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05Mar 2015

While Elasticsearch has been a big success across Amazon Web Search properties, with some 10 million downloads, the big data search engine currently doesn’t play that well with Elastic Cloud Compute. This is something that Amazon plans to change with a new version offering easier EC2 integration.

Elasticsearch is considered more friendly and useful than Amazon’s other CloudSearch tool when it comes to navigating big data and EC2 and S3 buckets. Based on Java, Elasticsearch uses tools like Logstash to analyse data and displays the results using the Kibana data visualisation suite. This flexible bundle can be used to easily find data among terabytes of the stuff, while the likes of CloudSearch need a few pre-formatting tricks to read JSON files or XML formatted data.

However, the implementation is not a quick fix, as Elasticsearch needs to be refreshed and refined to prevent memory problems and to limit data and bandwidth jams as it sucks down data into the search engine.

Once those issues are resolved, expect Elasticsearch for EC2 to be trialled in April, and made generally available after substantial testing to ensure that it is a product the market wants, will accept and that offers a valuable use case. It should hit major regions first, including South East Asia, to get a thorough testing, as there seems to be a lot of users keen to see such a development, and Amazon usually pushes for easier, faster ways for its users to work.

On the less complex side of Amazon, for those looking to manage their clouds, Amazon is expected to introduce its AWS Services Catalog soon – after being tested for a few months. This will help administrators catalogue all their AWS activity and should help put some sanity into the pricing of third party tools that do a similar job but with rather exorbitant fees.

Features of the new AWS Services Catalog include improved presentation, and customised views of the current applications, services and usage, plus the ability to apply policies and help IT manage costs. Further benefits will include improved levels of standardisation, and ways to better control and integrate with existing systems – all of which will sound like music to the ears of admins seeing AWS requests pop up like rabbits.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

25Feb 2015

The latest from Amazon’s never-ending treadmill of updates sees Amazon Web Services introduce a range of improved features to help it compete better across the enterprise IT landscape. Amazon’s identity and access management (IAM) system upgrades are now available across the range of Amazon services. They can help enterprise users and system admins rapidly manage and change AWS user identities and security settings across the business, something more usually seen as the preserve of a Windows or Linux IT system.

In a recent blog post, Amazon’s Jeff Barr, the chief evangelist for AWS, highlighted that the upgrades are part of an overall update to existing IAM features, which had previously been focused on users at the individual level. While that was fine for smaller and mid-sized businesses, enterprises have always required greater flexibility when it comes to managing potentially thousands of accounts.

Under the old regime, accounts were updated one by one, with permissions needing to be changed for individual users, services and systems. The modern IAM, which Amazon has now upgraded its service to, can handle object-based processes, allowing batch changes to access and policies. That means admins can now upgrade and downgrade access to all types of AWS service from the individual, departmental or role level and in other ways too.

This along with Amazon’s recent configuration management database (CMBD) tool, which lets businesses inspect and gain insight into how their cloud resources are being used, will provide better analysis of AWS services. As enterprises have more users working on AWS-based systems, these updates to both IAM and CMBD will help them work faster and smarter when it comes to resource and change management, governance and AWS inventory management.

All of these features will help Amazon tick a couple more boxes along the way to enterprise acceptance among larger businesses, and improve the flexibility of its overall services. As it rolls out yet more features to compete with the likes of Google, Microsoft and the other tech giants, it will need these user-friendly features and more to help in the constant battle to win business around the world, including in Singapore and south-east Asia, where new customers are looking for extreme efficiency from day one.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

19Feb 2015
Record numbers of businesses are migrating to cloud computing services to benefit from a growing array of competitive advantages and increasingly lower costs, according to a new report, which places Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the preferred cloud provider among firms.

The report, Cloud Adoption & Risk Report Q4 2014, singles out AWS as the leading cloud computing solution for companies everywhere, including in Singapore and all around South-East Asia, after analysing the data of over 15 million users. Key cloud areas examined in the report include the rising number of services as well as the crucial issue of security in this time of high-profile hacking by criminal elements into major corporations’ online operations.

The number of cloud services available in the last quarter of 2014 was 43% higher than the same period a year earlier, and firms said that on average, they were using 897 cloud services, an increase on 626 the previous year. In addition, according to the report, compiled by Skyhigh Networks, which develops software for cloud security, employees are using around 27 cloud services on average.

