AWS Blog

New – S3 Sync capability for EC2 Systems Manager: Query & Visualize Instance Software Inventory

It is now essential, with the fast paced lives we all seem to lead, to find tools to make it easier to manage our time, our home, and our work. With the pace of technology, the need for technologists to find management tools to easily manage their systems is just as important. With the introduction of Amazon EC2 Systems Manager service during re:Invent 2016, we hoped to provide assistance with the management of your systems and software.

If are not yet familiar with the Amazon EC2 Systems Manager, let me introduce this capability to you. EC2 Systems Manager it is a management service that helps to create system images, collect software inventory, configure both Windows and Linux operating systems, as well as, apply Operating Systems patches. This collection of capabilities allows remote and secure administration for managed EC2 instances or hybrid environments with on-premise machines configured for Systems Manager. With this EC2 service capability, you can additionally record and regulate the software configuration of these instances using AWS Config.

Recently we have added another feature to the inventory capability of EC2 Systems Manager to aid you in the capture of metadata about your application deployments, OS and system configurations, Resource Data Sync aka S3 Sync. S3 Sync for EC2 Systems Manager allows you to aggregate captured inventory data automatically from instances in different regions and multiple accounts and store this information in Amazon S3. With the data in S3, you can run queries against the instance inventory using Amazon Athena, and if you choose, use Amazon QuickSight to visualize the software inventory of your instances.

Let’s look at how we can utilize this Resource Data Sync aka S3 Sync feature with Amazon Athena and Amazon QuickSight to query and visualize the software inventory of instances. First things first, I will make sure that I have the Amazon EC2 Systems Manager prerequisites completed; configuration of the roles and permissions in AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), as well as, the installation of the SSM Agent on my managed instances. I’ll quickly launch a new EC2 instance for this Systems Manager example.


Now that my instance has launched, I will need to install the SSM Agent onto my aws-blog-demo-instance. One thing I should mention is that it is essential that your IAM user account has administrator access in the VPC in which your instance was launched. You can create a separate IAM user account for instances with EC2 Systems Manager, by following the instructions noted here: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/systems-manager/latest/userguide/sysman-configuring-access-policies.html#sysman-access-user. Since I am using an account with administrative access, I won’t need to create an IAM user to continue installing the SSM Agent on my instance.

To install the SSM Agent, I will SSH into my instance, create a temporary directory, and pull down and install the necessary SSM Agent software for my Amazon Linux EC2 instance. An EC2 instance based upon a Windows AMI already includes the SSM Agent so I would not need to install the agent for Windows instances.

To complete the aforementioned tasks, I will issue the following commands:

mkdir /tmp/ssm

cd /tmp/ssm

sudo yum install -y https://s3.amazonaws.com/ec2-downloads-windows/SSMAgent/latest/linux_amd64/amazon-ssm-agent.rpm

You can find the instructions to install the SSM Agent based upon the type of operating system of your EC2 instance in the Installing SSM Agent section of the EC2 Systems Manager user guide.


Now that I have the Systems Manager agent running on my instance, I’ll need to use a S3 bucket to capture the inventory data. I’ll create a S3 bucket, aws-blog-tew-posts-ec2, to capture the inventory data from my instance. I will also need to add a bucket policy to ensure that EC2 Systems Manager has permissions to write to my bucket. Adding the bucket policy is simple, I select the Permissions tab in the S3 Console and then click the Bucket Policy button. Then I specify a bucket policy which gives the Systems Manager the ability to check bucket permissions and add objects to the bucket. With the policy in place, my S3 bucket is now ready to receive the instance inventory data.


To configure the inventory collection using this bucket, I will head back over to the EC2 console and select Managed Resources under Systems Manager Shared Resources section, then click the Setup Inventory button.

In the Targets section, I’ll manually select the EC2 instance I created earlier from which I want to capture the inventory data. You should note that you can select multiple instances for which to capture inventory data if desired.

Scrolling down to the Schedule section, I will choose 30 minutes for the time interval of how often I wish for inventory metadata to be gathered from my instance. Since I’m keeping the default Enabled value for all of the options in the Parameters section, and I am not going to write the association logs to S3 at this time, I only need to click the Setup Inventory button. When the confirmation dialog comes up noting that the Inventory has been set up successfully, I will click the Close button to go back to the main EC2 console.


Back in the EC2 console, I will set up my Resource Data Sync using my aws-blog-tew-posts-ec3 S3 bucket for my Managed Instance by selecting the Resource Data Syncs button.


To set up my Resource data, I will enter my information for the Sync Name, Bucket Name, Bucket Prefix, and the Bucket Region that my bucket is located. You should also be aware that the Resource Data Sync and the sync S3 target bucket can be located in different regions. Another thing to note is that the CLI command for completing this step is displayed, in case I opt to utilize the AWS CLI for creating the Resource Data Sync. I click the Create button and my Resource Data Sync setup is complete.


After a few minutes, I can go to my S3 bucket and see that my instance inventory data is syncing to my S3 bucket successfully.

With this data syncing directly into S3, I can take advantage of the querying capabilities of the Amazon Athena service to view and query my instance inventory data. I create a folder, athenaresults, within my aws-blog-tew-posts-ec2 S3 bucket, and now off to the Athena console I go!

In the Athena console, I will change the Settings option to point to my athenaresults folder in my bucket by entering: s3://aws-blog-tew-posts-ec2/athenaresults. Now I can create a database named tewec2ssminventorydata for capturing and querying the data sent from SSM to my bucket, by entering in a CREATE DATABASE SQL statement in the Athena editor and clicking the Run Query button.


With my database created, I’ll switch to my tewec2ssminventorydata database and create a table to grab the inventory application data from the S3 bucket synced from the Systems Manager Resource Data Sync.

As the query success message notes, I’ll run the MSCK REPAIR TABLE tew_awsapplication command to partition the newly created table. Now I can run queries against the inventory data being synced from the EC2 Systems Manager to my Amazon S3 buckets. You can learn more about querying data with Amazon Athena on the product page and you can review my blog post on querying and encrypting data with Amazon Athena.

