Amazon re:Invent (Amazon Web Services Conference)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of IT infrastructure services commonly referred to as cloud computing. We've been using AWS at Webitects for several years (Amazon began offering these services in 2006) and continue to expand our use of its services. We rely heavily on Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), and CloudFront, among others.
Many of the sessions at the conference were presented by AWS customers -- Netflix, Pinterest, and NASA to name a few. Each of these organizations have large-scale computing needs, some of which are highly variable. It was interesting to learn about the scale at which these websites operate and how they leverage AWS. In each case, these sites are running on hundreds or thousands of EC2 instances (virtual servers) and variably adjusting capacity as traffic ebbs and flows.
One of the most interesting ideas that I took away from the conference was that AWS resources can be thought of as part of your application. The traditional perspective is that of building software (or a website) that is deployed on to one or more servers. Since most AWS services can be configured and deployed programatically, it's possible to create applications that control the platform on which they are hosted. Think of a website that causes additional web or application servers to be created during times of peak traffic. This capability has been implicit to AWS since its inception, but seeing how large-scale websites are using the elastic nature of these services was very enlightening.
I heard several comparisons of Amazon's offerings to that of competitors (Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, and others). It's apparent that Amazon is considerably ahead of others in this area (in large part because they've pioneered infrastructure as a service and are years ahead).
I also learned that Amazon is considering a certification for users of AWS. I was able to participate in a pilot training and assessment program where I sat through some computer-based training and took related online tests. I was pleased to find that the AWS knowledge I've gained through our work at Webitects enabled me to score high on the assessments. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to earn official certification when it becomes available.
Todd Reifenrath on Google+