Which AWS Service Is Right for Your Application

People getting started with cloud computing often ask me which AWS service they should use to deploy their applications on the cloud.

There is no simple answer.  The best choice always depends on the variables — but you probably knew that already.

In this article, I will describe the main considerations that you need to be aware of prior to moving to the cloud (or not moving at all).  Then we will dive into the AWS field by exploring the main features, and most common use cases for the following services: EC2, ECS, CodeDeploy, OpsWorks, and Elastic Beanstalk. We’ll explore which AWS service best meets your needs.

Why the Cloud?

In a traditional scenario, you usually would have a pre-defined amount of resources available for your applications pool. To provision the right amount of resources you need to predict and purchase hardware/software assets capable of handling your applications in maximum load. However, you will only need 100% of your resources for very short periods of time. After these peaks, some of your resources will be idle.

The obvious and painful problem is, that when part of your infrastructure is idle, you still pay for it. Even worse, you need to manage the whole thing all the time.  Also, some resources eventually break down, whether used or not, and you will be responsible for repair and maintenance.

I believe one of the greatest advantages of the cloud is control over the ability to consume resources in ways you want. Very likely money will be saved in the process.

Which AWS Service to use: moving to the AWS cloud

AWS has 50+ services and this array of options might not be simple for beginners to select the best option. In the next sentences, I will present you the most common AWS services to that you can use to deploy your applications. I include consideration for such things as main features, use cases, elasticity, scalability, manageability, and complexity.

EC2

EC2 stands for Elastic Compute Cloud and is the most basic compute service that AWS provides. Using EC2,  you can create virtual machines, called instances, where you can deploy basically any kind of application, and use any deployment tools available (e.g. Jenkins, Vagrant, Chef, Puppet, Docker, etc.), with a few limitations.
which AWS service
Since EC2 is highly flexible, and you have full control over your instances, AWS assumes you’ll also be taking care of all the management tasks and some security responsibilities.  That might be everything that you want, but this solution may be a bit complex and time-consuming. In order to achieve elasticity and scalability in your applications, you would need to configure or automate many things, including tools such as Auto Scaling and ELB (or develop custom tools) on your own. That probably is not what most people are looking for when they move to AWS.

ECS

ECS stands for EC2 Container Service and as you can probably guess, will run on top of the EC2 service. This service was specifically designed to deploy Docker containers in the AWS cloud. ECS makes
it possible to deploy Docker containers in a simple way, and AWS will handle the deployment and allocation of your containers inside your EC2 instances. With ECS you can define Clusters of Instance Containers and Create tasks. Very handy.
which AWS service
The greatest advantages of ECS is that it uses the images available in the Docker Hub and is easy to integrate with tools such as Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) and Auto Scaling (AS). There is no need to write custom scripts to manage scalability and elasticity because AWS provides this out of the box. Additionally, it is easy to achieve High Availability by using a Multi Availability Zone deployment.  You simply specify the proper configuration options for this and AWS will take care of the rest. Even better, this service is free of charge! You only pay for the resources that you will be using (e.g. EC2 and ELB) and nothing more.
If you want to easily deploy a container application and have your entire infrastructure described in your code, you’ll probably find this service the right fit for your application.

OpsWorks

OpsWorks is a service that helps you manage your infrastructure by using Chef recipes. Using OpsWorks you can easily create a stack and define layers for your applications, grouping the relevant pieces of your applications together. Doing this, you can have an application layer and a database layer, and manage everything in a single place.
which AWS serviceYou can choose between starting your application from scratch on OpsWorks or you can add existing resources to it. OpsWorks easily integrates with AWS’ services, and works with both EC2 instances or on-premises machines running either Linux or Windows.  To do this, install the OpsWorks agent in the machines that you want to use.

OpsWorks is great for managing web applications and for managing  large fleets of servers. The servers can be running enterprise solutions (for example), since you will be using a single point of management and applying changes to your servers via Chef recipes, it will be easy to maintain, operate, and test your deployments.

Which AWS service should you use? If you are planning to use this service with only AWS resources the service will be free. You will only pay for the resources that you use.
If you want to manage your application using Chef recipes, you’ll enjoy the freedom of choosing any operating system, and easily integrating your stacks with ELB, AS or Relational Database Service (RDS). This is the optimal service for your application.

CodeDeploy

CodeDeploy is a service that helps you automate your software deployments. This service offers you the opportunity of deploying new versions of your software using either EC2 instances or on-premises machines. To get started with the service you need to configure a new application in CodeDeploy and specify some Deployment Groups  (e.g. Dev, Test, Prod), in your machines you will have to install the CodeDeploy agent, configure some tags and grant it some Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions.which AWS service
With CodeDeploy you are free to use Windows or Linux as your operating system. You are also free to specify your deployment scripts with the language you choose, as long as the machine that is running the code is able to execute it. You will still need to add in your code a YAML file called AppSpec file. You will also need the deployment scripts that you want to use. This service has some cool features out of the box, such as integration with AS and ELB for zero downtime deployments. As with OpsWorks, this service is free when you use it with EC2 instances. Otherwise, you pay a small amount for each on-premises machine.

Which AWS service should you use? You should consider this service if you want to automate your deployments without having to master tools such as Chef or different scripting languages. You’ll enjoy the ability to integrate CodeDeploy with many third party services/tools by adding CodePipleline in the mix, as we demonstrate in the AWS Developer Fundamentals course.

