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Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides computing resources and services that you can use to build applications within minutes at pay-as-you-go pricing. For example, you can rent a server on AWS that you can connect to, configure, secure, and run just as you would a physical server. The difference is the virtual server runs on top of a planet-scale network managed by AWS.
You pay for your virtual server only while it runs, with no up-front purchase costs or ongoing maintenance costs. Backed by the AWS network, your virtual server can do things no physical server can, such as automatically scaling into multiple servers when demand for your application increases.
Using AWS to build your Internet application is like purchasing electricity from a power company instead of running your own generator, and it provides many of the same benefits: capacity exactly matches your need, you pay only for what you use, economies of scale result in lower costs, and the service is provided by a vendor experienced in running large-scale networks.
In addition, AWS can offer significant cost savings, up to 80%, compared to the equivalent on-premises deployments. For more information about cost, see the Total Cost of Ownership Whitepaper.
You can run nearly anything on AWS that you would run on physical hardware: websites, applications, databases, mobile apps, email campaigns, distributed data analysis, media storage, and private networks. The services we provide are designed to work together so that you can build complete solutions. There are currently dozens of services, with more being added each year.
The following diagram shows the categories of functionality offered by AWS.
In each category, there are one or more services. For example, AWS offers five database services, each one optimized for a certain type of use. With so many offerings, you can design an AWS solution that is tailored to your needs.