EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud - For Architects - AWS Certification Cheat Sheet

Let’s get a quick overview of EC2 from an AWS Architects certification perspective. We will look at important certification questions regarding EC2 Architecture.

You will learn

  • What are the important factors about EC2 from an architecture stand point?
  • How do you scale EC2 instances?

EC2 & ELB for Architects

It is not sufficient to get things working. We want more!

  • High Availability
  • High Scalability
  • Improve Performance
  • Improve Security
  • Low Costs
  • and …..

We want all these for our architectures using EC2 and ELB services.

Let’s start with understanding the basics of Availability.


Availability is all about this question - Are the applications available when the users need them?

It is the Percentage of time an application provides the operations expected of it

Example: 99.99% availability. Also called four 9’s availability

Availability Table

Here’s a table showing availability and the downtime mapping:

Availability Downtime (in a month) Comment
99.95% 22 minutes  
99.99% (four 9’s) 4 and 1/2 minutes Most online apps aim for 99.99% (four 9’s)
99.999% (five 9’s) 26 seconds Achieving 5 9’s availability is tough

Availability Basics - EC2 and ELB

Here are some of the options to make EC2 instances highly available:

  • Deploy to multiple AZs
  • Use Cross Zone Load Balancing
  • Deploy to multiple regions
  • Configure proper EC2 and ELB health checks

The diagram below shows a simple example.


Let’s consider a scenario: A system is handling 1000 transactions per second. Load is expected to increase 10 times in the next month.

Two important questions to ask

  • Can we handle a growth in users, traffic, or data size without any drop in performance?
  • Does ability to serve more growth increase proportionally with resources?

Scalability is the ability to adapt to changes in demand (users, data).

For EC2 instances, we can:

  • Deploy to a bigger instance with bigger CPU and more memory
  • Increase the number of application instances and setup a load balancer

Let’s look at the two types of scalability:

  • Vertical Scalability
  • Horizontal Scalability

Vertical Scaling

Vertical Scaling is all about deploying application/database to bigger instance:

  • A larger hard drive
  • A faster CPU
  • More RAM, CPU, I/O, or networking capabilities

There are limits to what you can achieve with vertical scaling.

Vertical Scaling for EC2

What does Vertical Scaling for EC2 instances look like?

  • Increasing EC2 instance size:
    • t2.micro to t2.small or
    • t2.small to t2.2xlarge or

Horizontal Scaling

Horizontal Scaling is all about deploying multiple instances of application/database.

Horizontal Scaling is preferred to Vertical Scaling due to following reasons:

  • Vertical scaling has limits
  • Vertical scaling can be expensive
  • Horizontal scaling increases availability

However, Horizontal Scaling needs additional infrastructure: - Load Balancers etc.

Horizontal Scaling for EC2

How can you implement Horizontal Scaling for EC2 instances?

Here are some of the options:

  • Distribute EC2 instances
    • in a single AZ
    • in multiple AZs in single region
    • in multiple AZs in multiple regions
  • Auto scale: Auto Scaling Group
  • Distribute load : Elastic Load Balancer, Route53

Architecture Considerations for EC2 and ELB (Certification Exam)

Here are some the Architecture Considerations for EC2 and ELB:

  • Use Security Groups to restrict traffic
  • Place EC2 instances in private subnets
  • Use Dedicated Hosts when you have regulatory needs
  • Choose right instance family (Optimized combination of compute, memory, disk (storage) and networking)
  • Use appropriate placement groups
  • Prefer creating an custom AMI to installing software using userdata
Cost Efficiency
  • Have optimal number and type of EC2 instances running
  • Use the right mix of:
    • Savings Plans
    • Reserved Instances
    • On demand Instances
    • Spot Instances
  • Configure the right health checks
  • Use CloudWatch for monitoring
  • (Disaster recovery) Upto date AMI copied to multiple regions

Certification - Recommended Reading

Cloud Certifications - AWS, Azure and Google Cloud - Top 8 FAQ For Me

Google Cloud For Beginners - How to choose a Database Service?

Teaching Cloud Certifications - Top 6 Learnings

Google Cloud For Beginners - How to choose a Compute Service?

Important Kubernetes Concepts Made Easy

Introduction to Google Cloud - For AWS Professionals

Getting Started with Docker - 5 Easy Steps

GCP PubSub - GCP Certification Cheat Sheet

GCP IAM - GCP Certification Cheat Sheet

GCP App Engine - GCP Certification Cheat Sheet


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