Category: Amazon EC2


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

 

 

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;

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;

Amazon EC2 Systems Manager Patch Manager now supports Linux

Hot on the heels of some other great Amazon EC2 Systems Manager (SSM) updates is another vital enhancement: the ability to use Patch Manager on Linux instances!

We launched Patch Manager with SSM at re:Invent in 2016 and Linux support was a commonly requested feature. Starting today we can support patch manager in:

  • Amazon Linux 2014.03 and later (2015.03 and later for 64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS, 14.04 LTS, and 12.04 LTS
  • RHEL 6.5 and later (7.x and later for 64-Bit)

When I think about patching a big group of heterogenous systems I get a little anxious. Years ago, I administered my school’s computer lab. This involved a modest group of machines running a small number of VMs with an immodest number of distinct Linux distros. When there was a critical security patch it was a lot of work to remember the constraints of each system. I remember having to switch back and forth between arcane invocations of various package managers – pinning and unpinning packages: sudo yum update -y, rpm -Uvh ..., apt-get, or even emerge (one of our professors loved Gentoo).

Even now, when I use configuration management systems like Chef or Puppet I still have to specify the package manager and remember a portion of the invocation – and I don’t always want to roll out a patch without some manual approval process. Based on these experiences I decided it was time for me to update my skillset and learn to use Patch Manager.

Patch Manager is a fully-managed service (provided at no additional cost) that helps you simplify your operating system patching process, including defining the patches you want to approve for deployment, the method of patch deployment, the timing for patch roll-outs, and determining patch compliance status across your entire fleet of instances. It’s extremely configurable with some sensible defaults and helps you easily deal with patching hetergenous clusters.

Since I’m not running that school computer lab anymore my fleet is a bit smaller these days:

a list of instances with amusing names

As you can see above I only have a few instances in this region but if you look at the launch times they range from 2014 to a few minutes ago. I’d be willing to bet I’ve missed a patch or two somewhere (luckily most of these have strict security groups). To get started I installed the SSM agent on all of my machines by following the documentation here. I also made sure I had the appropriate role and IAM profile attached to the instances to talk to SSM – I just used this managed policy: AmazonEC2RoleforSSM.

Now I need to define a Patch Baseline. We’ll make security updates critical and all other updates informational and subject to my approval.

 

Next, I can run the AWS-RunPatchBaseline SSM Run Command in “Scan” mode to generate my patch baseline data.

Then, we can go to the Patch Compliance page in the EC2 console and check out how I’m doing.

Yikes, looks like I need some security updates! Now, I can use Maintenance Windows, Run Command, or State Manager in SSM to actually manage this patching process. One thing to note, when patching is completed, your machine reboots – so managing that roll out with Maintenance Windows or State Manager is a best practice. If I had a larger set of instances I could group them by creating a tag named “Patch Group”.

For now, I’ll just use the same AWS-RunPatchBaseline Run Command command from above with the “Install” operation to update these machines.

As always, the CLIs and APIs have been updated to support these new options. The documentation is here. I hope you’re all able to spend less time patching and more time coding!

Randall

AWS Price Reduction – SQL Server Standard Edition on EC2

I’m happy to be able to announce the 62nd AWS price reduction, this one for Microsoft SQL Server Standard Edition on EC2.

Many enterprise workloads run on Microsoft Windows, primarily on-premises or in corporate data centers. We believe that AWS is the best place to build, deploy, scale, and manage Windows applications due to the breadth of services that we provide, backed up by our global reach and our partner ecosystem. Customers like Adobe, Pitney Bowes, and DeVry University have all moved core production Windows Server workloads to AWS. Their applications run the gamut from SharePoint sites to custom .NET applications and SAP, and frequently use SQL Server.

Microsoft SQL Server on AWS runs on an EC2 Windows instance and can support your application development and migration efforts. It gives you control over every setting, just as you would have if you were running your relational database on-premises, with support for 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Today we are reducing the On-Demand and Reserved Instance prices for Microsoft SQL Server Standard Edition on EC2 running on R4, M4, I3, and X1 instances by up to 52%, depending on instance type, size, and region. You can build and run enterprise-scale applications, massively scalable websites. and mobile applications even more cost-effectively than before.

