AWS Compute Services Cheat Sheet

AWS Compute Services Cheat Sheet

AWS Compute Services

Elastic Cloud Compute – EC2

  • provides scalable computing capacity
  • Features
    • Virtual computing environments, known as EC2 instances
    • Preconfigured templates for EC2 instances, known as Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), that package the bits needed for the server (including the operating system and additional software)
    • Various configurations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity for your instances, known as Instance types
    • Secure login information for your instances using key pairs (public-private keys where private is kept by user)
    • Storage volumes for temporary data that’s deleted when you stop or terminate your instance, known as Instance store volumes
    • Persistent storage volumes for data using Elastic Block Store (EBS)
    • Multiple physical locations for your resources, such as instances and EBS volumes, known as Regions and Availability Zones
    • A firewall to specify the protocols, ports, and source IP ranges that can reach your instances using Security Groups
    • Static IP addresses, known as Elastic IP addresses
    • Metadata, known as tags, can be created and assigned to EC2 resources
    • Virtual networks that are logically isolated from the rest of the AWS cloud, and can optionally connect to on-premises network, known as Virtual private clouds (VPCs)

Amazon Machine Image – AMI

    • template from which EC2 instances can be launched quickly
    • does NOT span across regions, and needs to be copied
    • can be shared with other specific AWS accounts or made public

Instance Types

  • T for applications needing general usage
    • T2 instances are Burstable Performance Instances that provide a baseline level of CPU performance with the ability to burst above the baseline.
    • T2 instances accumulate CPU Credits when they are idle, and consume CPU Credits when they are active.
    • T2 Unlimited Instances can sustain high CPU performance for as long as a workload needs it at an additional cost.
  • R for applications needing more RAM or Memory
  • C for applications needing more Compute
  • M for applications needing more Medium or Moderate performance on both Memory and CPU
  • I for applications needing more IOPS
  • for applications needing more GPU

Instance Purchasing Option

  • On-Demand Instances
    • pay for instances and compute capacity that you use by the hour
    • no long-term commitments or up-front payments
  • Reserved Instances
    • provides lower hourly running costs by providing a billing discount
    • capacity reservation is applied to instances
    • suited if consistent, heavy, predictable usage
    • provides benefits with Consolidate Billing
    • can be modified to switch Availability Zones or the instance size within the same instance type, given the instance size footprint (Normalization factor) remains the same
    • pay for the entire term regardless of the usage
    • is not a physical instance that is launched, but rather a billing discount applied to the use of On-Demand Instances
  • Scheduled Reserved Instances
    • enable capacity reservations purchase that recurs on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, with a specified start time and duration, for a one-year term.
    • Charges are incurred for the time that the instances are scheduled, even if they are not used
    • good choice for workloads that do not run continuously, but do run on a regular schedule
  • Spot Instances
    • cost-effective choice but does NOT guarantee availability
    • applications flexible in the timing when they can run and also able to handle interruption by storing the state externally
    • provides a two-minute warning if the instance is to be terminated to save any unsaved work
    • Spot blocks can also be launched with a required duration, which are not interrupted due to changes in the Spot price
    • Spot Fleet is a collection, or fleet, of Spot Instances, and optionally On-Demand Instances, which attempts to launch the number of Spot and On-Demand Instances to meet the specified target capacity
  • Dedicated Instances
    • is a tenancy option that enables instances to run in VPC on hardware that’s isolated, dedicated to a single customer
  • Dedicated Host
    • is a physical server with EC2 instance capacity fully dedicated to your use
  • Light, Medium, and Heavy Utilization Reserved Instances are no longer available for purchase and were part of the Previous Generation AWS EC2 purchasing model

Enhanced Networking

  • results in higher bandwidth, higher packet per second (PPS) performance, lower latency, consistency, scalability, and lower jitter
  • supported using Single Root – I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) only on supported instance types
  • is supported only with a VPC (not EC2 Classic), HVM virtualization type and available by default on Amazon AMI but can be installed on other AMIs as well

