Category Archives: Amazon

Cloud Mystery: What’s the Tech Secret Behind Amazon Glacier?

ITProPortal has a good writeup on Amazon Glacier technology: tape? cheap disks they power down? It’s more than just a post filled with wild speculation because it includes informed reasoning on the current state of the art for each of the candidate technologies behind Glacier:

…of all the services offered by AWS, none have fuelled the same level of speculation and interest as Amazon’s Glacier. Though the service is well-known and widely-used in enterprise, no one knows exactly what’s behind it.

Amazon has retained a thick veil of secrecy around its most mysterious web service. The Seattle-based company has always kept the processes behind its services fairly quiet, but the omerta surrounding Glacier has been especially strict, leaving experts in the tech community perplexed about what Amazon could be hiding.

TL;DR: It might be old-fashioned robot tape libraries; it might be cheap disks they fill up then turn off until they need them for retrieval; it might be some clever hybrid of the two.

Read the article.

Nirvanix Shutdown: Collateral Damage in Big Players’ Price War?

The sudden shutdown of Nirvanix, an early but recently faltering participant in the “pure-play” Online Storage space dominated by the likes of AWS S3, Microsoft Azure and Google, is in large part a result of downward pressure on prices as the big players continually lower theirs. Amazon, for instance, launched S3 in 2006 and charged $0.15 per gigabyte-month. After many step-wise price cuts S3 is down to $0.095 per gigabyte-month.

Pure online storage is fast becoming the sole province of vendors who either enjoy economies of scale, or who treat their offerings as a loss-leader to get other business (or a combination of both).

Smaller players may have to add value in other ways to survive. Nirvanix was not profitable, and when their latest round of funding came up short it was the last nail in their coffin.

Want 100 GB of Free Cloud Storage For Life?

Zoolz is promoting their cloud backup service with an offer to give the first million users 100 GB for free. For life. The catch? It uses AWS Glacier, Amazon’s cheaper alternative to S3. Glacier of course enforces a delay of 3 to 5 hours to retrieve files, and there are limits to monthly retrieval. But for the right purposes (like, “Store & Ignore”) it might be a real deal if you act soon enough. Their intro video explains:

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.”

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.


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.


Amazon Acquires IVONA, Makers of Kindle Text-to-Speech Tech, Inc. today announced that it has acquired text-to-speech technology company IVONA Software. IVONA technologies power the “Text-to-Speech,” “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” features on Kindle Fire tablets. Additionally, IVONA delivers text-to-speech products and services for thousands of developers, businesses and customers around the world.

“IVONA’s exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use. IVONA is already instrumental in helping us deliver excellent accessibility features on Kindle Fire, including Text-to-Speech, Voice Guide and Explore by Touch,” said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “The IVONA team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world.”

“For more than ten years, the IVONA team has been focused on creating innovative text-to-speech technologies,” said Lukasz Osowski, CEO and co-founder of IVONA. “We are all thrilled that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can continue to innovate and deliver exceptional voice and language support for our customers.”

IVONA offers voice and language portfolios with 44 voices in 17 languages and more in development.

AlienVault Unified Security Provides Security Visibility for Amazon EC2

AlienVault today announced its latest 4.1 release, which aims to resolve the biggest challenges associated with traditional SIEM solutions including cost, complexity and difficult deployments. AlienVault Unified Security Management (AV-USM) platform 4.1 simplifies and speeds SIEM deployments and provides intelligent security incident response guidance. AV-USM 4.1 also extends AlienVault’s best-of-breed security monitoring capabilities to Amazon EC2 to enable greater control over hybrid environments.

“Lack of security visibility and control is a primary concern when businesses move workloads to the cloud,” said Russ Spitler, VP of Product Management at AlienVault. “Traditional SIEM solutions are extremely limited in their ability to monitor cloud environments, leaving companies with siloed assets and glaring holes in their security risk posture. By enabling the AV-USM platform to monitor Amazon EC2, AlienVault customers can lower their costs, optimize their IT environments and get security wherever they need it to be, without sacrificing visibility in their own private datacenters or the public cloud.”

New features in the AlienVault Unified Security Management platform 4.1 include:

  • Support for Amazon EC2: “Instant-on” essential security
    capabilities match the elasticity of the EC2 cloud environment and
    enable unified security monitoring whether assets are in the cloud or
    data center.
  • Auto-Deploy: Automatically identifies potential data sources
    upon deployment with integrated discovery capabilities and removes the
    “guesswork” common with traditional SIEM deployments.
  • Dynamic Incident Response Templates: Extends SIEM functionality
    past the alert by providing customized, contextually relevant
    workflow-driven response procedures so that analysts know exactly what
    to do next.
  • Suricata IDS Profile: Provides an alternative to the SNORT IDS
    engine with enhanced threat detection, analysis and performance.

Based on the open source project OSSIM, the AV-USM platform combines more than 30 of the best security technologies and provides security analysts with five essential security capabilities including asset detection, vulnerability assessment, threat detection, behavioral monitoring and security intelligence capabilities in a single, unified solution and management console. The AlienVault Open Threat Exchange™ is the largest community-sourced threat database and intelligence feed, and is built into the AV-USM platform and OSSIM to provide security analysts with real-time collaborative defense.

“Since our business is completely built on IaaS providers, we need to find a way to get reliable security visibility in this environment,” said Fredrick Lee, Lead Security Engineer for Twilio. “A lot of traditional security solutions fall short when facing the challenges of deploying in the cloud. AlienVault USM provides a great way to deploy the security capabilities I find essential – IDS, vulnerability assessment, SIEM – quickly and completely.”

AlienVault has also launched a new documentation portal, the AlienVault Repository of Knowledge (ARK), which complements the support forum and provides access to interactive assets, product documents and how-to videos for the larger OSSIM community.

The latest version of the AlienVault Unified Security Management platform 4.1 is available now.

FileZoomer for Amazon S3 Adds Glacier, Life Cycle, Versioning, Batch Options

A new release of FileZoomer, a cross-platform client for Amazon’s S3 has been released,  adding support for new S3 features including Versioning and Object Life Cycle. Object Life Cycle for S3 includes the option to migrate files to the lower-cost AWS Glacier storage option, and includes a facility to retrieve archived files so they can be downloaded from S3.

The Glacier support in S3, as featured in FileZoomer, does not require a separate AWS Glacier account. Instead it is handled transparently by S3 and FileZoomer.

Versioning allows the option of keeping previous versions of files as they are updated.

Unique to FileZoomer is the Batch Processing option, which allows the interactive creation of configuration files that control batch uploads, downloads, and syncing files between a local machine and S3. Once configured, the pre-defined actions can be invoked from within the FileZoomer client, of from batch processes in Windows, Mac OS X, or linux.

FileZoomer is a free java client that runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and linux, and it can be downloaded from

New AWS Pipeline Tool Aims to Make Effective Use of Your Business Data

AWS Pipeline Diagram

Amazon’s new AWS Data Pipeline product “will help you move, sort, filter, reformat, analyze, and report on  data in order to make use of it in a scalable fashion. ” You can now automate the movement and processing of any amount of data using data-driven workflows and built-in dependency checking.

A Pipeline is composed of a set of data sources, preconditions, destinations, processing steps, and an operational schedule, all definied in a Pipeline Definition.

The definition specifies where the data comes from, what to do with it, and where to store it. You can create a Pipeline Definition in the AWS Management Console or externally, in text form.

Read more.