AWS Storage Options – EBS & Instance Store

AWS Storage Options – EBS & Instance Store

  • Elastic Block Store – EBS and Instance Store provide block-level storage options for EC2 instances.

Elastic Block Store (EBS) volume

  • EBS provides durable block-level storage for use with EC2 instances
  • EBS volumes are off-instance, network-attached storage (NAS) that persists independently from the running life of a single EC2 instance.
  • EBS volume is attached to an instance and can be used as a physical hard drive, typically by formatting it with the file system of your choice and using the file I/O interface provided by the instance operating system.
  • EBS volume can be used to boot an EC2 instance (EBS-root AMIs only), and multiple EBS volumes can be attached to a single EC2 instance.
  • EBS volume can be attached to a single EC2 instance only at any point in time.
  • EBS Multi-Attach volume can be attached to multiple EC2 instances.
  • EBS provides the ability to take point-in-time snapshots, which are persisted in S3. These snapshots can be used to instantiate new EBS volumes and to protect data for long-term durability
  • EBS snapshots can be copied across AWS regions as well, making it easier to leverage multiple AWS regions for geographical expansion, data center migration, and disaster recovery

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • EBS is meant for data that changes relatively frequently and requires long-term persistence.
  • EBS volume provides access to raw block-level storage and is particularly well-suited for use as the primary storage for a database or file system
  • EBS Provisioned IOPS volumes are particularly well-suited for use with databases applications that require a high and consistent rate of random disk reads and writes


  • Temporary Storage
    • EBS volume persists independent of the attached EC2 life cycle.
    • For temporary storage such as caches, buffers, queues, etc it is better to use local instance store volumes, SQS, or Elastic Cache
  • Highly-durable storage
    • EBS volumes with less than 20 GB of modified data since the last snapshot are designed for between 99.5% and 99.9% annual durability; volumes with more modified data can be expected to have proportionally lower durability
    • For highly durable storage, use S3 or Glacier which provides 99.999999999% annual durability per object
  • Static data or web content
    • For static web content, where data infrequently changes, EBS with EC2 would require a web server to serve the pages.
    • S3 may represent a more cost-effective and scalable solution for storing this fixed information and is served directly out of S3.

EBS Performance

  • EBS provides two volume types: standard volumes and Provisioned IOPS volumes which differ in performance characteristics and pricing model, allowing you to tailor the storage performance and cost to the needs of the applications.
  • EBS Volumes can be attached and striped across multiple similarly-provisioned EBS volumes using RAID 0 or logical volume manager software, thus aggregating available IOPs, total volume throughput, and total volume size.
  • Standard volumes offer cost-effective storage for applications with moderate or bursty I/O requirements. Standard volumes are also well suited for use as boot volumes, where the burst capability provides fast instance start-up times.
  • Provisioned IOPS volumes are designed to deliver predictable, high performance for I/O intensive workloads such as databases. With Provisioned IOPS, you specify an IOPS rate when creating a volume, and then EBS provisions that rate for the lifetime of the volume.
  • As EBS volumes are network-attached devices, other network I/O performed by the instance, as well as the total load on the shared network, can affect individual EBS volume performance.
  • EBS-optimized instances can be launched which deliver dedicated throughput between EC2 and EBS and enables instances to fully utilize the Provisioned IOPS on an EBS volume,
  • Each separate EBS volume can be configured as EBS standard or EBS Provisioned IOPS as needed. Alternatively, you could stripe the data.

EBS Durability & Availability

  • EBS volumes are designed to be highly available and reliable.
  • EBS volume data is replicated across multiple servers in a single AZ to prevent the loss of data from the failure of any single component.
  • EBS volume durability depends on both the size of the volume and the amount of data that has changed since your last snapshot
  • EBS snapshots are incremental, point-in-time backups, containing only the data blocks changed since the last snapshot.
  • Frequent snapshots are recommended to maximize both the durability and availability of their  EBS data
  • EBS snapshots provide an easy-to-use disk clone or disk image mechanism for backup, sharing, and disaster recovery.

EBS Cost Model

  • EBS pricing has 3 components: provisioned storage, I/O requests, and snapshot storage
  • Standard volumes are charged per GB-month of provisioned storage and per million I/O requests
  • EBS Provisioned IOPS volumes are charged per GB-month of provisioned storage and per Provisioned IOPS-month
  • For both volumes, EBS snapshots are charged per GB-month of data stored. EBS snapshot copy is charged for the data transferred between regions, and for the standard EBS snapshot charges in the destination region.
  • EBS volume storage capacity is allocated at the time of volume creation, and you are charged for this allocated storage even if not used.
  • For EBS snapshots, you are charged only for storage actually used (consumed). Note that EBS snapshots are incremental and compressed, so the storage used in any snapshot is generally much less than the storage consumed on an EBS volume

EBS Scalability and Elasticity

  • EBS volumes can easily and rapidly be provisioned and released to scale in and out with the changing total storage demands
  • EBS volumes cannot be resized, and if additional storage is needed either
    • An additional volume can be attached
    • Create a snapshot and create a new volume from the snapshot with a higher volume size
  • EBS volumes can be resized dynamically, but cannot be reduced by size.


  • AWS offers management APIs for EBS in both SOAP and REST formats which can be used to create, delete, describe, attach, and detach EBS volumes for the EC2 instances as well as to create, delete, and describe snapshots from EBS to S3; and to copy snapshots across regions.
  • Amazon also offers the same capabilities through AWS Management Console

Instance Store Volumes

  • Instance Store volumes are also referred to as Ephemeral Storage.
  • Instance Store volumes provide temporary block-level storage and consist of a preconfigured and pre-attached block of disk storage on the same physical server as the EC2 instance
  • Instance storage’s amount of disk storage depends on the Instance type and larger instances provide both more and larger instance store volumes. Smaller instance types such as micro instances can only be launched with EBS volumes.
  • Storage-optimized instances provide special purpose instance storage targeted to specific uses case for e.g. HI1 provides very fast solid-state drive (SSD) backed instance storage capable of supporting over 120,000 random read IOPS, and is optimized for very high random I/O performance and low cost per IOPS. While, HS1 instances are optimized for very high storage density, low storage cost, and high sequential I/O performance.
  • Instance store volumes, unlike EBS volumes, cannot be detached or attached to another instance.

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • EC2 local instance store volumes are fast, free (that is, included in the price of the EC2 instance) “scratch volumes” best suited for storing temporary data that is continually changing, such as buffers, caches, scratch data or can easily be regenerated, or data that is replicated for durability
  • High I/O instances provide instance store volumes backed by SSD, and are ideally suited for many high performance database workloads. for e.g. applications include NoSQL databases like Cassandra and MongoDB.
  • High storage instances support much higher storage density per EC2 instance and are ideally suited for applications that benefit from high sequential I/O performance across very large datasets. e.g. applications include data warehouses, Hadoop storage nodes, seismic analysis, cluster file systems, etc.


  • Persistent storage
    • For persistent virtual disk storage similar to a physical disk drive for files or other data that must persist longer than the lifetime of a single  EC2 instance, EBS volumes or S3 are more appropriate.
  • Relational database storage
    • In most cases, relational databases require storage that persists beyond the lifetime of a single EC2 instance, making EBS volumes the natural choice.
  • Shared storage
    • Instance store volumes are dedicated to a single EC2 instance, and cannot be shared with other systems or users.
    • If you need storage that can be detached from one instance and attached to a different instance, or if you need the ability to share data easily, S3 or EBS volumes are the better choices.
  • Snapshots
    • If you need the convenience, long-term durability, availability, and shareability of point-in-time disk snapshots, EBS volumes are a better choice.

Instance Store Performance

  • Non-SSD-based instance store volumes in most EC2 instance families have performance characteristics similar to standard EBS volumes.
  • EC2 instance virtual machine and the local instance store volumes are located in the same physical server, and interaction with the storage is very fast, particularly for sequential access.
  • To further increase aggregate IOPS, or to improve sequential disk throughput, multiple instance store volumes can be grouped together using RAID 0 (disk striping) software.
  • Because the bandwidth to the disks is not limited by the network, aggregate sequential throughput for multiple instance volumes can be higher than for the same number of EBS volumes.
  • SSD instance store volumes in the EC2 high I/O instances provide from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of low-latency, random 4 KB random IOPS.
  • Because of the I/O characteristics of SSD devices, write performance can be variable.
  • Instance store volumes on EC2 high storage instances provide very high storage density and high sequential read and write performance. High storage instances are capable of delivering 2.6 GB/sec of sequential read and write performance when using a block size of 2 MB.

Instance Store Durability and Availability

  • EC2 local instance store volumes are not intended to be used as durable disk storage and they persist only during the life of the associate EC2 instance

Cost Model

  • Cost of the EC2 instance includes any local instance store volumes if the instance type provides them.
  • While there is no additional charge for data storage on local instance store volumes, note that data transferred to and from EC2 instance store volumes from other AZs or outside of an EC2 region may incur data transfer charges, and additional charges will apply for use of any persistent storage, such as S3, Glacier, EBS volumes, and EBS snapshots

Scalability and Elasticity

  • Local instance store volumes are tied to a particular EC2 instance and are fixed in number and size for a given EC2 instance type, so the scalability and elasticity of this storage are tied to the number of EC2 instances.


  • Instance store volumes are specified using the block device mapping feature of the EC2 API and the AWS Management Console
  • To the EC2 instance, an instance store volume appears just like a local disk drive. To write to and read data from instance store volumes, use the native file system I/O interfaces of the chosen operating system.

AWS Certification Exam Practice Questions

  • Questions are collected from Internet and the answers are marked as per my knowledge and understanding (which might differ with yours).
  • AWS services are updated everyday and both the answers and questions might be outdated soon, so research accordingly.
  • AWS exam questions are not updated to keep up the pace with AWS updates, so even if the underlying feature has changed the question might not be updated
  • Open to further feedback, discussion and correction.
  1. Which of the following provides the fastest storage medium?
    1. Amazon S3
    2. Amazon EBS using Provisioned IOPS (PIOPS)
    3. SSD Instance (ephemeral) store (SSD Instance Storage provides 100,000 IOPS on some instance types, much faster than any network-attached storage)
    4. AWS Storage Gateway


AWS Services Overview – Whitepaper – Certification

AWS Services Overview

AWS consists of many cloud services that can be use in combinations tailored to meet business or organizational needs. This section introduces the major AWS services by category.

NOTE – This post provides a brief overview of AWS services. Its is good introduction to start all certifications. However, It is more relevant and most important for AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Exam.

Common Features

  • Almost the features can be access control through AWS Identity Access Management – IAM
  • Services managed by AWS are all made Scalable and Highly Available, without any changes needed from the user

AWS Access

AWS allows accessing its services through unified tools using

  • AWS Management Console – a simple and intuitive user interface
  • AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) – programatic access through scripts
  • AWS Software Development Kits (SDKs) – programatic access through Application Program Interface (API) tailored for programming language (Java, .NET, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, Go, C++, AWS Mobile SDK) or platform (Android, Browser, iOS)

Security, Identity, and Compliance

Amazon Cloud Directory

  • enables building flexible, cloud-native directories for organizing hierarchies of data along multiple dimensions, whereas traditional directory solutions limit to a single directory
  • helps create directories for a variety of use cases, such as organizational charts, course catalogs, and device registries.

AWS Identity and Access Management

  • enables you to securely control access to AWS services and resources for the users.
  • allows creation of AWS users, groups and roles, and use permissions to allow and deny their access to AWS resources
  • helps manage IAM users and their access with individual security credentials like access keys, passwords, and multi-factor authentication devices, or request temporary security credentials to provide users
  • helps role creation & manage permissions to control which operations can be performed by the which entity, or AWS service, that assumes the role
  • enables identity federation to allow existing identities (users, groups, and roles) in the enterprise to access AWS Management Console, call AWS APIs, access resources, without the need to create an IAM user for each identity.

Amazon Inspector

  • is an automated security assessment service that helps improve the security and compliance of applications deployed on AWS.
  • automatically assesses applications for vulnerabilities or deviations from best practices
  • produces a detailed list of security findings prioritized by level of severity.

AWS Certificate Manager

  • helps provision, manage, and deploy Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) certificates for use with AWS services like ELB
  • removes the time-consuming manual process of purchasing, uploading, and renewing SSL/TLS certificates.


  • helps meet corporate, contractual, and regulatory compliance requirements for data security by using dedicated Hardware Security Module (HSM) appliances within the AWS Cloud.
  • allows protection of encryption keys within HSMs, designed and validated to government standards for secure key management.
  • helps comply with strict key management requirements without sacrificing application performance.

AWS Directory Service

  • provides Microsoft Active Directory (Enterprise Edition), also known as AWS Microsoft AD, that enables directory-aware workloads and AWS resources to use managed Active Directory in the AWS Cloud.

AWS Key Management Service

  • is a managed service that makes it easy to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt your data.
  • uses HSMs to protect the security of your keys.

AWS Organizations

  • allows creation of AWS accounts groups, to more easily manage security and automation settings collectively
  • helps centrally manage multiple accounts to help scale.
  • helps to control which AWS services are available to individual accounts, automate new account creation, and simplify billing.

