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In Cloud Computing Last updated: September 1, 2023
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Once the compute power was the job of the on-premise hardware infrastructure. Now – if your software solution resides in the cloud – it is becoming a job of the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) web service.

EC2 brings resizable computing capacity to the cloud. Users can rent virtual computers with instances on which they run their applications. The instances can have various configurations, different operating systems, computing power, and storage capacity.

EC2 is a core component of Amazon Web Services (AWS). As such, it is widely used for almost every possible project implementation in the cloud. Obviously, unless you are after serverless architecture, in which case EC2 is, on the contrary, off the table.

Key Components of EC2


Every AWS EC2 you decide to use for your project must consist of other AWS components. Those define the exact parameters of your configuration.

#1. Instances

An EC2 instance is basically a cloud interpretation of a virtual machine. The instance, you can prepare and launch in a variety of configurations. You also need to define a specific operating system for the instance as well as how strong the instance shall be (amount of CPU, RAM, etc.).

Lastly, you can specify the amount of storage capacity that should be permanently attached to the EC2 instance.

#2. Amazon Machine Images (AMIs)

AMI is a preconfigured template containing all the necessary information for a successful launch of the instance. Here, you actually specify which operating system you want to run the applications on, what will the application server look like, and which exact applications are to be installed.

#3. Elastic Block Store (EBS)

This is a storage service that gives you persistent storage volumes to use with the EC2 instance. This is where all application data, as well as customer data, will reside once the applications on the EC2 instances are in use.

#4. Security Groups

For every EC2 instance, you shall require controlled security access. That applies to communication from the outside world into the EC2 instance (outbound traffic) as well as in between the AWS services inside your cloud infrastructure (inbound traffic).

#5. Key Pairs

For enhanced security, you need to generate public and private key pairs that you use to securely connect to EC2 instances.

#6. Elastic IP Addresses

In order to allow you to access your new EC2 instance from the outside internet or even refer to them within your infrastructure on the cloud, you need to assign a static IP address to EC2 instances. From that on, the virtual machine with an EC2 instance is reachable.

#7. Placement Groups

With the help of those, you can create logical groupings of instances. Those are designed to provide low-latency, high-bandwidth network connections. This serves for both organizational as well as performance reasons.

#8. Auto Scaling

This is a service – quite unique among the various cloud providers – that automatically adjusts the number of EC2 instances in a group based on your workload needs. That means, once you enable auto-scaling, your EC2 instances can be multiplied or hardware-like upscaled to meet the increased demand.

Alternatively, you can decrease or scale down if the demand is significantly lower than usual. The main reason behind this is to be not slow during the peak load. But also to save money when there is nothing much to do.

#9. Load Balancers

Putting it high level and simple, this is a service that distributes incoming traffic across multiple EC2 instances and, with that, improves availability and scalability.

#10. Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

VPC is a logically separated virtual network that provides a secure and isolated environment for EC2 instances. You can organize various EC2 instances into the same or different VPCs and then define rules for inbound and outbound traffic between the VPCs and, thus, also between the different EC2 instances in your cloud infrastructure.

Typically, you want to keep some EC2 instances private and accessed only by your application code. At the same time, other EC2s you want to keep available on the internet. VPC is a perfect solution.

Main Characteristics of EC2


EC2 instances provide scalable computing capacity in the AWS cloud. Businesses can quickly launch virtual machines with the computing power and storage capacity they need without investing in physical hardware. This is the real benefit of cloud infrastructure, and EC2 plays a significant role.

The usual purpose of EC2 instances is to host various applications or websites in the cloud. You can use them to satisfy your workloads, being it of a batch nature, real-time processing requirements, web or mobile applications.

The nature of work you use the EC2 for is practically endless. You might need serious power for data processing, machine learning, or gaming. You might need additional development or testing environments for your infrastructure. Then, you can definitely leverage all the benefits of EC2 instances.

Best of all, you can destroy and recreate them whenever you need. In that case, you save money for your development and testing infrastructure for the times you don’t need it. On-demand termination and recreation have, of course, many other applications for the business.

Cloud Computing Fundamentals


Since we already talked about EC2, maybe a small step back could be helpful to explain a little bit what exactly Cloud computing is.

