AWS GovCloud Goes East

AWS GovCloud Goes East

Among several exciting announcements we heard at AWS re:Invent 2018 was one that hit close to our Loudoun County home – the new AWS GovCloud (US-East) Region. Joining GovCloud (US-West), the first of its kind, the East region is the second for AWS GovCloud and the 19th AWS region in the world. This announcement is significant, particularly to the Washington DC area of the east coast, home to the ParkMyCloud headquarters and a significant number of U.S. government departments and agencies.

The US-East region adds three more Availability Zones to AWS GovCloud, doubling the three total that were previously included with the existing infrastructure. This is great news for U.S. customers in the public and commercial sector in highly regulated industries that must meet stringent compliance requirements, including those for disaster recovery and continuity of operations. The new region is compatible with EC2, S3, and RDS instance types, among more.

Why does AWS GovCloud matter?

The advantages of scalability, security, and agility in the cloud are alluring. But for customers with sensitive data and strict compliance and security requirements, like government agencies, using the cloud is a tricky process with a huge checklist to follow. To provide the same benefits of cloud services while meeting even the most stringent U.S. government requirements, Amazon designed an isolated cloud region only for those users – AWS GovCloud.

What’s Different in AWS GovCloud?

Think of AWS GovCloud as Amazon’s “gated community.” GovCloud vets all of its government customers and their partners to create secure cloud solutions, meeting compliance requirements for FedRAMP, the DOJ’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS), U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Export Administration Regulations (EAR), Department of Defense (DoD) Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide (SRG), FIPS 140-2, IRS-1075, and more. This specialized region allows for customers to host sensitive Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) that includes data in categories such as agriculture, patent, export, critical infrastructure, immigration, law enforcement, proprietary business info, statistical, tax, financial, and transportation, to name a few. GovCloud is ideal for government agencies at the federal, state, and local level, as well as organizations in regulated industries including financial, technology, energy, healthcare, law enforcement, defense, enterprise, and aerospace.

How do I qualify to be a GovCloud customer?

GovCloud is only available to vetted U.S. entities and root account holders with U.S. citizenship. AWS ensures address compliance in the cloud with network, data, and virtual machines that are isolated from all other AWS cloud regions. GovCloud features a separate identity and access management stack with unique credentials that work only within the AWS GovCloud region. In addition, the region is managed solely by AWS personnel of U.S. citizenship, on U.S. soil, and users get their own separate management console. The region also has endpoints specific to its region, including the option to use designated endpoints, meeting FIPS 100-2 compliance requirements.

Why go GovCloud?

Whether it’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), patient medical records, financial data, law enforcement data, or other forms of CUI, AWS GovCloud allows users to meet compliance requirements on their cloud journey. Government agencies have an opportunity with Amazon to support mission critical workloads for enterprise applications, high performance computing, big data, storage & disaster recovery. For a U.S. cloud with vetted access, that meets compliance, guards data, improves identity management, protects workloads, and enhances cloud visibility, AWS GovCloud is the way to go.

Resisting Amazon – Why Retailers Choose AWS Alternatives

Resisting Amazon – Why Retailers Choose AWS Alternatives

Although Amazon dominates the market share of cloud services, there’s been a trend among retailers to choose AWS alternatives. Big-name retailers, in verticals from clothing to electronics, are moving away from maintaining their own data centers in favor of the public cloud’s agility and better access to customers worldwide. To highlight a few:

Gap

Gap Inc. signed a five-year contract with Microsoft, choosing Azure as their primary cloud provider. Employees will also be using Microsoft 365 tools and the Enterprise Mobility and Security suite. They chose Azure to support their e-commerce operations, inventory, and workforce systems.

Gap chose Azure among AWS alternatives because they wanted “a partner that is not going to be a competitor […] in any other parts of their businesses,” as told by Shelley Bransten, corporate VP for global retail and consumer goods at Microsoft.

Walmart

Walmart teamed up with Microsoft on a five-year contract back in July. The partnership, promising to “further accelerate digital innovation in retail,” was a natural fit since Microsoft was already partnered with Walmart, handling significant workloads, apps, and teaming up their engineers.