 

 
Now that I have query capability of this data it also means I can use Amazon QuickSight to visualize my data.

If you haven’t created an Amazon QuickSight account, you can quickly follow the getting started instructions to setup your QuickSight account. Since I already have a QuickSight account, I’ll go to the QuickSight dashboard and select the Manage Data button. On my Your Data Sets screen, I’ll select the New data set button.
Now I can create a dataset from my Athena table holding the Systems Manager Inventory Data by selecting Athena as my data source.


This takes me through a series of steps to create my data source from the Athena tewec2ssminventorydata database and the tew_awsapplication table.


After choosing Visualize to create my data set and analyze the data in the Athena table, I am now taken to the QuickSight dashboard where I can build graphs and visualizations for my EC2 System Manager inventory data.

Adding the applicationtype field to my graph, allows me to build a visualization using this data.

 

Summary

With the new Amazon EC2 Systems Manager Resource Data Sync capability to send inventory data to Amazon S3 buckets, you can now create robust data queries using Amazon Athena and build visualizations of this data with Amazon QuickSight.  No longer do you have to create custom scripts to aggregate your instance inventory data to an Amazon S3 bucket, now this data can be automatically synced and stored in Amazon S3 allowing you to keep your data even after your instance has been terminated. This new EC2 Systems Manager capability also allows you to send inventory data to S3 from multiple accounts and different regions.

To learn more about Amazon EC2 Systems Manager and EC2 Systems Manager Inventory, take a look at the product pages for the service. You can also build your own query and visualization solution for the EC2 instance inventory data captured in S3 by checking out the EC2 Systems Manager user guide on Using Resource Data Sync to Aggregate Inventory Data.

In the words of my favorite Vulcan, “Live long, query and visualize and prosper” with EC2 Systems Manager.

Tara

 

 

Hightail — Empowering Creative Collaboration in the Cloud

Hightail – formerly YouSendIt – streamlines how creative work is reviewed, improved, and approved by helping more than 50 million professionals around the world get great content in front of their audiences faster. Since its debut in 2004 as a file sharing company, Hightail shifted its strategic direction to focus on delivering value-added creative collaboration services and boasts a strong lineup of name-brand customers.

In today’s guest post, Hightail’s SVP of Technology Shiva Paranandi tells the company’s migration story, moving petabytes of data from on-premises to the cloud. He highlights their cloud vendor evaluation process and reasons for going all-in on AWS.


Hightail started as a way to help people easily share and store large files, but has since evolved into a creative collaboration tool. We became a place where users could not only control and share their digital assets, but also assemble their creative teams, connect with clients, develop creative workflows, and manage projects from start to finish. We now power collaboration services for major brands such as Lionsgate and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. With a growing list of domestic and international clients, we required more internal focus on product development and serving the users. We found that running our own data centers consumed more time, money, and manpower than we were willing to devote.

We needed an approach that would help us iterate more rapidly to meet customer needs and dramatically improve our time to market. We wanted to reduce data center costs and have the flexibility to scale up quickly in any given region around the globe. Setting up a data center in a new location took so long that it was limiting the pace of growth that we could achieve. In addition, we were tired of buying ahead of our needs, which meant we had storage capacity that we did not even use. We required a storage solution that was both tiered and highly scalable to reduce costs by allowing us to keep infrequently used data in inactive storage while also allowing us to resurface it quickly at the customer’s request. Our main drivers were agility and innovation, and the cloud enables these in a significant way. Given that, we decided to adopt a cloud-first policy that would enable us to spend time and money on initiatives that differentiate our business, instead of putting resources into managing our storage and computing infrastructure.

Comparing AWS Against Cloud Competitors

To kick off the migration, we did our due diligence by evaluating a variety of cloud vendors, including AWS, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. AWS stuck out as the clear winner for us. At one point, we considered combining services from multiple cloud providers to meet our needs, but decided the best route was to use AWS exclusively. When we factored in training, synchronization, support, and system availability along with other migration and management elements, it was just not practical to take a multi-cloud approach. With the best cost savings and an unmatched ecosystem of partner solutions, we did not need anyone else and chose to go all-in on AWS.

By migrating to AWS, we were able to secure the lowest cost-per-gigabyte pricing, gain access to a rich ecosystem, quickly develop in-house talent, and maintain SOC II compliance. The ecosystem was particularly important to us and set AWS apart from its competitors with its expansive list of partners. In fact, all the vendors we depend on for services such as previewing images, encoding videos, and serving up presentations were already a part of the network so we were easily able to leverage our existing investments and expertise. If we went with a different provider, it would have meant moving away from a platform that was already working so well for which was not the desired outcome for us. Also, the amount of talent we were able to build up in house on AWS technologies was astounding. Training our internal team to work with AWS was a simple process using available tools such as AWS conferences, training materials, and support.

Migrating Petabytes of Data

Going with AWS made things easier. In many instances, it gave us better functionality than what we were using in house. We moved multiple petabytes of data from on-premises storage to AWS with ease. AWS gave us great speeds with Direct Connect, so we were able to push all the data in a little more than three months with no user impact. We employed AWS Key Management Service to keep our data secure, which eased our minds through the move. We performed extensive QA testing before flipping users over to ensure low customer impact, using methods such as checksums between our data center and the data that got pushed to AWS.

Our new platform on AWS has greatly improved our user experience. We have seen huge improvement in reliability, performance, and uptime—all critical in our line of business. We are now able to achieve upload and download speeds up to 17 times faster than our previous data centers, and uptime has increased by orders of magnitude. Also, the time it takes us to deploy services to a new region has been cut by more than 90%. It used to take us at least six months to get a new region online, and now we can get a region up and running in less than three weeks. On AWS, we can even replicate data at the bucket level across regions for disaster recovery purposes.

To cut costs, we were successfully able to divide our storage infrastructure into frequently and infrequently accessed data. Tiered storage in Amazon S3 has been a huge advantage, allowing us to optimize our storage costs so we have more to invest in product development. We can now move data from inactive to active tiers instantly to meet customer needs and eliminated the need to overprovision our storage infrastructure. It is refreshing to see services automatically scale up or down during peak load times, and know that we are only paying for what we need.

