Category: Education

Amazon Web Services and the National Science Foundation Spur Innovation in Big Data Research

The AWS Research Initiative (ARI) brings Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) together to spur innovation in Big Data research. Under the program on Critical Techniques, Technologies and Methodologies for Advancing Foundations and Applications of Big Data Sciences and Engineering (BIGDATA) a total of $26.5 million will be funded by NSF and the Office of Financial Research (OFR) in addition to $3 million in AWS promotional credits for a period of 3-4 years.

The program seeks novel approaches in computer science, statistics, computational science, and mathematics, along with innovative applications in domain science, including social and behavioral sciences, education, biology, engineering, and the physical sciences that lead to the further development of interdisciplinary data science.

Under the ARI program, AWS and NSF will respectively support and collaborate on groundbreaking research from all qualified scientists, engineers, and educators. Now techniques and technologies like cloud-based Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data analytics, and High Performance Computing (HPC) will help researchers maximize the value of their NSF grants to accelerate the pace of innovation.

“BIGDATA research provides a paradigm shift by putting smart in everything we do today including smart home, smart city, smart cars, smart health, and more. We are excited to collaborate with the NSF to foster innovations in the field,” said Sanjay Padhi, Ph.D, AWS Representative to the NSF.

There are two categories of proposals:

  • Foundations (F): those developing or studying fundamental theories, techniques, methodologies, and technologies of broad applicability to big data problems, motivated by specific data challenges and requirements.
  • Innovative Applications (IA): those engaged in translational activities that employ new big data techniques, methodologies, and technologies to address and solve problems in specific application domains. Projects in this category must be collaborative, involving researchers from domain disciplines and one or more methodological disciplines (computer science, statistics, mathematics, simulation and modeling, and more).

The AWS Research Initiative with NSF provides up to $3M in AWS promotional credits over a period of up to four years, or for the duration of the initiative. AWS will offer many services through ARI grants, including compute and data services. NSF will be responsible for selecting grant awardees.

“In today’s era of data-driven science and engineering, we are pleased to work with the AWS Research Initiative via the NSF BIGDATA program to provide cloud resources for our Nation’s researchers to foster and accelerate discovery and innovation,”  said Dr. Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate (CISE).

To get started on your application, here are some cloud resources and tools for grant applicants:

To see how to apply, who qualifies, and more, visit:

Learn more about the program here.

Bringing Girls Who Code to re:Invent 2016

AWS was proud to help sponsor the 2016 Girls Who Code (GWC) Summer Immersion Programs for 1,500 high-school aged girls. To enable their work, AWS built a custom curriculum for the Girls Who Code teams to learn and build their projects in the cloud. At the conclusion of the seven-week program, students formed small teams and built web-based projects using the skills they gained during the summer.

A team of AWS experts reviewed the projects of the student teams who incorporated AWS into their projects. Two project teams were then selected to come to AWS re:Invent 2016 in Las Vegas. This provided students a chance to learn more about cloud computing, experience a large-scale tech conference, and share with other cloud enthusiasts their AWS-powered projects and passion for programming. The two selected projects were:

  • The Mercer of Durham, Seattle Girls Who Code Summer Camp (2 students): The Mercer of Durham is a “choose-your-own-adventure” game played on the Amazon Echo through the cloud-based Alexa voice service. The purpose of the game is to play an adventure game through the power of your voice, similar to role playing. It was inspired by the text-based “choose-your-own-adventure-game” that the group created in class on Python.
  • Kokua, Boston Girls Who Code Summer Camp (5 students): Kokua is a website that is used as a “cold caller” to select random students and as a random group generator to allow students the opportunity to work with different peers. In addition, the team created a bar graph displaying the statistics of how many times a student’s name was called. Kokua differs from traditional cold-calling devices because it organizes multiple functions into one tool that is easy for teachers to use. Coded using JavaScript, HTML, PHP, and CSS, Kokua saves teachers from worrying about who to call on next or keeping track of who is not participating.

“Attending AWS re:Invent gave us the opportunity to interact with world-class programmers and engineers and a chance to share our final project from Girls Who Code. Thank you AWS and GWC for sponsoring us!” shared the team from Kokua.