Furthermore, in a move directly targeting Amazon, Walmart has asked their tech vendors to choose AWS alternatives. Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Toporek told CNBC: “Our vendors have the choice of using any cloud provider that meets their needs and their customers’ needs. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that there are cases in which we’d prefer our most sensitive data isn’t sitting on a competitor’s platform.”

Kroger

Supermarket and retail giant Kroger took a multi-cloud approach, first with Pivotal and Microsoft, and later adding on Google Cloud in 2017. In a CNBC interview, Chris Hjelm, Kroger’s chief information officer, explains why the retailer spends millions of dollars on Microsoft and Google in order to avoid AWS: “For obvious reasons competitively, it doesn’t make sense for us to do a ton to help grow that business for them.”

Target

Target, another retail competitor of Amazon, decided to stop financing its rival in mid-2017 and began dropping down their use of AWS. Microsoft, Google, and Oracle all pushed for their business as discussions were kept quiet, with a Target spokesperson only admitting that they use multiple clouds. Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed Target as a big cloud customer.  

And the list goes on…

In addition to the rest, Spotify, eBay, Best Buy, and LL.Bean all turned to Google to meet their cloud needs. One by one, big retailers with recognized names are choosing Microsoft and Google in favor of Amazon.

Why Retailers Choose AWS Alternatives

Cloud migration requires a massive haul of data, costs, and time from a business. Not only is there a lot to consider in terms of pricing, services, and overall offerings, but there are also certain needs unique to a specific industry. Big retailers turning away from AWS and onto other cloud providers highlights an issue for Amazon as a competitor in the retail industry, providing opportunities for other providers like Microsoft and Google to secure enterprise deals.

Meanwhile, not everyone has chosen AWS alternatives. Amazon still holds the market lead and continues to retain a footprint in the retail industry with customers including Nordstrom, Nike, Under Armour, and Lululemon. So while sources suggest that more retailers are looking for other options outside of AWS, time will tell if Amazon can hold its spot among retailers.

Alibaba ECS Instance Types Comparison

Alibaba ECS Instance Types Comparison

Alibaba Cloud offers a number of ECS instance types optimized to meet various needs at the enterprise level. Instance types are specialized for different purposes, and vary by virtual CPU (vCPU), disk capability, memory size, and other features, offering a number of options to match any workload.

ECS instance types at the enterprise level are available for computing on the x86-architecture or for heterogenous computing, with generous options among both. But with so much to choose from, how does one find the right ECS instance type to meet their individual needs? We drew up a comparison for a quick guide on the different options and what they offer. The chart below and written descriptions are a brief and easy reference, but remember that finding the right instance type for your workload will always depend on your needs.

General Purpose

All general purpose ECS instance types are I/O optimized, offer a CPU to memory ratio of 1:4 and come with support for SSD and Ultra Cloud Disks.

g5

The g5 instance type is backed by a 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8163 processor. With an ultra high packet forwarding rate, higher computing specs and higher network performance, this type ideal for scenarios involving transfer of a large volume of packets, running enterprise-level apps, small to medium database systems, data analysis, and computing clusters and data processing that rely on memory.

sn2e

Similar to the g5, the sn2e instance is ideal for the same scenarios and has higher computing specifications and enhanced network performance. Backed by a 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) or Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors.

hfg5 (high clock speed)

The hfg5 is centered upon stable performance. Having many features in common with the g5 and sn2e options, this type family also offers a 56 vCPU instance type for boosted performance. With a 3.1 GHz Intel Xeon Gold 6149 (Skylake) processor, this instance type is better suited for high-performance front end servers, science and engineering apps, and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games and video coding.

Compute Optimized

Compute optimized ECS instance types are all I/O optimized with support for SSD Cloud Disks and Ultra Cloud Disks, but vary in their vCPU to memory ratios and ideal scenario uses. Read on to learn the nuances.

