AWS Tutorial for Beginners Step by Step: Core Concepts

published on 31 December 2023

Most readers would likely agree that getting started with AWS can be overwhelming for beginners.

This step-by-step AWS tutorial breaks down the fundamentals into clear, actionable steps - from setting up an account to hands-on walkthroughs of core services like EC2 and S3.

You'll gain a solid grounding in cloud computing concepts, understand the business value of AWS, set up security credentials, tour the management console, and follow practical tutorials to launch your first AWS resources.

Introduction to AWS Cloud Computing Concepts

AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a secure cloud services platform that offers compute power, database storage, content delivery and other functionality to help businesses scale and grow. This beginner's tutorial provides a step-by-step introduction to get started with AWS.

Understanding AWS Fundamentals

AWS provides over 200 cloud-based services including computing, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services, deployment, management, mobile, developer tools and tools for the internet of things. These services operate from data centers managed by AWS located around the world.

Some of the most popular AWS services are:

  • Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) - Provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It allows you to launch virtual server instances that can scale up or down based on your requirements.
  • Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) - Provides scalable object storage for data backup, archival and analytics. S3 provides ease of use, scalability, high durability (99.999999999% durability) and security.
  • Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service) - Managed database service for popular databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle and MariaDB. Takes care of time-consuming database tasks like backups, software patching, scaling etc.
  • AWS Lambda - Runs your code in response to triggers and automatically manages the compute resources for you. This is the backbone for serverless architectures.
  • Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) - Lets you provision a private, isolated section on the AWS cloud. Define a virtual network topology similar to a traditional on-premises environment.

These and other services can be combined to create robust cloud solutions that scale automatically based on demand.

Why Learn AWS?

Here are some of the benefits of learning AWS:

  • AWS skills are in high demand with many open job positions asking for AWS knowledge. Learning AWS can give your career a boost.
  • Businesses are rapidly moving to the cloud for efficiency, cost savings and innovation. AWS knowledge will allow you to support this transition.
  • AWS handles undifferentiated heavy lifting involved in infrastructure management. This allows companies to focus on their core business strengths.
  • Provides almost unlimited on-demand compute, storage and other resources with a pay-as-you-go pricing model. This is extremely beneficial for startups and small companies.

Goals of this AWS Tutorial

This AWS beginners tutorial aims to provide:

  • Step-by-step guidance to get started with AWS from scratch
  • Coverage of basic concepts like AWS Regions, Availability Zones, VPCs, EC2 etc.
  • Hands-on practice with core AWS services using real examples
  • Recommendations for learning resources and next steps

Follow this tutorial to gain functional knowledge for using AWS effectively.

Intended Audience

This AWS tutorial is intended for:

  • Beginners who want structured guidance to learn AWS basics
  • Developers, operators and solutions architects new to AWS
  • Students looking to build AWS knowledge for career/academic goals

No prior AWS experience is necessary.

As you learn AWS, refer to the official AWS documentation frequently:

  • Provides the most accurate, up-to-date information
  • Very well organized and searchable
  • Covers basics to advanced concepts
  • Includes tutorials, videos and example code

Make documentation your go-to resource as you explore AWS services.

What are the steps to learn AWS for beginners?

Learning AWS can seem daunting for beginners given the breadth and depth of services available. Here is a step-by-step guide to learning AWS fundamentals:

Set Up an AWS Account

The first step is to set up a free AWS account to access AWS services. You can sign up for an individual account using just an email and credit card. AWS offers a free usage tier for popular services like EC2 and S3 for the first 12 months.

Understand AWS Core Concepts

Next, get familiar with essential AWS concepts like:

  • AWS Regions and Availability Zones for infrastructure redundancy
  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for scalable compute capacity
  • Simple Storage Service (S3) for cloud object storage
  • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for isolated networks
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) for access controls

Spend time learning the basics of these key services and how they work together in AWS.

Explore the AWS Management Console

The console allows you to access and try different AWS services through a graphical web interface. Poke around the various sections like Compute, Storage, Databases etc. to see what's available.