Kamal Shah, a Skyhigh executive, said it all amounted to a kind of coming-of-age for cloud computing for businesses. “2014 will go down as the year of the cloud’s arrival as a fundamental tool for the Global 5000 enterprise,” he said.

Cloud computing is now where companies develop a more competitive edge and where innovation is fostered, the report said, and it’s being driven by a “new wave of enterprise software” that delivers significant cost and feature benefits.

In terms of security in the cloud, the report examined the issue of log-in details that are stolen and found that nearly all firms were at risk – “revealing a worldwide black market where credentials belonging to 92% of companies are for sale”.

AWS “pioneered” cloud computing in 2006, the report says, and since then rivals such as Microsoft, Cisco and Salesforce have been trying to catch up, particularly through buying up companies engaged in the sector. For now, however, AWS continues to be the global cloud computing market leader.

To get a copy of the report, visit http://www.skyhighnetworks.com/cloud-report.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

06Feb 2015

Synergy Research Group has just published new data showing impressive growth for Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) division. The company’s cloud data storage and processing technology now claims 28% of the global market, and is still growing. That represents a five-year high for market share and 50% year-over-year growth in the increasingly competitive cloud infrastructure services market.

With Amazon driving new products, competitive pricing and improved economies within its own technology and software, the company managed 25% revenue growth in the last quarter; it is now approaching a position where it will own a third of the market. Rivals Microsoft, with Azure, and Google, with its Cloud Platform, are the next biggest players. Microsoft is in second place and is growing fast, but it is far behind Amazon with only a 10% share. From the next financial year, Amazon will break out its own AWS earnings, so potential customers and AWS partners will have a better idea of performance.

With more businesses moving to, or looking to adopt, cloud services, expect faster growth in years to come. Synergy estimates the market for 2014 was worth $16 billion for cloud infrastructure services. Confidence in the technology, a wider range of services appealing to more verticals and businesses, plus the appeal of low cost services will continue to drive growth. More enterprises will continue to adopt cloud services as different departments outside IT find a need for computing resources, while in Asia, many companies are skipping data centres and heading directly to the cloud for their business and IT needs.

Recently Amazon rolled out its new C4 instance servers in some data centres, including Singapore. These pack in powerful Intel Xeon E5-2666 v3 “Haswell” processors running at 2.9GHz, with burst performance of 3.5GHz, starting with 3.5GB up to 60GB RAM and 500 Mbps up to 4,000 Mbps throughput for EC2 users. They can be acquired flexibly and will further improve performance for power-hungry businesses. With big data and compute efficiency both increasingly important issues for enterprises, Amazon remains in pole position as the vendor of choice for cloud services and processing in the cloud – both in South East Asia and around the world.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

31Jan 2015

Amazon’s various businesses generate vast amounts of revenue, but the company as a whole is rather vague about how it reports them, so we have little idea just how the AWS business is doing. That’s of considerable interest to those companies interested in using AWS or developing services based around it.

In its latest earnings report, Amazon has promised it will reveal AWS revenues in future quarters. That is likely because the AWS service is now generating more money for the company, so it wants to show the world how well AWS is coming along. Currently, AWS revenue is buried in Amazon’s “other” income stream, which was listed at $1.67 billion. Out of Amazon’s total revenue for the 2014 end of year quarter ($39.3 billion), this may not be huge, but we’ll soon find out exactly how big AWS is and how fast it is growing.

When it does start detailing AWS revenue information, it will help businesses and analysts compare it to other cloud service companies and give us all a better sense of how the market is developing. Unfortunately, Amazon is unlikely to publish historical figures to give us an immediate sense of the trend.

Overall, Amazon posted a modest profit for the quarter, but reported a loss of $241 million for 2014, as it continues to invest heavily in new technology for its retail business and cloud services. With the company under pressure to start delivering more consistent profits, breaking out its various business segments will help. Respected IT analyst Gene Munster reckons that Amazon’s AWS business will be worth $6 billion in revenue for 2015, racing ahead of his estimate of $4.3 billion for 2014. That would put AWS in the big league among cloud companies, alongside SAP, Salesforce, Oracle and Google.