AWS Shield

  • is a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that safeguards web applications running on AWS.
  • provides always-on detection and automatic inline mitigations that minimize application downtime and latency, so there is no need to engage AWS Support to benefit from DDoS protection.
  • provides two tiers of AWS Shield: Standard and Advanced.


  • is a web application firewall that helps protect web applications from common web exploits that could affect application availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources.
  • gives complete control over which traffic to allow or block to web application by defining customizable web security rules.

AWS Compute Services

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

  • provides secure, resizable compute capacity
  • provide complete control of the computing resources (root access, ability to start, stop, terminate instances etc.)
  • reduces the time required to obtain and boot new instances to minutes
  • allows quick scaling of capacity, both up and down, as the computing requirements changes
  • provides developers and sysadmins tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.
  • Benefits
    • Elastic Web-Scale Computing
      • enables scaling to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days.
    • Flexible Cloud Hosting Services
      • flexibility to choose from multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages.
      • selection of memory configuration, CPU, instance storage, and boot partition size
    • Reliable
      • offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and predictably commissioned.
      • runs within AWS’s proven network infrastructure and data centers.
      • EC2 Service Level Agreement (SLA) commitment is 99.95% availability for each Region.
    • Secure
      • works in conjunction with VPC to provide security and robust networking functionality for your compute resources.
      • allows control of IP address, exposure to Internet (using subnets), inbound and outbound access (using Security groups and NACLs)
      • existing IT infrastructure can be connected to the resources in the VPC using industry-standard encrypted IPsec virtual private network (VPN) connections
    • Inexpensive – pay only for the capacity actually used
  • EC2 Purchasing Options and Types
    • On-Demand Instances
      • pay for compute capacity by the hour with no long-term commitments
      • enables to increase or decrease compute capacity depending on the demands and only pay the specified hourly rate for used instances
      • frees from the costs and complexities of planning, purchasing, and maintaining hardware and transforms what are commonly large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs.
      • also helps remove the need to buy “safety net” capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes.
    • Reserved Instances
      • provides significant discount (up to 75%) compared to On-Demand instance pricing.
      • provides flexibility to change families, operating system types, and tenancies with Convertible Reserved Instances.
    • Spot Instances
      • allow you to bid on spare EC2 computing capacity.
      • are often available at a discount compared to On-Demand pricing, helping reduce the application cost, grow it’s compute capacity and throughput for the same budget
    • Dedicated Instances – that run on hardware dedicated to a single customer for additional isolation.
    • Dedicated Hosts
      • are physical servers with EC2 instance capacity fully dedicated to your use.
      • can help you address compliance requirements and reduce costs by allowing you to use your existing server-bound software licenses.

Amazon EC2 Container Service

  • is a highly scalable, high-performance container management service that supports Docker containers.
  • allows running applications on a managed cluster of EC2 instances
  • eliminates the need to install, operate, and scale cluster management infrastructure.
  • can use to schedule the placement of containers across the cluster based on the resource needs and availability requirements.
  • custom scheduler or third-party schedulers can be integrated to meet business or application-specific requirements.

Amazon EC2 Container Registry

  • is a fully-managed Docker container registry that makes it easy for developers to store, manage, and deploy Docker container images.
  • is integrated with Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS), simplifying development to production workflow.
  • eliminates the need to operate container repositories or worry about scaling the underlying infrastructure.
  • hosts images in a highly available and scalable architecture
  • pay only for the amount of data stored and data transferred to the Internet.

Amazon Lightsail

  • is designed to be the easiest way to launch and manage a virtual private server with AWS.
  • plans include everything needed to jumpstart a project – a virtual machine, SSD-based storage, data transfer, DNS management, and a static IP address- for a low, predictable price.

AWS Batch

  • enables developers, scientists, and engineers to easily and efficiently run hundreds of thousands of batch computing jobs on AWS.
  • dynamically provisions the optimal quantity and type of compute resources (e.g., CPU or memory-optimized instances) based on the volume and specific resource requirements of the batch jobs submitted.
  • plans, schedules, and executes the batch computing workloads across the full range of AWS compute services and features

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

  • is an easy-to-use service for deploying and scaling web applications and services developed with Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, Go, and Docker on familiar servers such as Apache, Nginx, Passenger, and Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • automatically handles the deployment, from capacity provisioning, load balancing, and auto scaling to application health monitoring.
  • provides full control over the AWS resources with access to the underlying resources at any time.

AWS Lambda

  • enables running code without zero administration, provisioning or managing servers, and scaling for high availability
  • pay only for the compute time consumed – there is no charge when the code is not running
  • can be setup to be automatically triggered from other AWS services, or called it directly from any web or mobile app.

Auto Scaling

  • helps maintain application availability
  • allows scaling EC2 capacity up or down automatically according to defined conditions or demand spikes to reduce cost
  • helps ensure desired number of EC2 instances are running always
  • well suited both to applications that have stable demand patterns and applications that experience hourly, daily, or weekly variability in usage.


Simple Storage Service

  • is object storage with a simple web service interface to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere on the web.
  • S3 Features
    • Durable
      • designed for durability of 99.999999999% of objects
      • data is redundantly stored across multiple facilities and multiple devices in each facility.
    • Available – designed for up to 99.99% availability (standard) of objects over a given year and is backed by the S3 Service Level Agreement
    • Scalable – can help store virtually unlimited data
    • Secure
      • supports data in motion over SSL and data at rest encryption
      • bucket policies and IAM can help manage object permissions and control access to the data
    • Low Cost
      • provides storage at a very low cost.
      • using lifecycle policies, the data can be automatically tiered into lower cost, longer-term cloud storage classes like S3 Standard – Infrequent Access and Glacier for archiving.

Elastic Block Store (EBS)

  • provides persistent block storage volumes for use with EC2 instance
  • offers the consistent and low-latency performance needed to run workloads.
  • allows scaling up or down within minutes – all while paying a low price for only what is provisioned
  • EBS Features
    • High Performance Volumes – Choose between SSD backed or HDD backed volumes to deliver the performance needed
    • Availability
      • is designed for 99.999% availability
      • automatically replicates within its Availability Zone to protect from component failure, offering high availability and durability.
    • Encryption – provides seamless support for data-at-rest and data-in-transit between EC2 instances and EBS volumes.
    • Snapshots – protect data by creating point-in-time snapshots of EBS volumes, which are backed up to S3 for long-term durability.

Elastic File System (EFS)

  • provides simple, scalable file storage for use with EC2 instances
  • storage capacity is elastic, growing and shrinking automatically as files are added and removed
  • provides a standard file system interface and file system access semantics, when mounted on EC2 instances
  • works in shared mode, where multiple EC2 instances can access an EFS file system at the same time, allowing EFS to provide a common data
    source for workloads and applications running on more than one EC2 instance.
  • can be mounted on on-premises data center servers when connected to the VPC with AWS Direct Connect.
  • can be mounted on on-premises servers to migrate data sets to EFS, enable cloud bursting scenarios, or backup on-premises data to EFS.
  • is designed for high availability and durability, and provides performance for a broad spectrum of workloads and applications, including big data and analytics, media processing workflows, content management, web serving, and home directories.


  • provides secure, durable, and extremely low-cost storage service for data archiving and long-term backup
  • To keep costs low yet suitable for varying retrieval needs, Glacier provides three options for access to archives, from a few minutes to several hours.

AWS Storage Gateway

  • seamlessly enables hybrid storage between on-premises storage environments and the AWS Cloud
  • combines a multi-protocol storage appliance with highly efficient network connectivity to AWS cloud storage services, delivering local
    performance with virtually unlimited scale.
  • use it in remote offices and data centers for hybrid cloud workloads involving migration, bursting, and storage tiering



  • is a MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible relational database engine
  • provides the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.
  • Benefits
    • Highly Secure
      • provides multiple levels of security, including
        • network isolation using VPC
        • encryption at rest using keys created and controlled through AWS Key Management Service (KMS), and
        • encryption of data in transit using SSL.
      • with an an encrypted Aurora instance, automated backups, snapshots, and replicas are also encrypted
    • Highly Scalable – automatically grows storage as needed
    • High Availability and Durability
      • designed to offer greater than 99.99% availability
      • recovery from physical storage failures is transparent, and instance failover typically requires less than 30 seconds
      • is fault-tolerant and self-healing. Six copies of the data are replicated across three AZs and continuously backed up to S3.
      • automatically and continuously monitors and backs up your database to S3, enabling granular point-in-time recovery.
    • Fully Managed – is a fully managed database service, and database management tasks such as hardware provisioning, software patching, setup, configuration, monitoring, or backups is taken care of

Relational Database Service (RDS)

  • makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database
  • provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while managing time-consuming database administration tasks
  • supports various, including Amazon Aurora, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server
  • Benefits
    • Fast and Easy to Administer – No need for infrastructure provisioning, and no need for installing and maintaining database software.
    • Highly Scalable
      • allows quick and easy scaling of database’s compute and storage resources, often with no downtime.
      • allows offloading read traffic from primary database using Read Replicas, for few RDS engine types
    • Available and Durable
      • runs on the same highly reliable infrastructure
      • allows Multi-AZ DB instance, where RDS synchronously replicates the data to a standby instance in a different Availability Zone (AZ).
      • enhances reliability for critical production databases, by enabling automated backups, database snapshots, and automatic host replacement.
    • Secure
      • provides multiple levels of security, including
        • network isolation using VPC
        • connect to on-premises existing IT infrastructure through an industry-standard encrypted IPsec VPN
        • encryption at rest using keys created and controlled through AWS Key Management Service (KMS), and
        • offer encryption at rest and encryption in transit.
      • with an an encrypted instance, automated backups, snapshots, and replicas are also encrypted
    • Inexpensive – pay very low rates and only for the consumed resources, while taking advantage of on-demand and reserved instance types


  • fully managed, fast and flexible NoSQL database service for applications that need consistent, single-digit millisecond latency at any scale.
  • supports both document and key-value data models.
  • flexible data model and reliable performance make it a great fit for mobile, web, gaming, ad-tech, Internet of Things (IoT), and other applications
  • Benefits
    • Fast, Consistent Performance
      • designed to deliver consistent, fast performance at any scale
      • uses automatic partitioning and SSD technologies to meet throughput requirements and deliver low latencies at any scale.
    • Highly Scalable – it manages all the scaling to achieve the specified throughput capacity requirements
    • Event-Driven Programming – integrates with AWS Lambda to provide Triggers that enable architecting applications that automatically react to data changes.


  • is a web service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory cache in the cloud.
  • helps improves the performance of web applications by caching results and allowing to retrieve information from fast, managed, in-memory caches, instead of relying entirely on slower disk-based databases.
  • supports two open-source in-memory caching engines: Redis and Memcached


AWS Application Discovery Service

  • helps systems integrators quickly and reliably plan application migration projects by automatically identifying applications running in on-premises
    data centers, their associated dependencies, and performance profiles
  • automatically collects configuration and usage data from servers, storage, and networking equipment to develop a list of applications, how they
    perform, and how they are interdependent
  • information is retained in encrypted format in an AWS Application Discovery Service database, which you can export as a CSV or XML file into your preferred visualization tool or cloud migration solution to help reduce the complexity and time in planning your cloud migration.

AWS Database Migration Service

  • helps migrate databases to AWS easily and securely
  • source database remains fully operational during the migration, minimizing downtime to applications that rely on the database.
  • supports homogenous migrations such as Oracle to Oracle, as well as heterogeneous migrations between different database platforms, such as Oracle to Amazon Aurora or Microsoft SQL Server to MySQL.
  • allows streaming of data to Redshift from any of the supported sources including Aurora, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, Oracle, SAP ASE, and SQL Server, enabling consolidation and easy analysis of data in the petabyte-scale data warehouse
  • can also be used for continuous data replication with high availability.

AWS Server Migration Service

  • is an agentless service which makes it easier and faster to migrate thousands of on-premises workloads to AWS


  • is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that uses secure appliances to transfer large amounts of data into and out of AWS.
  • addresses common challenges with large-scale data transfers including high network costs, long transfer times, and security concerns.
  • uses multiple layers of security designed to protect the data including tamper resistant enclosures, 256-bit encryption, and an industry-standard Trusted Platform Module (TPM) designed to ensure both security and full chain of custody of your data.
  • performs a software erasure of the Snowball appliance, once the data transfer job has been processed

Snowball Edge

  • is a 100 TB data transfer device with on-board storage and compute capabilities.
  • can be used to move large amounts of data into and out of AWS, as a temporary storage tier for large local datasets, or to support local workloads in remote or offline locations.
  • multiple devices can be clustered together to form a local storage tier and process the data on-premises, helping ensure the applications continue to run even when they are not able to access the cloud


  • is an exabyte-scale data transfer service used to move extremely large amounts of data to AWS.
  • provides secure, fast, and cost effective transfer of data
  • data cane be imported into S3 or Glacier, once data loaded
  • uses multiple layers of security designed to protect the data including dedicated security personnel, GPS tracking, alarm monitoring, 24/7 video surveillance, and an optional escort security vehicle while in transit.
  • all data is encrypted with 256-bit encryption keys managed through KMS and designed to ensure both security and full chain of custody of the data

Networking and Content Delivery

Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

  • helps provision a logically isolated section of the AWS Cloud where AWS resources can be launched in a virtual network that you define
  • provides complete control over the virtual networking environment, including selection of IP address range, creation of subnets (public and private), and configuration of route tables and network gateways.
  • allows use of both IPv4 and IPv6 for secure and easy access to resources and applications
  • allows multiple layers of security, including security groups and network access control lists, to help control access resources
  • allows creation of a hardware virtual private network (VPN) connection between the corporate data center and VPC and leverage the AWS Cloud as an extension of corporate data center.


