The Oversimplified AWS (Amazon Web Services) Guide

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Simple AWS Guide

There are so many AWS products out there that it’s hard to keep track. This is our attempt of simplifying AWS, to help grasp what each product is on a high level. From there you can read the official FAQ, look at some screenshots, and watch some videos. Hopefully this will help you quickly understand the many AWS products, and help you determine which services might be of interest to you. We also add some useful links at the bottom, like how AWS compares to Azure and Google Cloud.

Note that this oversimplified guide is meant for IT professionals, and not written for people with a non-technical background.

AWS Categories

Networking & Content Delivery
Developer Tools
Management Tools
Media Services
Machine Learning
Security, Identity & Compliance
Mobile Services
AR (Augmented Reality) & VR (Virtual Reality)
Application Integration
Customer Engagement
Business Productivity
Desktop & App Streaming
IoT (Internet of Things)
Game Development

AWS Guide


We think of it like
Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)
Virtual servers in the cloud.
virtual machine, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Lightsail
Launch and manage Virtual Private Servers.
VPS (Virtual Private Server), simplified EC2 FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service)
Run and manage Docker containers.
Kubernetes or Docker Swarm FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon ECR (Elastic Container Registry)
Store and retrieve Docker images.
Docker Hub FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon EKS (ECS for Kubernetes)
Run managed Kubernetes on AWS.
managed Kubernetes FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Batch
Run batch jobs at any scale.
large-scale parallel batch jobs FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Elastic Beanstalk
Run and manage web apps.
PaaS (Platform as a Service) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Lambda
Run your code in response to events.
serverless functions FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Fargate
Run containers without managing servers or clusters.
ECS & EKS PaaS (Platform as a Service) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Serverless Application Repository
Discover, deploy and publish serverless applications.
serverless marketplace FAQ | Screens | Videos
Vmware Cloud on AWS
Build a hybrid cloud without custom hardware.
VMware SDDC (Software Defined Data Center) FAQ | Screens | Videos


We think of it like
Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)
Scalable storage in the cloud.
SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Storage)
Block storage for EC2.
EC2 disk volume FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon EFS (Elastic File System)
Managed file storage for EC2.
NFS (Network File System) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Glacier
Low-cost archive storage in the cloud.
archive on cold storage FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Storage Gateway
Hybrid storage integration.
on-premise + cloud storage FAQ | Screens | Videos


We think of it like
Amazon Aurora
High performance managed relational database.
optimized MySQL and PostgreSQL FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service)
Managed relational database service for MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and MariaDB.
MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon DynamoDB
Managed NoSQL database.
MongoDB, KV + document NoSQL, supercedes SimpleDB FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon ElastiCache
In-memory data store and cache.
Redis, Memcached FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Redshift
Fast, simple, cost-effective data warehousing.
columnar PostgreSQL for DW (Data Warehouse) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Neptune
Managed graph database service.
Neo4j, supports Gremlin and SPARQL FAQ | Screens | Videos


We think of it like
AWS Migration Hub
Track migrations from a single place.
migration tracking dashboard FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Application Discovery Service
Discover on-premises applications to streamline migration.
asset discovery tool FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Database Migration Service
Migrate databases with minimal downtime.
database migration tool FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Server Migration Service
Migrate on-premises servers to AWS.
VM migration tool FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Import/Export Disk
Move large amounts of data into and out of AWS using portable storage devices for transport.
data transfer using user’s portable storage FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Snowball
Petabyte-scale data transport.
data transfer using AWS portable storage FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Snowball Edge
Petabyte-scale data transport with on-board compute.
data transfer using portable computer FAQ | Screens | Videos
Exabyte-scale data transport.
data transfer using shipping container FAQ | Screens | Videos

Networking & Content Delivery

We think of it like
Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud )
Isolated cloud resources.
VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Direct Connect
Dedicated network connection to AWS.
peering, leased line FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon CloudFront
Global content delivery network.
CloudFlare, CDN (Content Delivery Network) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Route 53
Scalable domain name system.
GoDaddy, DNS (Domain Name System) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon API Gateway
Build, deploy, and manage APIs.
REST (Representational State Transfer) API FAQ | Screens | Videos
ELB (Elastic Load Balancing)
High scale load balancing.
load balancer FAQ | Screens | Videos