AWS is committed to helping build the pipeline of women and underrepresented communities in tech. As a part of this effort, we held a Diversify Tech panel at re:Invent. In the panel, experts in the field of diversity, equality, equity, inclusion, and innovation discussed actionable steps we can take, both individually and as companies, to improve diversity in tech. The Girls Who Code teams also presented their projects at the end of this panel, and received an opportunity to get to know Girls Who Code VP of Strategy and Innovation, Leah Gilliam, who moderated the discussion. You can watch the full panel here:

Spotlight on London: Londoners Use the AWS Cloud for their Daily Life and Work

Amazon Web Services has a strong commitment to the needs of our customers across sectors in the UK. That’s the driving reason why we recently launched a new Region in the London area. Learn more about the new Region here.

Cities like London are quickly embracing innovation and developing new ways for engaging and serving citizens. From transportation to planning to utilities, cities are using cloud computing to transform the way they interact with citizens and think about their future. Both government and commercial organizations are using the cloud to provide information and deliver services to their customers and citizens. Learn more about the organizations you know that are already working to bring you smarter, more flexible services in and around London. Read more public sector case studies here.

AWS works with organisations around London to serve citizens more effectively and reach broader constituents. Learn more below:

Register now to get started on your digital journey to future government

When it comes to digital government projects, where do you get started? How do you train your staff and align your technology strategy with the ever-increasing pace of citizen requirements?

To answer these questions (and learn even more), join us the week of January 23rd  and week of March 6th, 2017 at the Urban Innovation Center, where AWS and Future Cities Catapult will offer discussions, roundtables, and workshops as part of the London Innovation Series. Customize your own itinerary and learn how to build citizen services in a new and fresh way. Learn more and register now.

Continue to learn about how AWS is helping Londoners every day here and check out the “Webminster” station in the photos below.

Also in London, AWS launched AWS re:Start, a training and job placement program for the UK to educate young adults as well as those leaving the Armed Forces, Reservists, Veterans, and their spouses on the latest software development and cloud computing technologies. Learn more here.


Calling All Data Scientists to Help Improve Cancer Screening Technology

Two out of every five people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes and the number of new cancer cases will rise to 22 million globally within the next two decades, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). And as research organizations work to find a cure, the same technology behind improved voice assistants and credit card fraud detection—artificial intelligence—could also help improve cancer screening and save lives.

Through Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, participants of the third annual Data Science Bowl, have the chance to improve lung cancer screening technology that can reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent.

The Data Science Bowl competition was created by Booz Allen Hamilton in partnership with Kaggle. Amazon Web Services is proud to sponsor the 2017 Data Science Bowl, which aims to inspire everyday citizens, data scientists, and medical communities around the world to work together and improve the success rate of low-dose CT scanning, using training and test datasets directly provided or facilitated through the National Cancer Institute.

This year, the 90-day Data Science Bowl competition will award winners with over $1 million in prizes, including AWS cloud computing credits. The funds for the prize purse will be provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. To learn more and participate in the Data Science Bowl, visit

Last year’s Data Science Bowl was related to heart health. Learn more about it here.

AWS Public Datasets

Today, qualified researchers can access two of the world’s largest collections of cancer genome data as AWS Public Datasets:

And, in order to help data scientists work with unique datasets, we built the AWS Research Cloud Program. The program was built by researchers, for researchers, in order to enable easy use of AWS resources by the scientific community around the globe. It’s free to join the program, and you can download the guide here to get started.

Key Resources for Researchers and Scientists

Additionally, below are some key resource links for researchers to help in the Data Science Bowl:

How Does the Cloud Help Cure Cancer?

The cloud can fuel cancer breakthroughs at a rapid speed and we are looking forward to seeing what the participants of the Data Science Bowl are able to achieve using the cloud. For example, The Algorithms, Machines, and People (AMP) Lab at the University of California Berkeley builds scalable machine learning and data analysis technologies that turn raw data into actionable research insights, shared globally.

Among the many experiments run by the AMP Lab, one area of concentration is in the field of genomics and cancer research. Due to the vast amount of data that genome sequencing produces, the AMP Lab leverages AWS cloud-based compute power to quickly scale the compute resources needed to analyze algorithms that are used in genomics work. As a result, researchers are able to use many machines in the cloud simultaneously, to process genome data faster and more cost effectively than ever before.

Learn how more customers, like American Heart Association, National Institute of Health, and Harvard Medical School, use the AWS Cloud to revolutionize our understanding of disease and develop novel approaches to diagnosis and treatment.