Here are the largest price reductions for each region and instance type:

Region R4 M4 I3 X1
US East (Northern Virginia) -51% -29% -50% -52%
US East (Ohio) -51% -29% -50% -52%
US West (Oregon) -51% -29% -50% -52%
US West (Northern California) -51% -30% -50%
Canada (Central) -51% -51% -50% -44%
South America (São Paulo) -49% -30% -48%
EU (Ireland) -51% -29% -50% -51%
EU (Frankfurt) -51% -29% -50% -50%
EU (London) -51% -51% -50% -44%
Asia Pacific (Singapore) -51% -31% -50% -50%
Asia Pacific (Sydney) -51% -30% -50% -50%
Asia Pacific (Tokyo) -51% -29% -50% -50%
Asia Pacific (Seoul)  -51% -31% -50% -50%
Asia Pacific (Mumbai)  -51% -33% -50% -50%

The new, lower prices for On-Demand instances are in effect as of July 1, 2017. The new pricing for Reserved Instances is in effect today.

Jeff;

 

EC2 In-Memory Processing Update: Instances with 4 to 16 TB of Memory + Scale-Out SAP HANA to 34 TB

Several times each month, I speak to AWS customers at our Executive Briefing Center in Seattle. I describe our innovation process and talk about how the roadmap for each AWS offering is driven by customer requests and feedback.

A good example of this is our work to make AWS a great home for SAP’s portfolio of business solutions. Over the years our customers have told us that they run large-scale SAP applications in production on AWS and we’ve worked hard to provide them with EC2 instances that are designed to accommodate their workloads. Because SAP installations are unfailingly mission-critical, SAP certifies their products for use on certain EC2 instance types and sizes. We work directly with SAP in order to achieve certification and to make AWS a robust & reliable host for their products.

Here’s a quick recap of some of our most important announcements in this area:

June 2012 – We expanded the range of SAP-certified solutions that are available on AWS.

October 2012 – We announced that the SAP HANA in-memory database is now available for production use on AWS.

March 2014 – We announced that SAP HANA can now run in production form on cr1.8xlarge instances with up to 244 GB of memory, with the ability to create test clusters that are even larger.

June 2014 – We published a SAP HANA Deployment Guide and a set of AWS CloudFormation templates in conjunction with SAP certification on r3.8xlarge instances.

October 2015 – We announced the x1.32xlarge instances with 2 TB of memory, designed to run SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, Apache Spark, and Presto.

August 2016 – We announced that clusters of X1 instances can now be used to create production SAP HANA clusters with up to 7 nodes, or 14 TB of memory.

October 2016 – We announced the x1.16xlarge instance with 1 TB of memory.

January 2017 – SAP HANA was certified for use on r4.16xlarge instances.

Today, customers from a broad collection of industries run their SAP applications in production form on AWS (the SAP and Amazon Web Services page has a long list of customer success stories).

My colleague Bas Kamphuis recently wrote about Navigating the Digital Journey with SAP and the Cloud (registration required). He discusses the role of SAP in digital transformation and examines the key characteristics of the cloud infrastructure that support it, while pointing out many of the advantages that the cloud offers in comparison to other hosting options. Here’s how he illustrates these advantages in his article:

We continue to work to make AWS an even better place to run SAP applications in production form. Here are some of the things that we are working on:

  • Bigger SAP HANA Clusters – You can now build scale-out SAP HANA clusters with up to 17 nodes (34 TB of memory).
  • 4 TB Instances – The upcoming x1e.32xlarge instances will offer 4 TB of memory.
  • 8 – 16 TB Instances – Instances with up to 16 TB of memory are in the works.

Let’s dive in!

Building Bigger SAP HANA Clusters
I’m happy to announce that we have been working with SAP to certify the x1.32xlarge instances for use in scale-out clusters with up to 17 nodes (34 TB of memory). This is the largest scale-out deployment available from any cloud provider today, and allows our customers to deploy very large SAP workloads on AWS (visit the SAP HANA Hardware directory certification for the x1.32xlarge instance to learn more). To learn how to architect and deploy your own scale-out cluster, consult the SAP HANA on AWS Quick Start.

Extending the Memory-Intensive X1 Family
We will continue to invest in this and other instance families in order to address your needs and to give you a solid growth path.

