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Why is AWS Complicated? Simplifying AWS for Users

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become the go-to hyperscaler cloud solution for startups and scaleups, offering a broad platform tailored for growth. Yet, for many users, the experience of deploying and managing AWS is far from straightforward. A look into discussion forums like Reddit and Quora reveal a common thread: developers find themselves wrestling with the complexity of AWS configurations, expressing frustration over the steep learning curve.

The challenge with AWS is not limited to its intricate setup. Cost management presents another hurdle; the service’s pricing structure is often opaque, which can lead to unexpected bills that can significantly strain a startup’s finances. Plus, AWS support leaves something to be desired for many businesses. In this article, we examine the factors that contribute to the complexities of AWS and offer best practices for simplifying its use.

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Factors that make AWS complicated

The power and scale of AWS bring a complexity that can overwhelm even experienced developers. With its expansive service offerings and detailed configurations, AWS often presents a significant learning curve. To better grasp these challenges, let’s explore the core factors that can complicate AWS use:

Extensive ecosystem of products

The expansive array of products offered by AWS is a significant factor in the platform’s complexity. Businesses must navigate a maze of over 180 services, each with its own set of features, configurations, and use cases. For instance, selecting the right type of compute service from the assortment of options like EC2, Lambda, or ECS requires a nuanced understanding of the workload requirements. The continuous rollout of new features and services further complicates the mastery of the platform, as IT professionals must constantly learn and adapt.

The challenge extends to integrating these services into a cohesive cloud architecture that meets business objectives. This process can be intricate, as the wrong combination can lead to inefficiencies or reduced performance. This turns the deployment and management of AWS solutions into a specialized and intricate endeavor.

Unintuitive user interface

The user interface of AWS has garnered criticism for its lack of intuitiveness. Users frequently describe the web console as cumbersome, hindering efficient navigation and management of the extensive suite of AWS services. This complexity is compounded by the fact that AWS offers multiple methods to accomplish even simple tasks, leading to a lack of standardization that can confuse new and experienced users alike.

This variability in usage can significantly steepen the learning curve, making the initial stages of AWS adoption daunting.

AWS documentation

AWS documentation, intended to be a comprehensive resource for users, often contributes to the platform’s complexity. The sheer volume of documentation can be overwhelming, with users frequently reporting the need to juggle multiple tabs and navigate through loops of interlinked articles to piece together information about a single service. This convoluted structure, where information is scattered across dozens of documents, slows the learning process.

Additionally, the pace at which AWS evolves can make documentation quickly outdated. This leaves users with guides that no longer reflect the current state of services. Users have described a ‘graveyard’ of products, where tools and services may become deprecated, but their documentation lingers without necessary updates, leading to confusion. This lack of structured, up-to-date information forces users to verify the relevance of tutorials and instructions continually, adding another layer of challenge in using AWS effectively.

AWS support

AWS provides a tiered support structure, with options ranging from the free Basic plan to the premium Enterprise level, each with varying degrees of access and response times. The Basic plan offers limited help, covering only billing and account inquiries. For more extensive support, users must opt for paid plans, which align their costs with cloud expenditure, presenting a potentially steep financial commitment for SMBs.

These escalating costs and the absence of an AWS support response time service level agreement (SLA) can lead to prolonged wait times, especially for lower-tier plan users. In contrast, some competitors like DigitalOcean cater to SMBs with free support for all customers, and premium dedicated assistance at a fixed monthly rate—a more predictable and budget-friendly alternative.

AWS pricing structure

Understanding the cost structure of AWS can be daunting, often leading to unexpected bill shock where users face charges far exceeding their projections. Social media and forums are rife with discussions about such surprises, prompting a niche for consultancies specializing in AWS billing clarification.

AWS egress charges for data transfers outside AWS or across regions contribute to the complexity. Users must carefully architect their systems, considering factors like region selection and service usage, to mitigate these costs. Additionally, overlooked charges from idle resources, like EC2 instances, or orphaned snapshots in storage, can quickly accumulate.

