AWS/ Cloud Services: Latest Developments

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Blog | May 10, 2017

AWS/ Cloud Services: Latest Developments

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amazon's cloud computing platform that continues to evolve and add new services. AWS launched in 2006 and hasn't stopped innovating the services it offers websites and client-side software applications. As a result, we're always looking for tips on AWS/ Cloud Services, and fortunately we have some good news to share. Let's start with a little background on AWS' structure.

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AWS Infrastructure. AWS operates with 16 geographic regions that are global physical locations. Each geographic region houses divisions called Availability Zones. The 16 geographic regions contain 42 Availability Zones in total. Availability Zones contain discrete data centers, each with redundant power, networking, and connectivity and each housed in distinct physical spaces.

Amazon's GovCloud. AWS GovCloud (US) is a segregated portion on AWS known as a region. Amazon designed GovCloud for sensitive data and sensitive public workloads to reside in the cloud. GovCloud helps Amazon customers comply with US government regulations like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. AWS GovCloud has two Availability Zones (discrete data centers).

FedRAMP. FedRAMP is the acronym for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. FedRAMP is a government program that supports a standardized approach to cloud security features of assessment, authorization, and monitoring cloud products and services.

Amazon's GovCloud and FedRAMP. The US government requires FedRAMP for all distributions to the cloud by federal agencies as well as services at the low and moderate risk levels. The low and moderate risk levels make up 80% of federal information but only 50% of the $80 billion the Federal government spends each year on IT. In June 2016, the Federal government set the FedRAMP high baseline requirements which means the other 50% of the dollars spent on IT can now move to the cloud as well. At the same time, FedRAMP announced that AWS GovCloud -- along with two other vendors -- had met the FedRAMP requirements for high baseline and FedRAMP granted them provisional authorization for agencies to review and leverage.

Qualifying as high baseline means that AWS GovCloud may store and process personal identity information, patient health information, sensitive financial data, law enforcement data, and controlled non-classified information.

More FedRamp. On March 30, 2017, AWS announced that FedRAMP had approved additional services for high baseline. In practical terms, that means that FedRAMP granted Provisional Authority to Operate (PATO) to the following services which are now available on GovCloud:

  • CloudFormation:  allows users to devise stacks of AWS resources with a library of templates and manage them;
  • Amazon DynamoDB: a fast NoSQL database service with low latency at any scale;
  • Amazon EMR: processes huge amounts of data across scalable Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2);
  • Amazon Glacier: provides secure, sturdy, economical cloud storage for data archiving with long-term backup;
  • Key Management Service: uses Hardware Security Modules for users who want to create/control encryption keys;
  • Redshift: handles peta-bytes of data in a fast and fully managed warehouse;
  • Amazon Simple Notification Service: lets users send individual push messages or “fan out” push-messages to many recipients from a fully managed service;
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service: ques message for communication among distributed software components and microservices from a fully managed service;
  • Amazon Simple Workflow Service: helps developers who want to build, run and scale background jobs that include parallel or sequential steps.

AWS Cloud Developments

On the Horizon. In spring of 2017, AWS announced the launch of "Connect", a cloud-based call center service for businesses. It's the technology that makes Connect so special. Amazon's Lex AI natural language processing is the magic behind the Connect call center. That's the same technology behind Amazon's Alexa, the home virtual assistant. To learn more about Amazon Web Services "Connect", read the article entitled "AWS is moving beyond Iaas and PaaS."

Finding the optimal cloud environment – public, private or hybrid – can be a challenge for any IT department. By thinking through multiple considerations and determining goals along the way, you’ll be able to masterfully build the IT infrastructure that’s right for your business.

This first step is to determine where your cloud resides and continue to map out 1) what should be in your cloud, 2) who will be running it, and 3) the logistics of getting there. If you are re-evaluating your cloud environment or just getting started, take the time to ask the right questions.

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