Later this year we plan to make the x1e.32xlarge instances available in several AWS regions, in both On-Demand and Reserved Instance form. These instances will offer 4 TB of DDR4 memory (twice as much as the x1.32xlarge), 128 vCPUs (four 2.3 GHz Intel® Xeon® E7 8880 v3 processors), high memory bandwidth, and large L3 caches. The instances will be VPC-only, and will deliver up to 20 Gbps of network banwidth using the Elastic Network Adapter while minimizing latency and jitter. They’ll be EBS-optimized by default, with up to 14 Gbps of dedicated EBS throughput.

Here are some screen shots from the shell. First, dmesg shows the boot-time kernel message:

Second, lscpu shows the vCPU & socket count, along with many other interesting facts:

And top shows nearly 900 processes:

Here’s the view from within HANA Studio:

This new instance, along with the certification for larger clusters, broadens the set of scale-out and scale-up options that you have for running SAP on EC2, as you can see from this diagram:

The Long-Term Memory-Intensive Roadmap
Because we know that planning large-scale SAP installations can take a considerable amount of time, I would also like to share part of our roadmap with you.

Today, customers are able to run larger SAP HANA certified servers in third party colo data centers and connect them to their AWS infrastructure via AWS Direct Connect, but customers have told us that they really want a cloud native solution like they currently get with X1 instances.

In order to meet this need, we are working on instances with even more memory! Throughout 2017 and 2018, we plan to launch EC2 instances with between 8 TB and 16 TB of memory. These upcoming instances, along with the x1e.32xlarge, will allow you to create larger single-node SAP installations and multi-node SAP HANA clusters, and to run other memory-intensive applications and services. It will also provide you with some scale-up headroom that will become helpful when you start to reach the limits of the smaller instances.

I’ll share more information on our plans as soon as possible.

Say Hello at SAPPHIRE
The AWS team will be in booth 539 at SAPPHIRE with a rolling set of sessions from our team, our customers, and our partners in the in-booth theater. We’ll also be participating in many sessions throughout the event. Here’s a sampling (see SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2017 for a full list):

SAP Solutions on AWS for Big Businesses and Big Workloads – Wednesday, May 17th at Noon. Bas Kamphuis (General Manager, SAP, AWS) & Ed Alford (VP of Business Application Services, BP).

Break Through the Speed Barrier When You Move to SAP HANA on AWS – Wednesday, May 17th at 12:30 PM – Paul Young (VP, SAP) and Saul Dave (Senior Director, Enterprise Systems, Zappos).

AWS Fireside Chat with Zappos (Rapid SAP HANA Migration: Real Results) – Thursday, May 18th at 11:00 AM – Saul Dave (Senior Director, Enterprise Systems, Zappos) and Steve Jones (Senior Manager, SAP Solutions Architecture, AWS).

Jeff;

PS – If you have some SAP experience and would like to bring it to the cloud, take a look at the Principal Product Manager (AWS Quick Starts) and SAP Architect positions.

EC2 Price Reductions – Reserved Instances & M4 Instances

As AWS grows, we continue to find ways to make it an even better value. We work with our suppliers to drive down costs while also finding ways to build hardware and software that is increasingly more efficient and cost-effective.

In addition to reducing our prices on a regular and frequent basis, we also give customers options that help them to optimize their use of AWS. For example, Reserved Instances (first launched in 2009) allow Amazon EC2 users to obtain a significant discount when compared to On-Demand Pricing, along with a capacity reservation when used in a specific Availability Zone.

Our customers use multiple strategies to purchase and manage their Reserved Instances. Some prefer to make an upfront payment and earn a bigger discount; some prefer to pay nothing upfront and get a smaller (yet still substantial) discount. In the middle, others are happiest with a partial upfront payment and a discount that falls in between the two other options. In order to meet this wide range of preferences we are adding 3 Year No Upfront Standard Reserved Instances for most of the current generation instance types. We are also reducing prices for No Upfront Reserved Instances, Convertible Reserved Instances, and General Purpose M4 instances (both On-Demand and Reserved Instances). This is our 61st AWS Price Reduction.

Here are the details (all changes and reductions are effective immediately):

New No Upfront Payment Option for 3 Year Standard RIs – We previously offered a no upfront payment option with a 1 year term for Standard RIs. Today, we are adding a No Upfront payment option with a 3 year term for C4, M4, R4, I3, P2, X1, and T2 Standard Reserved Instances.