Good luck to all participants!

2016: A Year of Innovations (powered by the cloud)

Two thousand sixteen saw global moments impacted by the cloud: presidential elections, treating virus outbreaks, and even handling traffic after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series! As the headlines took note of how these events impacted the lives of people across the globe, cloud computing was working behind the scenes to keep these technology services always on, accessible, and easy to use. Whether for downloading images of the surface of Mars or plotting out the best route to work, the AWS Cloud helped global governments, educational institutions, and nonprofits innovate to deliver better services to citizens and students.

Take a look back at 2016 and how the AWS Cloud powered innovations in policing, health, smart cities, education, and more.

Cloud-Powered Policing

Law enforcement agencies depend on AWS for solutions across the AWS Partner Network (APN) to connect their communities and improve public safety. These solutions provide first responders with real-time data, making often difficult situations as transparent as possible before police arrive on the scene.

For example, sensor technology alerts police officers when gunshots are detected providing complete visibility that improves officer safety in the field. Read more about the future of policing in these blogs.

Cloud-Powered Health

Public Health officials use the AWS Cloud to build healthier communities. The cloud aids initiatives, like monitoring air and water quality or epidemic management, with the data needed to protect citizens. Smaller, more citizen-engaged projects, like assisted living, elderly care, and wearable health devices, help medical personnel deliver the best care to their patients.

Learn more about cloud-enabled innovation in personalized medical treatment in this e-book.

Cloud-Powered Smart Cities

While a “smart city” can mean many things, what makes a city smart remains the same: data. In a mobile-driven world, AWS can help cities of all sizes gather, store, and distribute data in the AWS Cloud. Cities can then make data-driven decisions, modernizing programs that deliver measurable results for citizens.

For example, through open data and cloud technology, Transport for London (TfL) was able to deliver new services to the public, impacting the 24 million daily commuters using the Tube, buses, roads, trams, and freight, which has led to improvements in reliability, customer experience, and significant cost savings.

Cloud-Powered Education

The AWS Cloud impacts all corners of a campus and beyond. The cloud sparks education innovation by helping to reduce costs, improve service delivery, and increase student access to education. Explore the Campus on a Cloud map to learn how and where universities use the cloud every day.

AWS has over 7,000 education customers globally using the cloud to solve challenges, including: disaster preparedness, scaling web applications during peak loads like enrollment or graduation, supporting faster time to research results, creation of a cloud-ready next generation workforce with AWS Educate, and improved student outcomes and persistence through learning analytics and big data analysis.

Beginning their cloud journey by moving their web environment to AWS, University of Maryland, College Park focused on becoming a campus with no data centers. Watch this video to learn how the university uses Amazon WorkSpaces to give students and faculty access to software anytime, anywhere, from any device.

As we ring in 2017, we look forward to the innovations our customers will deliver in the New Year.

Check out more of our customer case studies here.

Top Five Blog Posts from the AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofit Blog for 2016

Thank you all for reading our blog this past year! From veterans and researchers to educators and engineers, our customers are changing the game in the public sector with the cloud.

To end the year and ring in 2017, we have compiled the top five most-read blog posts from 2016.

  1. Cloud Transformation Maturity Model: Guidelines to Develop Effective Strategies for Your Cloud Adoption Journey – The Cloud Transformation Maturity Model offers a guideline to help organizations develop an effective strategy for their cloud adoption journey. This model defines characteristics that determine the stage of maturity, transformation activities within each stage that must be completed to move to the next stage, and outcomes that are achieved across four stages of organizational maturity, including project, foundation, migration, and optimization. Where are you on your journey? Read the post to learn more.
  2. AWS Educate Now Available to U.S. Veterans – U.S.-based veterans, transitioning military personnel, and their spouses are eligible to create an AWS Educate account to get access to the resources needed to accelerate cloud-related learning endeavors to help power civilian career success.  From the frontline to the classroom, AWS is committed to prepping the next generation of IT and cloud professionals. Get started today.
  3. A Practical Guide to Cloud Migration – To achieve full benefits of moving applications to the AWS platform, it is critical to design a cloud migration model that delivers optimal cost efficiency. This includes establishing a compelling business case, acquiring new skills within the IT organization, implementing new business processes, and defining the application migration methodology to transform your business model from a traditional on-premises computing platform to a cloud infrastructure. A Practical Guide to Cloud Migration: Migrating Services to AWS provides a high-level overview of the cloud migration process based on the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) and is a great first read for customers who are thinking about cloud adoption.
  4. AWS Offers Data Egress Discount to Researchers – The pace of research is no longer limited by the availability of computing resources. Researchers are beginning to rely on cloud computing to drive breakthrough science at breakneck speeds and AWS wants to fuel the pace of new discoveries by making it possible for all scientists to have their very own supercomputers in the cloud. AWS committed to making it easier for scientists to use its cloud storage, computing, and database services by waiving data egress fees for qualified researchers and academic customers; these are fees associated with “data transfer out from AWS to the Internet.”
  5. IRS 990 Filing Data Now Available as an AWS Public Dataset – We announced that over one million electronic IRS 990 filings are available via Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Filings from 2011 to the present are currently available and the IRS will add new 990 filing data each month. Collaborating with the IRS allows us to improve access to this valuable data.