Se1ne (enhanced network performance)

The se1ne comes with higher computing specs for enhanced network performance, a vCPU ratio of 1:8, ultra high packet transfer rate for receiving or transmitting, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) or Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors. This type is ideal for large pack transfers, high-performance and large memory databases, data analysis, mining, distributed memory cache, and enterprise-level apps with large memory requirements (Hadoop, Spark).

hfc5 (high clock speed)

Optimized for stable performances, the hfc5 type boasts 3.1 GHz Intel Xeon Gold 6149 (Skylake) processors, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:2, higher computing specs and performance, and ideal for high-performance Web front-end servers, science and engineering applications, and MMO gaming and video coding.

gn6v, gn5, gn5i, gn4, ga1 (with GPU)

The g-series ECS instance type families come are all optimized for GPU compute workloads, with varying GPU processors and compute to memory options. All are ideal for deep learning, scientific computing, high-performance computing, rendering, multi-media coding, decoding, and other GPU compute workloads.

  • gnv6: V100 GPU processors, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:4, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors.
  • gn5: NVIDIA P100 GPU processors, no fixed ratio of vCPU to memory, high-performance local NVMe SSD disks, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors.
  • gn51: NVIDIA P4 GPU processors, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:4, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors.
  • gn4: NVIDIA M40 GPU processors, no fixed CPU to memory, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors
  • ga1: AMD S7150 GPU processors, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:2.5, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors, and high-performance local NVMe SSD disks. Also ideal for other server-end business scenarios that require powerful concurrent floating-point compute capabilities

f1, f2, f3 (with FPGA)

The f-series ECS instance type families are ideal for deep learning, genomics research, financial analysis, picture, transcoding, and computational workloads, including real-time video processing and security.

  • f1: Intel ARRIA 10 GX 1150 FPGA, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:7.5, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors
  • f2: Xilinx Kintex UltraScale XCKU115, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:7.5, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors
  • F3: Xilinx 16nm Virtex UltraScale + VU9P, vCPU to memory ratio = 1:4, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors

Memory Optimized

Memory optimized ECS instance types are optimized to meet for needs for high-performance and high memory databases and come I/O optimized with support for SSD and Ultra Cloud disks.

re4

The re4 is ideal for memory-intensive applications and Big Data processing engines (Apache spark or Presto), with 2.2 GHz Intel Xeon E7 8880 v4 (Broadwell) processors, up to 2.4 GHz Turbo Boot, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:12, up to 1920.0 GiB memory, and ecs.re4.20xlarge and ecs.re4.40xlarge have been certified by SAP HANA.

se1ne, se1

The s-series instance types are good for transfers of large volumes of packets, data analysis and mining, distributed memory cache, and Hadoop, Spark, and other enterprise-level applications with large memory requirements.

  • se1ne: vCPU to memory ratio of 1:8, high packet transfer rate, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) or Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors.
  • se1: vCPU to memory ratio of 1:8, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors

Big Data

d1ne, d1

The d-series ECS instance types are I/O optimized with support for SSD and Ultra Cloud disks come with high computing specs and network performance. They’re best use for Hadoop MapReduce, HDFS, Hive, HBase, etc, Spark in-memory computing, big data computing and storage analysis (i.e. internet and finance industries), Elasticsearch, logs, and so on.

  • d1ne: High-volume local SATA HDD disks with high I/O throughput and up to 35 Gbit/s of bandwidth for a single instance, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:4, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors
  • D1: High-volume local SATA HDD disks with high I/O throughput and up to 17 Gbit/s of bandwidth for a single instance, vCPU to memory ratio of 1:4, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors

Intensive Compute

ic5

The ic5 instance types stands on its own with a vCPU to memory ratio of 1:1. I/O optimized with support for SSD Cloud Disks and Ultra Cloud Disks, a high packet transfer rate, and 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors. Ideal for web front-end servers, data analysis, batch compute, and MMO game front-ends.

With Local SSD

i2, i2g, i1

The i-series type family all come with high-performance local SSD disks with high IOPs, high I/O throughput, and low latency. They’re ideal for OLTP and high-performance relational databases, NoSQL databases (Cassandra and MongoDB), and search applications, such as Elasticsearch

  • i2: vCPU to memory ratio of 1:8, designed for high-performance databases, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors
  • i2g: vCPU to memory ratio of 1:4, designed for high-performance databases, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8163 (Skylake) processors
  • i1: vCPU to memory ratio of 1:4, designed for big data scenarios, 2.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2682 v4 (Broadwell) processors

What Alibaba ECS instance types are right for your workloads?