  • is a global content delivery network (CDN) service that accelerates delivery of websites, APIs, video content, or other web assets.
  • can be used to deliver entire website, including dynamic, static, streaming, and interactive content using a global network of edge locations.
  • allows requests for the content to be automatically routed to the nearest edge location, so content is delivered with the best possible performance.
  • is optimized to work with other services in AWS, such as S3, EC2, ELB, and Route 53 as well as with any non-AWS origin server that stores the original, definitive versions of your files.

Route 53

  • is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) web service
  • effectively connects user requests to infrastructure running in AWS – such as EC2 instances, ELB, or S3 buckets—and can also be used to route users to infrastructure outside of AWS.
  • helps configure DNS health checks to route traffic to healthy endpoints or to independently monitor the health of your application and its endpoints.
  • allows traffic management globally through a variety of routing types, including latency-based routing, Geo DNS, and weighted round robin – all of which can be combined with DNS Failover in order to enable a variety of low-latency, fault-tolerant architectures.
  • is fully compliant with IPv6 as well
  • offers Domain Name Registration service

Direct Connect

  • makes it easy to establish a dedicated network connection with on- premises to AWS
  • helps establish private connectivity between AWS and data center, office, or co-location environment,
  • helps increase bandwidth throughput, reduce network costs, , and provide a more consistent network experience than Internet-based connections

Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)

  • automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple EC2 instances
  • enables achieve greater levels of fault tolerance by seamlessly providing the required amount of load balancing capacity needed to distribute application traffic.
  • offers two types of load balancers that both feature high availability, automatic scaling, and robust security.
    • Classic Load Balancer
      • routes traffic based on either application or network level information
      • ideal for simple load balancing of traffic across multiple EC2 instances
    • Application Load Balancer
      • routes traffic based on advanced application-level information that includes the content of the request
      • ideal for applications needing advanced routing capabilities, microservices, and container-based architectures.
      • offers the ability to route traffic to multiple services or load balance
        across multiple ports on the same EC2 instance.

Management Tools

AWS CloudWatch

  • is a monitoring and logging service for AWS Cloud resources and the applications running on AWS.
  • can be used to collect and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, set alarms, and automatically react to changes in the AWS resources.

AWS CloudFormation

  • allows developers and systems administrators to implement “Infrastructure as Code”
  • provides an easy way to create and manage a collection of related AWS resources, provisioning and updating them in an orderly and predictable fashion
  • handles the order for provisioning AWS services or the subtleties of making those dependencies work.
  • allows applying version control to the AWS infrastructure the same way its done with software

AWS CloudTrail

  • helps records AWS API calls for the account and delivers log files
  • including API calls made using the AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, command line tools, and higher-level AWS services (such as AWS CloudFormation),
  • recorded information includes the identity of the API caller, the time of the API call, the source IP address of the API caller, the request parameters, and the response elements returned by the AWS service.
  • enables security analysis, resource change tracking, compliance auditing

AWS Config

  • provides an AWS resource inventory, configuration history, and configuration change notifications to enable security and governance
  • provides Config Rules feature, that enables rules creation that automatically check the configuration of AWS resources
  • helps discover existing and deleted AWS resources, determine overall compliance against rules, and dive into configuration details of a resource at any point in time.
  • enables compliance auditing, security analysis, resource change tracking, and troubleshooting.

AWS OpsWorks

  • configuration management service that uses Chef, an automation platform that treats server configurations as code.
  • uses Chef to automate how servers are configured, deployed, and managed across the EC2 instances or on-premises compute environments.
  • has two offerings, OpsWorks for Chef Automate and OpsWorks Stacks

AWS Service Catalog

  • allows organizations to create and manage catalogs of IT services that are approved for use on AWS.
  • helps centrally manage commonly deployed IT services and helps to achieve consistent governance and meet compliance requirements, while enabling users to quickly deploy only approved IT services they need
  • can include everything from virtual machine images, servers, software, and databases to complete multi-tier application architectures.

AWS Trusted Advisor

  • is an online resource to help reduce cost, increase performance, and improve security by optimizing the AWS environment.
  • provides real-time guidance to help provision the resources following AWS best practices.

AWS Personal Health Dashboard

  • provides alerts and remediation guidance when AWS is experiencing events that might affect you.
  • displays relevant and timely information to help you manage events in progress, and provides proactive notification to help you plan for scheduled activities.
  • alerts are automatically triggered by changes in the health of AWS resources, providing event visibility and guidance to help quickly diagnose and resolve issues.
  • provides a personalized view into the performance and availability of the AWS services underlying the AWS resources.
  • Service Health Dashboard displays the general status of AWS services,

AWS Managed Services

  • provides ongoing management of the AWS infrastructure so the focus can be on applications.
  • helps reduce the operational overhead and risk, by implementing best practices to maintain the infrastructure
  • automates common activities such as change requests, monitoring, patch management, security, and backup services, and provides full-lifecycle services to provision, run, and support the infrastructure.
  • improves agility, reduces cost, and unburdens from infrastructure operations

Developer Tools

AWS CodeCommit

  • is a fully managed source control service that makes to host secure and highly scalable private Git repositories

AWS CodeBuild

  • is a fully managed build service that compiles source code, runs tests, and produces software packages that are ready to deploy
  • also helps provision, manage, and scale the build servers.
  • scales continuously and processes multiple builds concurrently, so the builds are not left waiting in a queue.

AWS CodeDeploy

  • is a service that automates code deployments to any instance, including EC2 instances and instances running on premises.
  • helps to rapidly release new features, avoid downtime during application deployment, and handles the complexity of updating the applications.

AWS CodePipeline

  • is a continuous integration and continuous delivery service for fast and reliable application and infrastructure updates.
  • builds, tests, and deploys the code every time there is a code change, based on the defined release process models


  • helps developers analyze and debug distributed applications in production or development, such as those built using a microservices architecture
  • provides an end-to-end view of requests as they travel through the application, and shows a map of its underlying components.
  • helps understand how the application and its underlying services are performing, to identify and troubleshoot the root cause of performance issues and errors.


Amazon SQS

  • is a fast, reliable, scalable, fully managed message queuing service.
  • makes it simple and cost-effective to decouple the components of a cloud application.
  • includes standard queues with high throughput and at-least-once processing, and FIFO queues
  • provides FIFO (first-in, first-out) delivery and exactly-once processing.

Amazon SNS

  • fast, flexible, fully managed push notification service to send individual messages or to fan-out messages to large numbers of recipients.
  • makes it simple and cost effective to send push notifications to mobile device users, email recipients or even send messages to other distributed services
  • notifications can be sent to Apple, Google, Fire OS, and Windows devices, as well as to Android devices in China with Baidu Cloud Push.
  • can also deliver messages to SQS, Lambda functions, or HTTP endpoint

Amazon SES

  • is a cost-effective email service built on the reliable and scalable infrastructure that developed to serve its own customer
  • can send transactional email, marketing messages, or any other type of high-quality content to the customers.
  • can receive messages and deliver them to an S3 bucket, call your custom code via an AWS Lambda function, or publish notifications to SNS.


Amazon Athena

  • is an interactive query service that helps to analyze data in S3 using standard SQL.
  • is serverless, so there is no infrastructure to manage, and you pay only for the queries that you run.
  • removes the need for complex extract, transform, and load (ETL) jobs

Amazon EMR

  • provides a managed Hadoop framework that makes it easy, fast, and costeffective to process vast amounts of data across dynamically scalable EC2 instances.
  • enables you to run other popular distributed frameworks such as Apache Spark, HBase, Presto, and Flink, and interact with data in other AWS data stores such as S3 and DynamoDB.
  • securely and reliably handles a broad set of big data use cases, including log analysis, web indexing, data transformations (ETL), machine learning, financial analysis, scientific simulation, and bioinformatics.

Amazon CloudSearch

  • is a managed service and makes it simple and costeffective to set up, manage, and scale a search solution for website or application.
  • supports 34 languages and popular search features such as highlighting, autocomplete, and geospatial search.

Amazon Elasticsearch Service

  • makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale Elasticsearch for log analytics, full text search, application monitoring, and more.
  • is a fully managed service that delivers Elasticsearch’s easy-to-use APIs and real-time capabilities along with the availability, scalability, and security required by production workloads.

Amazon Kinesis

  • is a platform for streaming data on AWS, offering powerful services to make it easy to load and analyze streaming data,
  • provides the ability to build custom streaming data applications for specialized needs.
  • offers three services:
    • Amazon Kinesis Firehose,
      • helps load streaming data into AWS.
      • can capture, transform, and load streaming data into Amazon Kinesis Analytics, S3, Redshift, and Elasticsearch Service, enabling near real-time analytics with existing business intelligence tools and dashboards
      • helps batch, compress, and encrypt the data before loading it, minimizing the amount of storage used at the destination and increasing security.
    • Amazon Kinesis Analytics
      • helps process streaming data in real time with standard SQL
    • Amazon Kinesis Streams
      • enables you to build custom applications that process or analyze streaming data for specialized needs.

Amazon Redshift

  • provides a fast, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse that makes it simple and cost-effective to analyze all your data using your existing business intelligence tools.
  • has a massively parallel processing (MPP) data warehouse architecture, parallelizing and distributing SQL operations to take advantage of all available resources.
  • provides underlying hardware designed for high performance data processing, using local attached storage to maximize throughput between the CPUs and drives, and a 10GigE mesh network to maximize throughput between nodes.

Amazon QuickSight

  • provides fast, cloud-powered business analytics service that makes it easy to build visualizations, perform ad-hoc analysis, and quickly get business insights from your data.

AWS Data Pipeline

  • helps reliably process and move data between different AWS compute and storage services, as well as on-premises data sources, at specified intervals
  • can regularly access your data where it’s stored, transform and process it at scale, and efficiently transfer the results to AWS services such as S3, RDS, DynamoDB, and EMR.
  • helps create complex data processing workloads that are fault tolerant, repeatable, and highly available.
  • also allows you to move and process data that was previously locked up in on-premises data silos.

AWS Glue

  • is a fully managed ETL service that makes it easy to move data between data stores.
  • helps simplifies and automates the difficult and time-consuming tasks of data discovery, conversion, mapping, and job scheduling.
  • helps schedules ETL jobs and provisions and scales all the infrastructure
  • required so that ETL jobs run quickly and efficiently at any scale.

Application Services

AWS Step Functions

  • makes it easy to coordinate the components of distributed applications and microservices using visual workflows.
  • automatically triggers and tracks each step, and retries when there are errors, so the application executes in order and as expected.

Amazon API Gateway

  • is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale.
  • handles all the tasks involved in accepting and processing up to hundreds of thousands of concurrent API calls, including traffic management, authorization and access control, monitoring, and API version management.

Amazon Elastic Transcoder

  • is media transcoding in the cloud
  • is designed to be a highly scalable, easy-to-use, and cost-effective way for developers and businesses to convert (or transcode) media files from their source format into versions that will play back on devices like smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

Amazon SWF

  • helps developers build, run, and scale background jobs that have parallel or sequential steps.
  • is a fully-managed state tracker and task coordinator in the cloud.

