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Amazon Web Services (AWS): Optimization Possibilities

Introduction

Businesses often experience multiple changes necessitated by changing environmental and technological factors. Most organizations rely on websites and the Internet to reach out to new markets and clients worldwide. Therefore, the need to expand business operations on the Internet led to the development of powerful and complex servers that could process millions of requests at any time. Additionally, the increased costs of doing business led to the introduction of services such as cloud computing that are supplied to clients on demand. In modern society, cloud services are popular because they offer users scalability on demand, reduced initial investments and operational costs, and quick setup of virtual servers that are easy to maintain (Sewak & Singh, 2018). These advantages have made more institutions and startups look into how they can integrate cloud computing with their businesses.

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In this case, the focus is on Amazon web services (AWS). Just like any other business, Amazon began as small e-commerce that mainly focused on selling books. However, as operations grew, the company experienced difficulties in software and database systems, which resulted in the introduction of AWS that aimed to solve those problems (Swartz, 2019). Amazon focused on subdividing the dataset they collected into three segments of customers, goods, and orders. The company started offering IT services and applications online, which led to the official launch of AWS in 2004 with two cloud products of simple storage services (S3), and elastic compute cloud (EC2) (Swartz, 2019). These services alter the course of business technology with many other players, such as Microsoft and Google, investing in cloud computing.

AWS currently provides a diverse set of data storage services with different pricing strategies and performance characteristics. According to Pelle et al. (2019), AWS users have to specify the virtual resources and hardware capacities they wish to purchase. These features include the virtual processer, network performance, memory size, transferred data, and storage size. The services are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, which means that businesses can easily scale up or down to suit their needs.

Server-Side Hardware Requirements

The AWS offers sophisticated services to millions of users, which require powerful hardware components. According to Amazon’s official website, server-side hardware consists of several layers of the infrastructure. The layers begin at the perimeter layer that includes security features such as fencing, intrusion detection technology, security guards, and security feeds, among other physical security measures. Such features are put in place to protect the most critical component, the infrastructure layer, which includes data centers that are essential for storing customer information. The infrastructure layer consists of millions of servers located at different points around the world. The layer also provides maintenance equipment that ensures data servers operate efficiently. Examples of maintenance hardware components are networking infrastructure, diagnostic machines, and backup equipment put in place to ensure systems remain active in case of an emergency. The elements designed for backup needs are generators and interruptible power supply units essential in case of power interruptions, water, and temperature control systems. Data servers are designed to operate within a given temperature to reduce the chances of overheating or humidity, which can interrupt cloud services. As a result, there are systems put in place to monitor and regulate the temperature as well as moisture.

Server-Side Software Requirements

Most of the software components on AWS are custom, which is facilitated by the sensitivity of the data stored and the services it offers. For instance, the web servers on Amazon’s official retail website are hosted on the EC2 cloud. There are different operating systems on the server, which are Ubuntu 16.04 and Ubuntu 18.04, CentOS 6+ and CentOS 7+, RedHat Enterprise Linux 6+ and 7+, as well as Oracle Linux 7+. The operating system is essential as they perform vital services, such as scheduling tasks and processing clients’ requests. AWS database and storage facilities also run different software. According to Mattermost (n.d.), the database software on AWS servers includes MySQL 5.6, 5.7, and 8, PostgreSQL 9.4+, and the Amazon Aurora MySQL 5.6+. The database program is essential as it creates, edits, and maintains the files and data records stored in the servers. It also enables the users to store data in the desired format, such as structured, columns, and tables that are easily retrievable.

Client-Side Hardware Requirements

AWS users need to use various hardware systems to connect to access certain services. These services are accessed through the AWS storage gateway, which defines the specific hardware components a user should have on their systems. For instance, users who need to host cloud services locally are required to invest in computers or laptops with a minimum of four or eight virtual processors, 12 GB of RAM, and 80 GB of disk space. For those who use Lumberyard, the minimum hardware requirements are a 3GHz quad-core processor, 8 GB RAM, 2 GB of DirectX 11, NVIDIA driver version 368.81, or AMD driver version 16.15.2211 graphics card, and 60 GB available disk space (Mattermost, n.d.). As for the users who stream media content from AWS, Amazon recommends that the systems have at a minimum of 2 GB RAM and an Intel Core Duo Processor. Additionally, the Internet is essential because the services are hosted on the web. Amazon recommends an Internet speed of 3.5 Mbits/sec for high definition streams and 900 Kbits/sec for standard definition videos. These requirements are essential because they influence the performance of your system and the time taken to retrieve needed information.

