Cloud Computing With AWS: A Beginner’s Guide

CareerFoundry blog contributor Alex Williams

You’re learning about cloud computing and considering using AWS, but you’re unsure where to start.

That’s where we come in!

In this article, we’ll give you a crash course into all things AWS, including what it is, how it works, the tools and services it offers, and how to become AWS certified.

With AWS, you can forget about expensive hardware and data center costs. This cloud platform offered by Amazon provides everything you need to get started with cloud computing, including storage, networking, security, and more.

If you’re already familiar with a topic, feel free to skip ahead by using the clickable menu:

  1. What is cloud computing?
  2. What is AWS?
  3. How does AWS work?
  4. AWS tools
  5. How to get AWS certified
  6. Final thoughts

1. What is cloud computing?

When you hear the word “cloud,” you might picture fluffy white clouds in the sky. But in the world of computing, the cloud refers to remote servers that store, manage, and process data rather than a local server or personal computer.

With cloud computing, businesses can enjoy on-demand access to a shared pool of resources, which can be quickly and easily scaled up or down as needed. This means that businesses only pay for the resources they use, making cloud computing an efficient and cost-effective solution.

There are three main types of cloud services:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • SaaS (Software as a Service)

With these three services, you can pretty much run any type of business in the cloud. Due to cloud computing, companies can profit from the advantages of on-demand access to resources, scalability, security, and cost-effectiveness.

Now that you know the basics of cloud computing let’s take a closer look at AWS and who uses it.

2. What is AWS?

In cloud computing, AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a household name. This comprehensive, easy-to-use cloud platform offers everything on demand—from storage and computing resources to content delivery and security that helps businesses of all sizes grow. 

AWS is used by some of the world’s largest companies, including Netflix, Twitch, and Facebook. It powers millions of customers, including many of the top websites in the world.

This doesn’t mean that it’s only for enterprises, though—it’s very popular with start-ups, small businesses, and public sector organizations as well.

The cloud platform can also hold crypto wallets, with about a third of hosted Ethereum nodes running on AWS today.

Cloud computing AWS is taking the lead in the global market—and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

This is because of the many benefits it offers its users, including a user-friendly interface, expansive ecosystem, high performance, flexibility, reliability, security, and cost-effectiveness.

With it, so too does the demand for professionals skilled in designing and maintaining cloud systems. If you’d like to learn more about how the role works, check out our full guide to cloud engineering.

3. How does AWS work?

AWS has different services that work together to provide a complete cloud computing hybrid solution.

The flexibility of the platform means that it’s possible to combine several AWS services in unique ways. Users should be able to view configurations and customize them according to their needs.

Listed below are the categories included in the Amazon Web Service portfolio:

  • Compute
  • Storage databases
  • Data management
  • Migration
  • Networking
  • Hybrid cloud
  • Development tools
  • Management
  • Monitoring
  • Security
  • Governance
  • Big data management
  • Analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Mobile development
  • Messages and notification

Within each category, several services work together to provide a comprehensive solution. Let’s dive into some of the key computing services that AWS offers.

Two cloud computing developers stand in an office looking at a laptop.

The AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

The AWS VPC is a secure, private network that resides in the cloud. 

This virtual network can be used to launch AWS resources in a virtual private server environment. It allows for complete customization of network configurations, including subnets, route tables, and network gateways.

If you’d like to learn more about why these are key pieces of technology, we’ve created a full AWS VPC guide.


Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) provides highly secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud, making web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

EC2 provides various instance types that offer combinations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity. 

If you’d like to learn more about this technology, check out our full guide to AWS EC2.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

Amazon S3 is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, improved security, and performance. It can store any amount of data, scale to any number of users, and deliver high performance by distributing data across multiple geographically dispersed servers. 

If you want to read more about this incredibly popular service, we’ve created a full beginner’s guide to AWS S3.

AWS ALBs (Application Load Balancer)

AWS ALBs automatically distribute incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as Amazon EC2 instances, containers, and IP addresses.

It can also handle the varying traffic load by automatically scaling up or down the number of targets receiving traffic. 

AWS ASGs (Auto Scaling Groups)

AWS Auto Scaling Groups are an essential tool for managing and scaling your AWS-based application. 