AWS Certification Exam Practice Questions

  • Questions are collected from Internet and the answers are marked as per my knowledge and understanding (which might differ with yours).
  • AWS services are updated everyday and both the answers and questions might be outdated soon, so research accordingly.
  • AWS exam questions are not updated to keep up the pace with AWS updates, so even if the underlying feature has changed the question might not be updated
  • Open to further feedback, discussion and correction.
  1. Which AWS services belong to the Compute services? Choose 2 answers
    1. Lambda
    2. EC2
    3. S3
    4. EMR
    5. CloudFront
  2. Which AWS service provides low cost storage option for archival and long-term backup?
    1. Glacier
    2. S3
    3. EBS
    4. CloudFront
  3. Which AWS services belong to the Storage services? Choose 2 answers
    1. EFS
    2. IAM
    3. EMR
    4. S3
    5. CloudFront
  4. A Company allows users to upload videos on its platform. They want to convert the videos to multiple formats supported on multiple devices and platforms. Which AWS service can they leverage for the requirement?
    1. AWS SWF
    2. AWS Video Converter
    3. AWS Elastic Transcoder
    4. AWS Data Pipeline
  5. Which analytic service helps analyze data in S3 using standard SQL?
    1. Athena
    2. EMR
    3. Elasticsearch
    4. Kinesis
  6. What features does AWS’s Route 53 service provide? Choose the 2 correct answers:
    1. Content Caching
    2. Domain Name System (DNS) service
    3. Database Management
    4. Domain Registration
  7. You are trying to organize and import (to AWS) gigabytes of data that are currently structured in JSON-like, name-value documents. What AWS service would best fit your needs?
    1. Lambda
    2. DynamoDB
    3. RDS
    4. Aurora
  8. What AWS database is primarily used to analyze data using standard SQL formatting with compatibility for your existing business intelligence tools? Choose the correct answer:
    1. Redshift
    2. RDS
    3. DynamoDB
    4. ElastiCache
  9. A company wants their application to use pre-configured machine image with software installed and configured. which AWS feature can help for the same?
    1. Amazon Machine Image
    2. AWS CloudFormation
    3. AWS Lambda
    4. AWS Lightsail
  10. What AWS service can be used for track API event calls for security analysis, resource change tracking?
    1. AWS CloudWatch
    2. AWS CloudFormation
    3. AWS CloudTrail
    4. AWS OpsWorks
  11. Which AWS service can help Offload the read traffic from your database in order to reduce latency caused by read-heavy workload?
    1. ElastiCache
    2. DynamoDB
    3. S3
    4. EFS
  12. What service allows system administrators to run “Infrastructure as code”?
    1. CloudFormation
    2. CloudWatch
    3. CloudTrail
    4. CodeDeploy



Architecting for the Cloud – AWS Best Practices – Whitepaper – Certification

Architecting for the Cloud – AWS Best Practices

Architecting for the Cloud – AWS Best Practices whitepaper provides architectural patterns and advice on how to design systems that are secure, reliable, high performing, and cost efficient

AWS Design Principles


  • While AWS provides virtually unlimited on-demand capacity, the architecture should be designed to take advantage of those resources
  • There are two ways to scale an IT architecture
    • Vertical Scaling
      • takes place through increasing specifications of an individual resource for e.g. updating EC2 instance type with increasing RAM, CPU, IOPS, or networking capabilities
      • will eventually hit a limit, and is not always a cost effective or highly available approach
    • Horizontal Scaling
      • takes place through increasing number of resources for e.g. adding more EC2 instances or EBS volumes
      • can help leverage the elasticity of cloud computing
      • not all the architectures can be designed to distribute their workload to multiple resources
      • applications designed should be stateless,
        • that needs no knowledge of previous interactions and stores no session information
        • capacity can be increased and decreased, after running tasks have been drained
      • State, if needed, can be implemented using
        • Low latency external store, for e.g. DynamoDB, Redis, to maintain state information
        • Session affinity, for e.g. ELB sticky sessions, to bind all the transactions of a session to a specific compute resource. However, it cannot be guaranteed or take advantage of newly added resources for existing sessions
      • Load can be distributed across multiple resources using
        • Push model, for e.g. through ELB where it distributes the load across multiple EC2 instances
        • Pull model, for e.g. through SQS or Kinesis where multiple consumers subscribe and consume
      • Distributed processing, for e.g. using EMR or Kinesis, helps process large amounts of data by dividing task and its data into many small fragments of works

Disposable Resources Instead of Fixed Servers

  • Resources need to be treated as temporary disposable resources rather than fixed permanent on-premises resources before
  • AWS focuses on the concept of Immutable infrastructure
    • servers once launched, is never updated throughout its lifetime.
    • updates can be performed on a new server with latest configurations,
    • this ensures resources are always in a consistent (and tested) state and easier rollbacks
  • AWS provides multiple ways to instantiate compute resources in an automated and repeatable way
    • Bootstraping
      • scripts to configure and setup for e.g. using data scripts and cloud-init to install software or copy resources and code
    • Golden Images
      • a snapshot of a particular state of that resource,
      • faster start times and removes dependencies to configuration services or third-party repositories
    • Containers
      • AWS support for docker images through Elastic Beanstalk and ECS
      • Docker allows packaging a piece of software in a Docker Image, which is a standardized unit for software development, containing everything the software needs to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, etc
  • Infrastructure as Code
    • AWS assets are programmable, techniques, practices, and tools from software development can be applied to make the whole infrastructure reusable, maintainable, extensible, and testable.
    • AWS provides services like CloudFormation, OpsWorks for deployment


  • AWS provides various automation tools and services which help improve system’s stability, efficiency and time to market.
    • Elastic Beanstalk
      • a PaaS that allows quick application deployment while handling resource provisioning, load balancing, auto scaling, monitoring etc
    • EC2 Auto Recovery
      • creates CloudWatch alarm that monitors an EC2 instance and automatically recovers it if it becomes impaired.
      • A recovered instance is identical to the original instance, including the instance ID, private & Elastic IP addresses, and all instance metadata.
      • Instance is migrated through reboot, in memory contents are lost.
    • Auto Scaling
      • allows maintain application availability and scale the capacity up or down automatically as per defined conditions
    • CloudWatch Alarms
      • allows SNS triggers to be configured when a particular metric goes beyond a specified threshold for a specified number of periods
    • CloudWatch Events
      • allows real-time stream of system events that describe changes in AWS resources
    • OpsWorks
      • allows continuous configuration through lifecycle events that automatically update the instances’ configuration to adapt to environment changes.
      • Events can be used to trigger Chef recipes on each instance to perform specific configuration tasks
    • Lambda Scheduled Events
      • allows Lambda function creation and direct AWS Lambda to execute it on a regular schedule.

Loose Coupling

  • AWS helps loose coupled architecture that reduces interdependencies, a change or failure in a component does not cascade to other components
    • Asynchronous Integration
      • does not involve direct point-to-point interaction but usually through an intermediate durable storage layer for e.g. SQS, Kinesis
      • decouples the components and introduces additional resiliency
      • suitable for any interaction that doesn’t need an immediate response and an ack that a request has been registered will suffice
    • Service Discovery
      • allows new resources to be launched or terminated at any point in time and discovered as well for e.g. using ELB as a single point of contact with hiding the underlying instance details or Route 53 zones to abstract load balancer’s endpoint
    • Well-Defined Interfaces
      • allows various components to interact with each other through specific, technology agnostic interfaces for e.g. RESTful apis with API Gateway 

Services, Not Servers


  • AWS provides different categories of database technologies
    • Relational Databases (RDS)
      • normalizes data into well-defined tabular structures known as tables, which consist of rows and columns
      • provide a powerful query language, flexible indexing capabilities, strong integrity controls, and the ability to combine data from multiple tables in a fast and efficient manner
      • allows vertical scalability by increasing resources and horizontal scalability using Read Replicas for read capacity and sharding or data partitioning for write capacity
      • provides High Availability using Multi-AZ deployment, where data is synchronously replicated
    • NoSQL Databases (DynamoDB)
      • provides databases that trade some of the query and transaction capabilities of relational databases for a more flexible data model that seamlessly scales horizontally
      • perform data partitioning and replication to scale both the reads and writes in a horizontal fashion
      • DynamoDB service synchronously replicates data across three facilities in an AWS region to provide fault tolerance in the event of a server failure or Availability Zone disruption
    • Data Warehouse (Redshift)
      • Specialized type of relational database, optimized for analysis and reporting of large amounts of data
      • Redshift achieves efficient storage and optimum query performance through a combination of massively parallel processing (MPP), columnar data storage, and targeted data compression encoding schemes
      • Redshift MPP architecture enables increasing performance by increasing the number of nodes in the data warehouse cluster
  • For more details refer to AWS Storage Options Whitepaper

Removing Single Points of Failure

  • AWS provides ways to implement redundancy, automate recovery and reduce disruption at every layer of the architecture
  • AWS supports redundancy in the following ways
    • Standby Redundancy
      • When a resource fails, functionality is recovered on a secondary resource using a process called failover.
      • Failover will typically require some time before it completes, and during that period the resource remains unavailable.
      • Secondary resource can either be launched automatically only when needed (to reduce cost), or it can be already running idle (to accelerate failover and minimize disruption).
      • Standby redundancy is often used for stateful components such as relational databases.
    • Active Redundancy
      • requests are distributed to multiple redundant compute resources, if one fails, the rest can simply absorb a larger share of the workload.
      • Compared to standby redundancy, it can achieve better utilization and affect a smaller population when there is a failure.
  • AWS supports replication
    • Synchronous replication
      • acknowledges a transaction after it has been durably stored in both the primary location and its replicas.
      • protects data integrity from the event of a primary node failure
      • used to scale read capacity for queries that require the most up-to-date data (strong consistency).
      • compromises performance and availability
    • Asynchronous replication
      • decouples the primary node from its replicas at the expense of introducing replication lag
      • used to horizontally scale the system’s read capacity for queries that can tolerate that replication lag.
    • Quorum-based replication
      • combines synchronous and asynchronous replication to overcome the challenges of large-scale distributed database systems
      • Replication to multiple nodes can be managed by defining a minimum number of nodes that must participate in a successful write operation
  • AWS provide services to reduce or remove single point of failure
    • Regions, Availability Zones with multiple data centers
    • ELB or Route 53 to configure health checks and mask failure by routing traffic to healthy endpoints
    • Auto Scaling to automatically replace unhealthy nodes
    • EC2 auto-recovery to recover unhealthy impaired nodes
    • S3, DynamoDB with data redundantly stored across multiple facilities
    • Multi-AZ RDS and Read Replicas
    • ElastiCache Redis engine supports replication with automatic failover
  • For more details refer to AWS Disaster Recovery Whitepaper

Optimize for Cost

  • AWS can help organizations reduce capital expenses and drive savings as a result of the AWS economies of scale
  • AWS provides different options which should be utilized as per use case –
    • EC2 instance types – On Demand, Reserved and Spot
    • Trusted Advisor or EC2 usage reports to identify the compute resources and their usage
    • S3 storage class – Standard, Reduced Redundancy, and Standard-Infrequent Access
    • EBS volumes – Magnetic, General Purpose SSD, Provisioned IOPS SSD
    • Cost Allocation tags to identify costs based on tags
    • Auto Scaling to horizontally scale the capacity up or down based on demand
    • Lambda based architectures to never pay for idle or redundant resources
    • Utilize managed services where scaling is handled by AWS for e.g. ELB, CloudFront, Kinesis, SQS, CloudSearch etc.


  • Caching improves application performance and increases the cost efficiency of an implementation
    • Application Data Caching
      • provides services thats helps store and retrieve information from fast, managed, in-memory caches
      • ElastiCache is a web service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory cache in the cloud and supports two open-source in-memory caching engines: Memcached and Redis
    • Edge Caching
      • allows content to be served by infrastructure that is closer to viewers, lowering latency and giving high, sustained data transfer rates needed to deliver large popular objects to end users at scale.
      • CloudFront is Content Delivery Network (CDN) consisting of multiple edge locations, that allows copies of static and dynamic content to be cached


  • AWS works on shared security responsibility model
    • AWS is responsible for the security of the underlying cloud infrastructure
    • you are responsible for securing the workloads you deploy in AWS
  • AWS also provides ample security features
    • IAM to define a granular set of policies and assign them to users, groups, and AWS resources
    • IAM roles to assign short term credentials to resources, which are automatically distributed and rotated
    • Amazon Cognito, for mobile applications, which allows client devices to get controlled access to AWS resources via temporary tokens.
    • VPC to isolate parts of infrastructure through the use of subnets, security groups, and routing controls
    • WAF to help protect web applications from SQL injection and other vulnerabilities in the application code
    • CloudWatch logs to collect logs centrally as the servers are temporary
    • CloudTrail for auditing AWS API calls, which delivers a log file to S3 bucket. Logs can then be stored in an immutable manner and automatically processed to either notify or even take action on your behalf, protecting your organization from non-compliance
    • AWS Config, Amazon Inspector, and AWS Trusted Advisor to continually monitor for compliance or vulnerabilities giving a clear overview of which IT resources are in compliance, and which are not
  • For more details refer to AWS Security Whitepaper


Architecting for the Cloud: AWS Best Practices – Whitepaper


AWS Pricing – Whitepaper – Certification

AWS Pricing Whitepaper Overview

AWS pricing features include

  • Pay as you go
    • No minimum contracts/commitments or long-term contracts required
    • Pay only for services you use that can be stopped when not needed
    • Each service is charged independently, providing flexibility to choose services as needed
  • Pay less when you reserve
    • some services like EC2 provide reserved capacity, which provide significantly discounted rate and increase in overall savings
  • Pay even less by using more
    • some services like storage and data services, the more the usage the less you pay per gigabyte
    • consolidated billing to consolidate multiple accounts and get tiering benefits
  • Pay even less as AWS grows
    • AWS works continuously to reduce costs by reducing data center hardware costs, improving operational efficiencies, lowering power consumption, and generally lowering the cost of doing business
  • Free services
    • AWS offers lot of services free like AWS VPC, Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, IAM, Auto Scaling, OpsWorks, Consolidated Billing
  • Other features
    • AWS Free Tier for new customers, which offer free usage of services within permissible limits

AWS Pricing Resources

  • AWS Simple Monthly Calculator tool to effectively estimate the costs, which provides per service cost breakdown, as well as an aggregate monthly estimate.
  • AWS Economic Center provides access to information, tools, and resources to compare the costs of AWS services with IT infrastructure alternatives.
  • AWS Account Activity to view current charges and account activity, itemized by service and by usage type. Previous months’ billing statements are also available.
  • AWS Usage Reports provides usage reports, specifying usage types, timeframe, service operations, and more can customize reports.

