Amazon Web Services (AWS) Glossary

Recently starting as a Market Research Intern for Serviceteam IT, it became undeniably apparent that my knowledge in the IT industry lacked to say the least. The realisation of this caused emotions of discouragement, however, I knew that to perform well I had to act on this situation. I began to assemble a list of key words in which I either knew nothing about or lacked in knowledge.

If you are anything like me, this glossary will hopefully help piece together the jargon to create a comprehensive and easy to follow understanding regarding Amazon Web Services – which is exactly what it has done for me. There is certainly no guarantee that you will be an AWS expert simply by reading a few definitions, but it will hopefully provide a basis for your knowledge in which you can build on.

Amazon Web Services is a cloud service provider that offers a range of useful computing resources. These are all offered on-demand and in a cost-effective manner which helps businesses scale and grow.

AWS Glossary


Virtual Private Cloud – Amazon VPC is a commercial cloud computing service that provides users a virtual private cloud by provisioning a logically isolated section of Amazon Web Services Cloud.

Route 53 – this is an Amazon web service used to create a new DNS (see above for definition) service or migrate an existing DNS service to the cloud.

AWS Direct Connect – allows you to establish private connectivity between AWS and your datacentre or office. This has various benefits for the user including reduction of network costs and increase in bandwidth throughput.

Letter of Authorisation (LOA) – this is a letter needed for direct connect.

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Autonomous Systems Number (ASN) – this is a standardised exterior gateway protocol which is designed to exchange routing and reachability information among autonomous systems on the internet.


Amazon Machine Image (AMI) – this provides the information needed to launch an instance, which is a virtual server in the cloud.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – EC2 is a part of AWS and provides scalable computing capacity in the cloud, which developers can use to deploy scalable applications. In simple terms users can pay for computing servers to test and run applications. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for people – like how I’m trying to make AWS easier for you.

Amazon EC2 Container Service – is a cloud computing service in Amazon Web Services that manages containers. The service allows users to run and alter applications or microservices on groups of services.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk – is a service used for deploying infrastructure which allows developers to upload code and Amazon will work out the services to provide.


S3– Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, to put it as plainly as possible, is storage for the internet. It is designed to help web developers with web-scale computing – making it much easier.

CloudFront – this is a web service in which speeds up the distribution of web content. It delivers content through a worldwide network of data centers called edge locations.

Glacier – this is a secure, hard-wearing, and extremely low-cost cloud storage service for data archiving and long-term backup. It allows customers to store large or tiny amounts of data.

EFS – Elastic File System, like NAS in the cloud, can present S3 into several EC2 instances for example

Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) – this provides simple file storage for use with EC2 in the AWS cloud. This service is easy to use and offers a simple interface that allows you to create and configure file systems quickly and easily.

Snowball – is a service that accelerates transferring large amounts of data into and out of AWS using physical storage appliances, bypassing the internet.

Storage Gateways – this service connects an on-premises software appliance with cloud-based storage to provide integration with data security features.

Elastic Block Storage (EBS) – provides persistent block storage volumes for use with EC2 in the AWS cloud. They work independently from the life of an instance.

Dynamo DB – this is a fully managed database service that provides fast and predictable performance with seamless scalability.

ElastiCache – this is a web service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory data store or cache in the cloud. There are many benefits regarding this including improving the performance of web applications.

Redshift – this is a fast data warehouse that makes it easier to analyse data using standard SQL and existing business intelligence tools.

Database Migration Service – helps you migrate/convert databases into AWS easily and securely.

Elastic Map Reduce – is used for processing big data. It makes it easier and faster to process vast amounts of data across dynamically scalable EC2 instances.


Data pipeline – is a web service that helps to process and move data between different AWS compute and storage services.

Elastic Search – this service makes it easier to operate and scale Elasticsearch for analytics, full text search, application monitoring and many more.

Knesis Streams – this enables large scale data streaming. It also enables people to build custom applications that process or analyse streaming data for specialised needs.

Security and Identity

Directory Services – these services enable your directory-aware workloads and AWS resources to use managed Active Directory in the AWS cloud.

