2018’s 10 most popular AWS products according to Jefferson Frank

Earlier this year, Jefferson Frank released its first ever report into salaries, benefits, and working trends in the AWS ecosystem.

Featuring self-reported opinions and input from more than 500 AWS professionals, the annual AWS Salary Survey report uses over 47,000 thousand data points to determine average salaries for a number of job roles and seniorities across four countries.

We hope this survey will be a useful tool to help AWS professionals benchmark their salaries and get the latest information on industry trends for many years to come; we’d love to hear your thoughts for our next edition, so keep an eye out for future surveys.

As part of the survey, we asked AWS professionals to give us their take on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the AWS product catalog.

We’re going to take a look at the top ten most-used AWS services as reported by our survey respondents, find out why they’re so popular with cloud pros, and hear what can be done to improve them; directly from the AWS community.

Amazon EC2

The most popular AWS product among cloud professionals was Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). EC2 has become a core part of many AWS users’ infrastructure, offering raw computing resources on demand.

EC2 benefits include that the instances it provides are scalable both horizontally and vertically, it offers an enormous amount of freedom, and its pay-as-you-use pricing make it accessible.

The service is continuing to evolve with a number of new features for EC2 launched in the past year, including the ability to pause and resume workloads without having to modify existing applications.

Last month, ahead of this year’s re:Invent conference, a powerful new predictive scaling upgrade was announced. This feature can be added to existing scaling configurations using a checkbox, and uses custom parameters to predict the length of an SQS queue.

According to the survey, the majority of observations about EC2 were positive, with users praising the product’s scalability, quick deployment times, and cost-cutting potential. The service’s main benefits, users stated are its elasticity and the ease and speed with which it can be deployed.

It’s certainly not a perfect platform, though, with some respondents criticizing EC2’s lack of flexibility when it comes to cross-region networking, and the fact that it’s not as granular as EKS. Some users also commented that, although in theory EC2’s pricing structure should make costs more manageable, running certain types of workload with EC2 can be expensive.

Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling

A useful tool for Amazon EC2 users, Auto Scaling allows users to automatically scale capacity based on pre-defined conditions. Users praised the service for providing high availability, less downtime, and the ability to scale instances up and down at speed.

Another key advantage of using EC2 Auto Scaling, according to survey participants, is its ability to improve fault tolerance. Users can create a group with Auto Scaling to autonomously kill off unhealthy instances and launch new ones in their place.

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)

Another great sidekick to EC2, Amazon Elastic Block Store offers backup services for AWS instances, with high availability, and data encrypted block-level storage volumes in a number of volume options.

The majority of respondents using Amazon EBS noted the product’s ease of set-up, storage flexibility—thanks to the option to support volumes by a solid state drive or hard disk drive—and straightforward storage management.

Lack of ability to reduce size, limited configuration options, and sluggishness in deployment were a few of the drawbacks cited by users.

Amazon Simple Storage Service 

AWS’s object storage service, Amazon Simple Storage Service(S3) is a core tool for backup and data archiving on the AWS platform. With various storage classes available depending on how often, and how quickly, data needs to be accessed, cloud professionals lauded S3 for its low costs, in addition to its ease of use, reliability, and powerful access and retention management.

Limited file system support and a cumbersome interface that can make essential file management, and nightmarish cross-account access were the key aspects said to be holding the service back.

Amazon CloudWatch

Monitoring your cloud infrastructure is essential to keeping things working as they should. Amazon CloudWatch allows individuals regardless of their role to monitor their infrastructure.

Users found CloudWatch especially useful for allowing simple, non-interventionist management of security procedures, and enabling full automation of security best practices.

Amazon Relational Database Service

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) is AWS’s console that allows users to build, manage, and scale relational databases using the world’s most popular open source database platform.

Survey respondents touted RDS as an industry-standard service, offering a huge range of engines, amazingly easy to setup, and far easier to manage than MySQL on EC2.

All these great features obviously come with a price tag however, and many users also commented that RDS can be expensive, particularly in comparison to other AWS database services.

AWS Lambda

An on-demand serverless compute tool, AWS Lambda lets users run and scale backend code automatically, without the need for dedicated EC2 servers.

Operated on a pay-per-run basis, AWS professionals were big fans of how manageable AWS Lambda costs were, and how fast convenient the service was to use, especially without the need to manage infrastructure to access it. The expansive choice of languages and its dependability were also extoled.

Like the Mary Poppins of AWS, Lambda was called “excellent in almost every way” by survey respondents, indicating its extensive handiness across many use cases. It’s not ideal for cases when always-on or low latency is required. Users also pointed out that Cloud9 Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Lambda is not stable for enterprise usage.

Amazon Simple Notification Service

As its name implies, Amazon Simple Notification Service(SNS) is a simple service that allows AWS users to deliver push notifications, email, and SMS messages. Survey respondents commended the service as easy to use, and highly scalable.

AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation helps users model and deploy their AWS resources in a more efficient way, meaning less time needs to be spent on resource management.

Users applauded CloudFormation as an easy way to manage infrastructure, enabling more time to be dedicated to applications by facilitating automation and repeatability. Though extremely fast, and useful for multi-account setup, some cloud pros complained about the lack of support for newly launched AWS services. Issues were also raised around the product’s limitation to AWS components and lack of multi-cloud options, plus the fact that not all parameters can be set automatically.

Elastic Load Balancing 

A load-balancing service for AWS instances, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) distributes incoming app traffic and automatically scales available resources in order to meet varying traffic demands. Its application load balancing was commended as one of the service’s best features, along with impressive path routing. Drawbacks, however, included complexities with multi-region load balancing, and a lack of external monitoring.

About the Author

Sam Samarasekera is a Business Manager at Jefferson Frank, the global experts in AWS recruitment. With almost five years of experience, Sam specializes in finding great jobs for contractors in the Amazon Web Services space. Over the course of his professional career, Sam has developed an in-depth understanding of the cloud computing market and the various tech staffing challenges faced by businesses around the world. Using his expertise and industry knowledge, Sam has played an integral role in building Jefferson Frank into the recruitment agency of choice for AWS.

About the Editor

Jennifer Davis is a Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. Jennifer is the coauthor of Effective DevOps. Previously, she was a principal site reliability engineer at RealSelf, developed cookbooks to simplify building and managing infrastructure at Chef, and built reliable service platforms at Yahoo. She is a core organizer of devopsdays and organizes the Silicon Valley event. She is the founder of CoffeeOps.

AWS Advent 2014 is a wrap!