AWS Pricing Fundamental Characteristics

  • AWS basically charges for
    • Compute,
    • Storage and
    • Data Transfer Out – aggregated across EC2, S3, RDS, SimpleDB, SQS, SNS, and VPC and then charged at the outbound data transfer rate
  • AWS does not charge
    • Inbound data transfer across all AWS Services in all regions
    • Outbound data transfer charges between AWS Services within the same region

AWS Elastic Cloud Compute – EC2

EC2 provides resizable compute capacity in cloud and the cost depends on –

  • Clock Hours of Server Time
    • Resources are charged for the time they are running
    • AWS updated the EC2 billing from hourly basis to Per Second Billing (Circa Oct. 2017). It takes cost of unused minutes and seconds in an hour off of the bill, so the focus is on improving the applications instead of maximizing usage to the hour
  • Machine Configuration
    • Depends on the physical capacity and Instance pricing varies with the AWS region, OS, number of cores, and memory
  • Machine Purchase Type
    • On Demand instances – pay for compute capacity with no required minimum commitments
    • Reserved Instances – option to make a low one-time payment – or no payment at all – for each reserved instance and in turn receive a significant discount on the usage
    • Spot Instances – bid for unused EC2 capacity
  • Auto Scaling & Number of Instances
    • Auto Scaling automatically adjusts the number of EC2 instances
  • Load Balancing
    • ELB can be used to distribute traffic among EC2 instances.
    • Number of hours the ELB runs and the amount of data it processes contribute to the monthly cost.
  • CloudWatch Detailed Monitoring
    • Basic monitoring is enabled and available at no additional cost
    • Detailed monitoring, which includes seven preselected metrics recorded once a minute, can be availed for a fixed monthly rate
    • Partial months are charged on an hourly pro rata basis, at a per instance-hour rate
  • Elastic IP Addresses
    • Elastic IP addresses are charged only when are not associated with an instance
  • Operating Systems and Software Packages
    • OS prices are included in the instance prices. There are no additional licensing costs to run the following commercial OS: RHEL, SUSE Enterprise Linux,  Windows Server and Oracle Enterprise Linux
    • For unsupported commercial software packages, license needs to be obtained

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets running code without provisioning or managing servers and the cost depends on

  • Number of requests for the functions and the time for the code to execute
    • Lambda registers a request each time it starts executing in response to an event notification or invoke call, including test invokes from the console.
    • Charges are for the total number of requests across all the functions.
    • Duration is calculated from the time the code begins executing until it returns or otherwise terminates, rounded up to the nearest 100 milliseconds.
    • Price depends on the amount of memory allocated to the function.

AWS Simple Storage Service – S3

S3 provides object storage and the cost depends on

  • Storage Class
    • Each storage class has different rates and provide different capabilities
    • Standard Storage is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability.
    • Standard – Infrequent Access (SIA) is a storage option within S3 that you can use to reduce your costs by storing  than Amazon S3’s standard storage.
    • Standard – Infrequent Access for storing less frequently accessed data at slightly lower levels of redundancy, is designed to provide the same 99.999999999% durability as S3 with 99.9% availability in a given year.
  • Storage
    • Number and size of objects stored in the S3 buckets as well as type of storage.
  • Requests
    • Number and type of requests. GET requests incur charges at different rates than other requests, such as PUT and COPY requests.
  • Data Transfer Out
    • Amount of data transferred out of the S3 region.

AWS Elastic Block Store – EBS

EBS provides block level storage volumes and the cost depends on

  • Volumes
    • EBS provides three volume types: General Purpose (SSD), Provisioned IOPS (SSD), and Magnetic, charged by the amount provisioned in GB per month, until its released
  • Input Output Operations per Second (IOPS)
    • With General Purpose (SSD) volumes, I/O is included in the price
    • With EBS Magnetic volumes, I/O is charged by the number of requests made to the volume
    • With Provisioned IOPS (SSD) volumes, I/O is charged by the amount of provisioned, multiplied by the % of days provisioned for the month
  • Data Transfer Out
    • Amount of data transferred out of the application and outbound data transfer charges are tiered.
  • Snapshot
    • Snapshots of data to S3 are created for durable recovery. If opted for EBS snapshots, the added cost is per GB-month of data stored.

AWS Relational Database Service – RDS

RDS provides an easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud and the cost depends on

  • Clock Hours of Server Time
    • Resources are charged for the time they are running, from the time a DB instance is launched until terminated
  • Database Characteristics
    • Depends on the physical capacity and Instance pricing varies with the database engine, size, and memory class.
  • Database Purchase Type
    • On Demand instances – pay for compute capacity for each hour the DB Instance runs with no required minimum commitments
    • Reserved Instances – option to make a low, one-time, up-front payment for each DB Instance to reserve for a 1-year or 3-year term and in turn receive a significant discount on the usage
  • Number of Database Instances
    • multiple DB instances can be provisioned to handle peak loads
  • Provisioned Storage
    • Backup storage of up to 100% of a provisioned database storage for an active DB Instance is not charged
    • After the DB Instance is terminated, backup storage is billed per gigabyte per month.
  • Additional Storage
    • Amount of backup storage in addition to the provisioned storage amount is billed per gigabyte per month.
  • Requests
    • Number of input and output requests to the database.
  • Deployment Type
    • Storage and I/O charges vary, depending on the number of AZs the RDS is deployed – Single AZ or Multi-AZ
  • Data Transfer Out
    • Outbound data transfer costs are tiered.
    • Inbound data transfer is free

AWS CloudFront

CloudFront is a web service for content delivery and an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no required minimum commitments.

  • Traffic Distribution
    • Data transfer and request pricing vary across geographic regions, and pricing is based on edge location through which the content is served
  • Requests
    • Number and type of requests (HTTP or HTTPS) made and the geographic region in which the requests are made.
  • Data Transfer Out
    • Amount of data transferred out of the CloudFront edge locations

AWS Certification Exam Practice Questions

  • Questions are collected from Internet and the answers are marked as per my knowledge and understanding (which might differ with yours).
  • AWS services are updated everyday and both the answers and questions might be outdated soon, so research accordingly.
  • AWS exam questions are not updated to keep up the pace with AWS updates, so even if the underlying feature has changed the question might not be updated
  • Open to further feedback, discussion and correction.
  1. How does AWS charge for AWS Lambda?
    1. Users bid on the maximum price they are willing to pay per hour.
    2. Users choose a 1-, 3- or 5-year upfront payment term.
    3. Users pay for the required permanent storage on a file system or in a database.
    4. Users pay based on the number of requests and consumed compute resources.


AWS Pricing Whitepaper – 2016



AWS Associate Certification Exams – Preparation – Sample Questions

AWS Solution Architect & SysOps Associate Certification Exams Preparation & Sample Questions

I recently passed AWS Solution Architect – Associate (90%) & SysOps – Associate (81%) certification exams.

I would like to share my preparation leading to and experience for the exams

  • AWS Certification exams are pretty tough to crack as they cover a lot of topics from a wide range of services offered by them.
  • I cleared both the Solution Architect and SysOps Associate certifications in a time frame of 2 months.
  • I had 6 months of prior hands-on experience with AWS primarily on IAM, VPC, EC2, S3 & RDS which helped a lot
  • There are lot of resources online which can be helpful but are overwhelming as well as misguide you (I found lot of dumps which have sample exam questions but the answers are marked wrong)
  • AWS Associate certifications although can be cleared with complete theoretical knowledge, a bit of hands on really helps a lot.
  • Also, AWS services are update literally everyday with new features being added, issues resolved and so on, which the exam questions surely don’t keep a track off. Not sure how often the exam questions are updated.
  • So my suggestion is if you see a question which focuses on a scenario which added latest by AWS within a month, still don’t go with that answer and stick to the answer which was relevant before the update for e.g. encryption of Root volume usually made in the certification exam with options to use external tools and was enabled by AWS recently.

AWS Certification Exam Preparation

As I mentioned there are lot of resources and courses online for the Certification exam which can be overwhelming, this is what I did for my preparation to clear the exams

    • Went through AWS Certification Preparation guide
    • Went through the AWS Solution Architect & SysOps blue print thoroughly as it mentions the topics and the weightage in the exam
    • Purchased the acloud guru course from udemy (got it for $10 on discount) for both the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate 2017 and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate 2017 course, which greatly helped to have a clear picture of the the format, topics and relevant sections
    • Signed up with AWS for the Free Tier account which provides a lot of the Services to be tried for free with certain limits which are more then enough to get things going. Be sure to decommission anything, if you using any thing beyond the free limits, preventing any surprises 🙂
    • Also, used the QwikLabs for all the introductory courses which are free and allow you to try out the services multiple times (I think its max 5, as I got the warnings couple of times)
    • Update: Qwiklabs seems to have reduced the free courses quite a lot and now provide targeted labs for AWS Certification exams which are charged
    • Went through the few Whitepapers especially the
    • Read the FAQs atleast for the important topics, as they cover important points and are good for quick review
    • Went through multiple sites to consolidate the Sample exam questions and worked on them to get the correct answers. I have tried to consolidate them further in this blog topic wise.
    • Went through multiple discussion topics on the acloud guru course which are pretty interesting and provides further insights and some of them are actually certification exam questions
    • I did not purchase the AWS Practice exams, as the questions are available all around. But if you want to check the format, it might be useful.
    • Opinion : acloud guru course are good by itself but is not sufficient to pass the exam but might help to counter about 50-60% of exam questions
    • Also, if you are well prepared the time for the certification exam is more then enough and I could answer all the questions within an hour and was able to run a review on all them once.
    • Important Exam Time Tip: Only mark the questions which you doubt as Mark for Review and then go through them only. I did the mistake marking quite a few as Mark for Review, even though I was confident on the answers, and wasting time on them again.
    • You can also check on


Udemy AWS Certified Solution Architect - Associate Practice Tests

AWS Associate Certification Exam Important Topics

AWS Storage Options – SQS & Redshift


  • is a temporary data repository for messages  and provides a reliable, highly scalable, hosted message queuing service for temporary storage and delivery of short (up to 256 KB) text-based data messages.
  • supports a virtually unlimited number of queues and supports unordered, at-least-once delivery of messages.

Ideal Usage patterns

  • is ideally suited to any scenario where multiple application components must communicate and coordinate their work in a loosely coupled manner particularly producer consumer scenarios
  • can be used to coordinate a multi-step processing pipeline, where each message is associated with a task that must be processed.
  • enables the number of worker instances to scale up or down, and also enable the processing power of each single worker instance to scale up or down, to suit the total workload, without any application changes.


  • Binary or Large Messages
    • SQS is suited for text messages with maximum size of 64 KB. If the application requires binary or messages exceeding the length, it is best to use Amazon S3 or RDS and use SQS to store the pointer
  • Long Term storage
    • SQS stores messages for max 14 days and if application requires storage period longer than 14 days, Amazon S3 or other storage options should be preferred
  • High-speed message queuing or very short tasks
    • If the application requires a very high-speed message send and receive response from a single producer or consumer, use of Amazon DynamoDB or a message-queuing system hosted on Amazon EC2 may be more appropriate.


  • is a distributed queuing system that is optimized for horizontal scalability, not for single-threaded sending or receiving speeds.
  • A single client can send or receive Amazon SQS messages at a rate of about 5 to 50 messages per second. Higher receive performance can be achieved by requesting multiple messages (up to 10) in a single call.

Durability & Availability

  • are highly durable but temporary.
  • stores all messages redundantly across multiple servers and data centers.
  • Message retention time is configurable on a per-queue basis, from a minimum of one minute to a maximum of 14 days.
  • Messages are retained in a queue until they are explicitly deleted, or until they are automatically deleted upon expiration of the retention time.

Cost Model

  • pricing is based on
    • number of requests and
    • the amount of data transferred in and out (priced per GB per month).

Scalability & Elasticity

  • is both highly elastic and massively scalable.
  • is designed to enable a virtually unlimited number of computers to read and write a virtually unlimited number of messages at any time.
  • supports virtually unlimited numbers of queues and messages per queue for any user.

Amazon Redshift

  • is a fast, fully-managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service that makes it simple and cost-effective to efficiently analyze all your data using your existing business intelligence tools.
  • is optimized for datasets that range from a few hundred gigabytes to a petabyte or more.
  • manages the work needed to set up, operate, and scale a data warehouse, from provisioning the infrastructure capacity to automating ongoing administrative tasks such as backups and patching.