Elastic Beanstalk

If you have read this post so far and have no idea what AS, ELB, RDS mean in a practical/technical way, then Elastic Beanstalk is the right service for you. With Elastic Beanstalk, you can easily jump in with AWS and deploy web applications in a few minutes using Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, Go, or Docker
which AWS serviceElastic Beanstalk will automate almost everything for you. It will manage AS, ELB, and configure your RDS instances. AWS has designed Elastic Beanstalk to be as simple as possible. You simply create an Application inside of it and create as many Environments as you want. It is also worth noting that Elastic Beanstalk integrates well with CodePipeline for continuos delivery.
Which AWS service should you use? If you just want to deploy your applications using AWS and don’t want to worry about elasticity, scalability, and all the management tasks that you would normally to perform, This is your service. Again, like the others, this service is free. You pay for the AWS resources that you use.

Conclusion

When someone enters a supermarket in search of a box of breakfast cereal he/she is often blinded by the unmanageable and uncurated selection. Do you want hot or cold, what flavor, what kind of nutrition, wheat, rye, etc. Not wanting to engage in a research project people often default to what they know to the detriment of what they might gain. I have selected a curated group of AWS services that should serve to bring clarity. There are many more services with a plethora of features. Over time, you might shift from one to the other as your need changes. The important part is getting started with something new that will make your life and work better.

I hope you enjoyed reviewing these AWS Services with me and that you’ll comment below if you want to add to the discussion.

Avatar

Written by

Eric Magalhães

Eric has a strong background as a Systems Engineer. He is passionate about automation and anything that can make his job painless. Thus adding AWS Cloud skills was an easy decision. He currently holds multiple AWS certifications and is interested in joining the DevOps cult. Outside of his professional life, he loves traveling, music, beer, eating, and cooking.


Related Posts

Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— April 3, 2020

Breaking News: All AWS Certification Exams Now Available Online

Remote proctoring for all AWS certifications Cloud Academy is an Advanced AWS Technology Partner, and we are happy to announce all AWS certification exams are available online!  What does this mean for you? You can stay focused on your certification goal. Or you can start a certifica...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • AWS Certifications
Connie Benton
Connie Benton
— April 1, 2020

How To Build a Career with AWS Certifications

From Iaas and PaaS solutions to digital marketing, cloud computing reshapes the world of technology. As the influence of this technology grows, so does investment. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on cloud computing-related services each year. This influx is continuing to inc...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Certifications
Vijayakumar Athithan
Vijayakumar Athithan
— March 27, 2020

What is Cognito in AWS?

Web applications usually allow a valid username and password combination for successful sign in to the application. Modern authentication flows incorporate more approaches to ensure user authentication. When using AWS, this is no exception, thanks to the abilities and features offered b...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Cognito
  • Solutions Architect
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— March 20, 2020

The 12 AWS Certifications: Which is Right for You and Your Team?

As companies increasingly shift workloads to the public cloud, cloud computing has moved from a nice-to-have to a core competency in the enterprise. This shift requires a new set of skills to design, deploy, and manage applications in cloud computing. As the market leader and most ma...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 17, 2020

Cloud Academy’s Blog Digest: How Do AWS Certifications Increase Your Employability, How to Become a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Engineer, and more

With everything going on right now, it's likely that the only thing you've been reading lately is related to the coronavirus pandemic. It's important to stay informed during these times, but it's also good to jump into something that can take your mind off of the current situation for j...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • programming
  • Security
Avatar
Cloud Academy Team
— March 13, 2020

Which Certifications Should I Get?

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the old AWS slogan, “Cloud is the new normal” is indeed a reality today. Really, cloud has been the new normal for a while now and getting credentials has become an increasingly effective way to quickly showcase your abilities to recruiters and compan...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Computing
  • Google Cloud Platform
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 7, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Intro to GitOps; AWS Courses; Java, Python, Amazon Linux 2, Ubuntu, & Docker Playgrounds; and much more

New Lab Playgrounds This month, our Content Team released six new "playground labs." Our playground labs provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to instal...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— March 6, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Intro to GitOps; AWS Courses; Java, Python, Amazon Linux 2, Ubuntu, & Docker Playgrounds; and much more

New Lab Playgrounds This month, our Content Team released six new "playground labs." Our playground labs provide a safe and secure sandbox environment for you to explore your own ideas, follow along with Cloud Academy courses, or answer your own questions — all without having to instal...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • gitops
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • lab playground
  • programming
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— March 4, 2020

AWS Certifications: How Do They Increase Your Employability and Progress Your Career?

AWS certifications are no walk in the park. They’re designed to validate in-depth, specialist knowledge and comprehensive experience, often requiring months of dedicated studying to earn even for those already working with the cloud platform. But the rewards that AWS professionals ca...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS certification
  • certification
Avatar
Chandan Patra
— February 21, 2020

Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch: AWS Cloud Search Choices

Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch: What's the main difference? Let's compare AWS-based cloud tools: Elasticsearch vs. CloudSearch. While both services use proven technologies, Elasticsearch is more popular, open source, and has a flexible API to use for customization; in comparison, CloudS...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • cloudsearch
  • elasticsearch
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— February 13, 2020

Cloud Academy Content Roadmap Updates

Welcome to our Q1 2020 roadmap. This is the content we plan to build over the next three months, between February 1 - and April 30, 2020. Let's look at some of our roadmap highlights. Atlassian Bamboo for CI/CD We had a lot of requests for practical guides on how to apply DevOps tool...

Read more
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Docker
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Kubernetes
  • Machine Learning
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— February 7, 2020

New on Cloud Academy: Git Labs, CKA and CKAD Lab Challenges, AWS and Azure Learning Paths, AGILE, and Much More

We just kicked off our first Free Weekend of 2020. This means we've unlocked our Training Library for just 72 hours. Until Sunday at 11:59 pm (PST), you can get unlimited access to our industry-leading learning paths, courses, certification prep exams, and our most popular hands-on labs...

Read more
  • agile
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Linux
  • OWASP
  • programming
  • red hat
  • scrum