Tag Archives: continued

AWS updates covered the IT gamut in 2017

AWS continued its methodical push this year to gobble up more of the IT landscape, with a mix of forward-looking tools and upgrades to link and expand its existing portfolio of services.

Microsoft and Google did their part to catch up with AWS in 2017, but both cloud providers worked against a moving target. AWS updates pushed into new IT segments as the cloud provider took steps to fill gaps in its strategy around hybrid cloud, customers operating at a global scale, machine learning and containers.

It was another year of gradual improvements rather than the massive advances that embodied the earlier years of AWS, but there was still plenty for enterprise users to digest.

Among the most popular advancements in 2017 was the decision to finally cede to the popularity of Kubernetes with Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes.

Logicworks, an AWS managed services provider in New York, built its own tooling to support Kubernetes for its clients, and is more than happy to relinquish those duties to AWS going forward.

“Kubernetes was not easy to do on AWS,” said Jason McKay, CTO and senior vice president at Logicworks. “A lot of the open source tooling was not built to that network topology, and that was a real challenge.”

AWS updates reach into serverless, databases

Beyond its nod to containers, Amazon put even more attention on serverless frameworks such as Lambda and the growing list of services with which it interacts. It remains to be seen if either model will eventually dominate the cloud landscape and supplant VMs, but many observers expect companies will choose the serverless path to optimize their workloads after initial lift-and-shift migrations.

In fact, serverless frameworks have improved so much that providers such as Logicworks make it their default option internally and are seeing more traction with their customers. With AWS Step Functions and other upgrades, these services fit together better to provide true elasticity while they keep the focus strictly on the apps, McKay said.

AWS is no longer an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud. It’s a platform in which you develop your application and with serverless you [insert code and don’t] manage the infrastructure.
Jason McKayCTO and senior vice president, Logicworks

“It’s really a continuation of what’s been happening. AWS is no longer an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud,” he said. “It’s a platform in which you develop your application and with serverless you’re inserting code into the platform without having to manage the infrastructure.”

Databases got plenty of attention this year as AWS executives continue to beckon corporations away from legacy systems, and skewer Oracle, too. Aurora and DynamoDB added capabilities to improve speed, consistency and uptime on a global scale. Multi-Master, an AWS feature currently in preview for both services, generated lots of interest because it can create multiple read/write masters in different availability zones.

New instance types addressed a range of uses, including compute-optimized machines for high-performance computing and storage-intensive VMs for big data applications. AWS continued to expand its data center footprint with several new regions, including one in France, second locales in China and GovCloud, and plans to expand to the Middle East in 2018.

Outages and exposed data are 2017 lowlights

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for AWS this past year. The major Simple Storage Service (S3) outage caused by human error took down scores of workloads in the U.S. East-1 region in February. The downtime cost businesses an estimated $150 million and hit particularly hard for companies that relied heavily on that region and didn’t have appropriate failover options in place.

However, the S3 outage wasn’t as detrimental as some broader outages that were more common in the past. It’s telling that 10 months later the incident barely registered with those interviewed for this article.

“People were upset, but I never heard one case where someone was like, ‘I’m out,'” said Adam Book, principal cloud engineer at Relus Technologies, an AWS consulting partner in Peachtree Corners, Ga. “Some wanted some redundancy and even some enterprises talked about redundant cloud solutions, but they all hit their SLA.”

Security was also a persistent problem — not so much for AWS itself, but for the steady stream of customers who left data publicly exposed. AWS has historically been hands-off with its customers, but it’s clear that the din of embarrassing incidents got the company’s attention. AWS reminded customers to secure their buckets and put default encryption policies in place, as well as alerts to notify users when their data is publicly exposed.

Other AWS security updates included more tools to help users secure their applications on top of its infrastructure. Among them were Amazon Macie, which brings machine learning to recognize personally identifiable information and alerting users about abnormal behavior involving that data, and GuardDuty, a fully managed service for threat detection.

“Amazon decided in 2017 it needed to own the governance process for their platform,” said Erik Peterson, a longtime AWS user and co-founder and CEO of CloudZero, a Boston startup that specializes in cloud security and DevOps.