See you all in the New Year!

What’s New for AWS Storage & Ingestion Services from re:Invent 2016

We hope you have had a chance to catch up on the security and compute services announced at re:Invent. Next up, we have the re:Invent updates on storage and ingestion that will benefit our public sector customers.

AWS Snowball Edge – Petabyte-scale Data Transfer with On-Board Compute

AWS Snowball Edge is our newest 100TB data transfer device, offering highly secure, on-board storage and in-flight compute capabilities with AWS Greengrass. Organizations can use AWS Snowball Edge to move massive amounts of data into and out of the AWS Cloud, use the device as a temporary storage tier for large local datasets, or seamlessly support edge workloads in remote or offline locations.

Snowball Edge connects to your organization’s existing applications and infrastructure using standard storage interfaces, streamlining the data transfer process, minimizing setup and integration, and helping ensure that the applications continue to run even when they are not able to access the cloud.

How does Snowball Edge accelerate data transfer to the cloud?

It has four times the network speed of the original AWS Snowball, built-in WiFi and cellular wireless communication, a Network File System (NFS) interface, and an Amazon S3-compatible endpoint. The device automatically encrypts all data stored. Encryption keys are managed with the AWS Key Management Service (KMS) and never stored on the device, ensuring that your most sensitive data is secure on site and in transit to AWS.

The AWS Snowball Edge device also comes with AWS Greengrass embedded, so you can execute AWS Lambda functions and process data locally, making it possible to collect and analyze sensor data streams, transcode multimedia content, compress images in real time, or run a local Amazon S3-compatible file server.

How it works

Jobs are created right from the AWS Management Console. Once a job is created, AWS automatically ships a Snowball Edge device to you. When you receive the device, simply attach it to your local network and then connect your applications. Once the device is ready to be returned, the E Ink shipping label will automatically update to the correct AWS facility, and the job status can be tracked via Amazon SNS generated text or email messages, or directly in the console.

AWS Snowball & HIPAA Compliance

AWS has expanded its HIPAA compliance program to include AWS Snowball, allowing you to transfer large amounts of data, including Protected Health Information (PHI), into and out of AWS securely and cost-effectively. Read the HIPAA Compliance whitepaper.

AWS Snowmobile – Move Exabytes of Data to the Cloud in Weeks, Not Years

Even with high-end connections, moving petabyte and exabyte-scale data to the cloud is challenging. Now migrating financial and regulatory records, scientific archives, and satellite imagery to the cloud won’t take years or decades. The AWS Snowmobile secure data truck stores up to 100 PB of data so customers can migrate data to the AWS Cloud in weeks.

Tamper-resistant AWS Snowmobile shipping containers attach to your network and appears as a local, NFS-mounted volume. Each AWS Snowmobile consumes about 350 kW of AC power and includes a network cable connected to a high-speed switch, capable of supporting 1 Tb/second of data transfer spread across multiple 40 Gb/second connections.

Snowmobile also incorporates multiple layers of logical and physical protection, including chain-of-custody tracking, 24/7 video surveillance and GPS tracking with cellular or satellite connectivity back to AWS. AWS Snowball offers 2560-bit encryption and encrypts with AWS Key Management Service (KMS) keys. We can even arrange for a security vehicle escort when the AWS Snowmobile is in transit and dedicated security guards while your AWS Snowmobile is on-premises.