Overall, we achieved our key strategic goal of focusing more on development and less on infrastructure. Our migration felt seamless, and the progress we were able to share is a true testament to how easy it has been for us to run our workloads on AWS. We attribute part of our successful migration to the dedicated support provided by the AWS team. They were pretty awesome. We had a couple of their technicians available 24/7 via chat, which proved to be essential during this large-scale migration.

-Shiva Paranandi, SVP of Technology at Hightail

Learning More

Learn more about cost-effective tiered data storage with Amazon S3, or dive deeper into our AWS Partner Ecosystem to see which solutions could best serve the needs of your company.

New: Server-Side Encryption for Amazon Kinesis Streams

In this age of smart homes, big data, IoT devices, mobile phones, social networks, chatbots, and game consoles, streaming data scenarios are everywhere. Amazon Kinesis Streams enables you to build custom applications that can capture, process, analyze, and store terabytes of data per hour from thousands of streaming data sources. Since Amazon Kinesis Streams allows applications to process data concurrently from the same Kinesis stream, you can build parallel processing systems. For example, you can emit processed data to Amazon S3, perform complex analytics with Amazon Redshift, and even build robust, serverless streaming solutions using AWS Lambda.

Kinesis Streams enables several streaming use cases for consumers, and now we are making the service more effective for securing your data in motion by adding server-side encryption (SSE) support for Kinesis Streams. With this new Kinesis Streams feature, you can now enhance the security of your data and/or meet any regulatory and compliance requirements for any of your organization’s data streaming needs.
In fact, Kinesis Streams is now one of the AWS Services in Scope for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance program. PCI DSS is a proprietary information security standard administered by the PCI Security Standards Council founded by key financial institutions. PCI DSS compliance applies to all entities that store, process, or transmit cardholder data and/or sensitive authentication data which includes service providers. You can request the PCI DSS Attestation of Compliance and Responsibility Summary using AWS Artifact. But the good news about compliance with Kinesis Streams doesn’t stop there. Kinesis Streams is now also FedRAMP compliant in AWS GovCloud. FedRAMP stands for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program and is a U.S. government-wide program that delivers a standard approach to the security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. You can learn more about FedRAMP compliance with AWS Services here.

Now are you ready to get into the keys? Get it, instead of get into the weeds. Okay a little corny, but it was the best I could do. Coming back to discussing SSE for Kinesis Streams, let me explain the flow of server-side encryption with Kinesis.  Each data record and partition key put into a Kinesis Stream using the PutRecord or PutRecords API is encrypted using an AWS Key Management Service (KMS) master key. With the AWS Key Management Service (KMS) master key, Kinesis Streams uses the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256 GCM algorithm) to add encryption to the incoming data.

In order to enable server-side encryption with Kinesis Streams for new or existing streams, you can use the Kinesis management console or leverage one of the available AWS SDKs.  Additionally, you can audit the history of your stream encryption, validate the encryption status of a certain stream in the Kinesis Streams console, or check that the PutRecord or GetRecord transactions are encrypted using the AWS CloudTrail service.

 

Walkthrough: Kinesis Streams Server-Side Encryption

Let’s do a quick walkthrough of server-side encryption with Kinesis Streams. First, I’ll go to the Amazon Kinesis console and select the Streams console option.

Once in the Kinesis Streams console, I can add server-side encryption to one of my existing Kinesis streams or opt to create a new Kinesis stream.  For this walkthrough, I’ll opt to quickly create a new Kinesis stream, therefore, I’ll select the Create Kinesis stream button.

I’ll name my stream, KinesisSSE-stream, and allocate one shard for my stream. Remember that the data capacity of your stream is calculated based upon the number of shards specified for the stream.  You can use the Estimate the number of shards you’ll need dropdown within the console or read more calculations to estimate the number of shards in a stream here.  To complete the creation of my stream, now I click the Create Kinesis stream button.

 

With my KinesisSSE-stream created, I will select it in the dashboard and choose the Actions dropdown and select the Details option.


On the Details page of the KinesisSSE-stream, there is now a Server-side encryption section.  In this section, I will select the Edit button.

 

 

Now I can enable server-side encryption for my stream with an AWS KMS master key, by selecting the Enabled radio button. Once selected I can choose which AWS KMS master key to use for the encryption of  data in KinesisSSE-stream. I can either select the KMS master key generated by the Kinesis service, (Default) aws/kinesis, or select one of my own KMS master keys that I have previously generated.  I’ll select the default master key and all that is left is for me to click the Save button.


That’s it!  As you can see from my screenshots below, after only about 20 seconds, server-side encryption was added to my Kinesis stream and now any incoming data into my stream will be encrypted.  One thing to note is server-side encryption only encrypts incoming data after encryption has been enabled. Preexisting data that is in a Kinesis stream prior to server-side encryption being enabled will remain unencrypted.

 

Summary

Kinesis Streams with Server-side encryption using AWS KMS keys makes it easy for you to automatically encrypt the streaming data coming into your  stream. You can start, stop, or update server-side encryption for any Kinesis stream using the AWS management console or the AWS SDK. To learn more about Kinesis Server-Side encryption, AWS Key Management Service, or about Kinesis Streams review the Amazon Kinesis getting started guide, the AWS Key Management Service developer guide, or the Amazon Kinesis product page.

 

Enjoy streaming.

Tara

AWS HIPAA Eligibility Update (July 2017) – Eight Additional Services

It is time for an update on our on-going effort to make AWS a great host for healthcare and life sciences applications. As you can see from our Health Customer Stories page, Philips, VergeHealth, and Cambia (to choose a few) trust AWS with Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifying Information (PII) as part of their efforts to comply with HIPAA and HITECH.

In May we announced that we added Amazon API Gateway, AWS Direct Connect, AWS Database Migration Service, and Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) to our list of HIPAA eligible services and discussed our how customers and partners are putting them to use.

