Tag Archives: Amazon

Amazon Cloud Outage Hits Dozen Of Sites, But Not Amazon

The outage in Amazon Web Services (AWS) popular storage service S3 a couple of days ago was severe. Over 50 businesses who entrusted their websites, photos, videos and documents in S3 buckets found themselves unreachable for around 4 hours. Among those were high profile names such as Disney, Target and Nike. And it’s not the first one either. This time, again, the outage took place at Amazon’s veteran Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) region.

Amazon’s own websites, however, were not affected by the outage. According to Business Insider the reason is that

They have designed their sites to spread themselves across multiple Amazon geographic zones, so if a problem crops up in one zone, it doesn’t hurt them.

Put simply: Amazon designed its websites the right way – with high availability and disaster recovery plan (DRP) in mind.

If you want your website to sustain such outages – follow Amazon’s example! Here’s a piece of advice I wrote a few years ago after another major AWS outage:

AWS Outage – Thoughts on Disaster Recovery Policies

For more best practices on resilient cloud-based architecture check this out:

Retrospect on recent AWS Outage and Resilient Cloud-Based Architecture

And if policies, regulations or your own paranoia level prohibit putting all your eggs in Amazon’s bucket, then you may be interested in this:

AWS Outage: Moving from Multi-Availability-Zone to Multi-Cloud

So Keep Calm – there is Disaster Recovery!

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Cisco Is Shutting Down Its Public Cloud, Exploring Hybrid IT Strategy

Cisco just confirmed it’ll shut down its Intercloud by March 2017. Intercloud was supposed to be Cisco’s move in public cloud, addressing both businesses and service providers. But Cisco learned the painful lesson of the cloud, same lesson learned by HPE which shut down its Helion public cloud a year ago and Verizon which shut down its cloud earlier this year. On its statement, Cisco explained:

Cisco has evolved its cloud strategy from federating clouds to helping customers build and manage hybrid IT environments.

It appears Cisco realized that hybrid cloud may be its answer to Amazon, Microsoft and Google. It may have learned from Rackspace, which abandoned its cloud product and turned to partnering with Amazon, a strategy shift which paid off big time a few months ago. VMware is another datacenter giant that realized it’d better off partnering with Amazon for cloud services, and announced partnership a couple of months ago.

With open source taking over networking, Cisco foresees rough times also on traditional networking side. The big guys go as far as building their own datacenters from the ground up from simple hardware, skipping Cisco’s expansive purpose-built high-end boxes.

While many abandon their public cloud aspirations, it’s interesting to see that last month Oracle launched bare metal cloud services, which is in fact just the first step of its new cloud strategy announced back in September. Will it succeed where the others have failed?

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Amazon and VMware: Strange Allies In The Game Of Clouds

Before cloud there was datacenter virtualization. The king of virtualization was VMware, who had ruled enterprise datacenters for decades uninterruptedly. Then a new force arose – Public Cloud – ruled by the reincarnated online retailer Amazon, which swiftly won the hearts of startups and web apps alike. As enterprises started exploring the cloud, VMware adapted its offering in the form of Private Cloud in attempt to keep the lucrative enterprises under its dominion, while Amazon has been fighting to convert them to its public cloud, with relentless price cuts and innovative services. War was fierce.

But in the Game of Clouds strange alliances are formed…

Now VMware is striking an alliance with Amazon. The new strategic partnership announced this month brings forth a hybrid child: VMware Cloud on AWS, which promises to let enterprises have their cake and eat it too – keeping them working in their good-old VMware vSphere environment while letting VMware operate it for them as a managed service on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) bare metal infrastructure. The new service is currently in Technology Preview, with general availability expected mid-2017.

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What could bring together these bitter rivals? In the land of private cloud VMware has been suffering fierce competition from OpenStack open source community, so fierce that ultimately VMware jumped on the OpenStack bandwagon. Flanked by OpenStack from private cloud and by Amazon from public cloud, VMware came to realize what HP, Verizon and others learned the hard way – that hybrid cloud can be the alternative. A similar strategy change brought the got Rackspace acquired a couple of months ago.

