Category Archives: Amazon Web Services

Amazon Goes Beyond AWS Training with AWS Certification

You can now go beyond AWS training and take tests to earn AWS Certification. Meant to provide a way for Solution Architects, System Administrators, and Developers to formally certify knowledge of AWS.

The AWS Certifications are credentials that you (as an individual) can earn to certify your expertise (skills and technical knowledge) in the planning, deployment, and management of projects and systems that use AWS. Once you complete the certification requirements, you will receive an AWS Certified logo badge that you can use on your business cards and other professional collateral. This will help you to gain recognition and visibility for your AWS expertise.

The first certification, AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Level, is available now. Additional certifications for System Administrators and Developers are planned for 2013.

Certification Exams are delivered by Kryterion, in more than 100 countries at over 750 testing locations worldwide. You can register online to take the exam through Kryterion.

Stackdriver Launches Intelligent Monitoring Service Public Beta

Stackdriver has launched the public beta  of Stackdriver Intelligent Monitoring, a flexible and intuitive SaaS offering that provides rich insight into the health of cloud-powered systems, infrastructure, and applications.  The service features seamless integration with Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud and is optimized for teams that manage complex distributed applications.  Customers can access the service immediately via the company’s website at

Stackdriver’s engineers set out to build a solution that:

  • Monitors applications, systems, and infrastructure components,
  • Identifies anomalies using modern analytics and machine learning, and
  • Drives remediation and automation using a proprietary policy framework.

Edmodo, a leading social learning platform that runs on AWS, has relied on Stackdriver for several months.  “The technology stack that powers Edmodo’s online learning platform is very sophisticated. We use a variety of application building blocks, including AWS services and open source server software,” noted Kimo Rosenbaum, Infrastructure Architect.  “Before Stackdriver, we monitored our stack with many disparate tools, often designed without the dynamic nature of the cloud in mind.  With Stackdriver, we can monitor our systems, AWS services, and applications with one simple interface built for cloud-based services.”

Stackdriver Intelligent Monitoring is available free of charge for companies using Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud.  Today, Stackdriver manages nearly 100,000 cloud resources and processes over 125 million measurements per day.  Nearly 100 customers, paid and non-paid, use the service, including Edmodo, Yellowhammer Media, Exablox, Atomwise, Qthru, and Webkite.

Study Finds Enterprise Cloud Focus Shifting From Adoption to Optimization

Cloudyn together with The Big Data Group has released the latest AWS customer optimization data, reinforcing the positive growth trend expected for the year ahead.

We set out to evaluate whether the projected 2013 ‘year of cloud optimization’ is on course and discovered that we are well into the public cloud adoption life cycle. In 2011 and 2012 the conversation centered around how and when to move to the cloud. Now it is all about companies looking for efficiencies and cost controls,” commented David Feinleib, Managing Director of The Big Data Group.

The study, based on over 450 selected AWS and Cloudyn customers, highlights a more mature approach to cloud deployments reflected by a deeper understanding of where inefficiencies lurk and how to optimize them. EC2 makes up for 62% of total AWS spend, with more than 50% of customers now using Reserved Instances in their deployment mix. However, On-Demand pricing remains the top choice for most, accounting for 71% of EC2 spend. Even for customers using reservations, there is still opportunity for further efficiency.

For example, Cloudyn’s Unused Reservation Detector has assisted customers in finding a startling 24% of unused reservations. These can be recycled by relocating matching On-Demand instances to the availability zone of the unused reservation.

There is also a shift away from large instance types to medium, where two medium instances cost the same as one large, but can produce 30% more output. However, with the low 8-9% utilization rates of the popular instance types, there is certainly more work to be done on the road to cloud optimization.

Cloudyn and The Big Data Group host a webinar on May 1, 2013 at 9:00 am PT focused on deployment efficiency.

Riverbed’s Whitewater Adds AWS Glacier, Google Storage Support

Riverbed Technology today announced Whitewater Operating System (WWOS) version 2.1 with support for Amazon Glacier storage and Google Cloud storage. WWOS 2.1 increases operational cost savings and high data durability from cloud storage services, improving disaster recovery readiness. In addition, Riverbed introduced larger virtual Whitewater appliances that allow customers to support larger data sets, improve disaster recovery capabilities, and manage multiple Whitewater appliances from a single window with a management console. These enhancements to the Whitewater cloud storage product family help enterprises use cloud storage to meet critical backup requirements, modernize data management strategies, and overcome challenges created by data growth.

“Once created, most unstructured data is rarely accessed after 30-90 days. Leveraging the cloud for storing these data sets makes a lot of sense, particularly given the attractive prices of storage services designed for long-term such as Amazon Glacier,” said Dan Iacono, research director from IDC’s storage practice. “The ability of cloud storage devices to cache locally and provide access to recent data provides real benefits from an operational cost perspective to avoid unnecessary transfer costs from the cloud.”

Cloud Storage Ecosystem Expansion Riverbed is offering customers choice and flexibility for data protection by adding Amazon Glacier and Google Cloud storage to its Whitewater cloud storage ecosystem. Now, Whitewater customers using Amazon Glacier cloud storage have immediate access to recent backup data while enjoying pricing from Amazon as low as one cent per gigabyte per month — approximately eight times cheaper than other currently available cloud storage offerings.