New Amazon S3 Features

  • Amazon S3 CloudWatch Metrics – Understand and improve the performance of your applications that use Amazon S3 by monitoring and alarming on 13 new Amazon S3 CloudWatch metrics. For web and mobile applications that depend on cloud storage, these metrics allow you to quickly identify and act on operational issues. You can receive one-minute Amazon S3 CloudWatch Metrics, set CloudWatch alarms, and access CloudWatch dashboards to view real-time operations and performance.
  • Amazon S3 Object Tagging – With S3 Object Tagging, you can manage and control access for Amazon S3 objects. Amazon S3 Object Tags are key-value pairs applied to Amazon S3 objects which can be created, updated, or deleted at any time during the lifetime of the object. You’ll also have the ability to create Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies, set up Amazon S3 Lifecycle policies, and customize storage metrics.
  • Amazon S3 Analytics, Storage Class Analysis – With storage class analysis, you can analyze and visualize storage access patterns and transition the right data to the right storage, optimizing costs. You can configure a storage class analysis policy to monitor an entire bucket, a prefix, or object tag. This new Amazon S3 Analytics feature automatically identifies the optimal lifecycle policy to help you transition less frequently accessed storage to Standard Infrequent Access SIA and save.
  • Amazon S3 Inventory – You can simplify and speed up business workflows and big data jobs using Amazon S3 Inventory, which provides a scheduled alternative to Amazon S3’s synchronous List API. Amazon S3 Inventory provides a CSV (Comma Separated Values) flat-file output of your objects and their corresponding metadata on a daily or weekly basis for an Amazon S3 bucket or a shared prefix.

Learn More.

New Amazon EFS (Elastic File System) Features

Amazon EFS (Elastic File System) offers storage for use with Amazon EC2 instances and allows you to access file data from on-premises datacenters. You can now migrate file data to and from on-premises into Amazon EFS to support cloud bursting workloads and backups to the cloud when connected to your Amazon VPC with AWS Direct Connect.

New AWS Storage Gateway Provides File Interface to Objects in Amazon S3 Buckets

AWS Storage Gateway now provides a virtual on-premises file server, which enables you to store and retrieve Amazon S3 objects through standard file storage protocols. With file gateway, existing applications or devices can use secure and durable cloud storage without modification. File gateway simplifies moving data into Amazon S3 for in-cloud workloads, provides cost-effective storage for backup and archive workloads, or expands your on-premises storage into the cloud.

File gateway is available as a virtual machine image which you download from the AWS Management Console. To start using the new AWS Storage Gateway, click here.

Contact us to get started today with these new services.

What’s New for AWS Compute Services from re:Invent 2016

We recently recapped the security and compliance updates announced at this year’s re:Invent that are important to our public sector customers. AWS also expanded upon its core foundational services – compute and storage – by announcing new game-changing services and special features.

Check out the below compute updates and our follow-up post covering the storage services that every government, education, and nonprofit organization should know that will help them focus more of their time and resources on their core missions.

Amazon Lightsail – The Easiest Way to Get Started

Amazon Lightsail brings you the power of the AWS Cloud with the simplicity of a virtual private server (VPS). AWS components, such as servers and storage IP addresses, are automatically assembled in just a few clicks. You can choose a configuration from a menu and launch a virtual machine preconfigured with SSD-based storage, DNS management, and a static IP address. Launch your favorite operating system, developer stack, or application with flat-rate pricing starting at $5 per month. As your organization’s needs grow or change, simply connect to additional AWS database, messaging, and content distribution services without disruption.

Amazon EC2 Compute Services

In addition to the expansion of high I/O, compute-optimized, memory-optimized, and burstable EC2 compute instances, AWS now offers hardware acceleration with FPGA-based computing and elastic, add-on Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) that enhance EC2 instance capabilities.