And what’s Amazon’s angle with WMware you ask? Amazon has been eyeing the lucrative enterprises for a long time, but has largely failed to convert them to the public cloud. Microsoft, Amazon’s public cloud competitor, identified that and launched Azure Stack (currently in Technical Preview 2), a flavor of its Azure public cloud that can extends to the enterprise’s datacenter. Amazon so far has been dogmatic in its public cloud vision, preaching full migration to the public cloud and refusing to provide variants for private cloud. But market forces are stronger, and Amazon’s way off the proverbial tree was found in the form of VMware. With Microsoft’s Azure Stack expected in general availability mid-2017, Amazon had to prepare its counter move towards the same mark.

In the Game of Clouds great forces are at play. With private and public clouds, open source communities and vendor-locked solutions, incumbents and startups all at play. And everyone’s eyeing the holy grail of enterprises.

Who will win the Cloud Throne?

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Want To Scale Like Google, Amazon? Design Your Own Data Center

Google is joining the Open Compute Project (OCP), the community-driven open project founded by Facebook for standardizing on IT infrastructure. OCP’s mission statement is to

“break open the black box of proprietary IT infrastructure to achieve greater choice, customization, and cost savings”

Google strategically announced joining the OCP at last week’s OCP Summit, together with its first contribution of a new energy-efficient rack specification that includes 48V power distribution. According to Google, their new rack design  was at least 30% more energy efficient and more cost effective in supporting their higher-performance systems.

The OCP includes, in addition to Facebook and Google, other big names such as Intel, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and Deutsche Telecom. The member list also includes some traditional server and networking manufacturers such as Ericsson, Cisco, HP and Lenovo, which are expected to be seriously disrupted by the new open standards initiative which undermines their domination over this $140B industry.

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Last year Google already made an important move, sharing its next-generation data center network architecture. On their announcement last week, Google hinted for additional upcoming contributions to OCP such as better disk solutions for cloud based applications. In his post, John Zipfel shared Google’s longer-term vision for OCP:

And we think that we can work with OCP to go even further, looking up the software stack to standardize server and networking management systems.

Google and Facebook are among the “big guys” running massive data centers and infrastructure, which sheer scale drove them to drop the commodity IT infrastructure and start developing their own in-house optimized infrastructure to reduce costs and improve performance.

Amazon is another such big guy, especially with the massive infrastructure required to power its Amazon Web Services which has the lion’s share of the public cloud market, followed by Microsoft and Google (both latter are OCP members). In an interview last week, Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels said:

“To be able to operate at scale like we do it makes sense to start designing your own server infrastructure as well as your network. There is great advantages in [doing so].”

With the growing popularity of cloud computing, many of the “smaller guys” (even enterprises and banks) will migrate their IT to some cloud hosting service to save them from buying and managing their own infrastructure, which in turn will mean even more of the world’s IT will be with the “big guys”. To aggravate things further, the public cloud market is undergoing consolidation, with big names such as HP, Verizon and Dell dropping the race, which would leave most of the world’s IT in the hands of a few top-tier cloud vendors and Facebook-scale giants. These truly “big guys” will not settle for anything short of the best for their IT.

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Update: At GCP Next conference the following week Google released a 360° virtual tour at its data center. See more here.

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Will Banks Soon Run In The Cloud?

Cloud computing has become prevalent in many industries. A glimpse at the figures Amazon and Microsoft, the two biggest public cloud providers, reveals a multi-billion dollar market which grows rapidly. Starting with online startups, the public cloud has grown to become mainstream within enterprises. And now they’re having their eyes on the financial jackpot – the banks.

Amazon is pitching its cloud-computing service to big U.S. banks, hoping to break into one of the last major strongholds of old-line technology companies. According to a new article by The Wall Street Journal, the public cloud giant has approached Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and others to show the value of its Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In fact, Amazon already got an early adopter on board: Capital One. Last October at Amazon’s re:Invent conference the bank’s CIO Rob Alexander gave an enthusiastic keynote, describing how they started experimenting with AWS back in 2014 in different areas such as online banking and stream data processing and with use cases such as cloud bursting during Black Friday shopping, and late 2015 launched its new mobile banking app in production on AWS. By “outsourcing” its IT to Amazon’s cloud, the bank aims to reduce its datacenter footprint from 8 to 3 by 2018.

Amazon is not alone in this quest: Microsoft and Google, Amazon’s leading competitors in the public cloud, are also looking to penetrate this challenging niche. According to WSJ, JP Morgan has been examining Google’s cloud platform in addition to Amazon’s. Yet still missing such high-profile early adopter reference.

