Anyone who has ever logged onto the AWS console will have noticed that there's a lot of services listed and if you're like me, you'll probably be wondering WTF they do. Well here's a brief glossary.

(Some of these services have a link you can follow for more details)


  • REGION - a geographical area
  • AVAILABILITY ZONE - equivalent to a datacentre. Each region has 2 or more availabilty zones
  • EDGE LOCATION - a CDN end point for CloudFront (like an access point)


  • VPC - Virtual Private Network, like a virtual datacentre. You can have many VPCs and they can be in a different region
  • DIRECT CONNECT - A direct connection into AWS, i.e. not using the internet (like dark fibre)
  • ROUTE53 - Amazon DNS service more


  • EC2 - a virtual server more
  • EC2 CONTAINER SERVICE - EC2 with docker management
  • ELASTIC BEANSTALK - for deploying web services, developers can load up code and Amazon will work out the services to provide
  • LAMBDA - can run code without starting up ECF2 services more


  • S3 - a object based file store more
  • CLOUDFRONT - Content Delivery Service (CDN) used for edge locations providing caching more
  • GLACIER - long term archving and backups
  • EFS - Elastic File System, like NAS in the cloud, can present S3 into several EC2 instances for example more
  • SNOWBALL - an import/export service, Amazon provide a storage device to copy data into on premises which you can send to Amazon for import (or visa versa for export) more
  • STORAGE GATEWAYS - an on premise storage gateway that can replicate data into the AWS cloud more


  • RDS - Rational Database Service, relational databases like Oracle, MySQL, etc more
  • DYNAMODB - Amazon noSQL database
  • ELASTICACHE - caching database services in the cloud
  • REDSHIFT - Datawarehouse service
  • DMS - Database Migration Service, can be used for migrating/conversion into the cloud


  • EMR - Elastic Map Reduce, used for processing “big data”
  • DATA PIPELINE - moving data from one service to another
  • ELASTIC SEARCH - a search and analytics engine
  • KNESIS - data streaming, for large scale streaming
  • MACHINE LEARNING - a machine learning service, e.g. it's used by to provide personal recommendations
  • QUICK SIGHT - a business intelligence service

Security and Identity

  • IAM - Users, groups and roles more
  • INSPECTOR - installs an agent onto EC2 instances which will then check security settings
  • WAF - Web Application Firewall
  • CLOUD HSM - Hardware security module device integration
  • KMS - Key Management Services

Management Tools

  • CLOUDWATCH - monitoring
  • CLOUD FORMATION - deployment tool
  • CLOUD TRAIL - audit access to check what is happening on AWS
  • OPSWORK - Configuration management services (used Chef)
  • CONFIG - AWS resource inventory, configuration history and changes. Includes config rules so you can check configurations.
  • SERVICE CATALOG - a catalog of of IT services
  • TRUSTED ADVISOR - automated scan, checks how you can save money and increase security

Application Services

  • API GATEWAY - API development
  • APPSTREAM - stream Windows applications from the cloud, a bit like Xenapp
  • CLOUD SEARCH - managed service searcg solution for web services including geo location
  • ELASTIC TRANSCODER - media transcoding service
  • SES - Simple Email Service, an email service!
  • SWF - Simple Workflow Service, application workflows

Developer ToolS

  • CODECOMMIT - source control (AWS version of github)
  • CODEDEPLOY - automating code deployment to AWS instances
  • CODEPIPELINE - continous delivery service

Mobile Services

  • MOBILE HUB - building and testing mobile apps
  • COGNITO - save mobile userdata in the cloud, like gane status, etc
  • DEVICE FARM - testing apps against phones
  • MOBILE ANALYTICS - measure app usage
  • SNS - Simple Notification Service, send notifications from the cloud

Enterprise Applications

  • WORKSPACES - AWS version of VDI
  • WORKDOCS - dropbox type of service
  • WORKMAIL - AWS exchange equivalent

Internet of Things

  • a single service for IoT type stuff!?

P.S. I know this list will go out of data pretty quickly but you never know, I may update it from time to time….

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