Eight More Eligible Services
Today I am happy to share the news that we are adding another eight services to the list:

Amazon CloudFront can now be utilized to enhance the delivery and transfer of Protected Health Information data to applications on the Internet. By providing a completely secure and encryptable pathway, CloudFront can now be used as a part of applications that need to cache PHI. This includes applications for viewing lab results or imaging data, and those that transfer PHI from Healthcare Information Exchanges (HIEs).

AWS WAF can now be used to protect applications running on AWS which operate on PHI such as patient care portals, patient scheduling systems, and HIEs. Requests and responses containing encrypted PHI and PII can now pass through AWS WAF.

AWS Shield can now be used to protect web applications such as patient care portals and scheduling systems that operate on encrypted PHI from DDoS attacks.

Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration can now be used to accelerate the bulk transfer of large amounts of research, genetics, informatics, insurance, or payer/payment data containing PHI/PII information. Transfers can take place between a pair of AWS Regions or from an on-premises system and an AWS Region.

Amazon WorkSpaces can now be used by researchers, informaticists, hospital administrators and other users to analyze, visualize or process PHI/PII data using on-demand Windows virtual desktops.

AWS Directory Service can now be used to connect the authentication and authorization systems of organizations that use or process PHI/PII to their resources in the AWS Cloud. For example, healthcare providers operating hybrid cloud environments can now use AWS Directory Services to allow their users to easily transition between cloud and on-premises resources.

Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) can now be used to send notifications containing encrypted PHI/PII as part of patient care, payment processing, and mobile applications.

Amazon Cognito can now be used to authenticate users into mobile patient portal and payment processing applications that use PHI/PII identifiers for accounts.

Additional HIPAA Resources
Here are some additional resources that will help you to build applications that comply with HIPAA and HITECH:

Keep in Touch
In order to make use of any AWS service in any manner that involves PHI, you must first enter into an AWS Business Associate Addendum (BAA). You can contact us to start the process.

Jeff;

Lambda@Edge – Intelligent Processing of HTTP Requests at the Edge

Late last year I announced a preview of Lambda@Edge and talked about how you could use it to intelligently process HTTP requests at locations that are close (latency-wise) to your customers. Developers who applied and gained access to the preview have been making good use of it, and have provided us with plenty of very helpful feedback. During the preview we added the ability to generate HTTP responses and support for CloudWatch Logs, and also updated our roadmap based on the feedback.

Now Generally Available
Today I am happy to announce that Lambda@Edge is now generally available! You can use it to:

  • Inspect cookies and rewrite URLs to perform A/B testing.
  • Send specific objects to your users based on the User-Agent header.
  • Implement access control by looking for specific headers before passing requests to the origin.
  • Add, drop, or modify headers to direct users to different cached objects.
  • Generate new HTTP responses.
  • Cleanly support legacy URLs.
  • Modify or condense headers or URLs to improve cache utilization.
  • Make HTTP requests to other Internet resources and use the results to customize responses.

Lambda@Edge allows you to create web-based user experiences that are rich and personal. As is rapidly becoming the norm in today’s world, you don’t need to provision or manage any servers. You simply upload your code (Lambda functions written in Node.js) and pick one of the CloudFront behaviors that you have created for the distribution, along with the desired CloudFront event:

In this case, my function (the imaginatively named EdgeFunc1) would run in response to origin requests for image/* within the indicated distribution. As you can see, you can run code in response to four different CloudFront events:

Viewer Request – This event is triggered when an event arrives from a viewer (an HTTP client, generally a web browser or a mobile app), and has access to the incoming HTTP request. As you know, each CloudFront edge location maintains a large cache of objects so that it can efficiently respond to repeated requests. This particular event is triggered regardless of whether the requested object is already cached.

Origin Request – This event is triggered when the edge location is about to make a request back to the origin, due to the fact that the requested object is not cached at the edge location. It has access to the request that will be made to the origin (often an S3 bucket or code running on an EC2 instance).

Origin Response – This event is triggered after the origin returns a response to a request. It has access to the response from the origin.

Viewer Response – This is event is triggered before the edge location returns a response to the viewer. It has access to the response.

Functions are globally replicated and requests are automatically routed to the optimal location for execution. You can write your code once and with no overt action on your part, have it be available at low latency to users all over the world.

Your code has full access to requests and responses, including headers, cookies, the HTTP method (GET, HEAD, and so forth), and the URI. Subject to a few restrictions, it can modify existing headers and insert new ones.

Lambda@Edge in Action
Let’s create a simple function that runs in response to the Viewer Request event. I open up the Lambda Console and create a new function. I choose the Node.js 6.10 runtime and search for cloudfront blueprints:

I choose cloudfront-response-generation and configure a trigger to invoke the function:

The Lambda Console provides me with some information about the operating environment for my function:

I enter a name and a description for my function, as usual:

The blueprint includes a fully operational function. It generates a “200” HTTP response and a very simple body:

I used this as the starting point for my own code, which pulls some interesting values from the request and displays them in a table:

'use strict';
exports.handler = (event, context, callback) => {

    /* Set table row style */
    const rs = '"border-bottom:1px solid black;vertical-align:top;"';
    /* Get request */
    const request = event.Records[0].cf.request;
   
    /* Get values from request */ 
    const httpVersion = request.httpVersion;
    const clientIp    = request.clientIp;
    const method      = request.method;
    const uri         = request.uri;
    const headers     = request.headers;
    const host        = headers['host'][0].value;
    const agent       = headers['user-agent'][0].value;
    
    var sreq = JSON.stringify(event.Records[0].cf.request, null, ' ');
    sreq = sreq.replace(/\n/g, '<br/>');