Follow Hands-on Tutorials

AWS provides many step-by-step tutorials to help you get practical experience using services. For example, set up a WordPress site on EC2 or analyze data with S3 and Athena. Applying concepts cements understanding.

Take Advantage of Free Training

Utilize free training resources like self-paced digital courses on AWS fundamentals to supplement hands-on learning. Consider getting certified in an entry-level exam like Cloud Practitioner.

The key is to blend conceptual knowledge with practical experience using AWS services. Start small, be curious, and have fun exploring!

Can I learn AWS on my own?

Yes, it is possible to learn AWS and become certified without prior IT experience or a technical degree. Here is a step-by-step guide for getting started with AWS self-study:

Sign up for an AWS account

The first step is to create a free AWS account. This will give you access to the AWS Management Console and select services available under the AWS Free Tier.

Choose an AWS learning path

AWS provides structured learning paths tailored to various job roles. As a beginner, start with the AWS Cloud Practitioner or AWS Solutions Architect Associate paths. These cover fundamental concepts for understanding AWS services.

Use AWS training courses and materials

AWS offers free digital training courses and self-paced labs to build hands-on experience. Refer to whitepapers, documentation, blogs, and videos from the AWS Training & Certification center.

Take practice exams

When ready, test your knowledge with practice exams from AWS or third parties. Repeat until scoring 80% or higher consistently.

Get AWS certified

Finally, register for and pass the certification exam, like AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. This validates your AWS skills without prerequisite IT experience.

With self-motivation and consistent learning, becoming AWS certified without an IT background is achievable through structured AWS training resources.

Which AWS course is best for beginners?

When getting started with AWS, it's important to find a course that provides a strong foundation in cloud concepts and key services, while being approachable for those without prior AWS experience. Here are some top options for AWS beginner courses:

Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C03

  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Duration: 27 hours

This comprehensive course prepares you to take the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam. It covers all aspects of designing resilient and cost-optimized infrastructure on AWS. As it's geared towards certification, it provides in-depth training across a wide range of services.

AWS Fundamentals: Building Serverless Applications

  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Duration: 11 hours

This hands-on course teaches you to build, secure and scale serverless applications using AWS services like Lambda, DynamoDB and API Gateway. As a beginner-friendly course, it's a great introduction to core serverless concepts.

AWS Serverless APIs & Apps - A Complete Introduction

  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Duration: 7.5 hours

This course focuses specifically on developing, deploying and managing serverless APIs and applications. It covers architectural patterns and implementation details on services like Lambda and DynamoDB. Best suited for those with some prior AWS experience.

The Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate course provides the most comprehensive foundation across the widest variety of core services. For a faster-paced introduction focusing specifically on serverless development, the Fundamentals or Serverless APIs courses are great alternatives. Evaluate each option based on your learning objectives, prior experience level and time commitments.

How many days IT will take to learn AWS for beginners?

Learning AWS can seem daunting for beginners given the breadth and depth of services available. However, with focus and dedication, you can gain proficiency surprisingly quickly.

Here is a general timeline for learning enough AWS fundamentals to pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam:

  • No Prior AWS Experience: Plan for 80-120 hours of study over 2-3 months. This allows time to get exposure across core services like EC2, S3, VPC, IAM, etc. before diving deeper.
  • Some AWS Experience: Those with basic AWS exposure can prepare in 40-60 hours over 1-2 months. Less time is needed to grasp intro concepts, allowing more time to focus on specific services.

The key is consistency. To learn AWS in 2-3 months, aim for:

  • 2-3 Hours Per Day: Consistent daily practice ensures retention and progress. This can include video courses, hands-on labs, documentation reading, and taking practice tests.
  • Weekend Review: Use weekends to reinforce knowledge, revisit difficult concepts, practice labs, and identify gaps for next week's focus.
  • A Study Plan: Create a personalized prep plan based on current AWS skills. Focus areas with less expertise demand more time.