Lower Prices for No Upfront Reserved Instances – We are lowering the prices for No Upfront 1 Year Standard and 3 Year Convertible Reserved Instances for the C4, M4, R4, I3, P2, X1, and T2 instance types by up to 17%, depending on instance type, operating system, and region.

Here are the average reductions for No Upfront Reserved Instances for Linux in several representative regions:

US East (Northern Virginia)
US West (Oregon)
EU (Ireland)
Asia Pacific (Tokyo)
Asia Pacific (Singapore)
C4 -11% -11% -10% -10% -9%
M4 -16% -16% -16% -16% -17%
R4 -10% -10% -10% -10% -10%

Lower Prices for Convertible Reserved Instances – Convertible Reserved Instances allow you to change the instance family and other parameters associated with the RI at any time; this allows you to adjust your RI inventory as your application evolves and your needs change. We are lowering the prices for 3 Year Convertible Reserved Instances by up to 21% for most of the current generation instances (C4, M4, R4, I3, P2, X1, and T2).

Here are the average reductions for Convertible Reserved Instances for Linux in several representative regions:

US East (Northern Virginia)
US West (Oregon)
EU (Ireland)
Asia Pacific (Tokyo)
Asia Pacific (Singapore)
C4 -13% -13% -5% -5% -11%
M4 -19% -19% -17% -15% -21%
R4 -15% -15% -15% -15% -15%

Similar reductions will go into effect for nearly all of the other regions as well.

Lower Prices for M4 Instances – We are lowering the prices for M4 Linux instances by up to 7%.

Visit the EC2 Reserved Instance Pricing Page and the EC2 Pricing Page, or consult the AWS Price List API for all of the new prices.

Learn More
The following blog posts contain additional information about some of the improvements that we have made to the EC2 Reserved Instance model:

You can also read AWS Pricing and the Reserved Instances FAQ to learn more.

Jeff;

EC2 F1 Instances with FPGAs – Now Generally Available

We launched the Developer Preview of the FPGA-equipped F1 instances at AWS re:Invent. The response to the announcement was quick and overwhelming! We received over 2000 requests for entry, and were able to provide over 200 developers with access to the Hardware Development Kit (HDK) and the actual F1 instances.

In the post that I wrote for re:Invent, I told you that:

This highly parallelized model is ideal for building custom accelerators to process compute-intensive problems. Properly programmed, an FPGA has the potential to provide a 30x speedup to many types of genomics, seismic analysis, financial risk analysis, big data search, and encryption algorithms and applications.

During the preview, partners and developers have been working on all sorts of exciting tools, services, and applications. I’ll tell you more about them in just a moment.

Now Generally Available
Today we are making the F1 instances generally available in the US East (Northern Virginia) Region, with plans to bring them to other regions before too long.

We continued to add features and functions during the preview, while also making the development tools more efficient and easier to use. Here’s a summary:

Developer Community – We launched the AWS FPGA Development Forum to provide a place for FPGA developers to hang out and to communicate with us and with each other.

HDK and SDK – We published the EC2 FPGA Hardware (HDK) and Software Development Kit to GitHub, and made many improvements in response to feedback that we received during the preview.

The improvements include support for VHDL (in addition to Verilog), an improved virtual lab environment (Virtual JTAG, Virtual LED, and Virtual DipSwitch), AWS libraries for FPGA management and the FPGA runtime, and support for OpenCL including the AWS OpenCL runtime library.

FPGA Developer AMI – This Marketplace AMI contains a full set of FPGA development tools including an RTL compiler and simulator, along with Xilinx SDAccel for OpenCL development, all tuned for use on C4, M4, and R4 instances.

FPGAs At Work
Here’s a sampling of the impressive work that our partners have been doing with the F1’s:

Edico Genome is deploying their DRAGEN Bio-IT Platform on F1 instances, with the expectation that it will provide whole-genome sequencing that runs in real time.

Ryft offers the Ryft Cloud, an accelerator for data analytics and machine learning that extends Elastic Stack. It sources data from Amazon Kinesis, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and local instance storage and uses massive bitwise parallelism to drive performance. The product supports high-level JDBC, ODBC, and REST interfaces along with low-level C, C++, Java, and Python APIs (see the Ryft API page for more information).

Reconfigure.io launched a cloud-based service that allows you to program FPGAs using the Go programming language. You can build, test, and deploy your code from within their cloud-based environment while taking advantage of concurrency-oriented language features such as goroutines (lightweight threads), channels, and selects.