Placement Group

  • Cluster Placement Group
    • provide low latency, High-Performance Computing via 10Gbps network
    • is a logical grouping on instances within a Single AZ
    • don’t span availability zones, can span multiple subnets but subnets must be in the same AZ
    • can span across peered VPCs for the same Availability Zones
    • existing instances can’t be moved into an existing placement group
    • An existing instance can be moved to a placement group, or moved from one placement group to another, or removed from a placement group, given it is in the stopped state.
    • for capacity errors, stop and start the instances in the placement group
    • use homogenous instance types which support enhanced networking and launch all the instances at once
  • Spread Placement Groups
    • is a group of instances that are each placed on distinct underlying hardware i.e. each instance on a distinct rack across AZ
    • recommended for applications that have a small number of critical instances that should be kept separate from each other.
    • reduces the risk of simultaneous failures that might occur when instances share the same underlying hardware.
  • Partition Placement Groups
    • is a group of instances spread across partitions i.e. group of instances spread across racks across AZs
    • reduces the likelihood of correlated hardware failures for the application.
    • can be used to spread deployment of large distributed and replicated workloads, such as HDFS, HBase, and Cassandra, across distinct hardware

EC2 Monitoring

  • CloudWatch provides monitoring for EC2 instances
  • Status monitoring helps quickly determine whether EC2 has detected any problems that might prevent instances from running applications.
  • Status monitoring includes
    • System Status checks – indicate issues with the underlying hardware
    • Instance Status checks – indicate issues with the underlying instance.

Elastic Load Balancer

  • Managed load balancing service and scales automatically
  • distributes incoming application traffic across multiple EC2 instances
  • is distributed system that is fault tolerant and actively monitored by AWS scales it as per the demand
  • are engineered to not be a single point of failure
  • need to Pre-Warm ELB if the demand is expected to shoot especially during load testing. AWS documentation does not mention it now.
  • supports routing traffic to instances in multiple AZs in the same region
  • performs Health Checks to route traffic only to the healthy instances
  • support Listeners with HTTP, HTTPS, SSL, TCP protocols
  • has an associated IPv4 and dual stack DNS name
  • can offload the work of encryption and decryption (SSL termination) so that the EC2 instances can focus on their main work
  • supports Cross Zone load balancing to help route traffic evenly across all EC2 instances regardless of the AZs they reside in
  • to help identify the IP address of a client
    • supports Proxy Protocol header for TCP/SSL connections
    • supports X-Forward headers for HTTP/HTTPS connections
  • supports Stick Sessions (session affinity) to bind a user’s session to a specific application instance,
    • it is not fault tolerant, if an instance is lost the information is lost
    • requires HTTP/HTTPS listener and does not work with TCP
    • requires SSL termination on ELB as it users the headers
  • supports Connection draining to help complete the in-flight requests in case an instance is deregistered
  • For High Availability, it is recommended to attach one subnet per AZ for at least two AZs, even if the instances are in a single subnet.
  • supports Static/Elastic IP (NLB only)
  • IPv4 & IPv6 support however VPC does not support IPv6. VPC now supports IPV6.
  • HTTPS listener does not support Client Side Certificate
  • For SSL termination at backend instances or support for Client Side Certificate use TCP for connections from the client to the ELB, use the SSL protocol for connections from the ELB to the back-end application, and deploy certificates on the back-end instances handling requests
  • supports a single SSL certificate, so for multiple SSL certificate multiple ELBs need to be created
  • Uses Server Name Indication to supports multiple SSL certificates

