When you’re new to web development, everyone will ask you who is the biggest website on the internet — and that question will be your starting point. I love this question because it takes care of a lot less work than deciding what website or social media platform you should build for your business. So as we move towards that final decision, the question becomes “Is Amazon the best platform for me?”
The short answer is yes, but I’ll get into more details below.
It turns out I don’t know either. The majority of users are just getting started with websites and thinking about how large their audience might be. You can start off small with only 10 customers but if you really want to gain trust as an individual, then there are ways to get there. There are plenty of resources available online where people have written about strategies on building trust for businesses.
Here’s one great piece from Amy Farley that helped me to better understand how to approach customers on my blog (if you haven’t read it yet, go check it out). She also goes over some interesting examples in her book called Social Business: Strategy + Design, that she used in explaining her thoughts and concepts of Amazon and why I find them so useful.
So I started by writing a little bit about myself online and went through a few different stages before choosing which strategy would be more effective. In this article, I’m going to share what I learned along the way to help others in similar situations. For me, it was simply a question of whether or not Amazon was the right provider for me. To do this research, I looked at many of their services and competitors, but this time I focused specifically on two vertical markets to compare them against. This is just my perspective on each company to see if they will be right for me, and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes too.
Let’s start by looking at their basic features and how to sign up for one. As stated above, all these services are essentially free for you to try first. However, at certain levels, Amazon has some pre-installed tools like Prime Video on Roku, Fire TV and Kindle Fire for its own site. Their other key features are Adwords ads and Alexa integration, however, both of those tend to seem more geared towards marketing instead of using Amazon to sell products.
Here are some examples of AmazonBasics content you can access for FREE:
I like to think of these three things as the backbone of Amazon. It helps provide information from thousands of sources that you may need, as well as allows you to buy physical books through Amazon. Unfortunately I had already bought some Amazon books (for various reasons), so this wasn’t a huge deal. If anything it makes sense as another paid service, but it seems like it would make a nice bonus if I could get a free copy of E.L Cowan’s newest novel.
Amazon Partner Program
Another good feature from Amazon is “Amazon Partner Program.” Basically this is a group of partners that give you access to their servers, products or even some promotional materials, depending on what you choose. One partner that seems to fit neatly within that umbrella is Code of Ethics – no lie, there are some real rules here. They have created something called Community Guidelines that you can follow, though the name doesn’t seem very important. On the technical side of things, they also allow us to register once again, so we can continue our partnership with them on platforms like Medium.
Amazon Web Services
My third area of focus is the technology side of it. We are still working through how they decide when to use Cloud vs Platform, that’s pretty complex, but essentially we are talking about Serverless. These days almost all the data (like customer info) is being run on server farms themselves. Essentially, Cloud/serverless is Google’s search engine, in a bigger box. Amazon just wants it all under one roof and offers it via a service called Elastic Mapbox.
Again on the tech side, this is actually kind of cool (for developers, that is, not a user), since a bunch of APIs and SDKs help simplify and streamline it. On the big picture side, they are creating a fully connected infrastructure that integrates their hardware with software and devices like IoT, cars, robots etc. and will eventually replace cloud servers entirely.
There are a plethora of options, of course, that come in different flavors. Some are simpler like using AppSource and Github or Github Pages for example, while others are quite a bit more robust. They can both manage things like databases and other backends in addition to hosting apps and websites themselves (not all cloud models are created equal, after all, you will find more out there than “platform-as-a-service”, I’ve found).
Amazon S3 Upload Storage
We’ve talked about storage, now let’s discuss the pros and cons of uploading files and folders locally versus over the Internet and the Amazon Web Services(AWS). For sure some of the advantages are obvious that I listed above, since a single place is kept across both sides. For example, if someone wanted to upload their hard drive (of size 1000GB or bigger) to their local machine, all of this can be done without worrying about space or bandwidth restrictions. But let’s say the same person needed to upload those extra files over the network that they wanted to read or edit, then the local model isn’t a possibility. Instead, the AWS models are much more scalable, reliable and flexible.
Depending on the size of the file or folder, for any number of nodes on the cluster, it will take anywhere between a minute and 2 hours to download, even when downloading is limited to 5MB per iteration of a function. For larger files, you can set a maximum size for it, usually 128MB for 4K images, and 200GB for HD videos. That’s just a quick overview of the differences when uploading, you can probably guess what is the end result. Even for smaller files there are likely to be issues, maybe the host was down for a couple seconds, or the connection was spotty, or whatever.
Not only is storing things locally a hassle but having to go through dozens of times to upload all this stuff is tiresome, plus if you have any control over the file it’s not easy to update things and keep the file structure the same. Of course you can always save your files to your PC and sync it into a public directory like GitHub if you’d like and if you’re running on a shared computer, you can download these files from Dropbox and re-upload everything at once. Just a reminder that you’re making money, so if you want to do what I’m doing then grab that extra disk drive and don’t worry about formatting it or saving to a specific folder.
Amazon EBS Storage
What’s next? Well technically, you can store all the files on the server side by spinning up a custom instance, or even use instances yourself with the tools given by Amazon. You can also store the file on Amazon Elastic Compute Storage (xlarge in fact has 1 TB or 1TB and can go past 12TB) or on RDS instances. For small files it’ll take far longer but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Most importantly, if needed you can easily switch environments and keep copies around, giving you a central location for all of your files.
To wrap it all up, as long as you don’t plan on adding more than a simple HTML file to your website you’ll need to rely heavily on the hosting space provided by Amazon. You’ll also need to have a decent knowledge of coding and web design if you plan on publishing anything worth reading. Lastly, the quality of Amazon’s support is amazing and they offer lots, if not all, the solutions for any issue that comes your way. The company is extremely trustworthy, it feels comfortable and friendly at all times, which means that even though you may not be able to get anything done at all, you’ll always have someone to turn to.