Ideal Usage Pattern

  • is ideal for analyzing large datasets using the existing business intelligence tools
  • Common use cases include
    • Analyze global sales data for multiple products
    • Store historical stock trade data
    • Analyze ad impressions and clicks
    • Aggregate gaming data
    • Analyze social trends
    • Measure clinical quality, operation efficiency, and financial
    • performance in the health care space


  • OLTP workloads
    • Redshift is a column-oriented database and more suited for data warehousing and analytics. If application involves online transaction processing, Amazon RDS would be a better choice.
  • Blob data
    • For Blob storage, Amazon S3 would be a better choice with metadata in other storage as RDS or DynamoDB


  • Amazon Redshift allows a very high query performance on datasets ranging in size from hundreds of gigabytes to a petabyte or more.
  • It uses columnar storage, data compression, and zone maps to reduce the amount of I/O needed to perform queries.
  • It has a massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture that parallelizes and distributes SQL operations to take advantage of all available resources.
  • Underlying hardware is designed for high performance data processing that uses local attached storage to maximize throughput.

Durability & Availability

  • Amazon Redshift stores three copies of your data—all data written to a node in your cluster is automatically replicated to other nodes within the cluster, and all data is continuously backed up to Amazon S3.
  • Snapshots are automated, incremental, and continuous and stored for a user-defined period (1-35 days)
  • Manual snapshots can be created and are retained until explicitly deleted.
  • Amazon Redshift also continuously monitors the health of the cluster and automatically re-replicates data from failed drives and replaces nodes as necessary.

Cost Model

  • has three pricing components:
    • data warehouse node hours – total number of hours run across all the compute node
    • backup storage – storage cost for automated and manual snapshots
    • data transfer
      • There is no data transfer charge for data transferred to or from Amazon Redshift outside of Amazon VPC
      • Data transfer to or from Amazon Redshift in Amazon VPC accrues standard AWS data transfer charges.

Scalability & Elasticity

  • provides push button scaling and the number of nodes can be easily scaled in the data warehouse cluster as the demand changes.
  • Redshift places the existing cluster in the read only mode, so the existing queries can continue to run, while is provisions a new cluster with chosen size and copies the data to it. Once the data is copied, it automatically redirects queries to the new cluster

AWS Storage Options – CloudFront & ElastiCache

Amazon CloudFront

  • is a webservice for content delivery
  • provides low latency by caching and delivering content from a global network of edge locations located nearest to the user
  • supports both HTTP to allows static, dynamic content and Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) for streaming of videos
  • optimized to work as with Amazon services like S3, ELB etc. as well as works seamlessly with any non-AWS origin server

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • is ideal for distribution of frequently accessed static content, or dynamic content or for streaming audio or video that benefits from edge delivery


  • Infrequently accessed data
    • If the data is infrequently accessed, it would be better to serve the data from the Origin server
  • Programmatic cache invalidation
    • CloudFront supports cache invalidation, however AWS recommends using object versioning rather than programmatic cache invalidation.


  • is designed for low latency and high bandwidth delivery of content by redirecting the user to the nearest edge location in terms of latency and caching the content preventing the round trip to the origin server

Durability & Availability

  • provides high Availability by delivering content from a distributed global network of edge locations. Amazon also constantly monitors the network paths connecting Origin servers to CloudFront
  • does not provide durable storage, which is more of the responsibility of the underlying Origin server providing the content for e.g. S3

Cost Model

  • has two pricing components:
    • regional data transfer out (per GB) and
    • requests (per 10,000)

Scalability & Elasticity

  • provides seamless scalability & elasticity by automatically responding to the increase or the decrease in the demand


  • is a webservice that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale a distributed, in-memory cache in the cloud
  • helps improves performance of the applications by allowing retrieval of data from fast, managed, in-memory caching system
  • supports Memcached (object caching) & Redis (key value store that supports data structure) open source caching engines

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • improving application performance by storing critical data in-memory for low latency access
  • use cases involve usage as a database front end for read heavy applications, improving performance and reducing load on databases, or managing user session data, cache dynamically generated pages, or compute intensive calculations etc.


  • Persistent Data
    • If the application needs fast access to data coupled with strong data durability, Amazon DynamoDB would be a better option


  • Although ElastiCache provides low latency access to the data, the performance depends on the caching strategy and the hit ratio at the application level

Durability & Availability

  • stores transient data or transient copies of durable data, so the data durability is managed by the source
  • With the Memcached engine
    • all ElastiCache nodes in a single cache cluster are provisioned in a single Availability Zone.
    • ElastiCache automatically monitors the health of your cache nodes and replaces them in the event of network partitioning, host hardware, or software failure.
    • In the event of cache node failure, the cluster remains available, but performance may be reduced due to time needed to repopulate the cache in the new “cold” cache nodes.
    • To provide enhanced fault-tolerance for Availability Zone failures or cold-cache effects, you can run redundant cache clusters in different Availability Zones.
  • With the Redis engine,
    • ElastiCache supports replication to up to five read replicas for scaling. To improve availability, you can place read replicas in other Availability Zones.
    • ElastiCache monitors the primary node, and if the node becomes unavailable, ElastiCache will repair or replace the primary node if possible, using the same DNS name.
    • If the primary cache node recovery fails or its Availability Zone is unavailable, primary node can be failed over to one of the read replicas with an API call.

Cost Model

  • has a single pricing component:
    • pricing is per cache node-hour consumed

Scalability & Elasticity

  • ElastiCache is highly scalable and elastic.
  • Cache node can be added or deleted to the cache cluster
  • Auto Discovery enables automatic discovery of Memcached cache nodes by ElastiCache Clients when the nodes are added to or removed from an ElastiCache cluster.


Storage Options Whitepaper – Storage Gateway – Import/Export – AWS Certification

AWS Storage Options Whitepaper cont.

Provides a brief summary for the Ideal Use cases and Anti-Patterns for Storage Gateway and Import/Export AWS storage options

AWS Storage Gateway

  • Storage Gateway is a service that connects an on-premises software appliance with cloud-based storage to provide seamless and secure integration between the organization’s on-premises IT environment and AWS’s storage infrastructure.
  • Storage Gateway enables store data securely to the AWS cloud for scalable and cost-effective storage.
  • It provides low-latency performance by maintaining frequently accessed data on-premises while securely storing all of your data encrypted in S3.
  • For disaster recovery scenarios, it can serve as a cloud-hosted solution, together with EC2, that mirrors your entire production environment.
  • Storage Gateway can be configured as
    • Gateway-cached volumes
      • Gateway-cached volumes utilizes S3 for primary data backup, while retaining frequently accessed data locally in a cache.
      • These volumes minimize the need to scale the on-premises storage infrastructure, while still providing applications with low-latency access to their frequently accessed data.
      • Data written to the volumes is stored in S3, with only a cache of recently written and recently read data is stored locally on the on-premises storage hardware.
    • Gateway-stored volumes
      • Gateway-stored volumes stores the complete primary data locally, while asynchronously backing up that data to AWS.
      • These volumes provide the on-premises applications with low-latency access to their entire datasets, while providing durable, off-site backups.
      • Data written to the gateway-stored volumes is stored on the on-premises storage hardware, and asynchronously backed up to S3 in the form of EBS snapshots.

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • AWS Storage Gateway use cases include
    • corporate file sharing,
    • enabling existing on-premises backup applications to store primary backups on S3,
    • disaster recovery, and
    • data mirroring to cloud-based compute resources.


  • Database storage
    • For Database backup or storage, EC2 instances using EBS volumes are a natural choice for database storage and workloads.


  • As the Storage Gateway VM sits between the application, underlying on-premises storage and S3, the performance experienced will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the speed and configuration of the underlying local disks, the network bandwidth between the iSCSI initiator and gateway VM, the amount of local storage allocated to the gateway VM, and the bandwidth between the gateway VM and S3.
  • For gateway-cached volumes, to provide low-latency read access to the on-premises applications, it’s important to provide enough local cache storage to store the recently accessed data.
  • Storage Gateway efficiently uses the Internet bandwidth to speed up the upload of on-premises application data to AWS.
  • Storage Gateway only uploads incremental changes (data that has changed), which minimizes the amount of data sent over the Internet.
  • AWS Direct Connect can be used to further increase throughput and reduce the network costs by establishing a dedicated network connection between the on-premises gateway and AWS.

Durability and Availability

  • AWS Storage Gateway durably stores on-premises application data by uploading it to S3.
  • S3 stores data in multiple facilities and on multiple devices within each facility.
  • S3 also performs regular, systematic data integrity checks and is built to be automatically self-healing.

Cost Model

  • AWS Storage Gateway has four pricing components:
    • gateway usage (per gateway per month),
    • snapshot storage usage (per GB per month),
    • volume storage usage (per GB per month), and
    • data transfer out (per GB per month).

Scalability and Elasticity

  • AWS Storage Gateway stores data in Amazon S3, which has been designed to offer a very high level of scalability and elasticity automatically.


  • AWS Management Console can be used to download the AWS Storage Gateway VM image, select between a gateway-cached or gateway-stored configuration, activate the on-premises by associating the gateway’s IP Address with your AWS account, select an AWS region, and create AWS Storage Gateway volumes and attach these volumes as iSCSI devices to your on-premises application servers.

AWS Import/Export (Upgraded to Snowball)

  • AWS Import/Export accelerates moving large amounts of data into and out of AWS using portable storage devices for transport.
  • AWS transfers the data directly onto and off of storage devices using Amazon’s high-speed internal network and bypassing the Internet and can be much faster and more cost effective than upgrading connectivity.
  • AWS Import/Export supports importing into several types of AWS storage, including EBS snapshots, S3 buckets, and Glacier vaults and exporting data from S3.

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • AWS Import/Export is ideal for transferring large amounts of data in and out of the AWS cloud, especially in cases where transferring the data over the Internet would be too slow (a week or more) or too costly.
  • Common use cases include
    • initial data upload to AWS,
    • content distribution or regular data interchange to/from your customers or business associates,
    • transfer to Amazon S3 or Amazon Glacier for off-site backup and archival storage, and quick retrieval of large backups from Amazon S3 or Amazon Glacier for disaster recovery.


  • AWS Import/Export may not be the ideal solution for data that is more easily transferred over the Internet in less than one week.


  • Each AWS Import/Export station is capable of loading data at over 100 MB per second
  • Rate of the data load will be bounded by a combination of the read or write speed of the portable storage device and, for Amazon S3 data loads, the average object (file) size.

Durability and Availability

  • Durability and availability characteristics of the target storage i.e. EBS, S3 or Glacier applies, after the data has been imported

Cost Model

  • AWS Import/Export has three pricing components: a per-device fee, a data load time charge (per data-loading-hour), and possible return shipping charges (for expedited shipping, or shipping to destinations not local to that AWS Import/Export region).
  • Storage pricing applies for the destination storage, the standard Amazon EBS snapshot, Amazon S3, and Amazon Glacier request and storage pricing applies.

Scalability and Elasticity

  • Total amount of data you can load using AWS Import/Export is limited only by the capacity of the devices sent to AWS.
  • For Amazon S3, individual files will be loaded as objects in Amazon S3, and may range up to 5 terabytes in size.
  • For Amazon Glacier, individual devices will be loaded as a single archive, and may range up to 4 terabytes in size.
  • Aggregate total amount of data that can be imported is virtually unlimited.


  • To upload or download data, AWS Import/Export job for each storage device shipped need to be created and submitted
  • Jobs can be created using AWS CLI, AWS SDK or native REST API
  • Each job request requires a manifest file, a YAML-formatted text file that contains a set of key-value pairs that supply the required information—such as your device ID, secret access key, and return address—necessary to complete the job.
  • Job request is tied to the storage device through a signature file in the root directory (for Amazon S3 import jobs), or by a barcode taped to the device (for Amazon EBS and Amazon Glacier jobs).

AWS Certification Exam Practice Questions

  • Questions are collected from Internet and the answers are marked as per my knowledge and understanding (which might differ with yours).
  • AWS services are updated everyday and both the answers and questions might be outdated soon, so research accordingly.
  • AWS exam questions are not updated to keep up the pace with AWS updates, so even if the underlying feature has changed the question might not be updated
  • Open to further feedback, discussion and correction.
  1. You are working with a customer who has 10 TB of archival data that they want to migrate to Amazon Glacier. The customer has a 1-Mbps connection to the Internet. Which service or feature provides the fastest method of getting the data into Amazon Glacier?
    1. Amazon Glacier multipart upload
    2. AWS Storage Gateway
    3. VM Import/Export
    4. AWS Import/Export

AWS Storage Options – RDS, DynamoDB & Database on EC2

AWS Storage Options Whitepaper with RDS, DynamoDB & Database on EC2 Cont.

Provides a brief summary for the Ideal Use cases, Anti-Patterns and other factors for Amazon RDS, DynamoDB & Databases on EC2 storage options

Amazon RDS

  • RDS is a web service that provides the capabilities of MySQL, Oracle, MariaDB, Postgres or Microsoft SQL Server relational database as a managed, cloud-based service
  • RDS eliminates much of the administrative overhead associated with launching, managing, and scaling your own relational database on Amazon EC2 or in another computing environment.