Application Load Balancer

  • supports HTTP and HTTPS (Secure HTTP) protocols
  • supports HTTP/2, which is enabled natively. Clients that support HTTP/2 can connect over TLS
  • supports WebSockets and Secure WebSockets natively
  • supports Request tracing, by default.
    • request tracing can be used to track HTTP requests from clients to targets or other services.
    • Load balancer upon receiving a request from a client, adds or updates the X-Amzn-Trace-Id header before sending the request to the target
  • supports containerized applications. Using Dynamic port mapping, ECS can select an unused port when scheduling a task and register the task with a target group using this port.
  • supports Sticky Sessions (Session Affinity) using load balancer generated cookies, to route requests from the same client to the same target
  • supports SSL termination, to decrypt the request on ALB before sending it to the underlying targets.
  • supports layer 7 specific features like X-Forwarded-For headers to help determine the actual client IP, port and protocol
  • automatically scales its request handling capacity in response to incoming application traffic.
  • supports hybrid load balancing, to route traffic to instances in VPC and an on-premises location
  • provides High Availability, by allowing more than one AZ to be specified
  • integrates with ACM to provision and bind a SSL/TLS certificate to the load balancer thereby making the entire SSL offload process very easy
  • supports multiple certificates for the same domain to a secure listener
  • supports IPv6 addressing, for an Internet facing load balancer
  • supports Cross-zone load balancing, and cannot be disabled.
  • supports Security Groups to control the traffic allowed to and from the load balancer.
  • provides Access Logs, to record all requests sent the load balancer, and store the logs in S3 for later analysis in compressed format
  • provides Delete Protection, to prevent the ALB from accidental deletion
  • supports Connection Idle Timeout – ALB maintains two connections for each request one with the Client (front end) and one with the target instance (back end). If no data has been sent or received by the time that the idle timeout period elapses, ALB closes the front-end connection
  • integrates with CloudWatch to provide metrics such as request counts, error counts, error types, and request latency
  • integrates with AWS WAF, a web application firewall that helps protect web applications from attacks by allowing rules configuration based on IP addresses, HTTP headers, and custom URI strings
  • integrates with CloudTrail to receive a history of ALB API calls made on the AWS account
  • back-end server authentication is NOT supported
  • does not provide Static, Elastic IP addresses

Network Load Balancer

  • handles volatile workloads and scale to millions of requests per second, without the need of pre-warming
  • offers extremely low latencies for latency-sensitive applications.
  • provides static IP/Elastic IP addresses for the load balancer
  • allows registering targets by IP address, including targets outside the VPC (on-premises) for the load balancer.
  • supports containerized applications. Using Dynamic port mapping, ECS can select an unused port when scheduling a task and register the task with a target group using this port.
  • monitors the health of its registered targets and routes the traffic only to healthy targets
  • enable cross-zone loading balancing only after creating the NLB
  • preserves client side source IP allowing the back-end to see client IP address. Target groups can be created with target type as instance ID or IP address. If targets registered by instance ID, the source IP addresses of the clients are preserved and provided to the applications. If register targets registered by IP address, the source IP addresses are the private IP addresses of the load balancer nodes.
  • supports both network and application target health checks.
  • supports long-lived TCP connections ideal for WebSocket type of applications
  • supports Zonal Isolation, which is designed for application architectures in a single zone and can be enabled in a single AZ to support architectures that require zonal isolation
  • does not support stick sessions

Auto Scaling

  • ensures correct number of EC2 instances are always running to handle the load by scaling up or down automatically as demand changes
  • cannot span multiple regions.
  • attempts to distribute instances evenly between the AZs that are enabled for the Auto Scaling group
  • performs checks either using EC2 status checks or can use ELB health checks to determine the health of an instance and terminates the instance if unhealthy, to launch a new instance
  • can be scaled using manual scaling, scheduled scaling or demand based scaling
  • cooldown period helps ensure instances are not launched or terminated before the previous scaling activity takes effect to allow the newly launched instances to start handling traffic and reduce load

AWS Auto Scaling & ELB

  • Auto Scaling & ELB can be used for High Availability and Redundancy by spanning Auto Scaling groups across multiple AZs within a region and then setting up ELB to distribute incoming traffic across those AZs
  • With Auto Scaling, use ELB health check with the instances to ensure that traffic is routed only to the healthy instances