NGCodec ported their RealityCodec video encoder to the F1 and used it to produce broadcast-quality video at 80 frames per second. Their solution can encode up to 32 independent video streams on a single F1 instance (read their new post, You Deserve Better than Grainy Giraffes, to learn more).

FPGAs In School & Research
Research groups and graduate classes at top-tier universities contacted us via AWS Educate and were eager to gain access to F1 instances.

UCLA‘s CS133 class (Parallel and Distributed Computing) is setting up an F1-based FPGA lab that will be operational within 3 or 4 weeks. According to UCLA Chancellor’s Professor Jason Cong, they are expanding multiple research projects to cover F1 including FPGA performance debugging, machine learning acceleration, Spark to FPGA compilation, and systolic array compilation.

Last month we announced that we are collaborating with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to foster innovation in big data research (read AWS Collaborates With the National Science Foundation to Foster Innovation to learn more and to find out how to apply for a grant).

FPGA’s in the AWS Marketplace
As I shared in my original post, we have built a complete beginning to end solution that lets developers build FPGA-powered applications and services and list them in the AWS Marketplace. I can’t wait to see what kinds of cool things show up there!

Jeff;

New – Tag EC2 Instances & EBS Volumes on Creation

Way back in 2010, we launched Resource Tagging for EC2 instances and other EC2 resources. Since that launch, we have raised the allowable number of tags per resource from 10 to 50, and we have made tags more useful with the introduction of resource groups and a tag editor. Our customers use tags to track ownership, drive their cost accounting processes, implement compliance protocols, and to control access to resources via IAM policies.

The AWS tagging model provides separate functions for resource creation and resource tagging. While this is flexible and has worked well for many of our users, it does result in a small time window where the resources exist in an untagged state. Using two separate functions means that resource creation could succeed only for tagging to fail, again leaving resources in an untagged state.

Today we are making tagging more flexible and more useful, with four new features:

Tag on Creation – You can now specify tags for EC2 instances and EBS volumes as part of the API call that creates the resources.

Enforced Tag Usage – You can now write IAM policies that mandate the use of specific tags on EC2 instances or EBS volumes.

Resource-Level Permissions – By popular request, the CreateTags and DeleteTags functions now support IAM’s resource-level permissions.

Enforced Volume Encryption – You can now write IAM policies that mandate the use of encryption for newly created EBS volumes.

Tag on Creation
You now have the ability to specify tags for EC2 instances and EBS volumes as part of the API call that creates the resources (if the call creates both instances and volumes, you can specify distinct tags for the instance and for each volume). The resource creation and the tagging are performed atomically; both must succeed in order for the operation (RunInstances, CreateVolume, and other functions that create resources) to succeed. You no longer need to build tagging scripts that run after instances or volumes have been created.

Here’s how you specify tags when you launch an EC2 instance (the CostCenter and SaveSnapshotFlag tags are also set on any EBS volumes created when the instance is launched):

To learn more, read Using Tags.

Resource-Level Permissions
CreateTags and DeleteTags now support IAM’s resource-level permissions, as requested by many customers. This gives you additional control over the tag keys and values on existing resources.

Also, RunInstances and CreateVolume now support additional resource-level permissions. This allows you to exercise control over the users and groups that can tag resources on creation.

To learn more, see Example Policies for Working with the AWS CLI or an AWS SDK.

Enforced Tag Usage
You can now write IAM policies that enforce the use of specific tags. For example, you could write a policy that blocks the deletion of tags named Owner or Account. Or, you could write a “Deny” policy that disallows the creation of new tags for specific existing resources. You could also use an IAM policy to enforce the use of Department and CostCenter tags to help you achieve more accurate cost allocation reporting. In order to implement stronger compliance and security policies, you could also restrict access to DeleteTags if the resource is not tagged with the user’s name. The ability to enforce tag usage gives you precise control over access to resources, ownership, and cost allocation.