While timelines help guide prep, learning speed can vary. Some engineers may accelerate faster, while others need more time. Gauge your progress weekly, and adjust study plans to fit your unique pace. With diligent and consistent daily practice, AWS beginners can gain job-ready skills in AWS within a 2-3 month timeframe.


Setting Up Your AWS Journey

Setting up an AWS Account

To get started with AWS, you'll need to set up an AWS account. Here are the steps:

  • Go to and click on "Create an AWS Account".
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to sign-up. You'll need to provide contact and billing information.
  • Verify your identity by entering a phone number to receive a code.
  • Select the "Basic Support" plan. This gives access to the AWS Free Tier.
  • Once your account is created, you can access the AWS Management Console.

The AWS Free Tier provides free access to certain AWS services for 12 months. This allows you to gain hands-on experience without incurring costs.

Understanding AWS Pricing

AWS uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model. You are charged based on your usage of AWS resources.

Key things to know about AWS pricing:

  • Compute services like EC2 are billed per hour or per second of server time.
  • Storage services like S3 bill based on amount of data stored per month.
  • Data transfer out of AWS data centers is charged based on volume.
  • Some services offer tiered pricing based on usage or features.

AWS provides tools to estimate, monitor, and control your costs:

  • AWS Pricing Calculator: Estimate your costs before using AWS.
  • AWS Cost Explorer: Analyze and visualize your costs over time.
  • AWS Budgets: Set custom budgets that alert you when your costs exceed set thresholds.

Exploring the AWS Management Console

The AWS Management Console is a web interface to manage your AWS services and resources.

Key things you can do in the Console:

  • Access and manage all AWS services from a centralized dashboard
  • Create, configure, and delete AWS resources like EC2 instances
  • Monitor resource usage, alerts, and billing
  • Customize the console view to suit your needs

When first starting out, go through each service menu to understand what's available. The common services you'll use are EC2, S3, VPC, and IAM.

AWS Global Infrastructure

AWS has a global infrastructure spanning 24 geographic Regions with 77 Availability Zones.

  • Regions: Physical locations with multiple data centers.
  • Availability Zones: Isolated data center infrastructure within a Region.

When launching resources, you can choose the Region and AZ to host them in. As a best practice for high availability, distribute resources across multiple AZs.

AWS Account Settings and Security Credentials

Properly setting up and securing your AWS account is important when getting started. Follow these best practices:

  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for additional login security.
  • Create individual IAM users with appropriate permissions instead of using your AWS account root user for everything.
  • Use roles and policies to manage access to resources.
  • Rotate access keys and passwords regularly.
  • Check your monthly account activity and billing to detect anomalies.
  • Contact AWS support if you suspect your account has been compromised.

Following security best practices will prevent unauthorized access as you start building on AWS.

AWS Core Services Overview

AWS offers a wide variety of cloud computing services that provide building blocks for companies to build sophisticated applications. Some of the most popular and widely-used AWS services include:

Amazon EC2: Elastic Compute Power

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It allows companies to launch as many or as few virtual servers as they need, configure security and networking, and manage storage. Some key features of Amazon EC2 include:

  • On-demand, pay-as-you-go pricing - only pay for the compute time you use
  • Multiple instance types optimized for different workloads (e.g. general purpose, compute optimized, memory optimized, etc.)
  • Flexible configurability of CPU, memory, storage and networking capacity
  • Secure login access and encryption of sensitive data

With Amazon EC2, companies can quickly scale up or down to handle changes in demand, reduce costs when not fully utilizing servers, and avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing physical servers.

Amazon S3: Scalable Storage in the Cloud

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) provides scalable object storage in the cloud. It offers industry-leading durability, availability, security, and performance for applications that require data storage and retrieval. Key capabilities include:

  • Virtually unlimited, inexpensive data storage with 99.999999999% durability
  • File versioning for easily recovering from unintended overwrites and deletions
  • Security features like access control lists, encryption, Multi-Factor Authentication, and more
  • Integrates seamlessly with other AWS services like Lambda, EC2, and DynamoDB

Companies use S3 to store everything from static assets and backups to big data analytics datasets cost-effectively. The service scales seamlessly to handle any amount of data and traffic while only paying for what you use.

