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Learn AWS as a non-technical founder

Jordan Rose
December 16th, 2020 · 4 min read

As a second in line technical co-founder and playing the role as the non-technical co-founder handling the business related tasks, I’ve stumbled across some important pieces of knowledge that I think you should learn. This doesn’t mean you need to dive into the weeds of in-depth Cloud Computing services, but it will allow you to have more control over your business if you learn more about these four key components.

Disclaimer: In this article, I focus on AWS because it is my Cloud Provider of choice and what I use for all of my projects. All of these components are relevant to other Cloud Providers and you can find similar or equivalent tools and services with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform

  1. General understanding of Cloud Computing and the Shared Responsibility Model
  2. Cost and Billing
  3. Pricing and Support
  4. Business Tools and Services

General understanding of Cloud Computing and the Shared Responsibility Model

What is AWS you might ask. Well, it’s a platform created by Amazon to host your ideas on a little thing called the cloud. The cloud is basically a vast network of servers hosted and managed by a Cloud Provider like Amazon Web Services. There is still a world where companies own their own hardware and servers, which means paying people to maintain them and holding all of the risk themselves. So, companies like Amazon Web Services came into existence to share the burden with companies so that they didn’t have to continue having those pain points.

When you share this burden with AWS, they look after all of the hardware, software, networking and physical locations that go into managing this technical infrastructure. It is important for even a non-technical co-founder to understand what AWS is doing for your business and the pieces of the puzzle you are responsible for.

In simple terms, say you want to get a nice 5 star meal but don’t want to cook, AWS would be the restaurant. You order what you want and how much of it you’d like and AWS takes care of preparing, cooking and serving you the food. They even pay for the lights, tables, chairs and physical space you are sitting in.

Once you sign up and have an account, the AWS console has everything you need at your finger tips. We will get into some of these services later.

Note: If you want to take it a step further with your AWS knowledge, I recommend looking into the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification or if you didn’t want to take the actual exam, the material for the there for you to follow and increase your understanding of the platform.

Cost and Billing

This component, I believe is by far the most important. Understanding the services that surround Costs and how you get billed is key to managing important financial resources for your company.

With these services, you can put budgets in place and set up alerts and notifications, making sure you are aware of what is being spent and what services are costing you what.

If you are a spreadsheet nut, you can export all of this data, giving you a clearer picture of your expenses and providing you with all the data you need to put your macro skills to the test!

There are two main services that help you see important information. AWS Budgets and AWS Cost Explorer. Outside of these services, you have your general use AWS Billing and Cost Management Dashboard to view overall billing and costs.

You can access these services through the console search or by clicking on your account and going to your Billing Dashboard. Without boring you too much, I will give a brief introduction to each service, but getting hands on experience is the best way to learn.

AWS Budgets

Budgets let you set guard rails for your business spending in AWS. Allowing you to get important alerts and reports that show you if your business is on track with your expected expenses. This can give you insight into your operation with a few clicks and simple configuration.

AWS Cost Explorer

Cost Explorer is a great tool to understand what your costs may look like in the future. It gives you an easy and readable interface to see current cost trends, filter the data and also do forecasting on future costs based on current and past usage.

Pricing and Support

This is one of the components you only need to know the top level information.

  • Pricing Tiers
  • Support Tiers

The technical co-founders or your technical staff that are handling the AWS work will know the usage and resources required for the business and that will pretty much solidify what you have to spend. But there is an important aspect to this you should be aware of.

The two main pricing tiers are On-demand and Reserved. On-demand is the more expensive yet most flexible option. Allowing your business room to scale and grow. With the Reserved pricing model, you lock in a set resource with a discounted price for 1 year or 3 year terms. The discount is based on how long the term is and how much you pay upfront which can be savings anywhere from 30% to a whopping 60+% discount.

When it comes to support, most of the time your tech team will be the ones interacting with AWS support, but it doesn’t hurt for you to know the support tier you fall into and what it provides you. Visit AWS Support Plans to find out more based on your tier. This can come in handy if you need to jump in and help with support, talking with AWS Trusted Advisers or getting help with cost optimisations.

Business Tools and Services

Note: The list of business tools is not exhaustive but points you in the right direction to what AWS offers for business users.

There are so many business tools out there but luckily AWS has you covered with their ecosystem if you want to be all in one place with most of your tools. I do admit that there are better alternatives out there for some of these services, but it always helps to know that they exist within your Cloud Providers.

  • Amazon Connect - You can use Amazon Connect to hanble your call center.
  • WorkDocs - Content creation and collaboration service. (AWS version of Sharepoint)
  • Chime - Online meetings, video conferencing and chat service. (AWS version of Slack or Skype)
  • WorkMail - Managed business email, contacts and calendar service. (AWS version of Gmail)
  • PinPoint - Marketing campaign management service.

AWS and other Cloud Providers have what seems to be an endless amount of services, and it’s only becoming more and more business user friendly. With copious amounts of the world going cloud-based, you can add value and an advantage to your business by being more in tune with what your company is doing in the cloud, what it’s costing you, how much it will cost you and having your tools neatly in one place.

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