Less than a month ago I have attended an event by Amazon called “AWSome Day“. Not a boring event, that’s for sure, but surely designed to mirror the company image: clean, complex and thoroughly customer-oriented.
The presentation day was split in 2 parts, the first one being lighter, more business oriented while the second (after lunch) being more technically focused. Nevertheless, one must not forget a very important detail: if no price is charged for a product (e.g. it is offered for free or looks like it is) then you, the one at the receiving end, are the product:
Amazon offered the venue, the presentations, the lunch and the refreshments for free and then ran the up class equivalent of a shameless sales pitch.
The products covered in depth or by the hands-on demo during the presentation were:
Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
Simple Storage Service (S3)
Content Delivery Web Service (CloudFront)
Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)
There were more products mentioned or barely touched:
Everything considered, it was a full day. The full presentation is available on SlideShare (link) for those that want to take another look. Many slides were skipped due to the time constraint as there seem to be even more AWS products described in there.
At the end of the day one must not oversee a couple of important details when thinking about The Cloud and Amazon Web Services in particular; AWS – as a product collection – is, feature and interface wise, a couple of years ahead of the competition. NB: yes, there is competition, there are multiple companies providing similar services, sometimes in a cheaper or in a most cost effective way than Amazon.
From my point of view AWS should be the way to go for:
Experiments, test deployments or temporary solutions;
Non-production environments with fluctuating lifetime and composition (e.g. for development and/or qa);
Handling unusually high loads for few days during the year (e.g. traffic peaks on Black Fridays or during the Christmas Sales);
Medium and long term data storage (backups).
If one has a fixed environment that will not change or scale in a significant manner for one year or more (e.g. a production-level website and/or a SaaS type of product), AWS may not actually be the only cost effective solution to look for.
Conclusion: if there is such event near you, go secure your seat! But don’t forget that you are actually being sold something.