AWS IAM: Secure Identity and Access Management

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) enables secure control of access to AWS services and resources. With IAM, companies can create user identities with custom permissions, apply security policies, and get visibility into access through logs and dashboards. Key features include:

  • Granular control over user permissions and access
  • Role-based access control for easily managing permissions to groups of users
  • Multi-factor authentication for additional login security
  • Tools for analyzing access patterns and potential threats

IAM is crucial for controlling who can access which resources in a secure and auditable way. Companies use it to establish least-privilege access based on job function, enforce strong authentication policies, and have visibility into access patterns.

Amazon VPC: Your Private Cloud Network

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets companies provision an isolated section of the AWS cloud to launch resources in a virtual private network. This gives full control over the virtual networking environment including IP address range selection, route tables, network gateways, and security settings. Benefits include:

  • Logically isolated network to launch AWS resources
  • Ability to use IPv4 and IPv6 addressing
  • Route network traffic internally or over VPN connections
  • Network security through security groups and network access control lists

With Amazon VPC, companies can customize their AWS cloud infrastructure to closely resemble their on-premises setups. This enables easier migration to the cloud and hybrid cloud deployments.

AWS Database Services: RDS, DynamoDB, and More

AWS offers several database services for storing, processing, and analyzing data sets in the cloud:

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) – Managed relational databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, etc.) with automated provisioning, backups, software patching, monitoring, and failure recovery.

Amazon DynamoDB – Fully managed NoSQL database for applications that need consistent, single-digit millisecond latency at any scale. Supports key-value and document data models.

Amazon Redshift – Fast, scalable data warehouse for performing complex analytic and business intelligence workloads on big data. Uses columnar storage and advanced compression.

Amazon ElastiCache – In-memory caching service to significantly improve performance of databases and web applications by caching frequently accessed data.

The variety of purpose-built databases available from AWS enables companies to use the right tool for their specific needs related to relational OLTP apps, NoSQL apps, data warehousing and analytics, caching, etc.

Practical AWS Learning Path: Hands-On Tutorials

This section contains step-by-step AWS hands-on tutorials for beginners to gain practical experience with AWS services such as EC2, S3, IAM, and more.

Launching Your First Amazon EC2 Instance

To get started with Amazon EC2, we will launch and configure a simple Linux instance:

  • Log in to the AWS Management Console and navigate to the EC2 dashboard.
  • Click "Launch Instance" and select an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) such as Amazon Linux 2.
  • Choose an instance type such as t2.micro for testing purposes.
  • Configure instance details like VPC, IAM role, etc. according to your preferences.
  • Add storage by creating an 8 GiB general purpose SSD EBS volume.
  • Tag your instance with a name like "MyTestInstance" for easier identification.
  • For security group, create a new one allowing SSH access on port 22 from your IP.
  • Review your choices and click "Launch Instance". Select an existing key pair or create a new one.
  • Once launched, view your instance on the EC2 dashboard. Check its public IP address and SSH into it securely using your key pair.

Congratulations, you have now launched and accessed your first EC2 instance! This demonstrates the fundamentals of using AWS compute services.

Storing and Retrieving Data with Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is a highly durable and scalable object storage service. We'll learn it by creating an S3 bucket and uploading/downloading objects:

  • In the S3 dashboard, click "Create bucket" and give it a globally unique name.
  • Set appropriate read/write permissions and encryption settings.
  • Upload a sample file to your bucket by clicking "Upload" and selecting the file.
  • You can view objects in your S3 bucket under the "Objects" tab. Click on an object to access it.
  • To download an object, check the box next to it and use the "Actions" menu to click "Download".
  • You can also access S3 objects via the AWS CLI using commands like aws s3 cp, aws s3 ls, etc.