With a wide range of ECS instance types belonging to multiple families, how do you determine the ECS type is a good match for your workload? With plenty to choose from, it’s highly probable that one of them will meet your needs effectively, but first you need to know what those needs are. Once you have a clear and ongoing vision of your workload, usage trends, and business needs, use the guide to start looking for the ECS type that’s right for you.

Further reading:

Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, and Cloud Spend – Statistics on Cloud Computing

Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, and Cloud Spend – Statistics on Cloud Computing

The latest statistics on cloud computing all point to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud as the reality for most companies. This is confirmed by what we see in our customers’ environments, as well as by what industry experts and analysts report. At last week’s CloudHealth Connect18 in Boston we heard from Dave Bartoletti, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, who broke down multi-cloud and hybrid cloud by the numbers:

  • 62% of public cloud adopters are using 2+ unique cloud environments/platforms
  • 74% of enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid/multi-cloud today
  • But only:
    • 42% regularly optimize cloud spending
    • 41% maintain an approved service catalog
    • 37% enforce capacity limits or expirations

More often than not, public cloud users and enterprises have adopted a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy to meet their cloud computing needs. Taking advantage of features and capabilities from different cloud providers can be a great way to get the most out of the benefits that cloud services can offer, but if not used optimally, these strategies can also result in wasted time, money, and computing capacity.

The data is telling – but we won’t stop there. For more insight on the rise of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies, and to demonstrate the impact on cloud spend (and waste) – we have compiled a few more statistics on cloud computing.

Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Adoption Statistics

The statistics on cloud computing show that companies not only use multiple clouds today, but they have plans to expand multi- and hybrid cloud use in the future:

  • According to a 451 Research survey, 69% of organizations plan to run a multi-cloud environment by 2019. As they said, “the future of IT is multi-cloud and hybrid” – but with this rise, cloud spending optimization also becomes more of a challenge.
  • In a survey of nearly 1,000 tech executives and cloud practitioners, over 80% of companies were utilizing a multi-cloud strategy, commonly including a hybrid cloud model consisting of both public and private clouds.
  • And by multi-cloud, we don’t mean just two. On average, the number of private and public clouds used by companies to run applications and test out new services is 4.8.
  • On hybrid cloud strategy:
    • 83% of workloads are virtualized today (IDC)
    • 60% of large enterprises run VMs in the public cloud (IDC)
    • 65% of organizations have a hybrid cloud strategy today (IDC)

Cloud Spend Statistics

As enterprises’ cloud footprints expand, so too does their spending:

  • It’s not just public – the rise in cloud spend is happening on all fronts. According to IDC, 62.3 percent of private cloud spending went to on-premise private clouds in 2017.
  • The increase in cloud use, along with the rise of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies, also correlates with an increased investment in cloud services. In a survey of nearly 1,000 tech executives and cloud practitioners, 20% of enterprises plan to increase their cloud spend by more than double, and another 17% plan to up their cloud spending by 50-100%, according to the report.  
  • 75% of participants said that one of their primary concerns was the challenge of managing cloud spend. Cloud cost optimization was a priority for the majority of participants, and average cloud waste was reported at 35%.
  • In another study from 451 Research, 38.8% of CIOs said that “cost savings” was their biggest motivator in migrating to the cloud, but post migration, cloud costs was the biggest challenge they faced. Here’s what else they had to say:

“Cloud is an inexpensive and easily accessible technology. People consume more, thereby spending more, and forget to control or limit their consumption. With ease of access, inevitably some resources get orphaned with no ownership; these continue to incur costs. Some resources are overprovisioned to provide extra capacity as a ‘just in case’ solution. Unexpected line items, such as bandwidth, are consumed. The IT department has limited visibility or control of these items.”

What Does ParkMyCloud User Data Tell Us?