  • Elastic GPUs – Add high performance graphics acceleration to existing EC2 instance types at a fraction of the cost of stand-alone graphics instances, with your choice of 1 GiB to 8 GiB of GPU memory and compute power to match. The Amazon-optimized OpenGL library automatically detects and makes use of Elastic GPUs, which are ideal if you need a small amount of GPU for graphics acceleration or have applications that could benefit from some GPU but also require high amounts of compute, memory, or storage.
  • F1 Instances – F1 instances give you access to programmable hardware known as a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which can speed up many compute-intensive workloads by up to 30 times (e.g. HPC, genomics, encryption, and risk analysis workloads). F1 instances are easy to program and come with everything you need to develop, simulate, debug, and compile your hardware acceleration code.
  • R4 Instances – The next generation of R4 instances are designed for memory-intensive Business Intelligence and database applications and offers up to 488 GiB of memory. Instances are available in six sizes, with up to 64 vCPUs.
  • New T2 Instance Sizes – T2 instances offer great price performance for general purpose workloads, such as application servers, web servers, development environments, and small databases, or where you need to use the full CPU on a consistent basis. We’ve added the t2.xlarge (16 GiB of memory) and the t2.2xlarge (32 GiB of memory).
  • Coming Soon: C5 Instances – C5 instances will be based on Intel’s brand new Xeon “Skylake” processor, running faster than the processors in any other EC2 instance. As the successor to Broadwell, Skylake supports AVX-512 for machine learning inference, multimedia, scientific, and video processing, which require superior support for floating point calculations. Instances will be available in six sizes, with up to 72 vCPUs and 144 GiB of memory. Coming in early 2017.
  • Coming Soon: I3 Instances – I3 instances are equipped with fast, low-latency, and Non Volatile Memory Express (NVMe)-based Solid State Drives, to meet the needs of the most demanding I/O intensive relational and NoSQL databases, transactional, and data analytics workloads. They’ll deliver up to 3.3 million random IOPS at a 4 KB block size and up to 16 GB/second of disk throughput. Available in 2017.

IPv6 Support for Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 instances in Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) now offer native support for the IPv6 protocol. Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is a new version of the Internet Protocol that uses a larger address space than its predecessor, IPv4. IPv6 support allows your organization to meet mandated requirements and removes the need for IPv6 to IPv4 translation software or systems.

With IPv6 enabled in a VPC, applications can be secured in the same easy manner available today through security groups, network ACLs, and route tables. VPCs can now operate in a dual-stack mode with the ability to assign both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses on EC2 instances.

AWS Batch for ‘Big Compute’ Workloads

Researchers, scientists, and developers with parallel compute-intensive workloads can now avoid the challenge of buying and building clusters or waiting in job queues on-premises. AWS Batch offers fully managed batch compute capabilities with usage-based pricing, enabling Big Compute and HPC jobs to dynamically scale up and down in response to changing needs—without the heavy lift and costs of provisioning, managing, and maintaining clusters.

EC2 Systems Manager

Amazon EC2 Systems Manager is a management service that makes it simple and seamless for customers to manage their cloud and hybrid cloud environments by extending the elasticity and agility of the cloud into on-premises data centers. EC2 Systems Manager collects software inventory, applies OS patches, creates system images, configures Windows and Linux operating systems, and performs remote administration across your Amazon EC2 and on-premises systems. And it lets you record and govern your EC2 instance’s software configuration with AWS Config.


Blox is a collection of open source software that enables customers to build custom schedulers and integrate third-party schedulers on top of Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service), which helps you build, run, and scale Docker-based applications, with the scheduler assigning tasks to Amazon EC2 instances. Blox consumes the Amazon ECS event stream, uses it to track the state of the cluster, and makes the state accessible via a set of REST APIs.

Check back in on our storage announcement recap post coming soon.

Application Process Open for PeaceTech Scalerator

AWS Partner Network (APN) member C5 Capital and the U.S. Institute for Peace’s (USIP) PeaceTech Lab, along with support from AWS, are collaborating to launch the PeaceTech Scalerator. The PeaceTech Scalerator will be a new part of the PeaceTech Lab and will be one of the first PeaceTech cloud innovation centers in the world where companies and individuals will work to produce innovative technology that manages, mitigates, predicts, or prevents conflicts.

This collaboration builds on an existing relationship between C5 and AWS, in which AWS supports C5 Scalerators with expertise and support to help train program participants on cloud computing services. With the AWS Cloud, PeaceTech Scalerator participants can take advantage of the power of cloud technology to help launch and grow a business rapidly, securely, and cost effectively.

How it Works?

The PeaceTech Scalerator will select the best startups and nonprofits working in PeaceTech, designing, developing, and deploying innovative technologies that promote peace and reduce violent conflict globally.

