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November 20, 2023 09:55 am GMT

AWS Is A Zoo: Anyone Can Navigate the Cloud Jungle!

In my line of work, I often run into people who aren't familiar with AWS. It's understandable; cloud computing is an immense and constantly evolving realm. This adds a challenging yet fascinating aspect to my job, pushing me to think creatively and find effective ways to explain AWS concepts that resonate with everyone.

In this article, I'm going to use a simple analogy to illustrate some fundamental AWS concepts. By the end, I hope that even those with no prior AWS experience will have a basic grasp of the key terms. So next time someone is talking about different regions and availability zones and how AWS handles resilience, you won't need to ponder what an availability zone is.

For this illustration, we'll use Australia as an example. However, you can replace Australia with any other country or continent, too, for explanation purposes.

AWS: The Animal Kingdom Analogy

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Picture Australia as a vast and diverse continent, a thriving animal kingdom teeming with unique creatures and experiences that offer a wealth of opportunities for kids and families to explore and enjoy. In a similar vein, Amazon Web Services (AWS) stands as the world's most comprehensive and widely adopted cloud platform, delivering over 200 fully featured services from data centers located across the globe.

Regions: The States and Territories of the Animal Kingdom

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Australia, as a continent and, in this case, as an animal kingdom, is divided into states and territories, each with its own laws, governance, and unique characteristics. Similarly, AWS is divided into regions, which are distinct geographical areas spread across the globe.

Availability Zones: The Zoos of Each State or Territory

Within each region, there are Availability Zones, which are like individual zoos. These Availability Zones are geographically separate from each other, providing redundancy and fault tolerance. If one Availability Zone goes down, the others will still be operational, ensuring that your cloud applications remain available. This analogy is similar to Victoria state having four zoos: Healesville Sanctuary, Kyabram Fauna Park, Melbourne Zoo, and Werribee Open Range Zoo. If one zoo is temporarily unavailable on any given day, parents can still take their children to the other zoos. Typically, an AWS Region will have at least three Availability Zones.

AWS Services: The Animal Enclosures

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Just as the Melbourne Zoo houses a variety of animals (Elephants, Lions, Tigers, and Wombats, to name a few), each with its own enclosure (just like the above image), AWS offers a wide range of services that organizations can use to build their cloud-based solutions. These services, such as EC2, S3, CloudWatch, and Lambda Functions, are like the building blocks. Think of different animal enclosures in a Zoo as different AWS services available in a region.

Individual Resources: The Specific Animals

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AWS resource is an entity that you can work with. They are like the animals within a zoo enclosure. For example, an application might require two EC2 resources and one S3 resource, just like seeing two elephants and one lion in the Melbourne Zoo, just like the picture above. Each resource serves a distinct purpose, contributing to the overall functionality of the cloud-based system.

Common AWS Services Explained Using the Zoo and Animal Analogy

Here are some of the most common AWS services explained using the zoo and animal analogy:

  • Elastic Compute Service (EC2) and Instance types: EC2 is like lions in an enclosure. Instance types are like lions, lionesses, and cubs, each with its own characteristics. You have compute, memory, and general-purpose instance types to name a few. AWS EC2 is an on-demand computing service on the AWS cloud platform.

  • Simple Storage Service (S3): Amazon S3 stores and retrieves any amount of data at any time, from anywhere on the web. Think of this as food storage for animals in a zoo.

  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): IAM is like the security system of the zoo. It controls who has access to different areas, ensuring only authorized users can enter specific enclosures. AWS IAM lets you define individual users with permissions across AWS resources and enables Multi-Factor Authentication for privileged accounts, including options for software- and hardware-based authenticators.

  • AWS CloudWatch: Think of it as the zookeeper who monitors the animals' health, behavior, and interactions. They track key metrics like food consumption patterns, growth rate, and activity level. Amazon CloudWatch monitors your Amazon Web Services (AWS) resources and the applications you run on AWS in real-time.

  • AWS Lambda Functions (Serverless): Think of this service as a special event in a zoo. Consider a portable ice cream stall that appears on a scorching summer day, delighting visitors with refreshing treats. As the day concludes and temperatures cool, the stall vanishes, leaving no trace of its presence. Similarly, AWS Lambda functions pop up when needed, executes the required code efficiently and then terminates until the next invocation.

By drawing parallels between the familiar world of a zoo and the intricacies of AWS, I hope to make cloud computing more approachable for newcomers. By understanding the fundamental concepts of regions, Availability Zones, and services, you can confidently engage in discussions about AWS without feeling overwhelmed. As your cloud computing knowledge expands, you'll be able to delve deeper into AWS's vast and ever-evolving ecosystem and come up with different metaphors to explain the concepts better than I did.

After reading the article, Can you think of other AWS services that can be explained using zoo analogy?

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