  • offers Serverless computing that allows applications and services to be built and run without thinking about servers.
  • helps run code without provisioning or managing servers, where you pay only for the compute time when the code is running.
  • is priced on a pay-per-use basis and there are no charges when the code is not running.
  • performs all the operational and administrative activities on your behalf, including capacity provisioning, monitoring fleet health, applying security patches to the underlying compute resources, deploying code, running a web service front end, and monitoring and logging the code.
  • does not provide access to the underlying compute infrastructure.
  • handles scalability and availability as it
    • provides easy scaling and high availability to the code without additional effort on your part.
    • is designed to process events within milliseconds.
    • is designed to run many instances of the functions in parallel.
    • is designed to use replication and redundancy to provide high availability for both the service and the functions it operates.
    • has no maintenance windows or scheduled downtimes for either.
    • has a default safety throttle for the number of concurrent executions per account per region.
    • has a higher latency immediately after a function is created, or updated, or if it has not been used recently.
    • for any function updates, there is a brief window of time, less than a minute, when requests would be served by both versions
  • Security
    • stores code in S3 and encrypts it at rest and performs additional integrity checks while the code is in use.
    • each function runs in its own isolated environment, with its own resources and file system view
    • supports Code Signing using AWS Signer, which offers trust and integrity controls that enable you to verify that only unaltered code from approved developers is deployed in the functions.
  • Functions must complete execution within 900 seconds. The default timeout is 3 seconds. The timeout can be set the timeout to any value between 1 and 900 seconds.
  • AWS Step Functions can help coordinate a series of Lambda functions in a specific order. Multiple functions can be invoked sequentially, passing the output of one to the other, and/or in parallel, while the state is being maintained by Step Functions.
  • AWS X-Ray helps to trace functions, which provides insights such as service overhead, function init time, and function execution time.
  • Lambda Provisioned Concurrency provides greater control over the performance of serverless applications.
  • Lambda@Edge allows you to run code across AWS locations globally without provisioning or managing servers, responding to end-users at the lowest network latency.
  • Lambda Extensions allow integration of Lambda with other third-party tools for monitoring, observability, security, and governance.
  • Compute Savings Plan can help save money for Lambda executions.
  • CodePipeline and CodeDeploy can be used to automate the serverless application release process.
  • RDS Proxy provides a highly available database proxy that manages thousands of concurrent connections to relational databases.
  • Supports Elastic File Store, to provide a shared, external, persistent, scalable volume using a fully managed elastic NFS file system without the need for provisioning or capacity management.
  • Supports Function URLs, a built-in HTTPS endpoint that can be invoked using the browser, curl, and any HTTP client.

22 thoughts on “AWS Compute Services Cheat Sheet

  1. Thank you for the blog, it’s really helpful!!

    I think there’s been an update on placement groups:

    There are now Spread Placement Groups which can span availability zones. (As well as Cluster Placement Groups which are single AZ)

    1. Thanks Julian, the update was long pending. Have updated the post now.

  2. Nicely written blog, so much helpful info gathered at one place, Kudos for this hard work.

  3. Please update the ec2 pricing:

    Per Second Billing
    With per-second billing, you pay for only what you use. It takes cost of unused minutes and seconds in an hour off of the bill, so you can focus on improving your applications instead of maximizing usage to the hour. Especially, if you manage instances running for irregular periods of time, such as dev/testing, data processing, analytics, batch processing and gaming applications, can benefit.

    EC2 usage are billed on one second increments, with a minimum of 60 seconds. Similarly, provisioned storage for EBS volumes will be billed per-second increments, with a 60 second minimum. Per-second billing is available for instances launched in:

    On-Demand, Reserved and Spot forms
    All regions and Availability Zones
    Amazon Linux and Ubuntu

  4. Thank you so much for your great work!

    “existing instances cannot be moved into an existing placement group”

    It seems it is now possible now.

    You can move an existing instance to a placement group, move an instance from one placement group to another, or remove an instance from a placement group. Before you begin, the instance must be in the stopped state.

  5. Hello Jayendra,

    I see you have listed Cheat sheet point for ELB(Load Balancer ) but you title it them with EBS(Block Storage). I just found little bit confusing to start with, so just wanted to let you know.


  6. HI Jayendra,

    I find these bits confusing “supports a single SSL certificate, so for multiple SSL certificates multiple ELBs need to be created”.

    However, I think it now allows multiple certificates along with a default certificate and does SNI based search to find a suitable certificate. Is it the right context?


    1. It was for CLB – Classic Load balancer. ALB and NLB supports SNI and multiple SSL certificates.

  7. Hi Jayendra

    Apart from the pricing class like on demand, reserved and spot Instances I come across some other pricing models like Scheduled reserved instances, on demand capacity instances. It is right?

    I hope Pricing models are updated with the latest .

  8. Fantastic content. Just a suggestion:

    [ELB] supports a single SSL certificate, so for multiple SSL certificate multiple ELBs need to be created

    Now SNI certificates are supported.

    1. Thats right, sni helps multiple certs and its supported by ALB and NLB.

  9. Hi Jayendra,

    –> supports containerized applications. Using Dynamic port mapping, ECS can select an unused port when scheduling a task and register the task with a target group using this port. <–

    Is it NLB or ALB. can you pls check once.


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