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The classic 'Why AWS ?' question

A writeup summarizing the first session of the BeSA batch 5.

Published Apr 10, 2024
Last Modified May 4, 2024
The first session for batch 5 started with a roleplay helping us to understand 'WHY AWS'. Lets have a preview of how a conversation between any prospective customer and an AWS consultant could go.
Our customer has a medium sized company of 500+ employees in the medical domain involved in clinical research based in North America and EMEA regions but has customers in APAC and other regions too. The company is planning to expand from the current B2B B2C model of 1mill customers with 10 diff Data Centers in various regions. What benefits can AWS offer to such a customer.
Imagine a scenario where you are running a restaurant, you have the choice of sourcing your ingredients from a supermarket or farming your own ingredients. In the case of your own farm, while it does provide the benefit of ensuring the quality of your produce ( pesticide-free, organic, grass-fed animals etc) it comes with the staffing, maintenace and additional costs that come with running your own farm. Having to bear the brunt of bad harvests and animal diseases along with being limited to ingredients that are in-season and being produced on your farm are the further disadvantages. Whereas when sourcing ingredients from the supermarket you are able to save on costs by buying according to your planned menu, being able to buy globally available out-of-season ingredients too. So the only costs and staffing requirements are for the restaurant , where your staff can be fully dedicated to running the restaurant well.
Cloud computing can be described as an 'on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing' . Just as in our previous restaurant example, any business needing a DC can benefit from moving to AWS. It will save on costs and complexities of staffing and maintenance.
And with the pay-as-you-go AWS services customers can try out new ideas on resources which can be easily 'given back' to AWS if the idea doesnt prove to be profitable. AWS provides you compute, storage and databases as well as Identity and Access Management services where you can limit the permissions and access different employees are granted. EC2 (AWS Compute) comes in three flavours, On-demand(for temp usage, great when just starting out), Spot( for temp usage that can be interrupted) and Reserved Instances (1 or 3 year savings plans) which can be used by the customer. Here for more.
AWS global infrastructure has 33 regions and 105 AZs provided for the customer. Availability Zones (AZs) are DCs within different regions, each region comprises of 2 or 3 AZs. Since our customer has strict compliance regulations, AWS can help by limiting storage of customer data to only customer specified region.
Multi-AZ architecture can help provide High-Availabilty (In case one AZ is impacted the other will pick up the load, so the system keeps working) and Scalability ( in times of high traffic more servers can be brought online to handle the load) as well as help with Disaster Recovery. More here.
AWS Cloudfront is the content delivery network that will help reduce latency and improve performance of our system for globally located clients. Cloudfront uses edge locations to cache user pages and reduce latency.
For the customers who want even lower latency than what Local Zones and Cloudfront Edge Locations can provide AWS has Outposts where certain AWS infrastructure is setup within the Client premises . Outposts provide a limited amount of AWS compute and storage capacity, deployed locally in customer data center. It is ideal for customers who want low latency, local data processing, or have data residency requirements. And AWS Direct Connect can provide a dedicated network connection between your on-premises network and AWS to help function more securely in the hybrid architecture (half on-premise half AWS.
For our customer who wishes to look at containerization at scale AWS provides ECS (Elastic Container services) a fully managed services for running containers at scale and EKS(Elastic Kubernetes Service) which supports building and operating Kubernetes at scale on AWS. In both ECS and EKS containers can be run on EC2, Outposts, Local Zones or serverless on AWS Fargate.
All in all this session introduced to us many services and Key-Words that would be essential for any Solution Architect to know. Looking forward to the next session.
Disclaimer/Clarification : These are just personal notes I have created summarizing the session I attended. All credit and thanks to the speakers and organizers , check out the website and Youtube links below.
BeSA is a volunteer run attempt to teach skills to become a Solutions Architect.
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