    /* Generate body for response */
    const body = 
     '<html>\n'
     + '<head><title>Hello From Lambda@Edge</title></head>\n'
     + '<body>\n'
     + '<table style="border:1px solid black;background-color:#e0e0e0;border-collapse:collapse;" cellpadding=4 cellspacing=4>\n'
     + '<tr style=' + rs + '><td>Host</td><td>'        + host     + '</td></tr>\n'
     + '<tr style=' + rs + '><td>Agent</td><td>'       + agent    + '</td></tr>\n'
     + '<tr style=' + rs + '><td>Client IP</td><td>'   + clientIp + '</td></tr>\n'
     + '<tr style=' + rs + '><td>Method</td><td>'      + method   + '</td></tr>\n'
     + '<tr style=' + rs + '><td>URI</td><td>'         + uri      + '</td></tr>\n'
     + '<tr style=' + rs + '><td>Raw Request</td><td>' + sreq     + '</td></tr>\n'
     + '</table>\n'
     + '</body>\n'
     + '</html>'

    /* Generate HTTP response */
    const response = {
        status: '200',
        statusDescription: 'HTTP OK',
        httpVersion: httpVersion,
        body: body,
        headers: {
            'vary':          [{key: 'Vary',          value: '*'}],
            'last-modified': [{key: 'Last-Modified', value:'2017-01-13'}]
        },
    };

    callback(null, response);
};

I configure my handler, and request the creation of a new IAM Role with Basic Edge Lambda permissions:

On the next page I confirm my settings (as I would do for a regular Lambda function), and click on Create function:

This creates the function, attaches the trigger to the distribution, and also initiates global replication of the function. The status of my distribution changes to In Progress for the duration of the replication (typically 5 to 8 minutes):

The status changes back to Deployed as soon as the replication completes:

Then I access the root of my distribution (https://dogy9dy9kvj6w.cloudfront.net/), the function runs, and this is what I see:

Feel free to click on the image (it is linked to the root of my distribution) to run my code!

As usual, this is a very simple example and I am sure that you can do a lot better. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Site Management – You can take an entire dynamic website offline and replace critical pages with Lambda@Edge functions for maintenance or during a disaster recovery operation.

High Volume Content – You can create scoreboards, weather reports, or public safety pages and make them available at the edge, both quickly and cost-effectively.

Create something cool and share it in the comments or in a blog post, and I’ll take a look.

Things to Know
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you start to think about how to put Lambda@Edge to use in your application:

Timeouts – Functions that handle Origin Request and Origin Response events must complete within 3 seconds. Functions that handle Viewer Request and Viewer Response events must complete within 1 second.

Versioning – After you update your code in the Lambda Console, you must publish a new version and set up a fresh set of triggers for it, and then wait for the replication to complete. You must always refer to your code using a version number; $LATEST and aliases do not apply.

Headers – As you can see from my code, the HTTP request headers are accessible as an array. The headers fall in to four categories:

  • Accessible – Can be read, written, deleted, or modified.
  • Restricted – Must be passed on to the origin.
  • Read-only – Can be read, but not modified in any way.
  • Blacklisted – Not seen by code, and cannot be added.

Runtime Environment – The runtime environment provides each function with 128 MB of memory, but no builtin libraries or access to /tmp.

Web Service Access – Functions that handle Origin Request and Origin Response events must complete within 3 seconds can access the AWS APIs and fetch content via HTTP. These requests are always made synchronously with request to the original request or response.

Function Replication – As I mentioned earlier, your functions will be globally replicated. The replicas are visible in the “other” regions from the Lambda Console:

CloudFront – Everything that you already know about CloudFront and CloudFront behaviors is relevant to Lambda@Edge. You can use multiple behaviors (each with up to four Lambda@Edge functions) from each behavior, customize header & cookie forwarding, and so forth. You can also make the association between events and functions (via ARNs that include function versions) while you are editing a behavior:

Available Now
Lambda@Edge is available now and you can start using it today. Pricing is based on the number of times that your functions are invoked and the amount of time that they run (see the Lambda@Edge Pricing page for more info).

Jeff;

 

New – Next-Generation GPU-Powered EC2 Instances (G3)

I first wrote about the benefits of GPU-powered computing in 2013 when we launched the G2 instance type. Since that launch, AWS customers have used the G2 instances to deliver high performance graphics to mobile devices, TV sets, and desktops.

Today we are taking a step forward and launching the G3 instance type. Powered by NVIDIA Tesla M60 GPUs, these instances are available in three sizes (all VPC-only and EBS-only):

Model GPUs GPU Memory vCPUs Main Memory EBS Bandwidth
g3.4xlarge 1 8 GiB 16 122 GiB 3.5 Gbps
g3.8xlarge 2 16 GiB 32 244 GiB 7 Gbps
g3.16xlarge 4 32 GiB 64 488 GiB 14 Gbps

Each GPU supports 8 GiB of GPU memory, 2048 parallel processing cores, and a hardware encoder capable of supporting up to 10 H.265 (HEVC) 1080p30 streams and up to 18 H.264 1080p30 streams, making them a great fit for 3D rendering & visualization, virtual reality, video encoding, remote graphics workstation (NVIDIA GRID), and other server-side graphics workloads that need a massive amount of parallel processing power. The GPUs support OpenGL 4.5, DirectX 12.0, CUDA 8.0, and OpenCL 1.2. When you launch a G3 instance you have access to an NVIDIA GRID Virtual Workstation License and can make use of the NVIDIA GRID driver without purchasing a license on your own.

The instances use Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) processors running at 2.7 GHz. On the networking side, Enhanced Networking (via the Elastic Network Adapter) provides up to 20 Gbps of aggregate network bandwidth within a Placement Group, along with up to 14 Gbps of EBS bandwidth.

Our customers have told us that they are looking forward to visualizing large 3D seismic models, configuring cars in 3D, and providing students with the ability to run high-end 2D and 3D applications. For example, Calgary Scientific can take applications that are powered by the Unreal Engine and make them accessible on mobile devices and from within web pages, with collaborative viewing support. Visit their Demo Gallery to see PureWeb Reality in action:

You can launch these instances today in the US East (Ohio), US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), US West (Northern California), AWS GovCloud (US), and EU (Ireland) Regions as On-Demand, Reserved Instances, Spot Instances, and Dedicated Hosts, with more Regions coming soon.

Jeff;

DevOps Practices- Two New Webinars with Puppet and New Relic

This month we are hosting two joint AWS-Partner webinars about how executing DevOps practices on AWS can automate configuration management and leave time for innovation. Many organizations adopt DevOps practices to manage their cloud and on-premises environments for greater scalability, speed, and reliability and these webinars give you a chance to hear directly from the partners and customers on how they did it.