With these basics of creating buckets and managing objects, you now have hands-on experience using Amazon S3 storage!

Managing Access with AWS IAM

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) enables secure control over access to services and resources. Here is how to get started with some key concepts in IAM:

  • Under "Access management", click "Users" and then "Add user" to create a new IAM user.
  • Give your user a name and select "Programmatic access" to generate an access key ID and secret access key for them.
  • Click "Next: Permissions" and simply select "AdministratorAccess" policy to start.
  • Review your choices and click "Create user". Save the user's credentials in a secure place.
  • You can apply finer-grained access control by creating IAM groups and roles. Try creating a "DeveloperAccess" group with more limited policies.
  • Create an IAM role for granting access to AWS services and assign it to your EC2 instances.

With IAM's users, groups and roles for access control, you are off to a great start in securely managing access across your AWS account!

Building a Virtual Network with Amazon VPC

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) enables launching AWS resources in an isolated virtual network. Here is how to set one up:

  • Navigate to VPC dashboard and click "Launch VPC Wizard".
  • Select "VPC with Public and Private Subnets" template.
  • Enter your preferred IPv4 CIDR block, subnet details, etc. and click "Create VPC".
  • Once created, your VPC should have public and private subnets spanning two Availability Zones.
  • You can launch EC2 instances and other resources into your VPC subnets to give them secure network isolation.
  • Try creating VPC endpoints, route tables, network access control lists etc. to control access.
  • For added security, set up a virtual private gateway to establish a VPN connection from your on-premises network.

With your own VPC set up, you now have an isolated cloud network to deploy resources into!

Deploying a Database with Amazon RDS

Amazon RDS makes it easy to set up, operate and scale databases in AWS. Let's create an RDS database instance:

  • Go to RDS dashboard and click "Create database". Select engine type as PostgreSQL.
  • For our test database, we can use the Free tier eligible db.t2.micro instance class.
  • Enter a unique DB instance identifier and credentials for the master username and password.
  • Configure any additional settings like VPC, backups, etc. as per your requirements.
  • Click "Create database" to launch your RDS PostgreSQL instance.
  • Once created, your database instance should be available with its endpoint displayed.
  • You can connect and interact with the database using any PostgreSQL client.

With an RDS database instance up and running, you now have hands-on experience with AWS database services!

Expanding Your AWS Knowledge

AWS Auto Scaling and Load Balancing

AWS Auto Scaling allows you to automatically scale your Amazon EC2 capacity up or down based on conditions you define. This enables you to optimize performance, costs, and availability. AWS Auto Scaling is particularly useful if you experience frequent spikes in traffic or usage on your applications.

Some key points about AWS Auto Scaling:

  • Automatically launch or terminate EC2 instances based on user-defined policies
  • Scale on metrics like CPU utilization to maintain performance
  • Use predictive scaling to scale ahead of predicted load changes
  • Works seamlessly with Elastic Load Balancing

An AWS Load Balancer distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets and EC2 instances. This increases fault tolerance and enables you to seamlessly scale to meet demand.

There are three types of Load Balancers on AWS:

  • Application Load Balancer (HTTP/HTTPS traffic)
  • Network Load Balancer (TCP/UDP traffic)
  • Classic Load Balancer (legacy, not recommended for new apps)

Using Auto Scaling groups with Load Balancers lets you scale your application tier seamlessly and maintain availability under all traffic conditions.

Serverless Solutions with AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda allows you to run code without managing any servers. With Lambda, you simply upload your code and Lambda runs it based on triggers you define, such as HTTP requests or data uploads to S3.

Benefits of AWS Lambda include:

  • No servers to manage - fully managed service
  • Continuous scaling to meet demand spikes
  • Subsecond metering - pay only for compute time used
  • Integrates with many AWS services as event triggers

Common use cases for AWS Lambda:

  • Process uploads to S3
  • Serve web APIs
  • Process streams of data
  • Execute scheduled tasks

Overall, Lambda is a key enabler for serverless applications on AWS. It allows you to focus on writing and uploading code without managing infrastructure.

