AWS For Admins For Dummies
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Amazon Web Services (AWS) started out small, but has become a vast collection of cloud services that businesses can use to support any activity without having to invest in an IT infrastructure.

A quick overview of the Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is all about knowing which service to use. Amazon provides a considerable number of free-tier services that you can try, but some of them are better for experimentation purposes than others are. The following table presents a quick overview of the services best suited to experimentation needs.

Service Name Description Console Access URL
Amazon CloudFront Defines a Content Delivery Network (CDN) used to send content from Amazon services to end users. This service supports dynamic, static streaming and interactive content.
Amazon CloudWatch Monitors the AWS cloud resources used by applications that you run on AWS. You can use this service to collect and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, set alarms, and automatically react to changes in your AWS resources. Essentially, this service enables you to track application activity through a variety of methods, such as log files.
Amazon DynamoDB Provides access to a NoSQL database service that supports both document and key-value store models. A NoSQL database is a high-speed nonrelational database model that specializes in ease of development, scalable performance, high availability, and resilience.
Amazon Elastic Transcoder Converts (transcodes) media files from one format to another, normally to make the media play on devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and PCs.
Amazon ElastiCache Creates an in-memory data cache that improves application performance by transferring data from a long-term storage service, such as Amazon RDS, to memory. This service supports two open-source, in-memory caching engines: Memcached and Redis
Amazon Elasticsearch Service Deploys the open source Elastisearch service, now simply called Elastic ( to the AWS cloud where you can use it to perform both search and analysis tasks. Analysis tasks can include checking logs, monitoring applications, and performing clickstream analysis.
Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Allows storage of data objects as part of a relational database. Amazon RDS currently supports six database engines: Amazon Aurora Oracle Microsoft SQL Server PostgreSQL MySQL MariaDB You can also use any combination of RDS General Purpose (SSD) or Magnetic storage.
Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) Enables you to send transactional email, marketing messages, or other types of high-quality content as email messages. You can use this service to deliver messages to an Amazon S3 bucket, call custom code using an AWS Lambda function, or publish notifications to Amazon SNS.
Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) Creates a publication/subscription model for providing notifications to subscribers. You use this service to deliver messages. This service relies on the Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS).
Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) Provides a fully managed queuing service. Queuing lets you decouple cloud application components so that components need not run at the same time. This service is often used with Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS).
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) Allows storage of data objects of any sort in the cloud. The three levels of storage enable you to perform short-term (Standard service), middle-tier (Infrequent Access, IA), and long-term storage (Glacier). You can also configure data to the various storage levels based on policies and uses.
AWS IoT Allows connected devices to interact with cloud applications and other devices. Developers can also use this service to add AWS Lambda, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon S3, Amazon Machine Learning, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service support to applications.
AWS Lambda Runs custom application code without the need for provisioning or managing servers. You upload the code you want to run, and AWS Lambda does everything needed to run and scale your code with high availability.
Database Migration Service Makes it possible to transfer data from one kind of database to an entirely different kind of database. Moving data between databases is an essential administration tasks. You can find all sorts of reasons to move data. Some of the most common reasons are a change in database vendor, creating a common platform for all elements of an organization, upgrading to obtain an improved feature set, and a change in platforms (such as moving from a corporate server to the cloud).
Elastic Beanstalk (EB) Creates an environment for working with web applications. A focus of EB is to be able to upload, configure, and manage applications of all sorts with ease. An application isn’t useful unless people can access it with ease and make it perform whatever tasks it’s designed to perform in the most seamless manner possible.
Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Provides access to a web service that offers resizable cloud-based compute capacity. You use this service to access virtual server hosting.
Elastic File System (EFS) Defines a cloud-based file system for storing data. Most business users are quite familiar with the file system level because they use it to retrieve files when working with applications such as word processors. A file system uses the filing cabinet metaphor, where individual files appear in folders and folders appear in drawers (individual hard drive partitions).
Glacier Provides data archival functionality for data that you no longer need to access actively. Archiving data, the act of moving it from expensive high-speed storage to low-cost, low-speed storage, used to be an act akin to moving paper files from an office to the basement. Someone might use those files sometime, in some way, some day, but not today and possibly not ever.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) Helps you configure AWS security for all the services. You use this service to ensure that your other services remain safe and inaccessible to others.

AWS-related command-line interface commands you should know

The Command-Line Interface (CLI) presents an uncomfortable environment for many people. Given that the CLI for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) free tier relies on Linux and that many administrators aren’t familiar with the operating system, the situation becomes even less comfortable.

However, by using the AWS consoles as much as possible, you can reduce the need for the CLI to a minimum. Even so, you find that some tasks still require the CLI, which is where this handy list of CLI commands comes into play. (Information you must replace with a specific entry appears in italics.)

  • cat /proc/mounts: Displays a list of mounted drives.
  • ls: Lists the contents of a directory. You may optionally provide a directory path to list.
  • rm <filename>: Removes the specified file from the current directory.
  • rpm -ql ‘<package name>‘: Obtains a list of utilities contained within a package.
  • sudo chmod <options>: Changes the access mode for the current directory.
  • sudo mkdir <directory name>: Creates a new directory to hold files.
  • sudo reboot: Reboots the remove AWS system so that you can see the results of any changes you make.
  • sudo rmdir <directory name>: Removes the specified directory.
  • sudo yum groupinstall “<group package name>“: Installs the specified group of packages.
  • sudo yum search ‘<package name>‘: Searches for a package.
  • sudo yum update: Performs required AWS updates.
  • sudo yum -y install <service or feature>: Installs a required support service or feature onto the AWS system.

Linux provides the same wealth of CLI commands that Windows does, but these are absolute essentials when working with AWS. You can find many sources for these commands online, but one of the better resources appears at Linux Command Directory. The important thing is to remember to use the consoles when you can in order to keep things simple.

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John Paul Mueller is a prolific technical writer and editor with 101 books and 600 articles to his credit. His topics range from networking and home security to database management and heads-down programming, and his editing skills have helped more than 63 authors refine their manuscripts. Visit his blog at

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