Developer Tools

We think of it like
AWS CodeStar
Develop and deploy AWS applications.
complete, integrated developer toolchain FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS CodeCommit
Store code in private Git repositories.
GitHub FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS CodeBuild
Build and test code.
CI (Continuous Integration) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS CodeDeploy
Automate code deployment.
Capistrano FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS CodePipeline
Release software using continuous delivery.
CD (Continuous Delivery) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Cloud9
Write, run, and debug code on a cloud IDE.
cloud IDE (Integrated Development Environment) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Analyze and debug your applications.
New Relic, APM (Application Performance Management) FAQ | Screens | Videos

Management Tools

We think of it like
Amazon CloudWatch
Monitor resources and applications.
Nagios FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Auto Scaling
Scale multiple resources to meet demand.
auto scaling FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS CloudFormation
Create and manage resources with templates.
Terraform, resource group templates FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS CloudTrail
Track user activity and API usage.
audit trail FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Config
Track resource inventory and changes.
configuration auditing FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS OpsWorks
Automate operations with Chef and Puppet.
Chef, Puppet, CM (Configuration Management) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Service Catalog
Create and use standardized products.
CloudFormation catalog FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Systems Manager
Gain operational insights and take action.
visual CM (Configuration Management) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Trusted Advisor
Optimize performance and security.
best practices, recommendations scanner FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Managed Services
Infrastructure operations management for AWS.
Enterprise managed services FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Personal Health Dashboard
Personalized view of aws service health.
personalized AWS status FAQ | Screens | Videos

Media Services

We think of it like
Amazon Kinesis Video Streams
Capture, process, and store video streams.
video stream processing FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Elastic Transcoder
Easy-to-use scalable media transcoding.
HandBrake, old technology transcoding FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Elemental MediaConvert
Convert file-based video content.
HandBrake, new technology transcoding FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Elemental MediaLive
Convert live video content.
live video streaming FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Elemental MediaPackage
Video origination and packaging.
video packaging, DRM (Digital Rights Management), DVR (Digital Video Recorder) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Elemental MediaStore
Media storage and simple http origin.
video storage FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Elemental MediaTailor
Video personalization and monetization.
video advertising FAQ | Screens | Videos

Machine Learning

We think of it like
Amazon SageMaker
Build, train, and deploy machine learning models at scale.
TensorFlow, MXNet, advanced ML (Machine Learning) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Machine Learning
Machine learning for developers.
basic ML (Machine Learning) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Comprehend
Discover insights and relationships in text.
NLP (Natural Language Processing) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS DeepLens
Deep learning enabled video camera.
AI video camera FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Lex
Build voice and text chatbots.
Alexa, speech recognition FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Polly
Turn text into lifelike speech.
TTS (Text to Speech) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Transcribe
Automatic speech recognition.
STT (Speech To Text) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Translate
Natural and fluent language translation.
language translation FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Rekognition
Analyze image and video.
image and video recognition FAQ | Screens | Videos


We think of it like
Amazon Athena
Query data in S3 using SQL.
S3 SQL FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon EMR (Elastic Map Reduce)
Hosted Hadoop framework.
Hadoop FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon CloudSearch
Managed search service.
Solr FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Elasticsearch Service
Run and scale Elasticsearch clusters.
Elasticsearch FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Kinesis Data Streams
Capture, process, and store data streams.
stream processing FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose
Load data streams into AWS data stores.
stream loader FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics
Analyze data streams with standard SQL.
stream SQL FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon QuickSight
Fast business analytics service.
BI (Business Intelligence) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Data Pipeline
Orchestration service for periodic, data-driven workflows.
ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Glue
Prepare and load data.
ETL using Apache Spark FAQ | Screens | Videos