Monitoring with AWS CloudWatch

AWS CloudWatch provides monitoring and observability for your applications, services, and AWS resources. With CloudWatch you can:

  • Collect and track metrics and log files
  • Set alarms and notifications when thresholds are crossed
  • React automatically to changes via Auto Scaling
  • Gain system-wide visibility into resource utilization, application performance, and operational health

Key capabilities:

  • Dashboards for visualizing metrics
  • Alarms and notifications
  • Log analysis and insights
  • Events to trigger actions from state changes
  • Custom metrics and third-party service integration

Using CloudWatch is essential for monitoring, troubleshooting, and improving your AWS-hosted solutions.

Infrastructure as Code with AWS CloudFormation

AWS CloudFormation allows you to manage your infrastructure through code-based templates rather than manual processes. This enables automation, consistency, and efficiency.

With AWS CloudFormation you can:

  • Model your infrastructure resources via JSON/YAML templates
  • Repeatedly create identical environments in multiple regions
  • Apply version control and peer-reviews to your infrastructure
  • Update and rollback changes predictably through controlled updates

You define the AWS resources needed for your applications in a CloudFormation template and deploy this template to create a "stack" of those resources.

Using Infrastructure as Code practices with CloudFormation facilitates efficiency, consistency, compliance, and productivity in your AWS environment.

Next Steps in AWS Training and Certification

To further develop your AWS skills, consider the following next steps:

  • AWS Training Courses - Role-based courses to gain hands-on experience with key services
  • AWS Certifications - Validate your expertise through Certified Cloud Practitioner, Solutions Architect, Developer and other role-based certs
  • AWS re/Start - A skills development program that prepares individuals for entry-level cloud roles
  • AWS Educate - Provides AWS credits and content for students and educators
  • AWS Documentation - Comprehensive technical references for all services

Investing in AWS training and certification can help advance your career by formally validating your cloud skills and readiness for AWS job roles.

Conclusion: Recap and Resources for Continued AWS Learning

Summary of AWS Core Concepts Covered

In this beginner's tutorial, we covered the fundamentals for getting started with AWS:

  • Setting up an AWS account and understanding the various pricing models
  • Navigating the AWS Management Console and learning how to find AWS services
  • Exploring core AWS services like EC2 for compute, S3 for storage, and IAM for access controls
  • Understanding AWS regions, availability zones, and best practices for high availability
  • Provisioning an EC2 instance and storing objects in an S3 bucket

These concepts provide a foundation for leveraging AWS's vast array of cloud services. With your account configured and a grasp of the Console, you can now dig deeper into the individual services for your applications.

Further Learning with AWS Educate and AWS Academy

To continue your AWS education, check out AWS Educate and AWS Academy. These programs offer structured cloud learning with hands-on labs and instructor-led content.

AWS Educate provides AWS credits for students to gain hands-on experience using cloud services. AWS Academy delivers AWS curriculum through educational institutions to skill up students with in-demand cloud knowledge.

Staying Updated with AWS Blogs and Events

Keep current on the latest AWS features and best practices by reading the AWS Blog. You can also tune in to upcoming AWS events and webinars to connect with the cloud community.

These resources highlight new service launches, architecture patterns, troubleshooting tips, and customer success stories so you can stay atop the wave of AWS innovation.

Leveraging the AWS Partner Network

Extend your cloud capabilities by engaging with the AWS Partner Network. Partners offer software solutions, tools, and services that integrate with AWS services.

Partners can provide migration assistance, operational support, industry expertise, and customized solutions tailored to your use cases. Leveraging partners accelerates your cloud adoption.

AWS Support and Customer Success Stories

To supplement your learning, explore AWS Support plans and cloud customer success stories. Support gives you direct access to cloud experts, while customer stories detail how real companies have implemented AWS solutions.

Examining use cases across industries will uncover new ways you can apply AWS services to accomplish your cloud objectives and business goals.

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