Software

Initial sign-up on Amazon Web Services

If you're a public cloud newbie, Amazon Web Services is a good place to start experimenting. Nick Hardiman tells you what to expect on your initial sign-up.

In my last post, I shared my evaluation process for taking those first steps into the public cloud and my decision to try a popular, well-known vendor - Amazon Web Services. It's a good place to start for beginners who want to understand the practical aspects of "moving to the cloud."

The AWS sign-up process is free, straightforward and completely automated. The process takes a few minutes and you only have to do it once.

I have built up a lot of expectations about Amazon over the years. I expect them to provide a usable site that doesn't crash on me. I expect my transactions are secure. I expect them to always be available in the face of Internet problems, like a broken undersea cable or a DDOS attack.

The AWS registration site is easy to use. I had no problems working my way through the site. I get the feeling Amazon put an army of UX consultants to work stripping out attractive images and management speak, to make the site more appealing to nerds like me.

The site is robust. The only slight bump I felt during the process was a session timeout. I left a page for 20 minutes before submitting it and I got bounced to the account sign-in page. I didn't lose my work - I could continue after signing in. I expect Amazon's programming and testing armies thrashed the site to find out how to make it more robust.

My private information is kept private. Amazon is one of the few faceless corporations I trust to keep my personal details safe. Good security must be central to their success. For instance, the AWS site is encrypted with a certificate verified by VeriSign, so I trusted it really was Amazon on the other end of my  conversation. I trusted Amazon and Verisign to thwart a man-in-the-middle attack. From now on I trust Amazon not to leave my credit card details in a laptop in a bar, or to charge me for things I have not bought.

Sign up for AWS

Step-by-step Instructions:

1.  Open a web browser.

2.  Go to the URL http://aws.amazon.com/. The AWS home page appears, containing an eye-catching "Sign Up Now" button.

3.  Click the "Sign Up Now" button. You are redirected to an account sign-in page.

4.  Enter you e-mail address and select the radio button labelled, "I am a new user." The "Login Credentials" page, first of the sign-up form pages, appears.

5.  Fill in the account form. This will look familiar to the billion people who have shopped online. You must supply information about the customer, various ways of contacting the customer, a captcha-style security check and agreement to terms and conditions.

6.  Find your credit card and fill in the payment form.

7.  Fill in the identity verification form. I received an automated message on my phone and had to type in a PIN displayed in the web browser. A confirmation page appears. I also received a "welcome" e-mail, but did not have to click on any activation link to make my account active.

8.  Close the web browser.

So far so good. I jumped through some hoops and didn't land flat on my face.

I now have an AWS account and I am ready to rock. AWS have my bank details and they are ready to charge.

I did make mistakes. If, like me, you have an intermittent inability to read simple instructions, you will get pages reappearing with the error message: "There was a problem with your request" and another line such as "Missing email address. Please correct and try again," etc. Even the error messages are clear. It's all so straightforward.

I received this welcome e-mail within minutes.

From: Amazon Web Services [mailto:no-reply-aws@amazon.com]

Subject: AWS Unified Registration Sign-Up Confirmation

Greetings from Amazon Web Services,

Thank you for signing up. You can now begin using Amazon Web Services. You will not be charged until you begin using the services--and you will only pay for what you use. View detailed service pricing.

I did not get spammed by third parties trying to sell me things, so my e-mail address was not passed on. I do get occasional AWS newsletters. I am happy with that.

About

Nick Hardiman builds and maintains the infrastructure required to run Internet services. Nick deals with the lower layers of the Internet - the machines, networks, operating systems, and applications. Nick's job stops there, and he hands over to the ...

2 comments
hjs1951
hjs1951

So my question is what exactly are you getting for the fees that Amazon will be charging you? Web storage? Music storage? Is there anything more useful. When I think of cloud services, I tend to think of applications that run in the cloud and can expand to handle large numbers of customers. What exactly is Amazon offering in that category?

planetlarg
planetlarg

Those are good questions. All kinds of managers are asking the same thing. When I signed up to AWS I was registered to use many AWS services. These services are building blocks, not solutions that ease the pain of my customers. Why rent storage, computing, messaging or datasets? Why bother moving your back-end services away from physical machines you own to a bunch of virtual machines controlled by someone else? Most of us can't see the answer clearly and are making tactical use of public cloud services to see if it is cheaper. No-one trusts a new supplier with large numbers of customers up front. After all, private infrastructure has been around for decades and cloud infrastructure has not. There are plenty of cloud innovators offering all kinds of solutions - have you actually found any of them to be useful? What need do you want to fill? PS. Here are a few links to flesh out what I've put here. I hope these are helpful to you. AWS introduction - http://www.techrepublic.com/whitepapers/cloud-computing-with-amazon-web-services-part-1-introduction-when-its-smarter-to-rent-than-to-buy/383521?promo=100511&tag=mantle_skin;content list of AWS services - http://aws.amazon.com/products/ manufacturers and the cloud - http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/datacenter/what-should-manufacturers-put-in-the-cloud/5026?tag=nl.e101 cloud innovators - http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/datacenter/50-cloud-innovators-to-watch/4199?tag=content;siu-container

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