Features extend beyond AWS cloud

AWS continued to focus on enterprise demands, particularly around hybrid cloud. The much ballyhooed VMware on AWS service became generally available in August, for corporations to move a full VMware stack onto AWS infrastructure. It’s unclear how seamlessly those VMware workloads will link to AWS tools as the offering matures, but in its early days the vast majority of the application has centered on disaster recovery.

Other initiatives pushed AWS farther afield from its own data centers. A partnership with Red Hat brings management of cloud resources in-house via OpenShift, while other efforts seek to put Lambda on edge devices and use Application Load Balancer to route traffic to private data centers.

Machine learning received plenty of focus too, particularly since it’s an area where AWS has lagged. SageMaker was the most intriguing of those initiatives, as the service aims to make machine learning approachable to more types of developers.

Some AWS updates connected services across regions as well, a shift for a company that has historically tried to wall regions off from each other for security and uptime purposes. New capabilities in AWS CloudFormation and CloudWatch make it easier to manage changes across regions and accounts, more End Points were added to Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) and AWS Direct Connect can now link VPCs across regions.

Many of these AWS updates won’t generate a lot of headlines or get top billing at a conference keynote, but they’re plumbing upgrades that make it easier to work with the platform for day to day operations, Book said.

Not one to rest on its laurels, AWS also continued to add features that push the cloud platform further into ever-expanding subsets of enterprise IT. Alexa for Business incorporates the voice assistant into corporate workspaces. Amazon Connect is a contact center service for customer support centers. AWS Single Sign-On puts Amazon at the center of management of accounts on AWS and third-party applications. And Amazon Chime adds unified communications service to the AWS umbrella.

But with the steady stream of AWS updates and new services, it’s also getting harder to navigate which services to use, especially for new customers.

“[AWS needs] to really take a step back and ask themselves: Are they presenting all their services in the best way possible?” Peterson said. “I talk to people who just started on Amazon a bunch and they’re completely overwhelmed.”

Trevor Jones is a senior news writer with SearchCloudComputing and SearchAWS. Contact him at tjones@techtarget.com.

Microsoft expansion is a welcome boost to Puget Sound region

Microsoft’s breathtaking expansion project affirms the Puget Sound region’s capacity for continued growth and reinvention.

The company announced Wednesday a multibillion expansion that includes 18 new buildings, fields and parking on its main Redmond campus east of Highway 520.

This should not be taken for granted.

Cities, states and nations are desperate for this sort of economic development, especially by a leading company in a clean industry. Heads of state plead for Microsoft to open a single office and could not imagine the company building a small city’s worth.

Microsoft will add the capacity for 8,000 additional employees on its campus, although much of the new space may be filled by people now working in offices that Microsoft currently leases in Bellevue.

The next challenge for the Eastside and the rest of the Puget Sound region will be to nurture other companies to grow into the next giants and continue attracting other companies.

Comparisons are inevitable with Amazon’s building spree in Seattle.

One way to look at it is to marvel at how both Microsoft and Amazon continue to innovate and sustain their growth by creating new, multibillion-dollar businesses.

Microsoft’s construction project is a physical manifestation of this process.

As it continues its transition into a provider of online services, Microsoft is building more open and expansive offices. They’ll replace the formerly futuristic, X-shaped buildings where it produced software that dominated the personal-computer era.

It’s also enlightening to look at Amazon’s decision to open a second headquarters elsewhere.

That happened in part because of concerns about the business climate in Seattle proper, including the city’s poor job planning for growth that was clearly coming when Amazon submitted its development proposals.

Microsoft also brought disruption and community transformation, particularly when it surged in the 1990s.

Eastside officials learned from this experience. Microsoft’s more recent expansions, over the last decade, were more easily absorbed because of thoughtful planning and regional coordination. That includes road, highway and transit expansion concurrent with growth and careful placement of new housing density within urban hubs.

Such efforts are now paying off. Redmond has infrastructure and housing capacity in place or in process for all the potential growth Microsoft’s new project will generate. Construction of the 18 new buildings is expected to finish around the same time a light-rail station is scheduled to open at its campus in 2023.

The region is blessed to have such companies. They create opportunity and employment for residents and newcomers attracted by their dynamism and success creating world-changing products.