In addition, the extremely high data durability offered by Amazon cloud storage services and the ability to access the data from any location with an Internet connection greatly improves an organization’s disaster recovery (DR) readiness.

Larger Virtual Whitewater Appliances With the introduction of the larger virtual Whitewater appliances, Riverbed allows customers preferring virtual appliances to protect larger data sets as well as simplify disaster recovery. The new virtual Whitewater appliances support local cache sizes of four or eight terabytes and integrate seamlessly with leading data protection applications as well as all popular cloud storage services. To streamline management for enterprise wide deployments, WWOS 2.1 includes new management capabilities that enable monitoring and administration of all Whitewater devices from a single console with one-click drill down into any appliance.

“We have been successfully using Riverbed Whitewater appliances for backup with Amazon S3 in our facilities in Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S. since June 2012,” said Drew Bartow, senior information technology engineer at Tipper Tie. “We were eager to test the Whitewater 3010 appliance with Amazon Glacier and the total time to configure and start moving data to Glacier was just 24 minutes. With Glacier and Whitewater we could potentially save considerably on backup storage costs.”

“The features in WWOS 2.1 and the larger virtual appliances drastically change the economics of data protection,” said Ray Villeneuve, vice president corporate development, at Riverbed. “With our advanced, in-line deduplication and optimization technologies, Whitewater shrinks data stored in the cloud by up to 30 times on average — for example, Whitewater customers can now store up to 100 terabytes of backup data that is not regularly accessed in Amazon Glacier for as little as $2,500.00 per year. The operational cost savings and high data durability from cloud storage services improve disaster recovery readiness and will continue to rapidly accelerate the movement from tape-based and replicated disk systems to cloud storage.”

The Fracturing of the Enterprise Brain

Never mind BYOD (bring your own device), employee use of non-corporate online storage solutions could lead to the weakening of enterprise ability to access company data and intellectual property. In the worst case scenario, companies could lose information forever.

A post by Brian Proffitt at ReadWrite Enterprise explains:

Employees are the keepers of knowledge within a company. Want to run the monthly payroll? The 20-year-veteran in accounting knows how to manage that. Building the new company logo? The superstar designer down in the art department is your gal. When such employees leave the company, it can be a bumpy transition, but usually not impossible, because the data they’ve been using lies on the corporate file server and can be used to piece together the work that’s been done.

Of course, that’s based on the premise that, for the past couple of decades or so, data has essentially been stored in one of two places: on the file servers or the employee’s local computer.

Today, though, people store data in a variety of places, not all of it under the direct control of IT. Gmail, Dropbox, Google Drive or a company’s cloud on Amazon Web Services…

Read the article.

Wired Profiles a New Breed of Internet Hero, the Data Center Guru

The whole idea of cloud computing is that mere mortals can stop worrying about hardware and focus on delivering applications. But cloud services like Amazon’s AWS, and the amazingly complex hardware and software that underpins all that power and flexibility, do not happen by chance. This Wired article about James Hamilton paints of a picture of a new breed of folks the Internet has come to rely on:

…with this enormous success comes a whole new set of computing problems, and James Hamilton is one of the key thinkers charged with solving such problems, striving to rethink the data center for the age of cloud computing. Much like two other cloud computing giants — Google and Microsoft — Amazon says very little about the particulars of its data center work, viewing this as the most important of trade secrets, but Hamilton is held in such high regard, he’s one of the few Amazon employees permitted to blog about his big ideas, and the fifty-something Canadian has developed a reputation across the industry as a guru of distributing systems — the kind of massive online operations that Amazon builds to support thousands of companies across the globe.

Read the article.


High Street and Main Street 2013: Business Failure or Rejuvination?

Guest Post by Pontus Noren, director and co-founder, Cloudreach.

Since Woolworths stores disappeared from the physical high streets and main street in January 2009, the bricks and mortar retailers have been falling apart. More than 27,000 people were out of work when its 800 stores closed, consigning a century of trading to the history books. An alarming amount of traditional big names have sunk since: already this year we have seen Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster Video enter administration or bankruptcy.

It is upsetting to see these names disappear from view, but do not believe the headlines. The high street is not dying, it is changing.

Most recently, Blockbuster Video encountered trouble because people were ditching the traditional movie rental model in exchange for internet streaming services. Blockbuster’s model involved leaving the comfort of your sofa, walking to a video rental store, then scouring the shelves for something you wanted to watch. You’d even face a fine if it was not returned on time. In contrast, the likes of LOVEFiLM and NETFLIX charge a monthly subscription fee and allow members to browse extensive video libraries online before streaming an unlimited amount of content.

Being successful in business is all about changing the game – overlooking what is out there and offering something new. This shift in the key players of the movie rental market has been facilitated by cloud computing technology. The emergence of cloud makes it much easier for businesses to grow rapidly, as you only pay for the server space you use with the likes of Amazon Web Services.

That ability to quickly scale up and down contrasts the traditional IT model, where businesses purchase physical servers and maintain them in-house.

