Five Under-the-Radar Amazon Web Services Cloud Features

Amazon Web Services (AWS) officials say there are at least five key features that fly under the radar and can be useful for cloud computing customers, including flexible pricing options and virtual private cloud capability.

Think you know all there is to know about Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its cloud computing strategy? Think again. AWS says there are several underrated features, or "unsung secrets," many users and observers do not necessarily know about.

Since Amazon Web Services launched in 2006, the company has worked to continuously provide customers with an evolving and diverse portfolio of Web services in the cloud. Today, AWS has customers in more than 190 countries leveraging an ever-expanding platform of technology services. Looking back over the last four years, observers can see that the AWS pace of innovation is quick. From new service launches to added features and functionality to geographic expansion of the services, the AWS goal is to rapidly innovate on behalf of its customers, Adam Selipsky, vice president of product management and developer relations at AWS, said in an interview with eWEEK

The AWS approach to innovation is to release a service when it is useful to many developers and businesses, and then quickly add new features and services based in large part on customer feedback.

With the rapid pace of innovation at AWS, if you blink you may miss a few of the features that make the AWS cloud unique, Selipsky said. While these attributes of AWS may not be secrets to some, to others, they are the "unsung secrets" of the AWS cloud, according to Amazon.

Five AWS features that have been flying under the radar are as follows:

1. Availability Zones-for more affordable fault tolerance

Historically, building highly fault-tolerant applications to withstand a range of failure scenarios from fire to flood meant leveraging multiple data centers and multiple network providers and required significant investment of both capital and time. Multiple Availability Zones for AWS make it possible for customers who cannot afford to or do not want the hassle of deploying in multiple data centers to dramatically improve their fault tolerance without having to spend any capital or invest in multiple provider negotiations, Selipsky said. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered to be insulated from failures in other Availability Zones. Customers who architect their applications across multiple Availability Zones can protect their applications from failure of a single location.

2. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC)-for the warm and fuzzy feeling when making the move into the cloud

As enterprises with existing legacy applications build migration plans to make their move to the cloud, many will operate in a hybrid mode as they gain experience in the cloud. One of the ways that larger companies are jumping into the cloud is via the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). Amazon VPC is a secure and seamless bridge between a company's existing IT infrastructure and the AWS cloud. The service enables enterprises to connect their existing infrastructure to a set of isolated AWS compute resources via a virtual private network (VPN) connection, and to extend their existing management capabilities such as security services, firewalls and intrusion detection systems to include their AWS resources. Amazon VPC provides end-to-end network isolation by utilizing a customer-provided IP address range, and routing all network traffic between the customer's VPC and data center through an industry-standard encrypted IPsec VPN.