AWS Do's and Don'ts

How to actually use AWS

Originally posted on the 8th Light Blog


You’re migrating to the cloud.

Simple, right? Everything is basically the same. You’ve got a server with an operating system of your choice. Nothing’s really different. Just launch an EC2 instance on AWS, do everything you’ve always done, and boom. Done. You’re certifiably in the cloud.

Yeah. No. That’s not how it works.

Using EC2 for everything—database, load balancers, Redis, and so on—isn’t using AWS or the cloud effectively. You’re just paying for servers that happen to be hosted by Amazon. By using the most basic AWS cloud offering, you’re limiting your potential and neglecting the power of AWS and the cloud.

By all means, you can work it like that. But it’s not necessarily going to be cost-effective, nor is it the most efficient way of using AWS.

So you may ask, how should I be using AWS, if not in the way described above?

Well, it’s very simple.

Actually use AWS for all it’s worth.

Some concrete examples:

The list can go on and on and on.

Some of it is just good DevOps practice, which Amazon doesn’t do for you (excluding some aspects of Elastic Beanstalk). Put Continuous Integration in place, document, enable logging and alarms, and have secure applications. That’s what you should be doing anyway. AWS doesn’t change that.

The rest of it is just being savvy about AWS resources. Comparing cost and choosing which options are best for your business and application. Basically, being a smart consumer. AWS is one super store of options, and not all of them are created equal. Be a discerning buyer. Look at a wide selection of options instead of going to what feels familiar. Different can be an improvement and, importantly, cheaper.

AWS has so much potential to change a business. But it doesn’t just come on a silver platter named Elastic Compute Cloud. You have to work to integrate it into your app ecosphere. Only then can you really be in the cloud.