AWS – An Introduction

awsservices250Amazon's AWS is the current leader in cloud computing. Getting started with AWS means creating computers in the cloud. AWS, of course, is hardware based, they have hardware scattered around the world, but the computer you will create resides in virtual space. There could be hundreds of virtual computers on one hardware computer running completely independently on one another. AWS calls each one of these virtual computers an "instance."

What AWS is capable of doing is massive. You can run one instance, or many instances, either separately or together across the world. You can scale these computers up and down in computing power, add memory to them, add disk space, create cache, create databases, and balance the load across multiple instances. You can have disk space that persist independently of any instance. You can create alerts and monitor your network. And you can create copies of your computer configurations for duplication in another part of the world. You can have your own web site with your own domain name for web applications. There's more that you can do, you get the idea, there's a lot of funtionality.

To manage all this functionality AWS breaks the functionality down into separate applications or packages. Currently there are 28 different packages in AWS. When you build your instance, you go to a package and configure that package for what you want in your instance.

When you start with AWS it's importance to understand what you are doing. You are building a computer in the cloud from scratch.  The computer you are building has no display monitor.  Your display monitor will come later from your Internet browser. You can't see your display until after you build your instance.  If you built your own computer in your home, there's nothing to see on the display until you have all the pieces plugged into the computer and turn the power on. The same with AWS, building comes first, seeing what you built comes later.

To help you out each package in AWS has various displays that help you configure what you want. There is a home page called, Amazon Management Console, and this is where you select which package you want to configure.


Log into AWS with the same password you use for Amazon. You pay for usage with your Amazon credit card, however we are configuring the free for a year, "free tier."

The first package you want to set up is your computer, click on EC2.

In the upper right menu bar, next to your name, click the dropdown and select the geographic region where you would like to run your computer. Each of these regions is where the actual hardware resides. This may not matter to you, but to a company, it may want a computer in each region working together.

There's a big blue button in the middle of the screen that says, "Launch Instance," click on it. This is where you decide what type of computer to build. If a computer is marked "free tier," it is eligible for free services for a year. I suggest you click on a free tier to start.

I'm not going to configure an entire computer in this short post. Continue through the menus to get up and running.

All of AWS communications is encrypted for your protection. In order to communicate back and forth you will need to configure a "key pair." This is done in EC2 in a left sidebar menu. Download your key to your computer.

You also want to select a security group so you can configure what communications you will allow between the world and your computer in the cloud.

In order to get up and running, you need a key pair, a security group, an EC2 instance running.

After you have your instance running it will show up in the EC2 instances menu in the left sidebar, provided you are in the correct geographic region. If you click on the left checkbox by your instance, the "Connect" menu becomes active and allows you to log in and display your computer screen. This will also enable the "Actions" menu that allows you to start, stop and terminate the instances if you don't like what you created.

That's all for now, hopefully, this will get you at least playing around in AWS until you get the hang of it. Happy Cloud Computing.


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