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
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:email@example.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.
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 designers and developers who build the top layer that customers use.