With good infrastructure and gleaming campuses on both sides of Lake Washington, municipal boundaries become less important and all meld into the Greater Seattle region.

Veeam enterprise customers gain enhanced physical protection

Veeam Software continued its move into the enterprise with a partnership that allows it to protect physical workloads in Unix environments.

Through an OEM deal with Cristie Software, the Veeam Availability Platform will support IBM AIX and Oracle Solaris. Co-CEO Peter McKay said Veeam enterprise customers asked the backup and recovery vendor to fill that gap.

“They didn’t care how we got it,” McKay said. “They just wanted to make sure we got the functionality.”

The deal enables Veeam to address the vast majority of data protection for the enterprise, analyst Phil Goodwin said.

“It’s a natural evolution for Veeam,” said Goodwin, IDC research director of data protection. “They’re continuing to move up the market into more enterprise accounts.”

Veeam’s support for IBM AIX and Oracle Solaris is based on technology developed by Cristie. The software company helps organizations protect, recover and move critical machines to dissimilar hardware, hypervisor and cloud environments. It provides instant system recovery, recovery simulation, flexible machine migration and hot standby.

Veeam's Peter McKayPeter McKay

Cristie claims about 3,000 customers worldwide and more than 1,000 enterprises using its software specifically for AIX and Solaris systems. Its full integration into the Veeam platform is due in the first half of 2018.

The integration is especially important for the financial services industry, as well as health care and government, McKay said. He acknowledged that the number of organizations using AIX and Solaris is comparatively low, but having the full support allows Veeam to go after bigger enterprise license agreements.

Veeam claims 267,500 customers and 16,700 service provider partners using its software.

‘Good roadmap’ for Veeam enterprise customers

While Veeam started out in 2006 as virtual machine backup, it has since ventured deeply into cloud and physical data protection. For example, Veeam has recently released agents for Windows and Linux. At the same time, the Veeam enterprise base has grown significantly after years of support mainly for small businesses.

It’s a natural evolution for Veeam. They’re continuing to move up the market into more enterprise accounts.
Phil Goodwinresearch director of data protection, IDC

Veeam has made a significant push in the last year and a half to go after the enterprise more aggressively. In October, the vendor reported 84% year-over-year growth in new enterprise bookings for the third quarter. Recently formed alliances with big name vendors — including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco — are helping to accelerate Veeam enterprise revenue.

McKay said he thinks organizations will eventually move off AIX and Solaris, but those environments will be around for at least the next five years and require protection.

“[Veeam] can provide for customers that need it while at the same time devote their resources to more growing markets,” namely virtual and cloud, Goodwin said.

With this integration, he said, Veeam is seeking to displace traditional backup vendors such as Veritas and Commvault.

Veeam has focused much of its recent product updates on larger companies. Goodwin, though, pointed to its strong cloud service provider (CSP) ecosystem for the smaller businesses.

“[The CSPs] can attend to the day-to-day requirements,” Goodwin said.

Veeam enterprise customers want simple and flexible, McKay said, and the vendor aims to make its products easier to use. He thinks that increased simplicity and flexibility will come organically, not through a partnership or acquisition.

“We have a good roadmap to get there,” McKay said.

This month on Bing: entertainment experiences and saved content

This month at Bing we continued our momentum by shipping several new experiences that help you quickly find what you’re looking for.

New entertainment answers

We expanded our carousel coverage to help you find new types of entertainment content.

We’re continuing to deliver up-to-date information for popular topical searches, such as “new movie releases” and “2017 fall TV premieres”, but on top of that, we’re also covering new and trending content on streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Trending movies on netflix

New movies on Amazon prime

We’re also introducing a tabbed experiences on mobile, so when you’re looking for more information on movies and artists, you’ll see rich visual content in context of what tab you’re on.

lego movie 2017

My saves

My saves is another new Bing feature that makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Now, you can create individual collections of the videos and images you find on Bing and want to reference later.

Simply click the plus sign in the bottom left of an image of video you want to revisit later, and Bing saves it for you.

Save this image

From there, you can organize your saves into individual collections to make future retrieval even easier.

Search the web

We hope you’re as excited by these releases as we are; we’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback at User Voice!

– The Bing Team