Puppet

Puppet helped ServiceChannel automate their cloud configuration management to take advantage of the scalability of AWS, achieve greater flexibility, and improve their customers’ ability to connect and collaborate more frequently.

Webinar Topic: How ServiceChannel Automated Their AWS Environment with Puppet
Customer Presenter: Brian Engler, CIO, ServiceChannel
AWS Presenter: Kevin Cochran, Partner Solutions Architect
Partner Presenter: Chris Barker, Principal Solutions Engineer, Puppet
Time: July 20th, 2017 10am – 11am PDT | 1pm – 2pm EDT

Register

New Relic

New Relic helped MLBAM utilize the scalability of AWS and the visibility provided by New Relic to create the “gold standard” for digital streaming video infrastructure.

Webinar Topic: MLB Advanced Media: Delivering a Digital Experience to 25 Million Fans with New Relic and AWS
Customer Presenter: Christian Villoslada, VP of Software Engineering, MLBAM & Brandon San Giovanni, Senior Operations Manager, Core Media Operations, MLBAM
AWS Presenter:
Kevin Cochran, Partner Solutions Architect
Partner Presenter: Lee Atchison, Senior Director of Strategic Architecture, New Relic
Time: July 25th, 2017 10am – 11am PDT | 1pm – 2pm EDT

Register

New – Target Tracking Policies for EC2 Auto Scaling

I recently told you about DynamoDB Auto Scaling and showed you how it uses multiple CloudWatch Alarms to automate capacity management for DynamoDB tables. Behind the scenes, this feature makes use of a more general Application Auto Scaling model that we plan to put to use across several different AWS services over time.

The new Auto Scaling model includes an important new feature that we call target tracking. When you create an Auto Scaling policy that makes use of target tracking, you choose a target value for a particular CloudWatch metric. Auto Scaling then turns the appropriate knob (so to speak) to drive the metric toward the target, while also adjusting the relevant CloudWatch Alarms. Specifying your desired target, in whatever metrics-driven units make sense for your application, is generally easier and more direct than setting up ranges and thresholds manually using the original step scaling policy type. However, you can use target tracking in conjunction with step scaling in order to implement an advanced scaling strategy. For example, you could use target tracking for scale-out operations and step scaling for scale-in.

Now for EC2
Today we are adding target tracking support to EC2 Auto Scaling. You can now create scaling policies that are driven by application load balancer request counts, CPU load, network traffic, or a custom metric (the Request Count per Target metric is new, and is also part of today’s launch):

These metrics share an important property: adding additional EC2 instances will (with no changes in overall load) drive the metric down, and vice versa.

To create an Auto Scaling Group that makes use of target tracking, you simply enter a name for the policy, choose a metric, and set the desired target value:

You have the option to disable the scale-in side of the policy. If you do this, you can scale-in manually or use a separate policy.

You can create target tracking policies using the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), or the AWS SDKs.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you look forward to using target tracking:

  • You can track more than one target in a single Auto Scaling Group as long as each one references a distinct metric. Scaling will always choose the policy that drives the highest capacity.
  • Scaling will not take place if the metric has insufficient data.
  • Auto Scaling compensates for rapid, transient fluctuations in the metrics, and strives to minimize corresponding fluctuations in capacity.
  • You can set up target tracking for a custom metric through the Auto Scaling API or the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI).
  • In most cases you should elect to scale on metrics that are published with 1-minute frequency (also known as detailed monitoring). Using 5-minute metrics as the basis for scaling will result in a slower response time.

Now Available
This new feature is available now and you can start using it today at no extra charge. To learn more, read about Target Tracking Scaling in the Auto Scaling User Guide.

Jeff;

Journey into Deep Learning with AWS

If you are anything like me, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Deep Learning are completely fascinating and exciting topics. As AI, ML, and Deep Learning become more widely used, for me it means that the science fiction written by Dr. Issac Asimov, the robotics and medical advancements in Star Wars, and the technologies that enabled Captain Kirk and his Star Trek crew “to boldly go where no man has gone before” can become achievable realities.

 

Most people interested in the aforementioned topics are familiar with the AI and ML solutions enabled by Deep Learning, such as Convolutional Neural Networks for Image and Video Classification, Speech Recognition, Natural Language interfaces, and Recommendation Engines. However, it is not always an easy task setting up the infrastructure, environment, and tools to enable data scientists, machine learning practitioners, research scientists, and deep learning hobbyists/advocates to dive into these technologies. Most developers desire to go quickly from getting started with deep learning to training models and developing solutions using deep learning technologies.

For these reasons, I would like to share some resources that will help to quickly build deep learning solutions whether you are an experienced data scientist or a curious developer wanting to get started.

Deep Learning Resources

The Apache MXNet is Amazon’s deep learning framework of choice. With the power of Apache MXNet framework and NVIDIA GPU computing, you can launch your scalable deep learning projects and solutions easily on the AWS Cloud. As you get started on your MxNet deep learning quest, there are a variety of self-service tutorials and datasets available to you:

  • Launch an AWS Deep Learning AMI: This guide walks you through the steps to launch the AWS Deep Learning AMI with Ubuntu
  • MXNet – Create a computer vision application: This hands-on tutorial uses a pre-built notebook to walk you through using neural networks to build a computer vision application to identify handwritten digits
  • AWS Machine Learning Datasets: AWS hosts datasets for Machine Learning as part of our Public Dataset program that you can access for free. These large datasets are available for anyone to analyze the data without requiring the data to be downloaded or stored.
  • Predict and Extract – Learn to use pre-trained models for predictions: This hands-on tutorial will walk you through how to use pre-trained model for predicting and feature extraction using the full Imagenet dataset.