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • RDS is a great solution for cloud-based fully-managed relational database
  • RDS is also optimal for new applications with structured data that requires more sophisticated querying and joining capabilities than that provided by Amazon’s NoSQL database offering, DynamoDB.
  • RDS provides full compatibility with the databases supported and direct access to native database engines, code and libraries and is ideal for existing applications that rely on these databases


  • Index and query-focused data
    • If the applications don’t require advanced features such as joins and complex transactions and is more oriented toward indexing and querying data, DynamoDB would be more appropriate for this needs
  • Numerous BLOBs
    • If the application makes heavy use of files (audio files, videos, images, etc), it is a better choice to use S3 to store the objects instead of database engines Blob feature and use RDS or DynamoDB only to save the metadata
  • Automated scalability
    • RDS provides pushbutton scaling and it only scales up and has limited scale out ability. If fully-automated scaling is needed, DynamoDB may be a better choice.
  • Complete control
    • RDS does not provide admin access and does not enable the full feature set of the database engines.
    • So if the application requires complete, OS-level control of the database server with full root or admin login privileges, a self-managed database on EC2 may be a better match.
  • Other database platforms
    • RDS, at this time, provides a MySQL, Oracle, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and SQL Server databases.
    • If any other database platform (such as IBM DB2, Informix, or Sybase) is needed, it should be deployed on a self-managed database on an EC2 instance by using a relational database AMI, or by installing database software on an EC2 instance.


  • RDS Provisioned IOPS, where the IOPS can be specified when the instance is launched and is guaranteed over the life of the instance, provides a high-performance storage option designed to deliver fast, predictable, and consistent performance for I/O intensive transactional database workload

Durability and Availability

  • RDS leverages Amazon EBS volumes as its data store
  • RDS provides database backups, for enhanced durability, which are replicated across multiple AZ’s
    • Automated backups
      • If enabled, RDS will automatically perform a full daily backup of your data during the specified backup window, and will also capture DB transaction logs
    • User initiated backups
      • User can initiate backups at time and they are not deleted unless deleted explicitly by the user
  • RDS Multi AZ’s feature enhances both the durability and the availability of the database by synchronously replicating the data between a primary RDS DB instance and a standby instance in another Availability Zone, which prevents data loss,
  • RDS provides a DNS endpoint and in case of an failure on the primary, it automatically fails over to the standby instance
  • RDS also allows Read replicas for the supported databases, which are replicated asynchronously

Cost Model

  • RDS offers a tiered pricing structure, based on the size of the database instance, the deployment type (Single-AZ/Multi-AZ), and the AWS region.
  • Pricing for RDS is based on several factors: the DB instance hours (per hour), the amount of provisioned database storage (per GB-month and per million I/O requests), additional backup storage (per GB-month), and data transfer in/out (per GB per month)

Scalability and Elasticity

  • RDS resources can be scaled elastically in several dimensions: database storage size, database storage IOPS rate, database instance compute capacity, and the number of read replicas
  • RDS supports “pushbutton scaling” of both database storage and compute resources. Additional storage can either be added immediately or during the next maintenance cycle
  • RDS for MySQL also enables you to scale out beyond the capacity of a single database deployment for read-heavy database workloads by creating one or more read replicas.
  • Multiple RDS instances can also be configured to leverage database partitioning or sharding to spread the workload over multiple DB instances, achieving even greater database scalability and elasticity.


  • RDS APIs and the AWS Management Console provide a management interface that allows you to create, delete, modify, and terminate RDS DB instances; to create DB snapshots; and to perform point-in-time restores
  • There is no AWS data API for Amazon RDS.
  • Once a database is created, RDS provides a DNS endpoint for the database which can be used to connect to the database.
  • Endpoint does not change over the lifetime of the instance even during the failover in case of Multi-AZ configuration

Amazon DynamoDB

  • Amazon DynamoDB is a fast, fully-managed NoSQL database service that makes it simple and cost-effective to store and retrieve any amount of data, and serve any level of request traffic.
  • DynamoDB being a managed service helps offload the administrative burden of operating and scaling a highly-available distributed database cluster.
  • DynamoDB helps meet the latency and throughput requirements of highly demanding applications by providing extremely fast and predictable performance with seamless throughput and storage scalability.
  • DynamoDB provides both eventually-consistent reads (by default), and strongly-consistent reads (optional), as well as implicit item-level transactions for item put, update, delete, conditional operations, and increment/decrement.
  • Amazon DynamoDB handles the data as below :-
    • DynamoDB stores structured data in tables, indexed by primary key, and allows low-latency read and write access to items.
    • DynamoDB supports three data types: number, string, and binary, in both scalar and multi-valued sets.
    • Tables do not have a fixed schema, so each data item can have a different number of attributes.
    • Primary key can either be a single-attribute hash key or a composite hash-range key.
    • Local secondary indexes provide additional flexibility for querying against attributes other than the primary key.

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • DynamoDB is ideal for existing or new applications that need a flexible NoSQL database with low read and write latencies, and the ability to scale storage and throughput up or down as needed without code changes or downtime.
  • Use cases require a highly available and scalable database because downtime or performance degradation has an immediate negative impact on an organization’s business. for e.g. mobile apps, gaming, digital ad serving, live voting and audience interaction for live events, sensor networks, log ingestion, access control for web-based content, metadata storage for S3 objects, e-commerce shopping carts, and web session management


  • Structured data with Join and/or Complex Transactions
    • If the application uses structured data and required joins, complex transactions or other relationship infrastructure provided by traditional database platforms, it is better to use RDS or Database installed on an EC2 instance
  • Large Blob data
    • If the application uses large blob data for e.g. media, files, videos etc., it is better to use S3 to store the objects and use DynamoDB to store metadata for e.g. name, size, content-type etc
  • Large Objects with Low I/O rate
    • DynamoDB uses SSD drives and is optimized for workloads with a high I/O rate per GB stored. If the applications stores very large amounts of data that are infrequently accessed, S3 might be a better choice
  • Prewritten application with databases
    • For Porting an existing application using databases, RDS or database installed on the EC2 instance would be a better and seamless solution


  • SSDs and limited indexing on attributes provides high throughput and low latency and drastically reduces the cost of read and write operations.
  • Predictable performance can be achieved by defining the provisioned throughput capacity required for a given table.
  • DynamoDB handles the provisioning of resources to achieve the requested throughput rate, taking away the burden to think about instances, hardware, memory, and other factors that can affect an application’s throughput rate.
  • Provisioned throughput capacity reservations are elastic and can be increased or decreased on demand.

Durability and Availability

  • DynamoDB has built-in fault tolerance that automatically and synchronously replicates data across three AZ’s in a region for high availability and to help protect data against individual machine, or even facility failures.

Cost Model

  • DynamoDB has three pricing components: provisioned throughput capacity (per hour), indexed data storage (per GB per month), data transfer in or out (per GB per month)

Scalability and Elasticity

  • DynamoDB is both highly-scalable and elastic.
  • DynamoDB provides unlimited storage capacity, and the service automatically allocates more storage as the demand increases
  • Data is automatically partitioned and re-partitioned as needed, while the use of SSDs provides predictable low-latency response times at any scale.
  • DynamoDB is also elastic, in that you can simply “dial-up” or “dial-down” the read and write capacity of a table as your needs change.


  • DynamoDB provides a low-level REST API, as well as higher-level SDKs in different languages
  • APIs provide both a management and data interface for Amazon DynamoDB, that enable table management (creating, listing, deleting, and obtaining metadata) and working with attributes (getting, writing, and deleting attributes; query using an index, and full scan).

Databases on EC2

  • EC2 with EBS volumes allows hosting a self managed relational database
  • Ready to use, prebuilt AMIs are also available from leading database solutions

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • Self managed database on EC2 is an ideal scenario for users whose application requires a specific traditional relational database not supported by Amazon RDS for e.g. IBM DB2, Informix, or Sybase
  • Users or applications that require a maximum level of administrative control and configurability which is not provided by RDS


  • Index and query-focused data
    • If the applications don’t require advanced features such as joins and complex transactions and is more oriented toward indexing and querying data, DynamoDB would be more appropriate for this needs
  • Numerous BLOBs
    • If the application makes heavy use of files (audio files, videos, images, and so on), it is a better choice to use S3 to store the objects instead of database engines Blob feature and use RDS or DynamoDB only to save the metadata
  • Automated scalability
    • Relational databases on EC2 leverages the scalability and elasticity of the underlying AWS platform, but this requires system administrators or DBAs to perform a manual or scripted task. If you need pushbutton scaling or fully-automated scaling, DynamoDB or RDS may be a better choice.
  • RDS supported database platforms
    • If the application using RDS supported database engine and all the features are available, RDS would be a better choice instead of self managed relational database on EC2


  • Performance depends on the size of the underlying EC2 instance, the number and configuration of the EBS volumes and the database itself
  • Performance can be increased by scaling up memory and compute resources by choosing a larger Amazon EC2 instance size.
  • For database storage, it is usually best to use EBS Provisioned IOPS volumes. To scale up I/O performance, the Provisioned IOPS can be increased, the number of EBS volumes changed, or use software RAID 0 (disk striping) across multiple EBS volumes, which will aggregate total IOPS and bandwidth.

Durability & Availability

  • As the database on EC2 uses EBS as storage, it has the same durability and availability provided by EBS and can be further enhanced by using EBS snapshots or by using third-party database backup utilities (such as Oracle’s RMAN) to store database backups in Amazon S3

Cost Model

  • Cost for running a database on EC2 instance is mainly determined by the size and the number of EC2 instance running, the size of the EBS volume used for database storage and any third party licensing cost for the database

Scalability & Elasticity

  • Users of traditional relational database solutions on Amazon EC2 can take advantage of the scalability and elasticity of the underlying AWS platform by creating AMI and spawning multiple instances

AWS Certification Exam Practice Questions

  • Questions are collected from Internet and the answers are marked as per my knowledge and understanding (which might differ with yours).
  • AWS services are updated everyday and both the answers and questions might be outdated soon, so research accordingly.
  • AWS exam questions are not updated to keep up the pace with AWS updates, so even if the underlying feature has changed the question might not be updated
  • Open to further feedback, discussion and correction.
  1. Which of the following are use cases for Amazon DynamoDB? Choose 3 answers
    1. Storing BLOB data.
    2. Managing web sessions
    3. Storing JSON documents
    4. Storing metadata for Amazon S3 objects
    5. Running relational joins and complex updates.
    6. Storing large amounts of infrequently accessed data.
  2. A client application requires operating system privileges on a relational database server. What is an appropriate configuration for highly available database architecture?
    1. A standalone Amazon EC2 instance
    2. Amazon RDS in a Multi-AZ configuration
    3. Amazon EC2 instances in a replication configuration utilizing a single Availability Zone
    4. Amazon EC2 instances in a replication configuration utilizing two different Availability Zones
  3. You are developing a new mobile application and are considering storing user preferences in AWS, which would provide a more uniform cross-device experience to users using multiple mobile devices to access the application. The preference data for each user is estimated to be 50KB in size. Additionally 5 million customers are expected to use the application on a regular basis. The solution needs to be cost-effective, highly available, scalable and secure, how would you design a solution to meet the above requirements?
    1. Setup an RDS MySQL instance in 2 availability zones to store the user preference data. Deploy a public facing application on a server in front of the database to manage security and access credentials
    2. Setup a DynamoDB table with an item for each user having the necessary attributes to hold the user preferences. The mobile application will query the user preferences directly from the DynamoDB table. Utilize STS. Web Identity Federation, and DynamoDB Fine Grained Access Control to authenticate and authorize access (DynamoDB provides high availability as it synchronously replicates data across three facilities within an AWS Region and scalability as it is designed to scale its provisioned throughput up or down while still remaining available. Also suitable for storing user preference data)
    3. Setup an RDS MySQL instance with multiple read replicas in 2 availability zones to store the user preference data .The mobile application will query the user preferences from the read replicas. Leverage the MySQL user management and access privilege system to manage security and access credentials.
    4. Store the user preference data in S3 Setup a DynamoDB table with an item for each user and an item attribute pointing to the user’ S3 object. The mobile application will retrieve the S3 URL from DynamoDB and then access the S3 object directly utilize STS, Web identity Federation, and S3 ACLs to authenticate and authorize access.
  4. A customer is running an application in US-West (Northern California) region and wants to setup disaster recovery failover to the Asian Pacific (Singapore) region. The customer is interested in achieving a low Recovery Point Objective (RPO) for an Amazon RDS multi-AZ MySQL database instance. Which approach is best suited to this need?
    1. Synchronous replication
    2. Asynchronous replication
    3. Route53 health checks
    4. Copying of RDS incremental snapshots
  5. You are designing a file -sharing service. This service will have millions of files in it. Revenue for the service will come from fees based on how much storage a user is using. You also want to store metadata on each file, such as title, description and whether the object is public or private. How do you achieve all of these goals in a way that is economical and can scale to millions of users?
    1. Store all files in Amazon Simple Storage Service (53). Create a bucket for each user. Store metadata in the filename of each object, and access it with LIST commands against the S3 API.
    2. Store all files in Amazon 53. Create Amazon DynamoDB tables for the corresponding key -value pairs on the associated metadata, when objects are uploaded.
    3. Create a striped set of 4000 IOPS Elastic Load Balancing volumes to store the data. Use a database running in Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) to store the metadata.
    4. Create a striped set of 4000 IOPS Elastic Load Balancing volumes to store the data. Create Amazon DynamoDB tables for the corresponding key-value pairs on the associated metadata, when objects are uploaded.
  6. Company ABCD has recently launched an online commerce site for bicycles on AWS. They have a “Product” DynamoDB table that stores details for each bicycle, such as, manufacturer, color, price, quantity and size to display in the online store. Due to customer demand, they want to include an image for each bicycle along with the existing details. Which approach below provides the least impact to provisioned throughput on the “Product” table?
    1. Serialize the image and store it in multiple DynamoDB tables
    2. Create an “Images” DynamoDB table to store the Image with a foreign key constraint to the “Product” table
    3. Add an image data type to the “Product” table to store the images in binary format
    4. Store the images in Amazon S3 and add an S3 URL pointer to the “Product” table item for each image

AWS Storage Options – S3 & Glacier

Amazon S3

  • highly-scalable, reliable, and low-latency data storage infrastructure at very low costs.
  • provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from within Amazon EC2 or from anywhere on the web.
  • allows you to write, read, and delete objects containing from 1 byte to 5 terabytes of data each.
  • number of objects you can store in an Amazon S3 bucket is virtually unlimited.
  • highly secure, supporting encryption at rest, and providing multiple mechanisms to provide fine-grained control of access to Amazon S3 resources.
  • highly scalable, allowing concurrent read or write access to Amazon S3 data by many separate clients or application threads.
  • provides data lifecycle management capabilities, allowing users to define rules to automatically archive Amazon S3 data to Amazon Glacier, or to delete data at end of life.

