Security in the Cloud: AWS

Throughout the last couple of months we’ve talked a lot on the cloud—from migrating to a cloud environment to securing it. We’ve also reviewed several advantages—including bottom-line benefits, increased business efficiencies, flexibility, and improved customer support—as well as hesitations people have in regards to moving to the cloud, such as security and compliance concerns.

Our recent blog addressed these concerns head on by stressing the importance of the Shared Responsibility Model and DevSecOps. We also touched on the 3 major Cloud Service Providers (CSPs)—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)—promising to continue this series with more information on each one to give you a better understanding of which one could be the best fit for your organization’s needs.

While they all serve the same function at a high level and all aim to reduce IT costs, modernize technology, and increase data flexibility for organizations, each CSP has its own unique set of characteristics, benefits, and shortcomings to consider when choosing where to host your cloud environment. Over the next few weeks we will look at each one, but today let’s get started with AWS.

What is AWS?

Likely the most well-known amongst all CSP’s, AWS is Amazon’s (yes, that Amazon) cloud platform. Launched in 2006, AWS now offers more than 165 services from dozens of data centers worldwide, including compute power, storage, analytics, developer tools, management tools, and security.

Since it would take far too long to dive into every service offered by AWS, today we’ll focus on 3 of its most used and unique offerings in the compute, storage, and security categories.

Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) “is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.”

EC2 is an off-premises cloud computing platform that allows developers to spin up server instances, and expand or reduce capacity within minutes. The platform provides you with complete control of your instances, as well as the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. It’s a secure, reliable environment that’s integrated with most AWS services to provide a robust cloud storage across a wide range of applications.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an “object storage built to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere.” Organizations can use S3 to store, archive, back up, and download practically any amount of data (i.e., websites, mobile and enterprise applications, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, etc.) up to 5 terabytes in size. Amazon S3 is designed with security and compliance in mind, maintaining compliance programs such as PCI-DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, and more. Created to make web-scaling easier for developers, S3 is completely scalable for your needs.

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is one of Amazon’s security offerings for customers to safely manage access to their AWS services and resources. Free of charge, this feature allows companies to create, manage and grant permissions to users and groups regarding access to their AWS resources.

Universal Benefits of AWS

These services only scratch the surface of the capabilities AWS offers its customers. However, nearly all of AWS’ services provide limitless scalability, global reach, integration with other AWS offerings, and flexible payment options.

AWS was the first CSP to offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Customers only pay for the services they use, as long and as vast as needed. There are no long-term contracts, licensing or termination fees. From startups to enterprises, this model is affordable for nearly any company.

Furthermore, AWS is available anywhere across the globe. The company already spans 66 Availability Zones worldwide, with 12 more on the horizon, entering new markets. This amount of global reach and growth is a significant benefit to customers as they are able to access their data and take advantage of their employed AWS services from virtually anywhere. Organizations looking to expand their global footprint can do so without constraints.

Amazon’s global reach and pay-as-you-go model also allows customers unparalleled scalability. Organizations of any size are able to spin up instances, and expand or decrease their environments in a matter of minutes using AWS services. Enabling customers and developers with this type of flexibility and affordability allows them to focus on effectively growing their own businesses.

The Growth of AWS

Cloud migration isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and neither are the capabilities for organizations to grow their businesses using cloud technology.

According to Amazon’s earnings report on Dec. 31, 2018, AWS grew a whopping 45% in the fourth quarter, accounting for much of the company’s profits last year. In addition to financial growth, a ZDNet article points out that the AWS strategy was heard loud and clear at the most recent re:Invent conference. The show highlighted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key priority for AWS’ growth, as the company becomes a machine learning platform.

AWS will continue to grow, develop new offerings, and find new ways to bring their clients unparalleled service. However, they aren’t the only player in the CSP game. Microsoft Azure and GCP are competing just as hard for market share and offer their own unique capabilities. Stay tuned as we continue this series with more about Azure and GCPs offerings and how these CSPs can help you grow your business in the cloud.

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