Developing Applications Using the AWS Cloud: Best Practices, Benefits, Considerations

In today's digital age, businesses are rapidly adopting cloud computing to scale, innovate, and streamline their operations. Among the major competitors in the space is Amazon Web Services (AWS), offering a wide array of services and tools to help organizations achieve their goals. That includes helping businesses of all sizes develop, deploy, and manage applications that are scalable, reliable, and secure.

“AWS tends to have a strong business-case focus, which is emphasized in their training and certifications,” said TDK Technologies Chief Technology Officer Mark Henman. “Businesspeople tend to look at AWS because of that emphasis, when compared to other options in the marketplace.”

However, migrating and architecting software for the AWS cloud can be a complex task. In this article, we'll present some best practices to help you successfully architect software applications to run in the AWS cloud, note some of the benefits of using AWS managed services instead of implementing them yourself, and offer some critical points to consider that factor into the decision-making process.

Best Practices for Developing Applications with AWS

Before diving into AWS services and configurations, it's crucial to have a clear cloud strategy in place. Define your goals, identify and prioritize the business benefits you aim to achieve (including cost savings, scalability, agility, and security) and understand your current infrastructure's limitations. This strategic groundwork will inform your cloud architecture decisions.

“Some people want to go to the cloud because they've heard others say, ‘everybody needs to be in the cloud.’ But companies really don't need to go to the cloud until they’ve either outgrown their current architecture or if they need something to replace aging architecture,” Henman said. “The cloud really means you’ve decided to lease computer time from someone else, instead of buying and doing it yourself.”

When developing applications on AWS, it's important to choose the right combination of services to meet your needs. Some common AWS services for application development include:

  • EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud): Provides scalable computing capacity in the cloud.
  • ECS (Elastic Container Service): Orchestrates Docker containers to simplify containerized application management.
  • Lambda: A server-less computer service that allows you to run code without provisioning or managing servers.
  • RDS (Relational Database Service): Provides managed relational database services.
  • S3 (Simple Storage Service): Provides object storage for data of any size, type, or access pattern.
  • API Gateway: Allows you to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at scale.

It’s also important to design for scalability and high availability. This means building your applications in a way that can handle increased loads and remain available even in the face of failures.

Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) automate the software development and delivery process. By using CI/CD, you can build, test, and deploy your applications more quickly and reliably. AWS provides a number of services that can help you implement CI/CD.

Security is paramount when developing applications in the cloud. You need to take steps to protect your applications from unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security threats. AWS offers a range of security features and services that you can use to secure your applications.

“The cloud gives you a good starting foundation. But you still have to secure your application in the cloud. If you don't work hard to make sure that what you put in the cloud is secure, you can undo all of the security that Amazon has in place,” Henman said.

Once your applications are deployed on AWS, it's important to monitor them to ensure that they are performing as expected and to identify any potential problems. You can use AWS services such as CloudWatch and X-Ray to monitor your applications. You should also regularly review your AWS costs to identify any areas where you can optimize your spending.

Benefits and Considerations When Deciding to Use AWS for Application Development

Overall, AWS is a powerful platform for developing and deploying applications. However, it's important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully. AWS is not a one-size-fits-all solution for application development. The best platform for you will depend on your specific needs and requirements. Here are some considerations that could affect a decision to use AWS for application development.

  • Reduced Operational Complexity
    • AWS manages the underlying infrastructure, patching, and updates for its managed services. This means you can focus on building and deploying your applications instead of worrying about hardware maintenance, software updates, and operational tasks.
      • Watch for loss of control and visibility. When you use managed services, you are giving up some control over your infrastructure and applications. This can make it more difficult to troubleshoot problems or implement custom solutions.
      • Do you have team members with the skills and experience necessary to develop and deploy applications on AWS? If not, you may need to invest in training or hire additional staff.
  • High Availability and Reliability
    • AWS invests heavily in ensuring the availability and reliability of its managed services. They are designed to run across multiple Availability Zones (AZs) and are backed by Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that provide uptime guarantees. This reduces the burden of building redundant and fault-tolerant systems yourself.
      • Watch for Vendor Lock-In: Once you start using managed services, it can be difficult to switch to a different provider. This is because your applications may become tightly coupled to the provider's platform.
  • Scalability
    • Managed services on AWS are built to scale horizontally and vertically as needed. AWS automatically handles resource provisioning, load balancing, and scaling based on demand. This eliminates the need to manually configure and manage infrastructure to accommodate traffic spikes or growth.
      • It can be easy to overprovision resources when you use managed services. This is because it is often difficult to estimate how much capacity you will need.
  • Security and Compliance
    • AWS takes security seriously and offers a wide range of tools and features to help you secure your data and applications. Managed services often include built-in security features, such as encryption, access controls, and automated security patches. They also provide compliance certifications for many of its services, which can simplify regulatory compliance efforts.
      • Watch for a false sense of security. It is important to remember that AWS managed services are not a silver bullet for security and compliance. You still need to take steps to protect your data and applications.
  • Cost Efficiency
    • AWS managed services often follow a pay-as-you-go pricing model, resulting in cost savings compared to provisioning and managing your own infrastructure. You only pay for the resources you use, avoiding overprovisioning.
      • AWS can be expensive, especially for businesses that are just starting out or that have complex applications. It's important to carefully monitor your usage and costs to avoid unexpected bills.
      • If you're not careful in crafting your usage of the cloud environment, you can end up paying for a lot more than you need and your costs can actually grow out of control very quickly.
      • There may be hidden costs associated with managed services, such as data transfer fees or egress fees.
  • Automatic Backups and Disaster Recovery
    • Many AWS managed services come with built-in backup and disaster recovery capabilities. They manage the backups and provide tools to recover data and applications quickly in case of data loss or outages.
      • Understand that not all data is backed up automatically. It is important to check with AWS to make sure that all of your data is being backed up.
  • Global Reach
    • AWS has a global network of data centers, allowing you to deploy your applications and services in multiple regions to reduce latency and improve the user experience for customers around the world.
      • Guard against overutilizing global reach. It is important to only use global reach services when you need them. Overusing these services can lead to higher costs.

To Recap

AWS can be a powerful platform for developing and deploying applications. By following the best practices outlined in this article and taking advantage of AWS managed services, you can build and deliver scalable, reliable, and secure applications. Experts at TDK Technologies will help you ask all the right questions so that your organization will reach the best decision to solve your business needs.

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