Your ELI5 Guide to Critical AWS Services

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leading cloud computing platform that offers a wide range of services for building and operating applications and infrastructure in the cloud. From compute and storage to database and networking, AWS has a service for just about every need. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the main categories of services in AWS, along with a use case and real-life example for each.

There are a lot of services in AWS, so we’ll need to break this up into smaller sections to make it easier to understand. Here’s a list of some of the main categories of services in AWS:

  1. Compute
  2. Storage
  3. Database
  4. Networking
  5. Security
  6. Artificial Intelligence
  7. Internet of Things (IoT)
  8. Management Tools
  9. Mobile
  10. AR/VR
  11. Game Development

We can start by discussing one service from each of these categories, along with a use case and real-life example.

Compute Services in AWS

Compute: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It allows you to launch virtual machines (VMs) with a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and FreeBSD.

Use case: EC2 is often used for web and application hosting, as well as for running batch jobs and big data processing tasks.

Real-life example: Netflix uses EC2 to host its streaming video service, which serves millions of users around the world.

Storage Services in AWS

Storage: Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is an object storage service that allows you to store and retrieve any amount of data from anywhere on the internet. It’s designed to be highly scalable and durable, with data automatically distributed across multiple servers and data centers.

Use case: S3 is often used for storing and serving static files, such as images, videos, and audio files. It’s also commonly used for storing data backups, as well as for storing data that’s being processed by other AWS services, such as EC2 or Amazon Redshift (a data warehousing service).

Real-life example: Airbnb uses S3 to store and serve images of properties listed on its platform.

Database Services in AWS

Database: Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) is a managed database service that makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It supports a variety of database engines, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle.

Use case: RDS is often used for applications that require a relational database, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, e-commerce platforms, and content management systems.

Real-life example: Zillow, the real estate website, uses RDS to power its database of property listings.

Networking Services in AWS

Networking: Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is a networking service that allows you to create a virtual network in the cloud, where you can launch AWS resources in a logically isolated environment. It provides control over your network infrastructure, including the ability to select your own IP address range, create subnets, and configure security groups and network ACLs.

Use case: VPC is often used for creating a secure and isolated network for hosting sensitive applications, such as financial or healthcare systems.

Real-life example: Capital One uses VPC to host its cloud-based banking and financial services platform.

Security Services in AWS

Security: Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a web service that helps you securely control access to AWS resources. It allows you to create and manage users, groups, and permissions for your AWS accounts, as well as to enforce least privilege access controls.

Use case: IAM is often used for managing access to AWS resources across multiple users and accounts and enforcing compliance policies.

Real-life example: eBay uses IAM to manage access to its AWS resources, including EC2 instances, S3 buckets, and RDS databases.

Artificial Intelligence Services in AWS

Artificial Intelligence: Amazon SageMaker is a fully-managed machine learning service that makes it easy to build, train, and deploy machine learning models at scale. It provides a variety of tools and resources for building and evaluating machine learning models, including Jupyter notebooks, model hosting, and auto-scaling.

Use case: SageMaker is often used for building and deploying machine learning models for a variety of applications, such as natural language processing, image classification, and recommendation systems.

Real-life example: Intuit, the financial software company, uses SageMaker to build and deploy machine learning models for its QuickBooks accounting software.

Internet of Things (IoT) Services in AWS

Internet of Things (IoT): Amazon IoT Core is a managed cloud service that allows you to securely connect and manage Internet of Things (IoT) devices at scale. It provides tools for device registration, message routing, and device provisioning, as well as integration with other AWS services, such as Lambda (a serverless computing platform) and Kinesis (a real-time streaming data platform).

Use case: IoT Core is often used for building and managing IoT applications, such as smart home systems, connected vehicles, and industrial automation systems.

Real-life example: GE Appliances uses IoT Core to build and manage its “Connected Home” platform, which allows customers to remotely control and monitor their appliances.

Management Tool Services in AWS

Management Tools: Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring service that provides visibility into the performance, health, and availability of your AWS resources and applications. It allows you to set alarms, view metrics, and access log data for your resources, as well as to integrate with other AWS services, such as EC2 and S3.

Use case: CloudWatch is often used for monitoring the performance and availability of applications and infrastructure in the cloud, as well as for detecting and responding to issues in real-time.

Real-life example: Expedia, the travel website, uses CloudWatch to monitor the performance and availability of its online booking platform.

Mobile Services in AWS

Mobile: Amazon Pinpoint is a mobile marketing and analytics service that helps you understand and engage with your mobile app users. It provides tools for creating targeted campaigns, collecting user data, and analyzing user behavior, as well as integration with other AWS services, such as SNS (a messaging service) and Lambda.

Use case: Pinpoint is often used for building and managing mobile marketing campaigns, as well as for gathering insights about mobile app usage and user behavior.

Real-life example: Starbucks uses Pinpoint to send targeted push notifications to its mobile app users, as well as to gather data about app usage and user engagement.

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Services in AWS

AR/VR: Amazon Sumerian is a platform for building augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications. It provides a drag-and-drop editor for creating 3D environments and assets, as well as tools for building interactions and logic for your applications.

Use case: Sumerian is often used for building AR and VR applications for a variety of industries, such as education, entertainment, and retail.

Real-life example: The New York Times used Sumerian to create an AR experience for its “Daily 360” series, which allows users to explore immersive 3D environments and stories.

Game Development Services in AWS

Game Development: Amazon GameLift is a managed service for building, deploying, and operating online multiplayer games. It provides tools for hosting game servers, matchmaking, and real-time player analytics, as well as integration with other AWS services, such as EC2, S3, and CloudWatch.

Use case: GameLift is often used by game developers to build and operate multiplayer games, such as online battle royales, first-person shooters, and sports games.

Real-life example: PUBG Corporation, the developer of the popular game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” uses GameLift to host and operate the game’s online multiplayer servers.


AWS is a vast and constantly evolving platform, with new services and features being introduced all the time. While this blog post only scratches the surface of what AWS has to offer, it should give you a good idea of the breadth and depth of its services and how they might be applied in a variety of contexts. Whether you’re a developer, data scientist, or IT professional, there’s likely an AWS service that can help you achieve your goals in the cloud.

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