 

AWS Deep Learning AMIs

AWS offers Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) for use on Amazon EC2 for quick deployment of an infrastructure needed to start your deep learning journey. The AWS Deep Learning AMIs are pre-configured with popular deep learning frameworks built using Amazon EC2 instances on Amazon Linux, and Ubuntu that can be launched for AI targeted solutions and models. The deep learning frameworks supported and pre-configured on the deep learning AMI are:

  • Apache MXNet
  • TensorFlow
  • Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK)
  • Caffe
  • Caffe2
  • Theano
  • Torch
  • Keras

Additionally, the AWS Deep Learning AMIs install preconfigured libraries for Jupyter notebooks with Python 2.7/3.4, AWS SDK for Python, and other data science related python packages and dependencies. The AMIs also come with NVIDIA CUDA and NVIDIA CUDA Deep Neural Network (cuDNN) libraries preinstalled with all the supported deep learning frameworks and the Intel Math Kernel Library is installed for Apache MXNet framework. You can launch any of the Deep Learning AMIs by visiting the AWS Marketplace using the Try the Deep Learning AMIs link.

Summary

It is a great time to dive into Deep Learning. You can accelerate your work in deep learning by using the AWS Deep Learning AMIs running on the AWS cloud to get your deep learning environment running quickly or get started learning more about Deep Learning on AWS with MXNet using the AWS self-service resources.  Of course, you can learn even more information about Deep Learning, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence on AWS by reviewing the AWS Deep Learning page, the Amazon AI product page, and the AWS AI Blog.

May the Deep Learning Force be with you all.

Tara

Launch – .NET Core Support In AWS CodeStar and AWS Codebuild

A few months ago, I introduced the AWS CodeStar service, which allows you to quickly develop, build, and deploy applications on AWS. AWS CodeStar helps development teams to increase the pace of releasing applications and solutions while reducing some of the challenges of building great software.

When the CodeStar service launched in April, it was released with several project templates for Amazon EC2, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS Lambda using five different programming languages; JavaScript, Java, Python, Ruby, and PHP. Each template provisions the underlying AWS Code Services and configures an end-end continuous delivery pipeline for the targeted application using AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodePipeline, and AWS CodeDeploy.

As I have participated in some of the AWS Summits around the world discussing AWS CodeStar, many of you have shown curiosity in learning about the availability of .NET templates in CodeStar and utilizing CodeStar to deploy .NET applications. Therefore, it is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce that you can now develop, build, and deploy cross-platform .NET Core applications with the AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild services.

AWS CodeBuild has added the ability to build and deploy .NET Core application code to both Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda. This new CodeBuild capability has enabled the addition of two new project templates in AWS CodeStar for .NET Core applications.  These new project templates enable you to deploy .NET Code applications to Amazon EC2 Linux Instances, and provides everything you need to get started quickly, including .NET Core sample code and a full software development toolchain.

Of course, I can’t wait to try out the new addition to the project templates within CodeStar and the update .NET application build options with CodeBuild. For my test scenario, I will use CodeStar to create, build, and deploy my .NET Code ASP.Net web application on EC2. Then, I will extend my ASP.Net application by creating a .NET Lambda function to be compiled and deployed with CodeBuild as a part of my application’s pipeline. This Lambda function can then be called and used within my ASP.Net application to extend the functionality of my web application.

So, let’s get started!

First, I’ll log into the CodeStar console and start a new CodeStar project. I am presented with the option to select a project template.


Right now, I would like to focus on building .NET Core projects, therefore, I’ll filter the project templates by selecting the C# in the Programming Languages section. Now, CodeStar only shows me the new .NET Core project templates that I can use to build web applications and services with ASP.NET Core.

I think I’ll use the ASP.NET Core web application project template for my first CodeStar .NET Core application. As you can see by the project template information display, my web application will be deployed on Amazon EC2, which signifies to me that my .NET Core code will be compiled and packaged using AWS CodeBuild and deployed to EC2 using the AWS CodeDeploy service.


My hunch about the services is confirmed on the next screen when CodeStar shows the AWS CodePipeline and the AWS services that will be configured for my new project. I’ll name this web application project, ASPNetCore4Tara, and leave the default Project ID that CodeStar generates from the project name. Yes, I know that this is one of the goofiest names I could ever come up with, but, hey, it will do for this test project so I’ll go ahead and click the Next button. I should mention that you have the option to edit your Amazon EC2 configuration for your project on this screen before CodeStar starts configuring and provisioning the services needed to run your application.

Since my ASP.Net Core web application will be deployed to an Amazon EC2 instance, I will need to choose an Amazon EC2 Key Pair for encryption of the login used to allow me to SSH into this instance. For my ASPNetCore4Tara project, I will use an existing Amazon EC2 key pair I have previously used for launching my other EC2 instances. However, if I was creating this project and I did not have an EC2 key pair or if I didn’t have access to the .pem file (private key file) for an existing EC2 key pair, I would have to first visit the EC2 console and create a new EC2 key pair to use for my project. This is important because if you remember, without having the EC2 key pair with the associated .pem file, I would not be able to log into my EC2 instance.

With my EC2 key pair selected and confirmation that I have the related private file checked, I am ready to click the Create Project button.


After CodeStar completes the creation of the project and the provisioning of the project related AWS services, I am ready to view the CodeStar sample application from the application endpoint displayed in the CodeStar dashboard. This sample application should be familiar to you if have been working with the CodeStar service or if you had an opportunity to read the blog post about the AWS CodeStar service launch. I’ll click the link underneath Application Endpoints to view the sample ASP.NET Core web application.

Now I’ll go ahead and clone the generated project and connect my Visual Studio IDE to the project repository. I am going to make some changes to the application and since AWS CodeBuild now supports .NET Core builds and deployments to both Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda, I will alter my build specification file appropriately for the changes to my web application that will include the use of the Lambda function.  Don’t worry if you are not familiar with how to clone the project and connect it to the Visual Studio IDE, CodeStar provides in-console step-by-step instructions to assist you.

First things first, I will open up the Visual Studio IDE and connect to AWS CodeCommit repository provisioned for my ASPNetCore4Tara project. It is important to note that the Visual Studio 2017 IDE is required for .NET Core projects in AWS CodeStar and the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio 2017 will need to be installed prior to connecting your project repository to the IDE.