Certainly, all eyes will be on next quarter’s report to find out just how Amazon’s AWS business is doing, and Amazon must be highly confident in the business if it is ready to publicly disclose earnings.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

24Jan 2015

Amazon is on the acquisitions trail again, this time looking to pick up an Israeli semiconductor firm, Annapurna Labs. The company produces specialised chips that improve the speed of data traffic while running in power-efficient compute environments. With Amazon keen on its green enterprise credentials, that should also help reduce power costs within its data centres. The deal, when completed, subject to the usual regulatory requirements, will help Amazon improve the performance across its AWS cloud systems, and help reduce latency across the networks.

That has to be good news for AWS users when the processors or underlying technology are eventually integrated into Amazon’s AWS custom hardware. The deal is reported in the Israeli press to be around $370 million. It once again shows how Amazon will search far and wide for the smallest components that go some way to improving AWS performance. With increasing numbers of businesses turning to AWS for cloud computing power and performance, and with their demands for performance becoming ever higher, Amazon needs to keep pushing the limits of hardware, network and software.

Annapurna Labs is one of those annoying companies that has been operating in stealth mode. It has a Twitter page, but never posts, a pretty website with nothing of note on it, and no real clue about what’s inside its technology. As with many of these deals, we’ll likely never know when the AWS hardware upgrades take place. However, it is yet another demonstration that Amazon will keep investing to get the best and brightest people, and the components they produce, to keep the AWS dashboards showing green.

With Amazon recently launching AWS Lambda for ad hoc and automated applications and instances, the company can expect a growing volume of spikes in activity, beyond the usual buckets of information passing across the system. Its future hardware will need all the speed and flexibility it can get, across all regions from Singapore to San Jose, to cope with the demand. Expect further acquisitions by Amazon to keep picking up the best tech to AWS, as it looks to maintain an edge over the cloud competition.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

19Jan 2015

AWS Lambda is now live across Amazon Web Services in preview form. The new compute service from Amazon provides an automated response to events within your business cloud processes or AWS services, and automatically launches a new piece of Node.js code or an application (up to 20MB upload size including libraries) to respond to the change. It manages the required computing resources automatically, creating a new and easier way to build responsive applications that help your business systems react to changing conditions or events.

Whatever the event, your AWS Lambda application will trigger within milliseconds, be it: requests to manage new data, handle image uploads, perform facial recognition or other tasks, react to customer website clicks, or a specific output from an Internet of Things device, such as home alarms, weather monitors or enterprise building management systems.

AWS Lambda can be used to create new automated services for the back end. This is easier to manage than EC2 tasks, where the user needs to do all the provisioning tasks. AWS Lambda processes are charged per request, so there is no wastage and with charges accruing per 100 milliseconds, costs of uncommon tasks can be kept to a bare minimum. Scaling is automatic, so new features or test features for your sites and services can be tested and measured in highly-accurate value terms.

Lambda runs these new applications on Amazon’s high-availability compute infrastructure (with the usual 99.99% uptime claims), with automated admin for compute resources, including server and OS maintenance, provisioning and scaling. Issues like code and security patch deployment, as well as monitoring and logging your code, are all handled automatically.

Lambda can be told to respond to changes in Amazon S3 buckets, Dynamo DB tables, Kenesis streams and other instances. Note that, currently, AWS Lambda functions cannot access resources that are stored behind a VPC. This creates an exciting new time for AWS professionals and users, as much more can be done in the background and without needing admin set up.

What would you do with an AWS Lambda instance and how could it help improve your business processes? We’re keen to know what you’d use it for.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

10Jan 2015

Most cloud solutions are built on hypervisor and virtual machine technologies. There are few cloud providers who offer bare metal servers instead of virtual machines but they are more of an exception. In general the cloud provider, in this case an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, builds their services on top of a hypervisor to pool together physical resources that can then be virtualized. The benefit is, that it allows the abstraction of the underlying hardware and the control of vast number of virtual servers with relative ease.

The cloud provider runs the hypervisor and the customer subscribes or rents virtual servers provisioned on top of the hypervisor. When a customer subscribes to a virtual machine the expectation typically is that no one else has access to it. Not even the cloud provider. If you lose the access keys to the virtual machine the cloud provider cannot help you.

When we store money in the bank we certainly hope that the bank knows at any given time how much of money we have deposited in which currency on which account. The cloud is similar; we hand over our data for someone else’s safekeeping but now the expectation towards the cloud provider is different. We assume that the cloud provider has no insight into the data we store with them. They shouldn’t know what workloads we run in the cloud and what data gets processed.

