What Is AWS?

Codecademy Team
Why AWS may or may not be a good fit for your business.

AWS logo

In this article, we will learn the following:

  • What is AWS?
  • Why cloud computing?
  • What makes AWS unique?
  • What are the strengths of AWS?
  • What are the weaknesses of AWS?

What is AWS?

You may be familiar with the terms “the cloud” or “cloud storage.” You’ve certainly already used an app or service that’s built using the cloud, and likely even AWS. But what is AWS?

AWS stands for Amazon Web Services. As the name implies, it’s Amazon’s cloud services platform. You can learn more about cloud platforms in our Foundations of Cloud Computing course.

As a cloud platform, AWS provides one of the world’s most comprehensive, broadly adopted cloud services. Just for context, AWS is utilized by millions of clients, including startups, large companies, and government agencies. It provides a wide array of different offerings, in the form of services, to its clients. Let’s go over some of these offerings:

  1. AWS offers IT infrastructure services to clients as web services (hence the “Web Services” in its name).
  2. These services can be accessed over the Internet.
  3. AWS uses a pay-as-you-go model to help clients save money, time, and human resources.

We will take a more in-depth look at these services further on in this article. Now that we have a basic understanding of what AWS is, let’s discuss cloud computing in more detail and why it’s so useful. Then, we will discuss what makes AWS so unique, and its strengths and weaknesses.

Why Cloud Computing?

Earlier, we talked about AWS being a cloud platform. What does this mean exactly?

Well, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the internet by a cloud provider. These services range from databases to networking to data storage.

Today, many applications are based on cloud computing. For example, if you’ve streamed media, it is very likely that the service you streamed from is using cloud computing.

So why would a streaming service use a cloud platform? Let’s explore what the cloud has to offer different businesses.


Today, businesses collect a lot of data and need to find somewhere to store all of it. They can’t just store it in cabinets or disks anymore.

The cloud provides companies with vast amounts of storage capacity. This is more than enough to solve their data storage problem.

Two people carting filing cabinets and loading them into a cloud.


A lot of data handling done by businesses is performed on raw data. This raw data is hard to interpret and needs to be processed into information in order for it to make sense.

Processing large amounts of raw data can be costly in resources and time. A business can delegate that job to a cloud provider. Cloud providers can easily process large amounts of raw data in their data centers.


Cloud providers like AWS possess massive data centers. These centers house enough servers to provide millions of organizations with different services. You may be wondering, why don’t the businesses just own the servers themselves?

Well, imagine your company provides a streaming service. Owning all the servers necessary to keep your application running costs a lot of time, money, and work.

Because of this, many businesses choose cloud providers like AWS which have a great amount of computing power available. With this computing power, they can offer infrastructure at a much more affordable price than if a business hosted its own servers.

So, now we know how organizations can benefit from the cloud generally, but what makes AWS unique?

What Makes AWS Unique?

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of cloud infrastructure in general, let’s revisit the AWS offerings again. AWS offers a wide array of IT infrastructure services to its clients. But, what are those services?

Well, AWS has over 200 fully-featured services as of March 2022. These services fall into several categories. The different categories include:

  • Machine Learning
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Management & Governance
  • Migration and Transfer
  • Mobile
  • Networking and Content
  • Delivery
  • Robotics
  • Storage
  • Security, Identity, and Compliance
  • Satellite
  • Game Development

And this list continues to grow. Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the popular AWS services and what they do.

Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)

Amazon EC2 is a cloud platform service provided by Amazon that offers scalable, secure computing capacity. It allows you to set up easy access to developers for cloud computing for the web and gives you full control of your computing resources. [aws-ec2-image]

Amazon Lambda

Amazon Lambda lets you run your code without needing to own a server. You can execute code for any application or backend service without any administration needed. It scales precisely and can be extensively available. [aws-lambda-image]

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)

Amazon S3 is a service that provides great scalability, makes object storage easier, offers data availability, performance and security. Businesses can store massive amounts of data easily with this service.

Amazon Cloudfront

Amazon Cloudfront is a content delivery network (CDN) platform that runs at fast speeds, distributes data, APIs, apps, and videos on a large scale securely, and connects seamlessly with the other AWS services.

Amazon RDS (Relational Database Services)

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is a service that simplifies database management, configuration, and scaling on a cloud platform. It allows you to automate various database management tasks like database arrangement, backups, patching, and hardware provisioning in a cost-effective manner that can be scaled to fit your needs. [amazon-rds-image]

Awesome! We learned a lot about AWS and cloud computing so far. Now, let’s discuss some of the strengths of AWS.

What are the Strengths of AWS?

We’ve learned a lot so far about the list of different offerings and services from AWS. Now let’s go over the strengths of AWS.

  • AWS has a large volume of services. With the ability to architect using this many services to choose from, the sky’s the limit.
  • AWS is the most established provider. It was one of the first cloud services, started around 2006, and is a market leader.
  • AWS has a strong free tier of services.

AWS provides many benefits to businesses, but it’s not the perfect solution.

What are the Weaknesses of AWS?

  • Pricing complexity: AWS offers multiple plans each with its own features. This makes it difficult to estimate the total cost of services due to the number of options and tiers affecting the cost.
  • Lock-in: Getting our applications out of AWS may require extra effort. This can make us “locked in” to using only AWS services. This problem is known as vendor lock-in.

While AWS is the current market leader, other cloud platforms, including Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, provide strong competition.


Congratulations! You learned a lot about AWS.

In this article, we learned more about the cloud, how it’s beneficial for businesses, and why businesses can benefit from moving from their infrastructure to the cloud.

We also discussed what AWS offers as a cloud services provider, its services, strengths, and weaknesses.

Think you’d like to give AWS a try? Check out our guide to set up an AWS account.