Amazon Web Services, or AWS, is an on-demand cloud computing resource that provides users with numerous options.
You can use it for database storage. It is perfect for IT resources and applications. It’s great for data back-up and disaster recovery.
Because it features a pay-as-you-go pricing structure, your money is never tied up in something that doesn’t work for you.
The services provided by AWS are strong enough to run your entire IT environment if that’s what you need. It effectively reduces the hardware footprint required for business operations at your location.
Why Choose Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing uses a network of remote servers that are accessed through the internet. You would then use these remote services to manage, process, and store your data.
That eliminates the need to have a local server or a personal computer perform these functions for you.
The market for cloud computing is expanding rapidly. Very rapidly.
Consider the following statistics from Statista about cloud computing:
Global cloud data center IP traffic in 2018 is estimated to be 10.6 trillion GB.
The global public cloud services market is expected to grow at 21.4% in 2018.
Revenues from global cloud service storage services reached $2.35 billion in 2017.
The size of the public cloud computing market reached $130 billion in 2017.
E-commerce enabled cloud services generated $7.33 billion in revenues.
26% of software developers are currently using the cloud for their development environment.
“Cloud platforms are enabling new, complex business models and orchestrating more globally-based integration networks… than many analyst and advisory firms predicted,” writes Louis Columbus, Principal at manufacturing software company IQMS.
There are 6 clear reasons why cloud computing is the choice for small businesses in 2018 and beyond.
There are fewer hardware investments to make when choosing cloud computing.
Accessing data through the cloud is faster than other sources as well. That makes your work become a lot easier to do.
And software licenses are not bought with large up-front capital investments, but are part of ongoing, smaller operational expenses.
Businesses should plan to be successful. With cloud computing, you have scalability at your fingertips. Your storage space, bandwidth, and other needed requirements grow with you instantly.
You’ll never have storage worries.
Hardware breaks down over time. That means cloud computing is more reliable, with fewer ongoing maintenance costs to think about. You’re always given the updates needed to ensure the most uptime possible is received.
You get to decide what you want to pay for this asset. If you need to make changes to your storage systems, then do it. If you need to limit costs, then you can choose providers which meet your needs.
Cloud computing resources open the world of collaboration for your business.
No matter where you are, you can access the data generated by your business as long as you have a connection to the internet.
You have an extra layer of protection when using cloud computing because a majority of your data is stored off-site. Even if you experience a local breach, your exposure is limited compared to breaches involving on-premise systems.
Then there’s the issue of tech support to consider.
For the average small business owner, the cost of hiring a full-time support person isn’t feasible. Even the costs of a server administrator go beyond what most small businesses can budget.
You could rely on outsourcing or offshoring this need. When you compare those costs to the cost of an effective cloud computing platform, such as AWS, there really is no comparison.
It is faster, cheaper, and easier to work with Amazon Web Services.
What Are the Advantages of Using AWS?
The advantages of choosing Amazon Web Services begin with the total compute capacity that becomes available to you.
You have access to 5 times the compute capacity compared to the other Top 10 leading providers of similar services in the market right now.
You’ll also benefit from Amazon’s experience in this marketplace. They’ve been offering this comprehensive solution for small businesses since 2006. They’re providing services to customers in almost 200 countries.
AWS also utilizes what they call “regions” to provide services.
These are data center groups which make data movements more efficient. Multiple regions are located in the United States, including a specific region serving the federal government.
In total, over 40 availability zones and 16 geographic regions are currently operating globally. Regions are located in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, and Singapore. Another 14 availability zones were in the works as of 2017, along with 5 new geographic regions, including China.
AWS has the global compliance programs you like to see with this service set as well.
Small businesses benefit from the fact that you’re able to reduce or expand your capacity almost instantly. Instead of waiting hours, if not days, to meet capacity needs, you’re able to influence upward or downward scalability in just minutes.
AWS provides a simplified and rapid response to disaster recovery situations that benefits small business owners. You can restore your data across multiple regions quickly with a recovery plan that works for your business needs.
