Understanding AWS Terminology

For those who are just starting out with AWS or tech professionals who need to grasp the fundamentals of AWS terms, this article is a great place to begin. In this blog, we’ll explore some fundamental AWS terminology to set you on the right path with your cloud computing journey.

AWS Terminology & AWS Services

We will discuss the AWS Terminology on the basis of the type of services involved. The most commonly used AWS services are:

Compute & Storage Services

Amazon EC2

AWS EC2 is the most frequently employed service from AWS. It furnishes dependable and adjustable virtual servers (known as EC2 instances) for all types of requirements.

Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling

This tool has been constructed to start and stop Amazon EC2 instances based on the criteria and evaluations set out by the customers.

Amazon Elastic Block Store

Amazon Web Services Elastic Block Store (known as AWS EBS) is a block storage system offered by AWS that allows users to assign storage devices known as EBS volumes.

Amazon Elastic File System

AWS Elastic File System (EFS) is a service that enables us to create and set up file systems which can be reached by EC2 instances and servers that are located onsite.

Amazon S3

AWS S3 is the most popular storage system that Amazon Web Services provides. It is a highly reliable and expandable service that enables you to keep your documents as objects in containers called S3 buckets. You can quickly access these files whenever you need to through the console or the web. S3 has virtually no limits in terms of storage space, and you only pay for the storage you actually use.

Amazon S3 Glacier

AWS S3 Glacier is an affordable and reliable storage solution for keeping backups and archives. This service is best suited for data that is not regularly accessed, with a retrieval time of a few hours being expected.

Amazon Elastic Container Service

AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a container management platform that is created and provided by AWS. It is designed to be extremely scalable and quick.

Amazon Elastic Container Registry 

AWS Elastic Container Registry (ECR) provides an online platform to store, manage, and deploy images created with Docker containers.

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service

AWS EKS is an administered service which makes it convenient to use Kubernetes on AWS without having to configure or look after the Kubernetes clusters.

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is an AWS-provided serverless compute service that lets users execute their code without establishing or taking care of servers. It is a broadly-utilized AWS Service that can be combined with a variety of AWS Services.


AWS offers two caching services, Redis and Memcached, that are both part of the Elasticache umbrella. There are benefits to using one over the other, but I won’t go into that now (use Redis if you’d like to keep your sanity). The name is quite self-explanatory; “cache” because it’s a cache, and “elastic” because it provides elasticity in the same way EC2 does.

Amazon CloudWatch

AWS Cloudwatch is an internal monitoring and observation tool specifically designed for AWS Resources. It provides data and insights that can be utilized to keep track of applications and take action when necessary.

Networking Services

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud

Amazon Web Services Virtual Private Cloud (AWS VPC) can be utilized to establish logically divided cloud systems. It allows for complete authority over the security, route capabilities, and network setups within the cloud.

Amazon Route 53

AWS Route 53 enables us to establish a fresh DNS service associated with our domain names. It is a domain registrar as well, hence, we can buy new domain names or transfer existing ones in our possession to AWS through the Route 53 console.

Storage Gateway

This is an addition to the current datacenter that offers access to the storage services (EBS, EFS, S3, etc) through the common network file transfer protocols (SMB, NFS, iSCSI). It could be seen as a starting point for cloud adoption, but it appears to be mainly intended as an easier option for backups.

Direct Connect

This sets up a direct connection between your internal network and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) backbone, so that you don’t need to communicate over a virtual private network (VPN) or public internet. This connection is much faster than the VPN and the performance remains consistent, with no more instances of lag during peak hours.

Load Balancers

AWS has a range of services available which are located in the EC2 section of the console. These services cover both compute and networking and, as I’ve already pushed the boundaries of what I would call a “compute service”, they have been placed in this section. There are 4 types of load balancers – application, network, gateway and classic – and the best one to choose will depend on the desired outcome. Although the section could do with its own blog post, I may write one at a later date.

Messaging Services

Amazon Simple Queue Service 

AWS SQS is a platform that lets us create queues on the cloud to store messages. It is also possible to link it up with other AWS Services to send and retrieve messages from the SQS queues.

Amazon Simple Notification Service

AWS SNS is a tool that enables instantaneous communication between services within the AWS Cloud. It is closely connected to many AWS components and is frequently used to allow two separate services to talk to one another.

Amazon Simple Email Service

Amazon Web Services Simple Email Service is a user-friendly, economical way for applications to send emails.


Managed Apache ActiveMQ/RabbitMQ

ActiveMQ is a messaging service that serves as an intermediary between multiple components located on different servers or written in distinct programming languages.

RabbitMQ is a free, open-source messaging system that helps a broad range of web applications to run efficiently. It is equipped with support for AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol), MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport), and STOMP (Streaming Text Oriented Messaging Protocol).

Kinesis & Firehose

These two are distinct tools, but often used together, so I’m considering them as one. The term “Kinesis” is derived from Greek, meaning “movement”, which is exactly what it does- transfers data. It has two forms, Streams and Firehose. Kinesis Streams take streaming data and offer the ability to modify it before its output, like when a user is interacting with a web page and the content needs to be changed. Kinesis Firehose meanwhile allows a non-stop flow of data from different sources (like IoT) to either analytics tools like Kinesis Streams or Lambdas, or to S3.

Database Services

Amazon RDS

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Relational Database Service (RDS) assists with the establishment, operation, and scaling of relational databases in the AWS Cloud. This service offers support for PostgreSQL, Oracle, MySQL, MSSQL, and MariaDB.

Amazon DynamoDB

AWS DynamoDB is a serverless NoSQL database service to manage that provides you with access to your data in a single-digit millisecond time frame.