We’ve noticed some interesting patterns in the cloud platforms adopted by ParkMyCloud users as well, which highlight the multi-cloud trends discussed above as well as correlations between the types of companies that are attracted to each of the major public clouds. We observed:

  • A high rate of growth in the number of Google Cloud Platform (GCP) customers over the past several months. While Amazon Web Services still holds the lion’s share among organizations using ParkMyCloud, the rate of growth is much higher for GCP. We believe that as more and larger organizations become enmeshed in GCP’s infrastructure, they are finding a greater need for cost optimization.
  • Among our customers using a multi-cloud strategy, the majority use AWS in combination with Azure, while the rest are using AWS with Google Cloud Platform.
  • The adoption model for AWS and GCP users are similar – both allow small to medium business to start small and adopt quickly, while still supporting the largest companies in the world. On the other hand, Azure customers tend to adopt through Enterprise License Agreements. We encounter few startups using Azure.

What These Statistics on Cloud Computing Mean for Cloud Management  

Upon examining these statistics on cloud computing, it’s clear that multi-cloud and hybrid cloud approaches are not just the future, they’re the current state of affairs. While this offers plenty of advantages to organizations looking to benefit from different cloud capabilities, using more than one CSP complicates governance, cost optimization, and cloud management further as native CSP tools are not multi-cloud. As cloud costs remain a primary concern, it’s crucial for organizations to stay ahead with insight into cloud usage trends to manage spend (and prevent waste). To keep costs in check for a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment, optimization tools that can track usage and spend across different cloud providers are a CIO’s best friend.

3 Things Candy Crush Can Do To Make Cloud Migration Sweeter

3 Things Candy Crush Can Do To Make Cloud Migration Sweeter

Candy Crush is migrating to Google Cloud, marking its first major cloud migration as decided by the online game-maker, King. Starting in early 2019, Candy Crush will be hauling a substantial amount of big data from on-premise to Google Cloud Platform.

A cloud migration is no easy feat, and for a company that provides online gaming to over 270 million people globally, choosing the right cloud provider to navigate the challenges of such a move is crucial. Aside from “even richer online gaming experiences,” Sunil Rayan, managing director of gaming at Google Cloud, makes a good case for why Google was the best choice for Candy Crush:

“It will continue to innovate and demonstrate its leadership position as a global innovator by utilising our big data, AI and machine learning capabilities to give its engineers the next generation of tools to build great experiences.”

But with the potential for better gaming, higher speed, and scalability, a cloud migration also comes with a few big risks. Here are 3 things Candy Crush can do to make their cloud migration sweeter:

1. Don’t rush data transfer

Transferring data from on-premise to the cloud is a huge undertaking, especially for a company that claims to have the largest Hadoop cluster in Europe. Transferring massive amounts of data is not recommended because it slows download speed, so it would be best for Candy Crush to make the move in parts, over time, and with the anticipation of potentially massive transfer costs associated with moving data out of or into a cloud.

2. Prepare for potential downtime

Downtime is a huge risk for any application, let alone a game played by millions across the world. Candy Crush can’t afford for downtime on a game. Users say is downright addictive, so it’s important to account for inconsistencies in data, examine network connections, and prepare for the real possibility of applications going down during the cloud migration process.

3. Adapt to technologies for the new cloud

Since choosing a cloud provider means committing to a heavy amount of time reconfiguring an application for the move – it’s important to evaluate that the technology is the best fit. Technology is a big reason for Candy Crush moving their monolothic, on-premise environment to Google Cloud. Asa Bresin, FVP of technology at King, listed innovations in machine learning, query processing, and speed as drivers for cloud migration, and with technology known for speed and scalability, Google has met their requirements.  

Bonus: Keep costs in check. Whether it’s heavy transfer costs, losing money during downtime periods, or the time and manpower needed to reconfigure an application to the cloud – cloud migrations come with costs. The time and costs of a cloud migration are easily misunderstood or drastically understated. For ease and efficiency of keeping costs in check throughout and after the migration process, it’s important to have an understanding of cloud service offerings, pricing models, and the complexity of a cloud adoption budget. Evaluate all of these costs and look into options that will help you save post-migration, like optimization tools.

With a gradual shift, planning for risks of downtime, and the patience and flexibility to reconfigure for Google Cloud, Candy Crush can win at cloud migration.