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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an on-demand cloud computing platform. It offers a wide range of services, including compute, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services, deployment, management, and security. Using AWS, you can host anything from a simple website to a highly available and scalable platform used by millions of people.
AWS can be intimidating at first. There are so many services and countless ways to use them, and Amazon’s scale means it can work for global businesses. However, AWS is also a great choice for startups that are just getting started.
What to look for in cloud hosting providers
Budgeting during your startup’s early days is important. You need to be able to scale your infrastructure as your business grows, but you need affordable solutions until your product makes money. Affordable hosting helps you extend your startup’s runway.
Preparing for future success is just as important. Ideally, the infrastructure you use today will serve you well for years to come, no matter how quickly your business grows. You need a solution that will grow with you.
Until you have the budget for a dedicated IT team, you will want cloud-based infrastructure that is easy to manage. The product you’re building needs to be reliable and scalable. Building those qualities will require time and attention, but your primary goal for infrastructure is to deliver valuable products and services, not to manage a bunch of web servers.
You also need to earn your customers’ trust. Customers will expect you to protect their data. Your infrastructure should be secure.
Getting started on a budget
AWS offers a Free Tier for new customers that gives you access to several services for free for your first year. While you may still see some costs during your first year with AWS, the free resources help you make the most of your budget when you’re first getting started. The AWS Free Tier offers enough resources to test out most product ideas.
Often, the Free Tier is even good enough to serve as an early production environment with your first customers. This means you can get started on AWS with minimal hosting costs.
Managing costs as your business grows
Once you do need resources beyond the Free Tier, there are several ways to save money in AWS. AWS gives deep discounts for several services when you commit to a certain amount of usage. Some discount opportunities can reduce the cost of certain services by 70% or more.
Auto Scaling rules can automatically turn resources on or off based on demand. This is a great way to maximize your budget and only pay for the resources you need.
In short, you only pay for what you use with AWS. Regardless of your infrastructure’s capacity needs, you can save money by right-sizing your infrastructure.
Building for maintainability
AWS infrastructure is generally easy to manage. This means you don’t need a dedicated IT team to manage your infrastructure. Often, a startup’s AWS infrastructure needs are simple enough for your software development team to manage.
Even complex applications hosted in AWS can be managed by a relatively small team. AWS services like Elastic Beanstalk simplify deployment and management of web applications. Elastic Beanstalk orchestrates web app deployments, load balancing, Auto Scaling, and more. The service reduces the time required to manage applications compared to manually configured infrastructure or traditional data centers.
Even if Elastic Beanstalk is not the right fit for your needs, AWS has plenty of other services that can simplify IT management. Most AWS services are automatically managed, with little need for manual intervention for most workloads.
Preparing for future success
Even as your business grows, AWS will remain a great choice for your infrastructure. Resource costs reflect your usage. If you are still looking for traction, your costs can be minimal.
AWS can also handle scaling up once you’ve found success, Web application services are easy to set up for high availability and scalability. Horizontal scaling, multi-region availability, and other features are built into many AWS services to help you reach global scale.
AWS services are designed to be reliable. Amazon has Service Level Agreements that commit to 99.95% availability for most services. That translates to less than five hours of downtime per year. While this is sufficient for most business applications, you can improve that number through investments in redundancy, multi-cloud hosting, and other strategies.
Starting with secure infrastructure
AWS’s infrastructure is certified compliant with dozens of compliance programs, including SOC 2, ISO 9001, HIPAA, and PCI DSS Level 1. That means that when you use AWS, your infrastructure is already compliant with many of the industry standards your startup will require. While you still need to ensure the applications you run on that infrastructure are secure, AWS gives you a solid foundation.
Robust tools and support
Beyond the extensive service offerings, your startup benefits from AWS’s tools, documentation, and customer support. Your application developers can also leverage third-party tools and open source libraries to make the most of Amazon Web Services.
How to get started with AWS
Since AWS is the most popular cloud provider, community support is very strong. AWS forums, Stack Overflow, blogs, instructional videos, and other online resources can help you get started.