Everything You Need to Know about the Cloud and Cloud Computing, Part II: Using the Cloud

cloud

How to get started with AWS, install Apache, create an EFS volume and much more.

The cloud is here to stay, regardless of how you access data day to day. Whether you are uploading and sharing new photos with friends in your social-media account or updating documents and spreadsheets alongside your peers in your office or school, chances are you're connecting to the cloud in some form or another.

In the first part of this series, I explored what makes up the cloud and how it functions when all of its separate moving pieces come together. In this article, building from Part I's foundations, I cover using the cloud through some actual examples.

Getting Started with AWS

For the purposes of this article, I'm focusing on a few of the top offerings provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Please know that I hold no affiliation to or with Amazon, nor am I stating that Amazon offerings exceed those of its competitors.

If you haven't already, be sure to register an account. But before you do, understand that charges may apply. Amazon, may provide a free tier of offerings for a limited time, typically a year, to newly registered users. In most cases, the limitations to these offerings are far less than ideal for modern use cases. It is a pay-as-you go model, and you'll be charged only as long as the instance or service continues to be active.

As soon as you are registered and logged in from within your web browser, you'll be greeted by a fairly straightforward dashboard.

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Figure 1. The AWS Main Dashboard of services and resources.

Compute

At first, companies leveraging cloud compute applied a straight copy-and-paste of their very own data centers for deploying standard web/application/database servers. The model was the same. There is nothing wrong with that approach. The transition for most converting from on-premises to the cloud would have been somewhat seamless—at least from the perspective of the user accessing those resources. The only real difference being that it was just in a different data center and without the headache of maintaining the infrastructure supporting it.

In the world of AWS, virtual compute servers are managed under the Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) stack, from whole virtual instances to containers and more. Let's begin an example EC2 experiment by navigating to the EC2 dashboard.

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Figure 2. The Elastic Cloud Computing Dashboard