Best practices for simplifying AWS

As users aim to harness the power of AWS, adopting best practices is essential to simplify its complexity. To demystify the cloud giant, consider the following guidelines for a more manageable AWS experience:

Start small

Approaching AWS with an incremental strategy is key for businesses aiming to simplify their cloud adoption process. Initially, focus on deploying a core application or workload on a single service such as Amazon EC2. This starting point allows a business to engage with the essentials—instance configuration, security measures, and simple network setups—without the immediate concern for broader infrastructure complexities.

As comfort with EC2 grows, the business can then extend its cloud reach. Integrating additional services like AWS Lambda for event-driven tasks or Amazon S3 for scalable storage becomes the next phase. This deliberate, stepwise expansion not only eases the learning curve but also helps in maintaining clear oversight of costs and system architecture.

Use Terraform to streamline AWS infrastructure

Many developers suggest using Terraform to simplify working with AWS. Terraform automates and codifies the provisioning of AWS infrastructure, allowing developers to deploy and manage cloud services efficiently. The infrastructure-as-code approach ensures all resources are version-controlled and changes are easily tracked and reversible. This reduces manual effort and the potential for human error, leading to more consistent and predictable deployments.

The tool’s ability to manage multi-cloud environments and parallelize the creation of resources expedites development and provides a clear overview of infrastructure changes before they are applied.

Seek out third-party resources

AWS’s vast ecosystem can overwhelm even seasoned developers. To demystify AWS’s complexity, third-party resources become invaluable. There are a range of websites offering digestible, informal explanations of AWS services. These resources translate AWS’s technical jargon into common language, making it more approachable.

Here are a few helpful resources:

Take a certificate course or training program

Certificate courses and training programs can streamline the AWS learning curve. The official AWS Certification program offers structured learning paths, from foundational to advanced skills, tailored for different roles. These programs can demystify AWS’s services.

Alternative courses through platforms like Coursera, Cloud Academy, and Udemy, provide a practical understanding and real-world application. Investing time in these educational resources can lead to deeper familiarity with AWS, easing the complexity of cloud management.

DigitalOcean: A Simple AWS Alternative for Businesses

With a slew of AWS alternatives on the market, DigitalOcean stands out as a top cloud contender for small-to-mid sized companies looking for robust cloud computing solutions, without the complexity.

EGLogics, a global web and digital marketing agency, made the cloud migration from AWS to DigitalOcean after facing challenges with other cloud platforms.

“Comparing Google Cloud or AWS with DigitalOcean, anybody can easily tell how simple it is to use in comparison. With DigitalOcean we barely see issues. If there is an issue, it is easy to handle. We don’t have to invest a lot of resources, we don’t need 2-3 server admins. We know that our developers can handle things easily.” — Ankit Aggarwal, CEO and CTO of EGLogics

They found a reliable cloud platform that provided both simplicity and cost-savings, a contrast from the complexity they experienced with AWS.

“By switching from AWS to DigitalOcean we reduced our costs by 50%. We achieved the ease of use and speed of launch and delivery we were looking for.” — Ankit Aggarwal, CEO and CTO of EGLogics

Amidst the complex landscape of cloud services, DigitalOcean offers simplicity for your business:

  • Transparent pricing. DigitalOcean’s clear, flat-rate pricing structure ensures you only pay for what you use, with no hidden fees, and a pricing calculator to plan your expenses.

  • Comprehensive product suite. Confidently manage your infrastructure with DigitalOcean’s cohesive offerings, including Droplets, Managed Databases, and App Platform for seamless application deployment and scaling.

  • Streamlined API. Leverage DigitalOcean’s straightforward API to automate and enhance your cloud operations, making it easier to manage resources programmatically.

  • Intuitive control panel. Navigate your cloud environment with ease using DigitalOcean’s user-friendly control panel, designed for efficient and hassle-free administration.

  • Rich documentation and community. Accessible documentation and a supportive community forum simplify problem-solving and learning.

  • Dedicated support. Depend on 24/7 customer support ready to assist with any questions or issues.

Begin your journey to a more manageable cloud experience with DigitalOcean. Start simplifying your cloud today and unlock the potential for your business to grow without the complexity.

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