Automated scheduling is part of the experience as well. You have the ability to start or stop various instances at times you predetermine. That means your EC2 services don’t need to run during the weekend, or during your non-working hours, if that is what your business needs.
There are even tools available where there is no scripting required to get your work done with AWS.
Small business owners will appreciate the benefit of customization that are provided here too. You can take advantage of tagging features to monitor your resources, then make changes whenever you feel they are necessary.
You can perform cost-tracking with AWS. You can promote automation within your organization. With the control of tagging that you have, there is an almost unlimited amount of customization available to you.
There is also the advantage that your business will be joining thousands of others, including names like Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft, which have made their products available on AWS. You receive application development resources and managed services to make your business presence more effective.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using AWS?
There have been several outages which have affected services with AWS, including some quite recently. In March 2018, an outage occurred with the U.S. East region, which affected services like Slack and Twilio.
“There was a loss of power to one of AWS’s redundant internet connection points in Virginia that created connectivity issues for a small number of AWS customers who are using Direct Connect serves in AWS U.S. East,” stated Amazon at the time.
“AWS resolved the issue and is working with its partner to prevent recurrence.”
The outage affected over 240 critical services that relied on the infrastructure at the time.
In 2015, another high-profile outage at the same service center created a 5-hour outage that affected numerous services, including Airbnb, Netflix, and Reddit. Even Amazon’s own Prime Instant Video service was affected.
And in 2017, a massive outage was caused by human error during a debugging issue. Several systems required a complete restart, which took numerous businesses offline for several hours.
Going beyond the issue with outages, some small businesses have reported billing issues that can be confusing when using AWS. The bills received from Amazon are not always fully detailed and AWS uses rounding.
(AWS does offer a monthly cost calculator, but it doesn’t always make things clearer. The sheer breadth of offerings and options can be overwhelming.)
For these pricing reasons (and other reasons), it can be helpful to work with a reseller if you require a detailed bill each month.
Then, as with any service like this, there is a learning curve that must be endured. Implementing or transitioning to a software-defined data center can be a lengthy process for some small businesses.
There are also technical support fees your business will be paying when you need immediate assistance. You have three support packages from which to choose: developer, business, and enterprise.
The developer package is currently priced at $29 per month. For the business package, you’ll pay a minimum of $100 per month, or up to 3% of AWS usage over $250,000.
The enterprise package is $15,000 per month, though most small businesses will not require that level of comprehensive support.
Basic supports are automatically included with AWS; however, the supports provided in these three packages are not included with the basic package.
As a final disadvantage, AWS must still contend with the same general cloud computing concerns that every other provider contends with too. There are individualized issues with privacy, security, control, backup protection, and downtime that must all be considered before finalizing AWS as your provider of choice.
No system is perfect. Amazon Web Services is a complex system of infrastructure that will make your business adventures become better than you ever imagined if you’re willing to give it half a chance.
Facts About AWS You Need to Know
In the infrastructure-as-a-service sector, or IaaS, AWS currently holds a 31% market share. More than one-third of internet users will visit a website that is powered by AWS every day.
More than 1 million customers currently use AWS. That includes over 600 government agencies around the world.
Each region hosts up to 80,000 computer servers to offer services and supports.
As part of the service level agreement with AWS, service credits are provided when monthly uptime percentages do not reach certain goals.
If the uptime is less than 99%, then a 25% service credit is issued. If it is less than 99.9%, then a 10% service credit is issued.
AWS S3 Standard and S# One Zone Infrequent Access monthly uptimes are structured a little differently. If your uptime is less than 98%, then you receive the 25% service credit. Less than 99% provides a 10% service credit.
It should be noted that a service credit is only issued in a billing cycle if the amount is greater than $1.
From 2015 to March 2017, despite having high-profile outages, AWS still had less overall downtime when compared to Microsoft and Google.
Amazon had 448 minutes of downtime with its public cloud service. Google experienced 506 minutes of total downtime. Microsoft had over 1,600 minutes of downtime.
That makes AWS a reliable choice when looking at cloud computing options for your small business.