What is AWS?
Amazon Web Services are the array of cloud hosting solutions provided by Amazon. Essentially, AWS is Amazon leveraging the infrastructure they needed to build for their own sky rocketing growth into a platform they could sell to others who need scalability.
AWS includes service from your typical cloud server (EC2), to highly reliable storage (S3, EBS), to relational database instances (RDS), to content delivery network (CDN), and many other specialized web services like NoSQL databases, DNS, queueing, and beyond.
AWS competes with other major cloud hosting providers like RackSpace, but is probably the biggest and most robust offering, though not the simplest or easiest to use.
Should I host on AWS?
Depends… we certainly recommend virtualized hosting these days. Compared to physical machines, virtualized cloud-based hosting offers tremendous reliability, scalability, and flexibility. AWS is a complicated platform though, and if your site only requires a single server, you might consider a simpler platform like RackSpace Cloud instead.
However, if you plan to utilize a cluster of web services, then it makes sense to host those services in the same environment. AWS is well suited for scalable clusters of web servers with a central database and leveraging scalable storage through EBS or S3, plus CDN through CloudFront. AWS is also close to the lowest cost cloud solution when it comes to raw server horsepower and storage per dollar.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to AWS is the support, or lack thereof. Unless you’re paying extra for support, there is none and you’re on your own. However, if you’re engaging an AWS consultant and expert hosting management company to take care of your website’s infrastructure, then this need not concern you.