When technology changes, it can have a radical effect on an industry, altering the way in which things are delivered and consumed. However, the level of spend in the economy stays the same so although these shops are closing, the economy shouldn’t suffer at all. The general public will always have a certain amount of money to spend – they just spend it in different ways depending on trends and what’s available, for example spending three pounds on a coffee from Costa rather than a DVD from HMV. That has been reflected in the phoenix Woolworths business. Shop Direct acquired the brand, and its new Woolworths website now offers half a million products. This new trading status reflects the change that has taken place: where people once browsed shelves of goods in shops, they now browse the web for a bargain. People are voting with their virtual feet and it is obvious that everything is heading online.

Not only is online more convenient, and often cheaper, but people can also have richer interactions with brands online, and can benefit from items tailored to their individual specifications – something that it is difficult for high street retailers to do well. The term Web 3.0 is being coined at the moment – with streaming and personalisation coming to the fore more so than ever before.

Web 3.0 and cloud have the potential to form a strong partnership. This force has already transformed the greetings card industry, with the likes of Funky Pigeon and Moonpig using the power of cloud to produce and deliver completely personalised greetings cards. Traditional market leader Clintons Cards closed half of its stores after entering administration in December, having taken a big hit from the success of its online competitors. Online retailing has advanced from being able to offer cheaper products to ones that are also completely tailored to customers’ wishes.

The bricks and mortar high street of the future will be filled with outlets, boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops, which all inspire physical interactions – service-based offerings will be prevalent. However, the most successful businesses will have a solid online strategy supported by cloud technology to deliver a personalised, richer experience for the customer and scalable operations to meet demand. For example, retailers should look at the likes of grab-and-go food outlet Eat, which plans store portfolio growth using cloud.

The cloud changes everything. Retailers must make the most of the tools and technologies at their disposal or they risk falling behind their competitors – or worse, risk being the next big name to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Pontus Noren, director and co-founder, Cloudreach

Pontus Noren is director and co-founder, Cloudreach.

Yet Another Analyst Insists on AWS Spinoff, Others Disagree

Not for the first time an investment analyst, this time Oppenheimer analyst Tim Horan in a report published on Monday, insists in a report that AWS will inevitably be spun off to avoid “channel conflict”, etc.

“In our view, we believe an ultimate spin-off of AWS is inevitable due to its channel conflicts and the need to gain scale. We see the business as extremely valuable on a standalone basis…”

The Register has a useful take on Horan’s opinion, with a well-thought-out contrary view.

The crack in this bout of crystal-ball gazing is that Oppenheimer is an investment firm that by nature likes predictable cash above everything else, and Amazon’s leader Jeff Bezos is a mercurial, ambitious figure who has demonstrated time and time again a love for risky, long-term projects*.

This Reg hack believes the Oppenheimer spin-off analysis misses the temple for the gold fixtures: keeping Amazon Web Services yoked to Amazon holds a slew of major advantages, many of which could be critical in the battle for dominance of the cloud, but they will all take time to play out and are not a sure thing.


Cloudyn Power Tools Aim for Increased Efficiency, Savings for AWS Customers

Cloudyn has released new Amazon Web Services optimization Power Tools, aiming for increased efficiency and savings for AWS cloud deployments.

“The power tools were developed in response to what we perceive as the market’s growing need for clarity and control over cloud capacity, cost and utilization. The market is ripe for a significant overhaul with companies no longer able to ignore the fluctuating costs associated with the dynamic use of their cloud. Our data shows that 29% of customers spend $51,000-250,000 annually with AWS; only 6% of  customers spend $250,001 – $500,000, but this is the group with the largest saving potential with an average of 46%. All AWS customers Cloudyn monitors have cost optimization potential of between 34% – 46%,” commented Sharon Wagner, CEO of Cloudyn.

The popular Reserved Instance Calculator, which launched in October 2012, is being complemented with the release of the EC2 and RDS reservation detectors. Moving beyond optimal reservation pricing, Cloudyn now recommends which On-Demand instances can be relocated to unused and available reservations. When On-Demand instances don’t match any idle reservations, sell recommendations for the unused reservation are generated.

“Nextdoor’s growing social network relies heavily on AWS and managing cost is a priority for us,” comments Matt Wise, Senior Systems Architect at “Cloudyn gives us clarity into all our cloud assets and ensures that we utilize them fully. Additionally, Cloudyn’s sizing and pricing recommendations enable us to use the cloud in the most cost-effective way possible.”

A new S3 Tracker analyzes S3 usage tracked by bucket or top-level folders and highlights inefficiencies together with step-by-step recommendations on how to optimize. A shadow version detector reveals otherwise hidden shadow S3 versions which inflate the monthly bill.

“We were surprised to learn how many companies simply don’t know what’s going on inside their S3 storage. The new tool splits S3 across buckets and allocates cost per usage providing crystal clear visibility. Interestingly, the most expensive ‘Standard’ storage type is also the most widely used, dominating with 84%. Post-optimization, this can be reduced to 60% and redistributed to the Reduced and Glacier storage alternatives,” continued Mr. Wagner.