Security, Identity & Compliance

We think of it like
AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management)
Manage user access and encryption keys.
users, AC (Access Control) FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Cognito
Identity management for your apps.
IdM (Identity Management), AaaS (Authentication as a Service) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Secrets Manager
Rotate, manage, and retrieve database credentials, API keys, and other secrets through their lifecycle.
Vault FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon GuardDuty
Managed threat detection service.
threat detection using logs FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Inspector
Analyze application security.
Nessus FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Macie
Discover, classify, and protect your data.
PII (Personally Identifiable Information) or IP (Intellectual Property) scanner on S3 FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS SSO (Single Sign-On)
Cloud single sign-on (SSO) service.
OneLogin FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Certificate Manager
Provision, manage, and deploy SSL/TLS certificates.
SSL/TLS certificate management FAQ | Screens | Videos
Hardware-based key storage for regulatory compliance.
HSM (Hardware Security Module) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Directory Service
Host and manage Active Directory.
Active Directory FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Cloud Directory
Create flexible cloud-native directories.
directory service for developers FAQ | Screens | Videos
Filter malicious web traffic.
WAF (Web Application Firewall) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Shield
DDoS protection.
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) mitigation FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Artifact
Self-service portal for on-demand access to AWS’ compliance reports.
compliance reports FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS KMS (Key Management Service)
Managed creation and control of encryption keys.
encryption key management FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Organizations
Policy-based management for multiple AWS accounts.
AWS account groups FAQ | Screens | Videos

Mobile Services

We think of it like
AWS Mobile Hub
Build, test, and monitor apps.
mobile back-end + client SDK FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS AppSync
Real-time and offline mobile data apps.
data synchronization FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Device Farm
Test Android, FireOS, and iOS apps on real devices in the cloud.
mobile device testing FAQ | Screens | Videos

AR (Augmented Reality) & VR (Virtual Reality)

We think of it like
Amazon Sumerian
Build and run VR and AR applications.
VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), 3D builder FAQ | Screens | Videos

Application Integration

We think of it like
AWS Step Functions
Coordinate distributed applications.
visual workflows FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon MQ
Managed message broker for ActiveMQ.
ActiveMQ FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service)
Pub/sub, mobile push and SMS.
push notifications FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service)
Managed message queues.
message queue FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon SWF (Simple Workflow)
Managed state tracker and task coordinator in the cloud.
workflow framework FAQ | Screens | Videos

Customer Engagement

We think of it like
Amazon Connect
Cloud-based contact center.
call center software FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Pinpoint
Push notifications for mobile apps.
user analytics + engagement, supersedes Amazon Mobile Analytics FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon SES (Simple Email Service)
Email sending and receiving.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) FAQ | Screens | Videos

Business Productivity

We think of it like
Alexa for Business
Empower your organization with Alexa.
Alexa for the workplace FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Chime
Frustration-free meetings, video calls, and chat.
WebEx FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon WorkDocs
Enterprise storage and sharing service.
SharePoint FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon WorkMail
Secure and managed business email and calendaring.
email + calendar FAQ | Screens | Videos

Desktop & App Streaming

We think of it like
Amazon WorkSpaces
Desktop computing service.
Windows virtual desktop FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon AppStream 2.0
Stream desktop applications securely to a browser.
Citrix FAQ | Screens | Videos

IoT (Internet of Things)

We think of it like
AWS IoT Core
Connect devices to the cloud.
connectivity between devices + cloud FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS IoT 1-Click
One click creation of an AWS Lambda trigger.
trigger AWS Lambda FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS IoT Device Management
Onboard, organize, and remotely manage IoT devices.
device management (provisioning, search, logging, jobs) FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS IoT Analytics
Analytics for IoT devices.
device analytics FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS Greengrass
Local compute, messaging, and sync for devices.
edge computing FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon FreeRTOS
IoT operating system for microcontrollers.
FreeRTOS FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS IoT Button
Cloud programmable Dash button.
programmable Dash Button FAQ | Screens | Videos
AWS IoT Device Defender
Security management for ioT devices.
device security monitoring FAQ | Screens | Videos

Game Development

We think of it like
Amazon GameLift
Simple, fast, cost-effective dedicated game server hosting.
game server hosting FAQ | Screens | Videos
Amazon Lumberyard
A free cross-platform 3D game engine with full source, integrated with AWS and Twitch.
Unity, 3D game engine FAQ | Screens | Videos

More Information

Amazon Web Services in Plain English
Another simplified guide to AWS.
Amazon Web Services — a practical guide
A basic guide to AWS with tips and gotchas.
AWS to Azure services comparison
Microsoft’s comparison guide between AWS and Azure.
Map AWS services to Google Cloud Platform products
Google’s comparison guide between AWS and Google Cloud.
Map Microsoft Azure services to Google Cloud Platform products
Google’s comparison guide between Azure and Google Cloud.
Ever had a batch job fail without you knowing? Check out PushMon, an easy to use job monitoring system.
Are you in configuration hell? Check out Config, an easy to use configuration file management system.

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