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Understanding AWS cloud compute options

A deep dive into compute, containers, and serverless

Topic: System Administration
Mark Wilkins

Choosing the right compute solution is essential when developing applications for the enterprise, building cloud-native or mobile applications, or utilizing massive clusters of compute power for your next research project. However, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the abundance of available options in AWS, which range from virtual server hosting and container management to serverless computing. You may not even be aware of some of the recent changes AWS has made under the hood, including powerful new servers and components.

Join Mark Wilkins to explore available compute services that will enable you to develop, deploy, run, and scale applications and workloads in the AWS cloud. Mark starts with the detailed explanation of the hypervisors used at AWS before moving up the stack to detail the latest and greatest compute options, including Amazon EC2 virtual machines and bare-metal offerings. You'll also learn how to run applications utilizing Docker containers and gain some experience with serverless computing and the stateless application repository. Mark concludes with pricing and migration strategies, giving you the information you need to get started in your own projects.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The differences between compute instances, containers, and serviceless computing options at AWS
  • Available compute options at AWS

And you’ll be able to:

  • Make design decisions for instances, containers, and serverless computing based on specific design criteria

This training course is for you because...

  • You're a system administrator with a background in VMware or Hyper-V who needs to understand available AWS cloud computing compute services.
  • You're a developer who needs to get up to speed with the computing choices available in the AWS cloud.
  • You're an IT professional moving to the cloud who wants to familiarize yourself with available computing services at AWS.
  • You're a technical professional with an interest in AWS cloud computing.


  • A working knowledge of virtualization technology, such as VMware or Hyper-V
  • A basic understanding of the cloud

Recommended preparation:

Assignments to be completed prior to the training course:

  • Download and read the example case study: Terra Firma Services (LINK TBD)
  • Download and familiarize yourself with the group shared documents (LINK TBD)

About your instructor

  • Mark Wilkins has more than 20 years’ experience designing, deploying, and supporting software and hardware technology in the corporate and small business world. Currently, Mark provides training and consulting services to corporate customers throughout North America. Previously, as course director for Global Knowledge, Mark developed and taught technical seminars and developed courseware for the 2008 Microsoft official curriculum stream.

    Since 2010, Mark has focused on cloud services, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and IBM SoftLayer. Mark holds Amazon Web Services Architect - Associate and AWS Sys-Ops - Associate as well as certifications in MCSA (2012) He is the author of Learning AWS which has been published in 2019 by Pearson Education.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Day 1

AWS EC2 virtualization components (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Virtualization components—VT-x, SR-IOV, VT-d, NVMe, and APICv; defining "virtualized in software"; paravirtualization; defining "virtualized in hardware"
  • Hands-on demonstration: Review EC2 compute options in the console

Hypervisors at AWS (10 minutes)

  • Lecture: The full emulation model; Xen paravirtualization; Xen HVM at AWS; Xen AWS 2017
  • Hands-on demonstration: Review Xen and KVM options as AWS

The AWS Nitro system (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Nitro storage, networking, management, monitoring, and security; Nitro security chip
  • Hands-on demonstration: EC2 Nitro options

EC2 instance types (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: General purpose; previous generation instances; optimized compute, memory, and storage options; optimizing CPUs; accelerated computing; GPU compute and graphics
  • Hands-on demonstration: Review compute options

Break (10 minutes)

Case study: Terra Firma (10 minutes)

  • Lecture: Introduce case study, shared documents, AWS console credentials, and group project—choosing a compute instance to deploy based on criteria

AWS EC2 pricing (30 minutes)

  • Lecture: On-demand instances; spot instances; reserved instances; dedicated instances; dedicated hosts; Amazon bare-metal instances
  • Hands-on demonstration: EC2 pricing using the Simple Monthly Calculator
  • Hands-on exercise: Choose hardware and pricing for compute and database instances; discuss any changes to hardware choices (e.g., Why not bare metal?)

Break (10 minutes)

EBS optimized instances (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: EBS optimized instances; storage options; MVMe instance storage
  • Hands-on demonstration: Choose storage for computer and database instances

Instance selection options (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Enhanced networking; Amazon bare metal instances; designing for high availability
  • Hands-on exercise: Determine how many availability zones and subnets to use

Designing for failover (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Regions and availability zones; elastic load balancing; AWS Auto Scaling; CloudWatch monitoring options
  • Hands-on exercise: Plan load balancing and auto scale optiond

Continue working on group project (20 minutes)

  • Homework: Pricing for selected applications hosting

Day 2

Group project overview (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Review pricing for selected applications hosting; introduce planning a migration strategy

Migration strategies (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: AWS Auto Scaling; VM import/export; server migration services; AWS Snowball
  • Hands-on exercise: Determine which migration tools to use

Database migration and more (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Application Discovery Service; AWS Migration Hub; Database Migration Service; Storage Gateway
  • Hands-on exercise: Should you use the Database Migration Service?

Break (10 minutes)

Group project overview (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Review planning a migration strategy; introduce a serverless solution for new application development project

Containers (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: Containers, load balancing, and auto scaling; Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service)
  • Group discussion: Could containers replace web servers instances?

Containers continued (15 minutes)

  • Lecture: AWS Fargate; AWS Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes; common use cases—instances or containers
  • Hands-on demonstration: AWS Fargate
  • Hands-on exercise: Choose best use case for examples

Break (10 minutes)

Serverless computing (30 minutes)

  • Lecture and hands-on demonstration: Serverless computing concepts; Amazon Lambda; AWS Serverless Application Repository; API Gateway
  • Hands-on exercise: List the functions your app carries out

Group project (30 minutes)

  • Hands-on exercise: Determine how much processing time and resources your functions require

Wrap-up and Q&A (10 minutes)