They allow you to automatically add or remove compute resources based on changes in demand, making it easy to maintain a consistent level of performance while minimizing costs. 

AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management)

AWS IAM is a web service that helps you securely control access to AWS resources. IAM gives you granular control over who has what permissions within your Web Services account. 

These are just a few of the services that Amazon Web Services offers. All kinds of industries, from law, government, and banking to even dental clinics have moved to the cloud for the savings and services it offers. 

If you’re looking to learn more about this service and how it works, check out our full guide to AWS IAM.

4. AWS tools

Amazon Web Services is always adding new features and services, so there’s always something new to learn, which can be both exciting and challenging for its users.

To make the process of learning new AWS features and services easier, they offers a variety of tools.

For example, within the platform there are SDKs (software development kits) for popular programming languages like Java, .NET, PHP, and Node.js. These SDKs make it easy for developers to start using the cloud platform without learning the individual AWS services.

The AWS SDK (software development kit) for browser-based development enables web developers to use JavaScript code running directly in the browser to access Amazon Web Services. 

Another tool that can be used to interact with Amazon Web Services is the AWS Lambda. This is a computing platform (serverless) that lets you run code without managing or provisioning servers. 

You can write code for any application or backend service and have it executed in the cloud without worrying about setting up or maintaining any infrastructure. AWS Lambda is popular among financial institutions that are in the process of a digital transformation. 

5. How to get AWS certified

Now that you have a basic understanding of AWS and its workings, you may wonder how you can get certified in this exciting field.

Thankfully, Amazon offers a variety of options to suit your specific needs, among all of the software engineer certifications out there.

The first step is to decide which level of certification you wish to pursue. There are currently nine main levels. Listed below are the certifications, from easiest to most difficult, as defined by Amazon:

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
  • AWS Certified Security – Specialty
  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
  • AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Once you have decided which level is right for you, it’s time to start preparing for the exam. We believe the best way to start AWS training is by using it, so we recommend signing up for a free trial account and exploring the various services offered.

You can also take advantage of the many online resources, such as tutorials, courses, and practice exams. Amazon’s own website offers a range of self-paced learning modules and instructor-led training courses.

Besides studying, it’s important to ensure you are familiar with the exam format and understand the types of questions that will be asked. The Cloud Practitioner exam, for example, is a multiple-choice test consisting of 65 questions to be completed in 90 minutes. Make sure you know what to expect on exam day to be fully prepared.

After you’ve received your certification, you can keep your skills up to date by taking advantage of the many recertification options available. You can also stay active in the AWS community by sharing your knowledge with others and attending events like the annual AWS re:Invent conference.

6. Final thoughts

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of AWS and how it can benefit your business or career. With its vast array of services and features, it has something to offer everyone, from small businesses to large enterprises. 

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a free trial account today and start exploring the world of Amazon Web Services!

If you’d like to learn a bit more about how it works, and become a cloud expert, CareerFoundry has launched a Cloud Computing for Developers Course. It’s a great way to start getting to grips with not just the AWS platform, but cloud computing in general.

Starting with the fundamentals of the cloud, you’ll gain hands-on practical experience with some widely-used AWS tools, such as EC2, the VPC, Lambda, and Identity and Access Management (IAM), as well as AWS security best practices.

Offering developers a basic to intermediate level of deploying web applications on AWS cloud services, this fully mentored course can be taken by itself, or as part of the Full-Stack Development Program.

If you’d like to learn more about coding in general, check out these articles:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to web development and build your first website from scratch with our free, self-paced Web Development Short Course.

  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online web development events with industry experts, and check out recent graduate Tanimara’s successful career-change story.

  3. Become a qualified web developer in just 5-10 months—complete with a job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering reduced tuition to the first 100 applicants—worth up to $1,370 off all our career-change programs 🥳 To secure your spot, speak to one of our advisors today!


What is CareerFoundry?

CareerFoundry is an online school for people looking to switch to a rewarding career in tech. Select a program, get paired with an expert mentor and tutor, and become a job-ready designer, developer, or analyst from scratch, or your money back.

Learn more about our programs