Learning Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Author: Mark Wilkins
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 448
ISBN:  978-0135298343
Print: 0135298342
Kindle: B07TW6BPF1
Audience: AWS Users
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
AWS is extensive and complex - does this book help?

Amazon Web Service (AWS) is a very complex ecosystem, especially so when you are just getting started. Most people learn AWS mostly by trial and error. You want to achieve something so you try the obvious route to get it working. Then you find something doesn't work, or it isn't fast enough, or it costs too much, and you take to the documentation, or just explore the configuration options, in an effort to solve the problems. The problem with this approach is that you can end up in a blind ally and discover that where you started wasn't really the right place. In Learning Amazon Web Services , Mark Wilkins attempts to explain your options, presumably before you start or at least as early as possible.

 I have to say that at the start I was put off this book by the "managerial" approach it seems to take. It tends read like an official document, listing all of the possibilities in a very formal way. I feared that this would not only be boring but uninformative. The good news is that after a while it settled down and actually started to tell me useful things - so I carried on reading. The slightly bad news is that it never settles down enough to lose its managerial, rather than technical, tone but you still might get something from it.


There are only eight chapters and each one covers a lot of ground. The first is just called Learn AWS and it is the most manager-oriented of them all. Headings like "corporate mentality" and "data security" are typical and there are lots of bullet points. There is also coverage of rules and regulations, but if you keep reading there are some clarifications for how you should think about AWS.


Chapter 2: Designing with AWS Global services gives you a picture of the overall design of the AWS network. What interested me were the parts that we just don't know because knowing might compromise AWS security. There are still manager considerations, such as service levels, but overall you get a reasonable impression of the local/regional and remote architecture of AWS.The final section discusses costs, which is always going to be a mystery given the way things are broken down in to small items of use. Overall it does a good job in emphasising the hidden costs such as network data costs, but you are still going to struggle to work out what your final monthy bill is going to be.

Chapter 3: AWS Networking Services is a deeper dive into the local, regional and public parts of your network structure. The part I found most useful was the discussion of Route 53, but I still couldn't find answers to some of the long-standing, but not that important, questions I have.

Chapter 4 is on EC2 instances, which is where most users start after signing up to AWS. You generally don't worry about network structure or connectivity, you simply want to select an instance that will do the job at the best price and start work. After an interesting discussion of the history or EC2 and how the hypervisor works, the topic here is basically about what instances you can use. In particular, it explains burst instances and how you pay for them. After dealing with the catalog of instances, it moves on to what machine images are, what you can use and custom images. The final part of the chapter is on costs, including spot pricing, reserved instances and instance storage.

Chapter 5: Planning for Scale and Resiliency covers monitoring, load balancers and auto scaling. This is mostly obvious if you read the AWS documentation .

Chapter 6: Cloud Storage attempts to explain the differences between EBS, S3, EFS and the range of database services that are available. At the end of it you are still going to have trouble working out which one to use although the book helps just a little. There is no discussion of how fast the different options are. For example, in practice I've found EFS slower then EBS, but I haven't enough evidence to say it always is.

Chapter 7 is about security mostly about IAM security and the final chapter is about automating AWS Infrastructure. Many AWS users only discover CloudFormation when it is too late and they have to backtrack to make it part of their deployment, so any coverage is good.


This is not a bad book on AWS,  but if you are techie you might find it overly formal and too concerned with management issues. It does have good explanations of how AWS works and fits together but it isn't much of an advance over the documentation. If you are prepared to read the copious online documentation and understand it then you really don't need this book. If you want a nice printed guide to most of AWS then it's worth a look.

It isn't the best book that could be written on AWS, but it is a book on AWS. In reading it I've discovered things I didn't know, even after using AWS since its inception.


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Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning (Mercury Learning)

Author: Oswald Campesato
Publisher: Mercury Learning
Date: February 2020
Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-1683924678
Print: 1683924673
Kindle: B084P1K9YP
Audience: Developers interested in machine learning
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James

Another AI/ML book - is there room for another one?

The Big Book of Small Python Projects

Author: Al Sweigart
Publisher: No Starch Press
Date: June 2021
Pages: 432
ISBN: 978-1718501249
Print: 1718501242
Kindle: B08FH9FV7M
Audience: Novice Python developers
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Lucy Black
A project book? A good way to learn Python?

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 November 2020 )