In order to connect to my repo within Visual Studio, I will open up Team Explorer and select the Connect link under the AWS CodeCommit option under Hosted Service Providers. I will click Ok to keep my default AWS profile toolkit credentials.

I’ll then click Clone under the Manage Connections and AWS CodeCommit hosted provider section.

Once I select my aspnetcore4tara repository in the Clone AWS CodeCommit Repository dialog, I only have to enter my IAM role’s HTTPS Git credentials in the Git Credentials for AWS CodeCommit dialog and my process is complete. If you’re following along and receive a dialog for Git Credential Manager login, don’t worry just your enter the same IAM role’s Git credentials.


My project is now connected to the aspnetcore4tara CodeCommit repository and my web application is loaded to editing. As you will notice in the screenshot below, the sample project is structured as a standard ASP.NET Core MVC web application.

With the project created, I can make changes and updates. Since I want to update this project with a .NET Lambda function, I’ll quickly start a new project in Visual Studio to author a very simple C# Lambda function to be compiled with the CodeStar project. This AWS Lambda function will be included in the CodeStar ASP.NET Core web application project.

The Lambda function I’ve created makes a call to the REST API of NASA’s popular Astronomy Picture of the Day website. The API sends back the latest planetary image and related information in JSON format. You can see the Lambda function code below.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

using System.Net.Http;
using Amazon.Lambda.Core;

// Assembly attribute to enable the Lambda function's JSON input to be converted into a .NET class.
[assembly: LambdaSerializer(typeof(Amazon.Lambda.Serialization.Json.JsonSerializer))]

namespace NASAPicOfTheDay
{
    public class SpacePic
    {
        HttpClient httpClient = new HttpClient();
        string nasaRestApi = "https://api.nasa.gov/planetary/apod?api_key=DEMO_KEY";

        /// <summary>
        /// A simple function that retreives NASA Planetary Info and 
        /// Picture of the Day
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="context"></param>
        /// <returns>nasaResponse-JSON String</returns>
        public async Task<string> GetNASAPicInfo(ILambdaContext context)
        {
            string nasaResponse;
            
            //Call NASA Picture of the Day API
            nasaResponse = await httpClient.GetStringAsync(nasaRestApi);
            Console.WriteLine("NASA API Response");
            Console.WriteLine(nasaResponse);
            
            //Return NASA response - JSON format
            return nasaResponse; 
        }
    }
}

I’ll now publish this C# Lambda function and test by using the Publish to AWS Lambda option provided by the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio with NASAPicOfTheDay project. After publishing the function, I can test it and verify that it is working correctly within Visual Studio and/or the AWS Lambda console. You can learn more about building AWS Lambda functions with C# and .NET at: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/lambda/latest/dg/dotnet-programming-model.html

 

Now that I have my Lambda function completed and tested, all that is left is to update the CodeBuild buildspec.yml file within my aspnetcore4tara CodeStar project to include publishing and deploying of the Lambda function.

To accomplish this, I will create a new folder named functions and copy the folder that contains my Lambda function .NET project to my aspnetcore4tara web application project directory.

 

 

To build and publish my AWS Lambda function, I will use commands in the buildspec.yml file from the aws-lambda-dotnet tools library, which helps .NET Core developers develop AWS Lambda functions. I add a file, funcprof, to the NASAPicOfTheDay folder which contains customized profile information for use with aws-lambda-dotnet tools. All that is left is to update the buildspec.yml file used by CodeBuild for the ASPNetCore4Tara project build to include the packaging and the deployment of the NASAPictureOfDay AWS Lambda function. The updated buildspec.yml is as follows:

version: 0.2
phases:
  env:
  variables:
    basePath: 'hold'
  install:
    commands:
      - echo set basePath for project
      - basePath=$(pwd)
      - echo $basePath
      - echo Build restore and package Lambda function using AWS .NET Tools...
      - dotnet restore functions/*/NASAPicOfTheDay.csproj
      - cd functions/NASAPicOfTheDay
      - dotnet lambda package -c Release -f netcoreapp1.0 -o ../lambda_build/nasa-lambda-function.zip
  pre_build:
    commands:
      - echo Deploy Lambda function used in ASPNET application using AWS .NET Tools. Must be in path of Lambda function build 
      - cd $basePath
      - cd functions/NASAPicOfTheDay
      - dotnet lambda deploy-function NASAPicAPI -c Release -pac ../lambda_build/nasa-lambda-function.zip --profile-location funcprof -fd 'NASA API for Picture of the Day' -fn NASAPicAPI -fh NASAPicOfTheDay::NASAPicOfTheDay.SpacePic::GetNASAPicInfo -frun dotnetcore1.0 -frole arn:aws:iam::xxxxxxxxxxxx:role/lambda_exec_role -framework netcoreapp1.0 -fms 256 -ft 30  
      - echo Lambda function is now deployed - Now change directory back to Base path
      - cd $basePath
      - echo Restore started on `date`
      - dotnet restore AspNetCoreWebApplication/AspNetCoreWebApplication.csproj
  build:
    commands:
      - echo Build started on `date`
      - dotnet publish -c release -o ./build_output AspNetCoreWebApplication/AspNetCoreWebApplication.csproj
artifacts:
  files:
    - AspNetCoreWebApplication/build_output/**/*
    - scripts/**/*
    - appspec.yml
    

That’s it! All that is left is for me to add and commit all my file additions and updates to the AWS CodeCommit git repository provisioned for my ASPNetCore4Tara project. This kicks off the AWS CodePipeline for the project which will now use AWS CodeBuild new support for .NET Core to build and deploy both the ASP.NET Core web application and the .NET AWS Lambda function.

 

Summary

The support for .NET Core in AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild opens the door for .NET developers to take advantage of the benefits of Continuous Integration and Delivery when building .NET based solutions on AWS.  Read more about .NET Core support in AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild here or review product pages for AWS CodeStar and/or AWS CodeBuild for more information on using the services.

Enjoy building .NET projects more efficiently with Amazon Web Services using .NET Core with AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild.

Tara