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Deciding on AWS solutions

As businesses, especially startups, look for innovative technologies to improve processes and outcomes, they must choose carefully. After all, one sour experience could taint any future attempts at using cutting-edge hardware, software or services. This is why choosing one of the most appropriate Amazon Web Services should be a decision that is not rushed. This aspect calls for the process to involve not only C-level executives, but IT teams, as they have the knowledge and know-how about cloud computing and implementing the service.

Whether an IT professional or business leader is making the final decision, here are some considerations to think about before choosing an AWS storage solution or committing to a service such as DynamoDB or Elastic Compute Cloud.

Storage
Organizations have two choices: Simple Storage Service and Elastic Block Storage. The chosen service will affect the scalability, reliability, availability, cost and latency of storing data, according to TechTarget. The source added that businesses should take the storage capacity into consideration as well as the security associated with each solution.

S3 is Amazon's object storage system. Instead of file folders, data is organized in buckets with a capacity of 5 terabytes. This makes this AWS storage solution ideal for businesses looking to store a large amount of data in the cloud.

EBS, on the other hand, is better for organizations seeking a storage solution to go with their EC2 instances. Essentially, EBS acts as a sort of virtual hard drive. IT administrators have the ability to construct persistent block level storage volumes, which can be scaled up and down to meet needs.

Now that those descriptions are out of the way, prospective AWS users probably want to ask what the security is like with those options. Both offer plentiful security protocols such as encryption, but according to a separate TechTarget article​, as long as these three steps are followed, an organization will be unlikely to experience a data breach:

  1. Hide cloud credentials: AWS usernames and passwords should never be shared with anyone, even SaaS vendors. Additionally, certain EC2 or S3 instances can sometimes be administered by different employees. If that is the case, then do not use shared passwords throughout the group and ensure there are identity management protocols in place
  2. Encrypt data: While this may seem like a no-brainer, Nachmani said that some organizations forget to enable data encryption, as it is not the default option. He suggested that the encryption key should be given to Amazon, not the other way around. Additionally, even if the data is not sensitive, encrypt it anyway.
  3. Host keys and credentials separately: Nachmani stated that AWS account information should be on a different virtual machine than encryption keys. This way, if one is accessed without authorization, everything will not be compromised.

DynamoDB
This AWS is a flexible NoSQL database service for applications that need close to zero latency. So why use DynamoDB? In a guest post published on Medium, Ransom Richardson, service architect at mobile application developer Talko, explained why his organization chose this AWS solution, citing four reasons: It is easily managed, reliable, scalable and consistent. Richardson stated that Talko is very small, so having a fully managed database allows the business to focus on developing its application, rather than monitoring resources. Additionally, Talko has experienced no outages yet, and it scales to meet key and value storage needs.

Those are the benefits, but what exactly can organizations use DynamoDB for? Richardson provided a few examples. In the Talko application, DynamoDB tags calls with identification numbers, making the discovery of those calls much easier and more efficient. Another use is algorithms. Richardson uses DynamoDB to store call identifications and link primary and secondary keys. A query API then looks up data based on the range between those two keys.

Using EC2 as a startup
EC2 can be used for a wide range of business process, and AWS is making it very easy and far less expensive for companies to start up. Another TechTarget article reported on Tapjoy, a company "born in the cloud" in 2007. In order to keep up with 2 million engagements from over 270,000 mobile applications, Tapjoy relied on AWS, where it runs anywhere between 400 and 700 different EC2 instances.

"We are a cloud-first technology company, but we decided we wanted to treat the cloud for what it's really good at, namely, experimentation, growth, elasticity and for burst workloads," Weston Jossey, head of operations at Tapjoy, told TechTarget. "But we also want to position ourselves with our core infrastructure - to optimize it, run it as efficiently and as cheaply as possible."

To reduce costs, Tapjoy integrated some on-premise private cloud environments with its AWS EC2 instances. The workloads are divided between each data center, but EC2 still has a firm position in the company. Jossey explained to TechTarget that it makes sense to keep some processes hosted, such as inbound traffic from the application server because it is so dynamic that Tapjoy needs the scalability only EC2 can provide.

The wide variety of uses for AWS makes moving to these services the smartest choice for financial and business process associated reasons.

Learn More about XO's AWS Direct Connection Program.

John Grady is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at XO Communications, which is responsible for marketing the XO Cloud and XO Connect product portfolios. John has been responsible for launching a number of products at XO Communications, including 100G service, new cloud products, as well as XO's Intelligent WAN solution.

Deciding on AWS solutions