benefits AWS provide to them, where businesses of all sizes which have generated or would like to generate revenue opportunities through the web, especially B2C businesses can take enormous gains by implementing their solutions on AWS.

Amazon Business Model Assessment

There is no doubt that Amazon Web Services can provide compelling business opportunities for any company regardless of the size. To gauge the business model of AWS it needs to be assessed in terms of Capacity Planning, Scalability and TCO to visualize the overall advantages of using it.

  • Capacity Planning

Amazon web services are relying on huge IT infrastructure developed by Amazon, which not only is designed to keep the business requirements of Amazon in mind but also of their customers and their applications. Amazon has put its computing requirement to ensure that its resources are adequate & available for themselves and their customers to fulfill the computing needs of present and future.

  • Scalability

The main and most significant features of AWS are elasticity and scalability which gives Amazon and its users an edge to add more resources whenever required and to scale their business & customers needs with ease.

  • TCO

Amazon Web Services is a classical example which reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to almost zero, where the customers don’t have to purchase the supporting hardware and computing resources, its maintenance and updates; Amazon manages all that for them. Also, Amazon which invested in the huge architecture is not only servicing its own needs but also gaining substantial ROI by helping other customers avail these services at nominal cost.

Amazon Competitors

After the successful launch of Cloud Computing services by Amazon, many other firms joined the bandwagon providing similar services on same utility computing model and with ease of adoption & use. Google App Engine, Windows Azure, OpSource and Joyent are among the cloud providers that rose as tough rivals for Amazon.

  • Comparison

Google App Engine and Microsoft’s Azure provide almost the same functionality as Amazon EC2. Developers can design and implement their applications on both of these platforms and with much richer functionalities in some cases. Azure is more beneficial if you are using SOA whereas Google app engine has the lightest admin overload.

  • Availability

Availability of the resources is an essential part of any service business model. AWS, Google App Engine and Windows Azure have a strong verdict and assurance that their infrastructure will provide uptime to your applications almost every time.  Google verdicts that it will provide 99.9% uptime service level agreement, with premium developer support available (Google 2010).

  • Payment Model

All of these services have the same payment model as Amazon, i.e. utility computing model, where the subscriber pay only for the services they use and in some cases, Google Apps is providing much more cost efficient payment plans. Each App Engine application can consume a certain level of computing resources for free, controlled by a set of quotas (Google 2010).

  • Target Client

Independent developers, E-Commerce storefronts, Digital Agencies and Game developers are all possible target customers of these services which require heavy computing and storage resources. Joyent has a special program for digital agencies. Digital agencies are a key audience for Joyent, so we’ve built specific programs to make it easier for you to get campaigns to market (Joyent 2010).

Amazon for Startups

Amazon is providing a lot of incentive for startups. The AWS Start-up Challenge is an annual competition designed for young, promising start-ups to get noticed and compete for a chance to win $100,000 in cash and credits. Start-ups that are using the AWS cloud computing platform can submit an application which describes their business plan and their use of AWS (Amazon 2010).

Any startup with a business plan can take the advantage of these services to make scalable and robust applications, servicing plenty of users without the need for purchasing and developing an in-house infrastructure to support them.

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