Some of us had already given thought to the concept of the cloud long before it became a commercialised product. Virtualisation and cloud type structures could already be found in ‘private cloud’ type IT environments within large companies and enterprises.
Today the cloud has evolved and can be defined as a full-featured and feasible IT product offered by an endless list of providers worldwide. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the the key features we believe are an important influence on our decision to do business with AWS.
1. Automated Virtualisation / Elastic Pricing
This type of environment allows enterprises to have their applications up and running faster, with easier management and less maintenance. It also enables IT departments to rapidly adjust IT resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business demand. All while saving a wad of annual expenditure. We all wish we’d thought of commercialising this 5 years ago!
Businesses are now able to free up capital and have additional resources to focus on their core innovations to the ultimate benefit of their customers. One of the key ingredients to having a growing and sustainable business is constant innovation. If you would allow me to relate a business to a newborn baby then migrating your IT with the cloud is your baby taking its first steps towards new growth.
The basic usage comparison – Traditional IT vs Automated Virtualisation
2. Security & PCI Compliance (Amazon’s security team will beat up your security team)
The AWS cloud has inherited the security backbone of the Amazon retail business. We are talking about the security backbone of one of the top 30 most visited websites online today with over 110 million visitors each month. For this kind of volume it is critical to be scrupulously secure, maintain incredible speeds and protect the infrastructure from attacks. We feel assured that our data is more secure with Amazon then with any traditional data centre we know about.
It is also a fact that Amazon achieved Level 1 PCI compliance. They have been successfully validated as a Level 1 service provider under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS). Merchants and other service providers can now run their applications on PCI-compliant technology infrastructure for storing, processing, and transmitting credit card information in the cloud. While other enterprises can also benefit by running their applications on other PCI-compliant technology infrastructure.
Amazon has also achieved ISO 27001 certification. This is a widely-adopted global security standard that sets out requirements and best practices for a systematic approach to managing company and customer information, based on periodic risk assessments. This is just another one of many areas Amazon has invested their funds and resources into for the benefit of their cloud customers.
To look into security and compliance in more detail I would recommend visiting the AWS Security and Compliance Centre to fully familiarise yourself with all the security features on offer.
3. Operational Excellence
This is an Amazon priority and they spend significant resources monitoring their systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our experience thus far has been nothing short of pain-free. We are almost itching for something major to go wrong so we can actually fully test their support when the pressure is on. However, whenever there has been an outage we have always been notified by Amazon staff well in advance and we are yet to experience any negative effects to the services.
4. Ongoing Hardware Upgrades
Another reason we choose Amazon is for the sheer size and success of their company which gives them the leverage they need to acquire the very best hardware available for their data centres. AWS cloud customers can reap the benefits of decreasing costs, increasing performance, and enhanced functionality over time. The infrastructure that houses your data will continue to be upgraded for years to come at no capital cost to you or your business. Imagine using the best modern hardware indefinitely, this is why we love the cloud!
5. Asset Utilisation
AWS cloud customers can effectively achieve close to 100% utilisation. In traditional data centre hosting you would require the leasing of additional infrastructure to be on standby for any sudden increase in demand. This additional hardware is costing you money that you could otherwise be saving.
The AWS cloud also offers spot market instances which are ideal if you require lots of server processing power but not always on demand. For example: rendering video or processing large volumes of data with a grid (analysing earthquake data, analysing mining data). The power of spot market instances are a major reason why mining companies are now beginning to explore the potential benefits of the cloud.
6. Reduction of Support Personnel
Are you tired of paying an entire team of analysists, engineers and all sorts of other tech support personnel to maintain your IT? Perhaps you have some lazy database managers that you would simply love to get rid of? Maybe you don’t, maybe your IT crew is the best in the business. Whilst that may be the case you are probably paying tens of thousands of dollars a month to keep these guys from becoming those lazy database managers we’ve all heard about (and they do exist I can assure you).
By switching to the Amazon Cloud you are accessing the talents of some of the most brilliant IT minds in the world, if you look into some of the key people behind the technology at Amazon you too would agree. Our experience with Amazon’s support has been wonderful. The staff are well trained and whilst we’ve only endured a couple of minor fault inquiries, they were remedied immediately. It makes us look really good to our clients!
7. Content Delivery Network
Amazon CloudFront integrates with other services and is low latency with high data transfer speeds. It is an easy way to deliver content to your users and Amazon has recently included support for dynamic content. It’s a simple, self-configuration using the API or management console and is a great system for effective content delivery including dynamic, static and streaming content. As always, requests for your content are automatically routed to the nearest edge location to ensure the best possible performance to your end users.
Open the image below to see Amazon’s diagram of how the popular CDN CloudFront works.
8. UNIX/Linux & Windows in the Cloud
The AWS cloud allows Windows-based servers to be deployed should it be a specific requirement. This is crucial to many enterprises that definitively use Windows. We have also encountered many IT startups that require specific Windows deployments for certain areas of their back end.
It’s also worth mentioning that our own Blackberry enterprise servers use Windows cloud instances to ensure that our support SLA requirements are met and data from support personnel remains PCI compliant, even when off-network. Another tick!
9. Strong Business Model
Once again I refer to the fact that Amazon is a company with a history of results. They have shown that they know what they’re doing in this market and they have the capacity to invest in a strong strategy to drive their business forward. The broad featured functionality of their services and the value they offer is the reason why they are the number 1 cloud provider. The consistent progression of the business leads me to believe they are going to be a major competitor in the cloud market for many years to come.
10. Excellent Support
The high level of support and intelligent communication from Amazon has really stood out to me personally for the duration of our dealings with them. I think it comes down to the fact that their background is online retailing so excellent customer service is obviously already fundamental to their business. This high level of service has clearly extended to their Amazon Web Services business.
We have experienced extremely fast response times and the people we speak to in the various departments are well trained. The proficiency of clear communication with any service provider you employ is important to the health of your business and also to your own mental health as I’m sure you’d agree!
So at the end of the day…
We feel that very little analyising of the AWS cloud features is needed to come to the conclusion that they are the model cloud provider. Their service offering has unprecedented substance and value. One good decision after another has led them to become this IT super power that should not be overlooked by any business wanting to improve performance and lower ongoing costs.
I hope that this article has provided you with some useful information and assists you with taking that first crucial step forward towards getting the most out of your IT. Remember, if you need advice regarding integration with AWS please contact our supporting partner ITOC as they will only be too happy to assist.