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Grow Your Business Technology

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About AWS

AWS
Credit: dennizn/Shutterstock

Amazon Web Services (AWS) isn't just for the megacorporations. It may seem that way, with companies like Netflix, Comcast, PG&E and other large entities hosting their data with Amazon.

Yet much of what AWS offers can also be used by small businesses seeking a way to offload the complexities of managing software or their own infrastructure. The very advantages that such cloud offerings provide to large corporations can also be used by smaller shops: low-cost computing resources, the ability to scale quickly and a platform-agnostic approach.

For those who, like myself, spent more time at university learning about the building blocks of civilization instead of software, it helps to think about AWS in terms of what you're able to build. Browse through a few videos, and you'll hear a consistent theme: You can use the building blocks of AWS for creating software or other solutions for a business.

Instead of having to purchase on-premises storage or manage the infrastructure, you rent out space on Amazon's servers. Because all the work is done online, you're able to tap into Amazon's capabilities across several different industries: financial services, digital marketing, media, enterprise, healthcare and various other industries.

While it's an overused term, scalability really matters here. Increasing the speed and efficiency of a project is a difficult undertaking if you're a small team. With a service like AWS, such efforts are more palatable thanks to the developer tools and ability to outsource all the infrastructure and computing power to Amazon's cloud.

The other major attraction of cloud providers is the work they are doing with artificial intelligence (AI). AWS, along with Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, is building artificial intelligence APIs that companies can use to glean greater insights about their products.

AWS offers machine learning APIs for your own development purposes. Amazon SageMaker is a more robust tool for developers and data scientists wanting to use machine learning with their software. Even if this type of development work is above your pay grade, being aware of the trends in cloud usage is critical as the world moves more toward AI and automation.

Businesses will increasingly use the internet of things to glean more insights about customer behavior. Such computing possibilities will further push more industries to embrace how software and analytics will make a tangible difference in their business efforts.

If your business is new to the cloud, AWS can seem like a confusing place to start, as Amazon has been unveiling products at a dizzying pace. Start with this walk-through if you're interested in getting a basic overview of the type of services offered. Amazon is also dabbling in the productivity space with Amazon WorkDocs and Amazon Chime, a Skype competitor.

Just like how many people find it impossible to live without Prime, Amazon wants to be just as essential of a resource for the business world. The software empire that it's building certainly makes it hard to ignore.

Derek Walter

Derek Walter is a freelance writer in northern California. He is the founder of Walter Media and author of Learning MIT App Inventor. Follow him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Google+.