Chances are you’re reading about AWS every time you take a stroll through your Twitter timeline, whether you like it or not. You would almost think that everyone is finally going to follow the advice of those inside, and give in to the supposedly inevitable decision to move some or all of your infrastructure to the cloud. Now is the time to look at what real reasons may coax you into moving to AWS.

Getting your Start with Winning on AWS

“All your agility is in dev and test. Not in production. Start there first.” is a quote that you will hear often among the sessions delivered by Werner Vogels, the CTO for AWS. That sentiment is echoed throughout the AWS insiders and also among many of their customers. What does that really mean, though?

When you look at AWS as a target for some of your applications, the biggest challenge often comes when you pick a critical system with lots of interdependencies. After hacking away trying to make it work on the AWS cloud environment, you may find yourself hitting the proverbial wall and blaming AWS. The real issue is the fact that we were trying to map existing methodologies and products onto a new platform without really digging into the requirements.

AWS is about velocity and simplicity. Stitching together services to make an overall workflow that can increase the velocity with which you deploy your software. As Werner says, the development is where we can gain the most from accelerating our IT. The other distinct advantage with dev and test workloads is that you spin them up, tear them down, and repeat that process regularly. This is where the AWS cloud services can really shine in comparison to many on-premises offerings.

Customer-Centric and Service-Oriented

Another popular quote from Werner states that “We build primitives. AWS is much more than just moving to AWS. The ability to pick the right tools for the right job is what makes the AWS experience good for developers.” This is where the push towards customer-centric and service-oriented begins.

AWS makes a point of building frameworks, and then making it wildly easy to consume them. They also make sure to do something in order to help remove some of the on-boarding challenges, create methods and give freedom to the consumers to choose the language. When any service launches, the target market is defined by the languages supported. AWS makes sure to keep that door wide open, and continues to focus on the services and interoperability that can be

Challenges with AWS

Nearly all of the challenges that your organization will face when moving to AWS will boil down to cost, and complexity. Wait, didn’t we get told all about the simplicity of deploying into AWS? It is just a few clicks to get an instance up and running, but that’s not the full story.

Putting your infrastructure on the public cloud means that you need to understand both the architectural implications, and the cost implications.

This is where you can start to build out your checklist of requirements and goals:

  • What are we trying to achieve by deploying on AWS?
  • Which applications will work better using AWS infrastructure?
  • Where are we experiencing bottlenecks in our IT processes?
  • What AWS services can alleviate those bottlenecks?
  • What constraints are in place for data management and workload placement (e.g. regulatory requirements)
  • Is my staff ready to consume AWS cloud services?
  • What is the “real” cost of using AWS?

It’s important to remember that costs in AWS include allocation of resources, as well as data transfer and various per-transaction charges such as I/O, messaging, reporting, monitoring, etc. There is much more to the overall picture than just the daily cost of a service.

As noted in the checklist, there are also things such as staffing, training, regulatory requirements, and much more that can come into play. This is just a start on the basic checklist, but we have an advantage as we bring AWS into the fold as a potential service. Getting started is much easier than just about anything that you’ve used in the past.

Start Today Without a Problem

One thing that will make moving to AWS an attractive place to do a Proof of Concept is that you can go there today. You can spin up a workload while you’re reading this article and, it will be up by the time you finish reading. That’s the power of AWS. It’s there for you to speed your entry onto the platform.

The advice that everyone should be getting is to use the above checklist, pick an application or system that you want to try out, and iterate from there. You can even use the free-tier services for the first year if you’re driving minimal usage.

15 years ago we were laughing at the idea of virtualization. Five years ago, we stopped laughing and most companies widely accepted a virtualization-first tactic for IT. AWS launched in 2006, so don’t be surprised when the laughing stops, and a cloud-first approach becomes the industry standard.