Amazon Aurora

AWS Aurora is a type of managed database system from AWS that is designed for MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. Its purpose is to take advantage of the advantages of cloud storage, with an emphasis on being optimized for the AWS cloud.

AWS Redshift

AWS Redshift is a petabyte-scale data warehouse system available on the cloud provided by Amazon. It is built upon the PostgreSQL database and can be easily integrated with third-party applications through its ODBC and JDBC drivers.

Amazon Neptune

Amazon Neptune is a completely monitored graph database system that can be scaled to manage billions of connections with quick response times and an economical expense for that degree of capability.

Arbitrary Services

Amazon API Gateway

Amazon API Gateway is an AWS offering that allows individuals and businesses to easily create, manage, observe, and protect Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) on any scale. One of its major purposes is to make AWS services available to programs outside of AWS itself through an API.

Amazon CloudFront

AWS CloudFront is a content delivery system provided by AWS that lessens the latency of your applications by caching static information in more than 300 locations around the globe, known as Edge Locations.

AWS Certificate Manager

It is an excellent utility for dealing with SSL/TLS certificates. If you have ever gone through the tedious process of providing TLS certificates yourself, you would appreciate this tool. It is compatible with nearly all AWS services that require certificates (e.g. load balancers, CloudFront, API Gateway), and it will automatically renew the certificates it issued.

AWS Shield

AWS Shield is an automated service made available by AWS Cloud for guarding against DDoS attacks on all existing layer 3 and 4 networks. There are two levels of AWS Shield, namely Standard and Advanced. The Advanced level provides more comprehensive protection than the Standard tier.

AW AWS Web Application Firewall is a security measure that defends applications from website-based assaults. WAF keeps a watch on unusual bot traffic, and hinders common attack forms, like SQL Injection or Cross-site scripting, etc. Additionally, it permits monitoring of HTTP and HTTPS requests sent to an Amazon API Gateway API, Amazon CloudFront, or an Application Load Balancer.

Other Services

Amazon IAM

AWS IAM provides a way to control who has access to different areas in an AWS account, as well as the authority for each user.

AWS Key Management Service

Amazon Web Services’ Key Management Service provides an effortless means of creating and managing encryption keys.

Amazon Lightsail

AWS Lightsail is an easy-to-use service that enables developers to quickly set up and manage web servers. This can be a great option for situations that do not need extensive alterations. Lightsail provides packaged offers, like a WordPress Lightsail, to rapidly install WordPress applications.

AWS CloudFormation

CloudFormation from AWS is an Infrastructure as a code service that helps us to construct, customize, and exterminate AWS resources with the use of YAML or JSON codes.

Amazon Athena

Amazon Athena is a query service that gives users the ability to inspect data stored in S3 storage with standard SQL. There is no need to manage any server settings as Athena is serverless. Payment is only required for the queries executed by the user.

AWS Systems Manager

AWS Systems Manager is a collection of tools which enables you to oversee your AWS Cloud platforms and components. Systems Manager simplifies the process of managing applications and resources, expedites the discovery and resolution of operational issues, and helps you control your AWS resources in a secure manner at scale.

AWS Glue

AWS Glue is an effortless data integration platform that facilitates the uncovering, preparation, transfer, and combining of data from multiple sources for analytics, ML, and application development.

AWS OpsWorks

AWS OpsWorks is a mechanism of configuration management which offers managed versions of both Chef and Puppet. These two automation systems provide the capability to make use of code to automate the set up of your servers. By using OpsWorks, it is possible to automate the processes of configuring, deploying, and managing servers on both Amazon EC2 and on-site computing environments. AWS OpsWorks presents three services: AWS Opsworks for Chef Automate, AWS OpsWorks for Puppet Enterprise, and AWS OpsWorks Stacks.

AWS Config

AWS Config is a cloud-based service that gives you a full inventory of your AWS resources, records of past configurations, and notifications of any changes made to them to help you stay secure and compliant.

AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK)

The open-source AWS CDK (Cloud Development Kit) framework enables coders to define and set up cloud infrastructure using programming languages like C++, JAVA, and Python. This framework internally changes the code into CloudFormation Templates and then uses the AWS CloudFormation service to deploy the cloud infrastructure.

AWS CodePipeline

CodePipeline is a service that provides seamless and reliable application deployments in a very quick fashion.

AWS CodeBuild

AWS CodeBuild is an on-demand, cloud-based continuous integration service from Amazon Web Services. This service enables us to take code from repositories, perform tests, and run other building steps to build deployable packages.

AWS CodeDeploy

AWS CodeDeploy provides a means of automating the deployment of applications to servers hosted on AWS or on-premise data centers. To do this, it requires the use of pre-packaged deployments that are prepared in advance.

AWS CodeCommit

AWS CodeCommit is a service that offers the possibility to host private Git repositories, very similar to BitBucket and GitHub.

AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail keeps track of all the API calls that occur in your account. If you wish to determine who is producing changes to your account, you can find the details in the CloudTrail console. In addition to the user Identity, CloudTrail also captures the exact date and time of the API call, the source IP, and the response, if any, given by AWS.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

A web platform providing a swift way to deploy and run applications on the AWS Cloud without having to handle and preserve the Cloud Infrastructure that supports these applications.

AWS Secrets Manager

AWS SecretsManager is a service offered by AWS which enables users to securely store and rotate credentials required for AWS services. For instance, it can be utilized to store and encrypt login credentials for database access.

AWS Snowball

AWS Snowball is an Amazon Web Services program which allows for the fast and efficient migration of petabytes of data. This service is available to order in the form of a hard drive that is small enough to fit within a briefcase. This device can be used to transfer terabytes of information to the AWS platform.

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