You can look at it as a model for delivering computing resources over the internet, which is on-demand and built as a service. It is the mechanism of how to access computing power with all its infrastructure and applications without having to invest in physical hardware or infrastructure. Cloud computing is based on a set of fundamental principles, including:

  • Users have on-demand self-service available anytime. Servers and storage are available without having to go through a lengthy procurement process.
  • tabletsCloud resources can be accessed from anywhere and by anything (e.g., laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile).
  • Computing resources or whole infrastructure can be shared and dynamically allocated to meet changing environments and requirements.
  • You can quickly scale up or down any resources based on your current demand.
  • Real-time cloud computing essentially means a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where users only pay for the resources they actually use. Also, the spent usage you can track in real-time.

Service Models of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing can have three main service models:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which gives you virtualized computing resources, such as servers, storage, and networking, as a service. The creation of a workable solution above that is solely up to you.
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is one step further. You will get a whole platform for developing, deploying, and managing applications as a service. You don’t need to worry about infrastructure details in any way.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS)is the highest grade where you get complete software applications, such as email, CRM, or productivity tools, as a service. In this case, you just use what is already available for you.

Deployment Models of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is also differentiated by the way you deploy and access the resources:

  1. Public cloud means cloud resources are provided by a third-party provider, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud, and are accessible over the Internet.
  2. A private cloud is if an organization builds its own data center, and the infrastructure is accessible only within the organization’s network.
  3. A hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private cloud resources, which are integrated to provide one common interconnected infrastructure.
  4. Multi-cloud is a strategy when an organization utilizes multiple cloud providers to meet specific business needs. For example, you can combine Amazon Cloud and SAP Datawarehouse Cloud to build a solution consisting of regulated transactional data in SAP with a data lake built up in AWS.

Elasticity of the EC2


Elasticity is a key characteristic of cloud computing. It refers to the ability of cloud infrastructure to dynamically allocate and de-allocate computing resources in response to your constantly changing needs. Using elasticity, you can scale the infrastructure up or down as needed. All without having to invest in physical hardware or infrastructure.

Hand in hand with that comes another property of the cloud, which is scalability. It is the ability of a system to handle increasing amounts of loads or traffic without suffering from a decrease in performance.

For example, if your home page is experiencing unusually high sudden traffic due to the release of a new, highly awaited product. This is the time when scalability will jump in and increase all your resources and power to be comfortable with this high load.

Scalability is achieved through the use of elastic resources, such as virtual machines, storage, and networking, that can be quickly and easily scaled up or down.

Autoscaling is then an over-the-top feature that leverages the scaling capability and automates it based on predefined load expectations. It will automatically adjust the number of computing resources to use based on demand. That also means you don’t need to monitor and manually adjust resources. The scaling of resources up or down can be based on various metrics, such as CPU utilization, network traffic, or application response time.

Finally, the resources are allocated dynamically and in real time. This gives you the possibility to optimize your infrastructure usage. Allocate your resources only when you need them, and release them when you no longer need them.

Dynamic resource allocation is a key feature of cloud computing, as it allows to achieve high levels of utilization and efficiency while minimizing costs at the same time.

Benefits of the EC2

Some of the main benefits of EC2 are now already obvious. But just to put it into explicit context, the following are the most important to note:


Use the EC2 to easily scale computing resources up or down to meet current load levels. Start-up or destroy instances as you require right now. Pause and restart instances whenever suits you most. Be confident you always have a backup in case things go wrong.

Cost Efficiency

A direct outcome of flexibility is the increased opportunity to save money for infrastructure provisioning. If set up right, your EC2 instances will launch and terminate at the right time. As a consequence, you will avoid the costs associated with unjustified resource provisioning costs.

High Availability

With EC2, you get highly available infrastructure aiming to minimize downtime and ensure that applications and services are always accessible.


EC2 provides a reliable infrastructure whose intent is to be up practically without interruption and ensures that applications and services are always available and performant.


You can have access from everywhere, using desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. Similarly, you have full freedom to apply any restrictions to the access that you require.

Global Reach

EC2 is available in multiple regions worldwide, so you can deploy the applications and services closer to your customers and comply with local data privacy regulations.


You have a truly agile infrastructure that gives you options to respond quickly to changing market conditions and to innovate faster.