While the operational benefits are great, public cloud vendors need to address the bank’s strict security needs: concerns such as compliance, regulation, access control and encryption need to be met at the highest standards. According to Capital One’s CIO, the bank has been working closely with Amazon’s team to develop the security model. Alexander went as much as saying it now operates “more securely in the public cloud than we can on our own data centers“. Amazon’s CIA reference also serves it well in proving its security case.

This sort of close collaboration with the industry and regulatory bodies will ultimately bring public cloud infrastructure to the levels of the banks’ data centers, and pave the banks’ path to the cloud.

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Microsoft Launches New Big Data Stream Analytics Cloud Service

In the last couple of weeks we saw the fight heating up between Google and Amazon over big data in the cloud. Now Microsoft is calling the bet, announcing the general availability of its Azure Stream Analytics (ASA). The new cloud service, which was launched in public preview late last year, enables real-time stream processing of data from various sources, such as applications, devices, sensors, mobile phones or connected cars. In fact, Microsoft places strong emphasis on the use cases of the Internet of Things, a hot topic these days which Microsoft pioneered back in the 1990 but somehow managed to miss the wave, and is now trying to get back on it.

Earlier this year Microsoft bought Revolution Analytics, the company behind the open source R programming language that has become popular for statistical analysis on big data, as part of Microsoft’s effort to develop its suite of advanced analytics.

Microsoft puts emphasis, same as its competitors, on making its stream analytics service easy for development and operations, so small companies and even start-ups can get into this hot field without massive up-front investment. That while leveraging the power of the cloud to ensure transparent resilience and scalability, security and multi-tenancy.

Another interesting aspect is the built-in integration of Azure Stream Analytics with Microsoft’s Event Hubs, Microsoft’s Publish-Subscribe messaging service, which was made generally availability late last year, and is said to be able to log millions of events per second. Microsoft also targets this service for Internet of Things and telemetry ingestion use cases. This part of Microsoft’s offering is similar to Google’s Pub/Sub and Amazon’s Kinesis.

In a blog post by Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of Information Management & Machine Learning at Microsoft, he shares customer use cases by Fujitsu, NEC and Aerocrine. Quoting Allen Ganz, Director of Business Development at NEC:

NEC has found that using the Azure IoT Services has enabled us to quickly build compelling intelligent digital signage solutions that meet our customer’s needs and help them transform their business processes

Microsoft, same as its competitors, is aiming at providing a full and organic suite to cover the full cycle of big data ingestion, processing and analytics, to cater for the proliferation of big data use cases and ventures, and especially around the Internet of Things.

You can read more on the new Azure Stream Analytics here.

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Google-Amazon Fight Over Big Data In The Cloud Is Heating Up

Google today announced that it’s releasing its Cloud Dataflow in open beta. This big data analytics service was launched in closed beta version at Google’s annual developer conference last June, with a major update last December when they released an open source Java SDK to make it easier for developers to integrate with the new service.

Just last month Google announced that it was moving its Cloud Pub/Sub into public beta. This service for real-time messaging is yet another layer in the overall big data and analytics suite that Google has been building up.

Google’s strategy aims to cater for the full big data and analytics cycle of Capture->Store->Process->Analyze from within Google Cloud Platform’s organic services (such as Pub/Sub, Dataflow and BigQuery), as well as with plugging in external popular frameworks such as Hadoop, Spark and Kafka, in a modular way.

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Google Cloud Platform BI Suite

Google’s offering comes as a response to Amazon’s offering in the big data and analytics area, with services such as KinesisRedShift, Elastic MapReduce and Lambda. Interesting to note that last week at the AWS Summit in San Francisco Amazon announced Lambda service is generally available for production use. Amazon also maintains its smart strategy of tightening integration between their services, now enabling to run AWS Lambda functions in response to events in Amazon Cognito.

Amazon also puts emphasis on optimizing the infrastructure services for big data. A couple of weeks ago AWS launched new type of EC2 instances with high density storage optimized for storing and processing multi-terabyte data sets.

Another very interesting announcement from AWS last week was the announcement of Amazon Machine Learning new service, which gives an important dimension of analytics to their suite.

Amazon and Google are not the only players in the big data cloud services. With big companies such Oracle and Microsoft, this market definitely becomes hot.

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