Ideal Use Cases

  • Storage & Distribution of static web content and media
    • frequently used to host static websites and provides a highly-available and highly-scalable solution for websites with only static content, including HTML files, images, videos, and client-side scripts such as JavaScript
    • works well for fast growing websites hosting data intensive, user-generated content, such as video and photo sharing sites as no storage provisioning is required
    • content can either be directly served from Amazon S3 since each object in Amazon S3 has a unique HTTP URL address
    • can also act as an Origin store for the Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as Amazon CloudFront
    • it works particularly well for hosting web content with extremely spiky bandwidth demands because of S3’s elasticity
  • Data Store for Large Objects
    • can be paired with RDS or NoSQL database and used to store large objects for e.g. file or objects, while the associated metadata for e.g. name, tags, comments etc. can be stored in RDS or NoSQL database where it can be indexed and queried providing faster access to relevant data
  • Data store for computation and large-scale analytics
    • commonly used as a data store for computation and large-scale analytics, such as analyzing financial transactions, clickstream analytics, and media transcoding.
    • data can be accessed from multiple computing nodes concurrently without being constrained by a single connection because of its horizontal scalability
  • Backup and Archival of critical data
    • used as a highly durable, scalable, and secure solution for backup and archival of critical data, and to provide disaster recovery solutions for business continuity.
    • stores objects redundantly on multiple devices across multiple facilities, it provides the highly-durable storage infrastructure needed for these scenarios.
    • it’s versioning capability is available to protect critical data from inadvertent deletion


Amazon S3 has following Anti-Patterns where it is not an optimal solution

  • Dynamic website hosting
    • While Amazon S3 is ideal for hosting static websites, dynamic websites requiring server side interaction, scripting or database interaction cannot be hosted and should rather be hosted on Amazon EC2
  • Backup and archival storage
    • Data requiring long term archival storage with infrequent read access can be stored more cost effectively in Amazon Glacier
  • Structured Data Query
    • Amazon S3 doesn’t offer query capabilities, so to read an object the object name and key must be known. Instead pair up S3 with RDS or Dynamo DB to store, index and query metadata about Amazon S3 objects
    • NOTE – S3 now provides query capabilities and also Athena can be used
  • Rapidly Changing Data
    • Data that needs to updated frequently might be better served by a storage solution with lower read/write latencies, such as Amazon EBS volumes, RDS or Dynamo DB.
  • File System
    • Amazon S3 uses a flat namespace and isn’t meant to serve as a standalone, POSIX-compliant file system. However, by using delimiters (commonly either the ‘/’ or ‘’ character) you are able construct your keys to emulate the hierarchical folder structure of file system within a given bucket.


  • Access to Amazon S3 from within Amazon EC2 in the same region is fast.
  • Amazon S3 is designed so that server-side latencies are insignificant relative to Internet latencies.
  • Amazon S3 is also built to scale storage, requests, and users to support a virtually unlimited number of web-scale applications.
  • If Amazon S3 is accessed using multiple threads, multiple applications, or multiple clients concurrently, total Amazon S3 aggregate throughput will typically scale to rates that far exceed what any single server can generate or consume.

Durability & Availability

  • Amazon S3 storage provides provides the highest level of data durability and availability, by automatically and synchronously storing your data across both multiple devices and multiple facilities within the selected geographical region
  • Error correction is built-in, and there are no single points of failure. Amazon S3 is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities, making it very well-suited to serve as the primary data storage for mission-critical data.
  • Amazon S3 is designed for 99.999999999% (11 nines) durability per object and 99.99% availability over a one-year period.
  • Amazon S3 data can be protected from unintended deletions or overwrites using Versioning.
  • Versioning can be enabled with MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) Delete on the bucket, which would require two forms of authentication to delete an object
  • For Non Critical and Reproducible data for e.g. thumbnails, transcoded media etc., S3 Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS) can be used, which provides a lower level of durability at a lower storage cost
  • RRS is designed to provide 99.99% durability per object over a given year. While RRS is less durable than standard Amazon S3, it is still designed to provide 400 times more durability than a typical disk drive

Cost Model

  • With Amazon S3, you pay only for what you use and there is no minimum fee.
  • Amazon S3 has three pricing components: storage (per GB per month), data transfer in or out (per GB per month), and requests (per n thousand requests per month).

Scalability & Elasticity

  • Amazon S3 has been designed to offer a very high level of scalability and elasticity automatically
  • Amazon S3 supports a virtually unlimited number of files in any bucket
  • Amazon S3 bucket can store a virtually unlimited number of bytes
  • Amazon S3 allows you to store any number of objects (files) in a single bucket, and Amazon S3 will automatically manage scaling and distributing redundant copies of your information to other servers in other locations in the same region, all using Amazon’s high-performance infrastructure.


  • Amazon S3 provides standards-based REST and SOAP web services APIs for both management and data operations.
  • NOTE – SOAP support over HTTP is deprecated, but it is still available over HTTPS. New Amazon S3 features will not be supported for SOAP. We recommend that you use either the REST API or the AWS SDKs.
  • Amazon S3 provides easier to use higher level toolkit or SDK in different languages (Java, .NET, PHP, and Ruby) that wraps the underlying APIs
  • Amazon S3 Command Line Interface (CLI) provides a set of high-level, Linux-like Amazon S3 file commands for common operations, such as ls, cp, mv, sync, etc. They also provide the ability to perform recursive uploads and downloads using a single folder-level Amazon S3 command, and supports parallel transfers.
  • AWS Management Console provides the ability to easily create and manage Amazon S3 buckets, upload and download objects, and browse the contents of your Amazon S3 buckets using a simple web-based user interface
  • All interfaces provide the ability to store Amazon S3 objects (files) in uniquely-named buckets (top-level folders), with each object identified by an unique Object key within that bucket.


  • extremely low-cost storage service that provides highly secure, durable, and flexible storage for data backup and archival
  • can reliably store their data for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month.
  • to offload the administrative burdens of operating and scaling storage to AWS such as capacity planning, hardware provisioning, data replication, hardware failure detection and repair, or time consuming hardware migrations
  • Data is stored in Amazon Glacier as Archives where an archive can represent a single file or multiple files combined into a single archive
  • Archives are stored in Vaults for which the access can be controlled through IAM
  • Retrieving archives from Vaults require initiation of a job and can take anywhere around 3-5 hours
  • Amazon Glacier integrates seamlessly with Amazon S3 by using S3 data lifecycle management policies to move data from S3 to Glacier
  • AWS Import/Export can also be used to accelerate moving large amounts of data into Amazon Glacier using portable storage devices for transport

Ideal Usage Patterns

  • Amazon Glacier is ideally suited for long term archival solution for infrequently accessed data with archiving offsite enterprise information, media assets, research and scientific data, digital preservation and magnetic tape replacement


Amazon Glacier has following Anti-Patterns where it is not an optimal solution

  • Rapidly changing data
    • Data that must be updated very frequently might be better served by a storage solution with lower read/write latencies such as Amazon EBS or a Database
  • Real time access
    • Data stored in Glacier can not be accessed at real time and requires an initiation of a job for object retrieval with retrieval times ranging from 3-5 hours. If immediate access is needed, Amazon S3 is a better choice.


  • Amazon Glacier is a low-cost storage service designed to store data that is infrequently accessed and long lived.
  • Amazon Glacier jobs typically complete in 3 to 5 hours

Durability and Availability

  • Amazon Glacier redundantly stores data in multiple facilities and on multiple devices within each facility
  • Amazon Glacier is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% (11 nines) for an archive
  • Amazon Glacier synchronously stores your data across multiple facilities before returning SUCCESS on uploading archives.
  • Amazon Glacier also performs regular, systematic data integrity checks and is built to be automatically self-healing.

Cost Model

  • Amazon Glacier has three pricing components: storage (per GB per month), data transfer out (per GB per month), and requests (per thousand UPLOAD and RETRIEVAL requests per month).
  • Amazon Glacier is designed with the expectation that retrievals are infrequent and unusual, and data will be stored for extended periods of time and allows you to retrieve up to 5% of your average monthly storage (pro-rated daily) for free each month. Any additional amount of data retrieved is charged per GB
  • Amazon Glacier also charges a pro-rated charge (per GB) for items deleted prior to 90 days

Scalability & Elasticity

  • A single archive is limited to 40 TBs, but there is no limit to the total amount of data you can store in the service.
  • Amazon Glacier scales to meet your growing and often unpredictable storage requirements whether you’re storing petabytes or gigabytes, Amazon Glacier automatically scales your storage up or down as needed.


  • Amazon Glacier provides a native, standards-based REST web services interface, as well as Java and .NET SDKs.
  • AWS Management Console or the Amazon Glacier APIs can be used to create vaults to organize the archives in Amazon Glacier.
  • Amazon Glacier APIs can be used to upload and retrieve archives, monitor the status of your jobs and also configure your vault to send you a notification via Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) when your jobs complete.
  • Amazon Glacier can be used as a storage class in Amazon S3 by using object lifecycle management to provide automatic, policy-driven archiving from Amazon S3 to Amazon Glacier.
  • Amazon S3 api provides a RESTORE operation and the retrieval process takes the same 3-5 hours
  • On retrieval, a copy of the retrieved object is placed in Amazon S3 RRS storage for a specified retention period; the original archived object remains stored in Amazon Glacier and you are charged for both the storage.
  • When using Amazon Glacier as a storage class in Amazon S3, use the Amazon S3 APIs, and when using “native” Amazon Glacier, you use the Amazon Glacier APIs
  • Objects archived to Amazon Glacier via Amazon S3 can only be listed and retrieved via the Amazon S3 APIs or the AWS Management Console—they are not visible as archives in an Amazon Glacier vault.

AWS Certification Exam Practice Questions

  • Questions are collected from Internet and the answers are marked as per my knowledge and understanding (which might differ with yours).
  • AWS services are updated everyday and both the answers and questions might be outdated soon, so research accordingly.
  • AWS exam questions are not updated to keep up the pace with AWS updates, so even if the underlying feature has changed the question might not be updated
  • Open to further feedback, discussion and correction.
  1. You want to pass queue messages that are 1GB each. How should you achieve this?
    1. Use Kinesis as a buffer stream for message bodies. Store the checkpoint id for the placement in the Kinesis Stream in SQS.
    2. Use the Amazon SQS Extended Client Library for Java and Amazon S3 as a storage mechanism for message bodies. (Amazon SQS messages with Amazon S3 can be useful for storing and retrieving messages with a message size of up to 2 GB. To manage Amazon SQS messages with Amazon S3, use the Amazon SQS Extended Client Library for Java. Refer link)
    3. Use SQS’s support for message partitioning and multi-part uploads on Amazon S3.
    4. Use AWS EFS as a shared pool storage medium. Store filesystem pointers to the files on disk in the SQS message bodies.
  2. Company ABCD has recently launched an online commerce site for bicycles on AWS. They have a “Product” DynamoDB table that stores details for each bicycle, such as, manufacturer, color, price, quantity and size to display in the online store. Due to customer demand, they want to include an image for each bicycle along with the existing details. Which approach below provides the least impact to provisioned throughput on the “Product” table?
    1. Serialize the image and store it in multiple DynamoDB tables
    2. Create an “Images” DynamoDB table to store the Image with a foreign key constraint to the “Product” table
    3. Add an image data type to the “Product” table to store the images in binary format
    4. Store the images in Amazon S3 and add an S3 URL pointer to the “Product” table item for each image