Here’s a statement that requires the use of costcenter and stack tags (with values of “115” and “prod,” respectively) for all newly created volumes:

"Statement": [
    {
      "Sid": "AllowCreateTaggedVolumes",
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": "ec2:CreateVolume",
      "Resource": "arn:aws:ec2:us-east-1:123456789012:volume/*",
      "Condition": {
        "StringEquals": {
          "aws:RequestTag/costcenter": "115",
          "aws:RequestTag/stack": "prod"
         },
         "ForAllValues:StringEquals": {
             "aws:TagKeys": ["costcenter","stack"]
         }
       }
     },
     {
       "Effect": "Allow",
       "Action": [
         "ec2:CreateTags"
       ],
       "Resource": "arn:aws:ec2:us-east-1:123456789012:volume/*",
       "Condition": {
         "StringEquals": {
             "ec2:CreateAction" : "CreateVolume"
        }
      }
    }
  ]

Enforced Volume Encryption
Using the additional IAM resource-level permissions now supported by RunInstances and CreateVolume, you can now write IAM policies that mandate the use of encryption for any EBS boot or data volumes created. You can use this to comply with regulatory requirements, enforce enterprise security policies, and to protect your data in compliance with applicable auditing requirements.

Here’s a sample statement that you can incorporate into an IAM policy for RunInstances and CreateVolume to enforce EBS volume encryption:

"Statement": [
        {
            "Effect": "Deny",
            "Action": [
                       "ec2:RunInstances",
                       "ec2:CreateVolume"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:ec2:*:*:volume/*"
            ],
            "Condition": {
                "Bool": {
                    "ec2:Encrypted": "false"
                }
            }
        },

To learn more and to see some sample policies, take a look at Example Policies for Working with the AWS CLI or an AWS SDK and IAM Policies for Amazon EC2.

Available Now
As you can see, the combination of tagging and the new resource-level permissions on the resource creation and tag manipulation functions gives you the ability to track and control access to your EC2 resources.

This new feature is available now in all regions except AWS GovCloud (US) and China (Beijing). You can start using it today from the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell, or the AWS APIs.

We are planning to add support for additional EC2 resource types over time; stay tuned for more information!

Jeff;

New – Instance Size Flexibility for EC2 Reserved Instances

Reserved Instances allow AWS customers to receive a significant discount on their EC2 usage (up to 75% when compared to On-Demand pricing), along with capacity reservation when the RIs are purchased for use in a specific Availability Zone (AZ).

Late last year we made Reserved Instances more flexible with the launch of Regional RIs that apply the discount to any AZ in the Region, along with Convertible RIs that allow you to change the instance family and other parameters associated with a Reserved Instance. Both types of RIs reduce your management overhead and provide you with additional options. When you use Regional RIs you can launch an instance without having to worry about launching in the AZ that is eligible for the RI discount. When you use Convertible RIs you can ensure that your RIs remain well-fitted to your usage, even as your choice of instance types and sizes varies over time.

Instance Size Flexibility
Effective March 1, your existing Regional RIs are even more flexible! All Regional Linux/UNIX RIs with shared tenancy now apply to all sizes of instances within an instance family and AWS region, even if you are using them across multiple accounts via Consolidated Billing. This will further reduce the time that you spend managing your RIs and will let you be even more creative and innovative with your use of compute resources.

All new and existing RIs are sized according to a normalization factor that is based on the instance size:

Instance Size
Normalization Factor
nano 0.25
micro 0.5
small 1
medium 2
large 4
xlarge 8
2xlarge 16
4xlarge 32
8xlarge 64
10xlarge 80
16xlarge 128
32xlarge 256

Let’s say you already own an RI for a c4.8xlarge. This RI now applies to any usage of a Linux/UNIX C4 instance with shared tenancy in the region. This could be:

  • One c4.8xlarge instance.
  • Two c4.4xlarge instances.
  • Four c4.2xlarge instances.
  • Sixteen c4.large instances.

It also includes other combinations such as one c4.4xlarge and eight c4.large instances.

If you own an RI that is smaller than the instance that you are running, you will be charged the pro-rated, On-Demand price for the excess. This means that you could buy an RI for a c4.4xlarge, use that instance most of the time, but scale up to a c4.8xlarge instance on occasion. We’ll do the math and you’ll pay only half of the On-Demand, per-hour price for the larger instance (as always, our goal is to give you access to compute power at the lowest possible cost). If you own an RI for a large instance and run a smaller instance, the RI price will apply to the smaller instance. However, the unused portion of the reservation will not accumulate.

Now Available
This new-found flexibility is available now and will be applied automatically to your Regional Linux/UNIX RIs with shared tenancy, without any effort on your part.

Jeff;