The Scalerator will run an eight-week program of intensive mentorship focusing on all aspects of scaling up, especially the use of the cloud. The Scalerator will take up an entire level of the U.S. Institute of Peace in the heart of Washington D.C. The first program will begin on March 1st, 2017 and there will be two additional programs in 2017.

The eight-week program will conclude with a pitch day, when organizations will have the opportunity to pitch their companies or organizations to potential investors. The program is supported by an extensive network of international mentors. On completion of the program, companies or organizations will enter a peer network that will provide ongoing support and guidance.

Apply today!

Applications for the first program will close on Sunday, January 15th. Follow the link here to apply.

Upon completion of the application process, the PeaceTech Scalerator team will assess the applications and downselect to no more than 15 companies or organizations for the cohort.

It is expected that each selected organization will receive up to $50k in AWS credits as part of the Scalerator.

Learn more here.

What’s New for AWS Security & Compliance Services from re:Invent 2016

At this year’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, AWS made several security and compliance-related service availability announcements important to our public sector customers, including: AWS Shield, AWS Organizations, EC2 Systems Manager, enhancements to AWS Cloud Trail, and AWS Artifact.

AWS Shield

AWS Shield is a new managed service that protects your web applications against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. It works in conjunction with Elastic Load BalancingAmazon CloudFront, and Amazon Route 53 to protect you from DDoS attacks of many types, shapes, and sizes. There are two tiers of service:

  • AWS Shield Standard is available to all AWS customers at no extra cost. It protects you from 96% of the most common attacks today, including SYN/ACK floods, Reflection attacks, and HTTP slow reads. This protection is applied automatically and transparently to your Elastic Load Balancers, CloudFront distributions, and Route 53 resources.
  • AWS Shield Advanced provides additional DDoS mitigation capability for volumetric attacks, intelligent attack detection, and mitigation for attacks at the application and network layers. You get 24×7 access to our DDoS Response Team (DRT) for custom mitigation during attacks, advanced real-time metrics and reports, and DDoS cost protection to guard against bill spikes in the aftermath of a DDoS attack.

AWS Organizations

Many nonprofits, governments, and educational institutions have more than one AWS account. AWS Organizations is a new service that makes it easy for you to manage multiple accounts by creating groupings. You can use these groupings to organize your AWS accounts by application, environment, team, or any other grouping that makes sense for your department. AWS Organizations then lets you apply organization control policies to the groupings, making it easier to centralize management of security and automation settings for all of your accounts.

EC2 Systems Manager

EC2 Systems Manager helps you easily understand and control the current state of your EC2 instance and OS configurations. With EC2 Systems Manager, you can collect software configuration and inventory information about your fleet of instances and the software installed on them. You can track detailed system configuration, OS patch levels, application configurations, and other details about your deployment. Integration with AWS Config lets you easily view changes as they occur over time.

EC2 Systems Manager helps keep your systems compliant with your defined configuration policies. You can define patch baselines, maintain up-to-date anti-virus definitions, and enforce firewall policies.  With EC2 Systems Manager, you can maintain software compliance and improve your security posture.

AWS CloudTrail

Visibility into computing events is a key security best practice. AWS CloudTrail now supports Amazon S3 Data Events to enhance greater visibility into object-level activity on their data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)AWS CloudTrail for Amazon S3 Data Events can let you know when a particular IAM user accesses sensitive information stored in a specific part of an S3 bucket. You can now record all API actions on S3 Objects and receive detailed information, such as the AWS account of the caller, IAM user role of the caller, time of the API call, IP address of the API, and other details.

AWS Artifact

AWS now offers AWS Artifact to assist you with demonstrating security and compliance of your AWS infrastructure and services to your auditors or regulators. AWS Artifact is a no-cost, self-service audit report and certification retrieval portal in the AWS Management Console that gives AWS customers on-demand access to AWS compliance reports.

To document the current and historical compliance of AWS infrastructure and services, many AWS customers provide compliance reports—including those for ISOSOC, and PCI—to their auditors or regulators. You can now sign into the AWS Management Console on your computer or mobile phone, and pull relevant reports in minutes. You can also give auditors and regulators direct access to one or more AWS compliance reports using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions. You can access the AWS Artifact portal directly from the AWS Management Console.

We will continue to highlight the new announcements released at re:Invent in the coming weeks for our government, education, and nonprofit communities. Keep checking back in for our round ups!