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


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


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


We think of it like
AWS Migration Hub
Track migrations from a single place.
migration tracking dashboard | |
AWS Application Discovery Service
Discover on-premises applications to streamline migration.
asset discovery tool | |
AWS Database Migration Service
Migrate databases with minimal downtime.
database migration tool | |
AWS Server Migration Service
Migrate on-premises servers to AWS.
VM migration tool | |
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 | |
AWS Snowball
Petabyte-scale data transport.
data transfer using AWS portable storage | |
AWS Snowball Edge
Petabyte-scale data transport with on-board compute.
data transfer using portable computer | |
Exabyte-scale data transport.
data transfer using shipping container | |

Networking & Content Delivery

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

Developer Tools

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

Management Tools

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

Media Services

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

Machine Learning

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


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

Security, Identity & Compliance

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

Mobile Services

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

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 | |

Application Integration

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

Customer Engagement

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

Business Productivity

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

Desktop & App Streaming

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

IoT (Internet of Things)

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

Game Development

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

More Information

Another simplified guide to AWS.
A basic guide to AWS with tips and gotchas.
Microsoft’s comparison guide between AWS and Azure.
Google’s comparison guide between AWS and Google Cloud.
Google’s comparison guide between Azure and Google Cloud.
Ever had a batch job fail without you knowing? Check out , 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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