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AWS – Using the web console

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You have already had some exposure to the AWS administration console at https://console.aws.amazon.com. For some users, the web interface is all they ever need to create and administer their cloud resources. Later in this chapter, we will introduce CloudFormation and the command-line interface (CLI) as worthy options for using a web browser. As good practice for production accounts, we highly recommend automating all of your resource changes with a templating system such as CloudFormation.

However, for routine discovery and education, the web console is an excellent tool, so we will highlight some of its features here. Keep in mind that the UI evolves over time, so the screenshots you see in this section may not exactly match what you see when you log in:

AWS Management Console 

The menu bar

Let’s start by dissecting that top menu bar and see what it has to offer.

AWS logo

The AWS logo takes you back to the top-level page of the console. It actually ends up being very useful when you decide you want to open a new console window without leaving the page you are currently viewing – just middle-click it or right-click and open the page in a new tab:

The AWS logo

Services

Expand the Services dropdown to see a screen with all the AWS services listed, and a recent history of the services you visited on the left. The search box will end up being the fastest way for you to find the service you are looking for:

Clicking the Services link replaces the page’s contents with an exhaustive list of services

Resource Groups

Resource Groups are a way to manage groups of resources – a topic that we will explore in detail in Chapter 9, Managing Costs:

Resource Groups

Pins

Click the pin icon to view a list of service widgets that can be added to the menu bar:

As you can see, I have pinned CloudTrail to give me quick access to that service

Alerts

The bell icon shows alerts and notifications that are relevant to your account:

Keep an eye on the alerts for important notifications from AWS

Click View all alerts to see an event log of all the operational issues that may have affected your account recently.

Account

Click on your username to see links to the various screens related to your AWS account:

The username link

You already spent some time on the My Security Credentia ls screen when you created your account and set up security for the root login and your first IAM user. We will go into more detail about  My Organization, My Billing Dashboard, and Switch Role in Chapter 2, Account Setup and Management and Chapter 9, Managing Costs.

Region and support

Click on the region selector to see all the regions that are available to you in your account:

AWS regions available in your account

Remember that selecting a new region takes you to a completely isolated AWS environment, so any regional resources you had set up in the previous region will no longer be visible. If you ever find yourself in a panic because it looks like one of your resources, such as an RDS database or an EC2 instance, seems to have disappeared, it’s probably because you are in the wrong region.

Finally, we have the Support link, which exposes several support resources. 

Speaking of support, we should mention another best practice recommendation: all production accounts should have, at a minimum, Business support enabled. A support contract gives you rapid access to help when you need it. Don’t skimp on this critical resource!

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