Inspector – this is an automated security assessment service that helps improve the security and compliance of applications deployed on AWS.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) – this is a web service that provides users will securely control access to AWS resources. With this, users can control who can use certain AWS resources and what resources they can use and in specific ways.

Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a web application firewall that provides protection regarding web applications from common web exploits.

Cloud HSM – this is a service which helps you meet corporate, contractual and regulatory requirements for data security. This is done by using dedicated Hardware Security Module appliances with the AWS cloud.

Key Management Services (KMS) is a managed service that makes it easier to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt data.

Management Tools

Cloud Watch – this monitors your AWS resources and all the applications you run on AWS. It can be used to collect and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, set alarms, and automatically react to change in your AWS resources.

Cloud Formation – allows developed and system administrators to create and manage a collection of related AWS resources, provisioning and updating them in an orderly and predictable fashion.

Cloud Trial – this service enables governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing of your AWS account. Using this will enable users to log, continuously monitor and retain events related to API calls across your AWS infrastructure.

OpsWorks – this is a configuration management service that uses Chef, an automation platform that treats server configuration as code.

Config – this is a service that enables you to assess, audit, and evaluate the configurations of your AWS resources.

Service Catalog – allows organisations to create and manage catalogs of IT services that are approve for use on AWS. These services can include things from virtual machine images, software and databases.

Trusted Advisor – this is an online resource which enables you to reduce costs, increase performance and even improve the security of AWS. It uses an automated scan to find such information.

Application Services

API Gateway- this is a fully managed service that makes it easier for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor and secure API’s at any scale.

Appstream – this is a fully managed, secure application streaming service that allows you to stream desktop applications from AWS to a range of devices.

Cloud Search – this is a managed service in the AWS Cloud that makes it simple and cost-effective to set up, manage, and scale a search solution.

Elastic Transcoder – to put it simply this is a media transcoding service within the cloud. It allows developers and businesses to convert media files from their source format into versions that will playback on a wide range of devices.

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) – this is a simple email service that allows users to send and receive emails with no required commitments.

Simple Workflow Service (SWF) – this service allows users to build, run and scale background jobs that have parallel or sequential steps.

Developer Tools

CodeDeploy – this is a deployment service that automates application deployments to Amazon EC2 instances or on-premises instance in your own facility.

CodePipeline – this is a continuous delivery service that user can use to model the step required to release software.

Mobile Services

Mobile Hub – this service guides users through feature selection and configuration, automatically provisions the AWS services required.

Cognito – this is a product that controls user authentication and access for mobile applications on internet-connected devices. It also saves mobile user data in the cloud.

Device Farm – is an app testing service that allows people to test and interact with your Android, iOS, and web apps on many devices at the same time.

Mobile Analytics – with this service users can measure app usage and app revenue. You can view key charts and export your app event data to your Amazon S3.

Simple Notification Service (SNS) – this is a flexible, fully managed sub messaging and mobile notification service for coordinating the delivery of messages to subscribing endpoints and clients.

Enterprise Applications

WorkSpaces – this is a fully managed, secure Desktop-as-a-Service solution which runs on AWS. It is the AWS version of VDI.

WorkDocs  – this is a fully managed, secure enterprise storage and sharing service with strong administrative controls and feedback capabilities that improve user productivity.

Workmail – this is a secure managed business email and calendar service with support for exiting desktop and mobile email client applications.

When broken down, the mystery of Amazon Web Services and the technical phrases that come with it are more understandable than expected. Especially with AWS, there are a lot of terms – as you can probably see for yourself – however I must stress that these do not need to be committed to memory, and you certainly don’t need to know the ins and out of every detail. As long as you are able to build a basis for your knowledge, the purpose of this glossary has been achieved.

I have found that this glossary has saved me on more than one occasion, whether it was to learn something new, or to refresh my knowledge, it has helped me feel less like a fish out of water. I hope you will also benefit in a similar sort of way.

With over 20 years of experience, Serviceteam IT design and deliver sophisticated connectivity, communication, continuity, and cloud services, for organisations that need to stay connected 24/7. We take the time to fully understand your current challenges, and provide a solution that gives you a clear understanding of what you are purchasing and the benefits it will bring you.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 0121 468 0101, use the Contact Us form, or why not drop in and visit us at 49 Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1HN.

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