Client-Side Software Requirements

Adaptability is one of the main benefits of AWS. The characteristic means that the services can easily be accessed using any operating system like Windows 7 or newer versions, MacOS 10.7 or later, Ubuntu, and Linux. The services are also accessed using most of the available web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Microsoft Edge (Mattermost, n.d.). However, Amazon suggests that any web browser of choice should support at least HTML5 for efficient video streaming services.

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Competitive Analysis of the System

Amazon’s AWS serves millions of people around the globe, and the company holds much power in cloud computing services. Its strength is mainly recognized because of how many people or businesses are affected during downtime. For instance, services offered by Netflix, IDMB, Tinder, and Reddit were significantly affected when the AWS data center in Virginia experienced some problems (Miller, 2015). The revenue collected from the customers has enabled Amazon to exponentially expand its data centers and other infrastructures at a faster pace. As a result, the company manages to serve the ever-growing number of people at an affordable rate. According to Miller (2015), Amazon’s data center strategy involves the reduction of AWS services, and it had reduced the price 49 times since its launch in 2006. The company focuses on a high-volume, low-margin business strategy. Consequently, the business retains high profits that sustain it against the competitors.

The company has also invested in customer satisfaction, especially in data safety and security. Data leakage can lead to big losses for businesses and institutions. As a result, AWS assures its customers of data safety and privacy. The data stored on AWS is protected using various mechanisms such as encrypting and hashing the device and server, which gives the users peace of mind (Mukherjee, 2019). Encryption and decryption keys are not stored on RAM as they are discarded each time they are used. Additionally, no sensitive information, such as passwords and keys, is ever logged or cached. Amazon also has access management features that regulate users and groups on data they can view, retrieve, or manipulate. Finally, AWS complies with regulatory security policies such as a strong password policy, unique session tokens, and two-factor authentication. The combination of these security measures enables AWS to compete against their business rivals favorably.

The use of AWS significantly reduces cases of software piracy. The theft of intellectual property is considered a violation of the company’s policies and might damage the business’s reputation. The security features installed on the AWS platform prevents copying of data that amounts to piracy. The AWS also increases productivity because the customers spend less time worrying about software installation, maintenance services, or data backup. In fact, Mukherjee (2019) observed that 79% of participants in a survey cited growth in revenue after adopting AWS. Finally, AWS facilitates scalability, and businesses can easily expand or scale down operations as operations change without worrying about software or hardware investments.

Recommendations for Improving the System

Several recommendations would help improve AWS. First, cloud instances paid for by a client are deleted or sold to another client after an expiration period, mainly because they are scalable and paid on demand. Therefore, Amazon needs to introduce reserved instances where users can pay for and keep them for an extended period, but at an affordable rate. Alternatively, Amazon should provide an opportunity for the replication of instances. A second recommendation stems out from the fact that logs are not saved on AWS. This makes it harder for clients to analyze records or centralized data. Amazon should have a point where logs are stored securely for clients to monitor how systems are used. The other recommendation involves offering technical support to clients, especially on security issues, at relatively lower costs. The services provided by AWS’ support team are charged, and the fees might add up without users’ knowledge. Therefore, AWS should include simplified documentation or tutorials that explain to users how instances can be secured by saving them as private or separating different AWS accounts to ensure data security by limiting access. Finally, Amazon should focus on cleaning a user-friendly layout and design to help new customers navigate and use AWS effectively.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the essay has identified how Amazon grew from a small e-commerce website to a big company offering cloud services. The article also reported the key features, both software and hardware requirements on client and server sides that enable AWS to deliver excellent services to the clients. Despite the many competitive advantages and benefits that AWS gives the customer; the paper has pointed out some areas that Amazon should improve for optimal implementation. As the company continues to grow, newer challenges are introduced, and they should be resilient and innovative to remain competitive in the cloud computing sector.

References

Mattermost. (n.d.). Software and hardware requirements — Mattermost 5.23 documentation. Web.

Miller, R. (2015). Inside Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure. Web.

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Mukherjee, S. (2019). Benefits of AWS in Modern Cloud.

Pelle, I., Czentye, J., Dóka, J., & Sonkoly, B. (2019). Towards latency sensitive cloud native applications: A performance study on AWS. 2019 IEEE 12th International Conference on Cloud Computing (CLOUD) (pp. 272-280).

Sewak, M., & Singh, S. (2018). Winning in the era of serverless computing and function as a service. 2018 3rd International Conference for Convergence in Technology (I2CT) (pp. 1-5).

Swartz, J. (2019). How Amazon created AWS and changed technology forever. Web.

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