Data Security

EC2 gives you a secure infrastructure that is, by design, created to protect data and applications from unauthorized access and cyber threats.


EC2 is compliant with a wide range of industry standards and regulations, including HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR.


EC2 provides a collaborative environment that allows teams to work together on projects and to share resources and data.

Challenges with EC2

For sure, there are also some challenges that you should be aware of when using EC2.

#1. Management of the Cost

The essential nature of the whole AWS cost model is to make it as complex as possible, and EC2 pricing is no exception to that. You need to carefully manage your usage to avoid unexpected costs and have ready some reliable tools to monitor it continuously. You can use some cost optimization tools, for example, AWS Cost Explorer or AWS Trusted Advisor.

#2. Security

While EC2 gives you a secure infrastructure, you are still responsible for securing your own applications and data. You should implement best practices for security, such as using strong passwords, encrypting data, and implementing access controls.

#3. Compliance

With EC2, you need to ensure that the usage is compliant with industry standards and regulations. Therefore, it is essential to regularly review AWS compliance documentation and work with AWS compliance experts to ensure that you meet the compliance requirements requested by your clients.

#4. Performance

You can affect EC2 performance by different factors, like, for example, network latency, disk I/O, or CPU utilization. Monitor the performance of your infrastructure systematically and use performance optimization tools, such as AWS CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray, to identify and resolve performance issues.

#5. Availability

It’s true that EC2 provides a highly available infrastructure, but still, you need to ensure that the applications and services that you are provisioning are also designed for high availability. Use for that AWS services like Elastic Load Balancing or Auto Scaling to ensure that the applications and services are always available.

#6. Data Transfers

Be aware of data transfer costs when using EC2, as data transfer between EC2 instances and other AWS services can incur additional charges. This means it is not only about exchanging data between your infrastructure and the internet. Use Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront to minimize data transfer costs.

#7. Vendor Lock-in

Awareness of the potential for vendor lock-in when using EC2 shall be on your priority list. Design the applications and services to be portable across cloud providers and use open standards and APIs to ensure interoperability. This is how your solution will become cloud agnostic, becoming an additional layer of flexibility that is still a substantial market advantage.


Curious about future trends and innovations that you can expect to shape the future of EC2? Here they are.


Serverless computing is still a new paradigm in cloud computing, even if it has already been implemented for several years by some of the most progressive development teams. Developers run the code without having to manage servers or infrastructure. AWS Lambda or AWS Step function is an example of a serverless computing service that you can build t on top of EC2.

Machine Learning

EC2 is a perfect infrastructure for running machine learning models, predictions, and workloads. You can literally generate impressively large data lakes of model data predictions in minutes. On top of that, AWS serves a range of ready-to-use machine learning services, such as Amazon SageMaker and Amazon Rekognition, that are built on top of EC2.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is a new paradigm in cloud computing, and it is about data processing closer to the source rather than in a centralized data center. That means you do all the extensive data loads in the area where you generate the data. Then, with the help of various caching services, you transfer the data to a central data store, which does not really affect the user’s operations processing anymore. AWS offers a range of edge computing services, such as AWS Greengrass and AWS IoT, which you can deploy on top of EC2.


Containerization is a strategy of packaging applications and services into containers, which can be easily deployed and managed. You get assurance of compatibility when service transport is required between instances or infrastructures. AWS offers a range of containerization services, such as Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS that are built on top of EC2.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is again quite a new paradigm that involves using quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform computations. AWS serves a range of quantum computing services, such as Amazon Braket, and you can have them on top of EC2.

Final Words

EC2 is the fundamental part of every serious cloud infrastructure, and that won’t go away anytime soon. Usually, you will likely see it in your top 3 services with the highest cost generation, but it all is for a reason.

EC2 is the backbone of the cloud infrastructure, which captures all the other services on its surface. Understanding the EC2 is, therefore, crucial if your goal is to be successful in the cloud computing world.

Next, check out the best Practices for AWS EC2 security.

  • Michal Vojtech
    Delivery-oriented architect with implementation experience in data/data warehouse solutions with telco, billing, automotive, bank, health, and utility industries. Certified for AWS Database Specialty and AWS Solution Architect… read more
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