This hopefully is the case, as most cloud providers tell us it’s the case. However, with a technology called Virtual Machine Introspection and few other software packages it is trivially easy to potentially gain full access to any virtual machine running on the hypervisor. Tamas K. Lengyel has shown (https://tklengyel.github.io/drakvuf/) in his research that with the help of software that he and several others have developed not only can the hypervisor owner monitor each and every process on the virtual machine, but retrieve files that are only stored in the memory of the virtual machine and inject code from the hypervisor to execute any program on the virtual machine itself. The code does not require to know the user ID or password of the virtual machine. With this approach every single virtual server is open to the owner of the hypervisor and the customer running the virtual machines would not even know about it.

This is not to suggest that any of the cloud providers have actually implemented this type of functionality but since it’s so easy, we as users of these cloud services should very carefully evaluate which cloud provider we put our trust in as potentially the cloud providers do not even need the proverbial keys to access everything we do on our servers.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

09Jan 2015

Cloud computing is a third generation way of managing business data, using a network of secure servers hosted on the internet. The servers process and manage data more efficiently that a personal computer or local server.

Not sure if the cloud is right for you? Here are some facts on how this technology can help grow your business to its full potential:

Increase collaboration and teamwork

Employees need to collaborate and work as a team to achieve set goals and objectives. Cloud computing helps to achieve this objective as it allows all members of the organisation to synchronise, share apps and even work on documents together from anywhere in the world. A recent study carried out by Frost & Sullivan showed that companies that invested in this technology achieved 400% return on investment.

Work from anywhere

Your employees will be able to perform their daily duties and obligations from anywhere in the world as long as they have internet access. This flexibility has been proven to increase productivity of employees significantly.

Enhanced security

There is a need to put in a robust security infrastructure in your business to ensure that classified data and documents do not land in the wrong hands. Companies that offer cloud computing services have invested in modern systems that guarantee the safety of all information stored on their servers. More importantly, the data can still be accessed even if the laptop is stolen.

Automatic software updates

Cloud computing companies have expert personnel who perform server maintenance tasks such as upgrading security protocols. This in turn saves clients time and money that would have been spent managing the servers.

No more complex disaster recovery plans

Companies that have embraced this technology no longer need to come up with sophisticated disaster recovery plans. A recent study conducted by Aberdeen Group showed that businesses that use cloud resolve data issues in less than 2.1 hours. Results from this study also showed that medium size firms recorded the best recovery time as compared to larger companies and organisations.

Clearly, cloud computing is one of the most cost effective and guaranteed ways of elevating your business to the next tier of success.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

02Jan 2015

There are several key security advantages of migrating your business to the cloud. These include a vast array of real time updates and alerts, and access to a wider variety of different solutions for any given security issue that you would have with security software installed on your company’s computer. Once your company has migrated to the cloud, it is vital that your security is up to date.

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a useful organisation to consult for anyone interested in cloud security. The CSA was set up back in 2008, as a not for profit organisation whose aim was to research and inform people about the best security solutions for the cloud.

One very helpful service that the CSA has set up includes the STAR registry. STAR stands for Security Trust and Assurance Registry. It is a list of cloud computing companies that includes information about how good their security controls are. This registry is free and open access for the public and can be a great resource for anyone wanting to double check companies working in the cloud (https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/star/#_registry).

Cloud computing security has been the site of exciting innovations in digital security as a whole. From detective solutions that put a stop to insider attacks to corrective controls that fix issues in real time, there are a whole host of types of security software patrolling the cloud and keeping your company and customer data safe.

Cloud computing security focuses on the most important aspects of marketing and trading on the cloud. Identity protection, privacy, and the security of data, personnel and physical assets are all integral parts of cloud computing security.

For instance, it is crucial that the financial data that a customer transfers to you at the point of sale is powerfully encrypted. It is also important that customer data (such as addresses and other sensitive details) are protected. The cloud is an amazing source of Big Data and everything is being done to keep it safe.

Speak to the cloud computing experts at Cloud Comrade

At Cloud Comrade, we specialise in providing our clients in Singapore and South East Asia with best in class cloud technology solutions that put them ahead of their competitors and which keep their critical data highly accessible and secure. Ready to take your business forward? So are we: www.cloudcomrade.com/

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