Tag Archives: announcements

A world-class computing education

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/world-class-computing-education/

I am delighted to share some big news today. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is part of a consortium that has secured over £78 million in government funding to make sure every child in every school in England has access to a world-leading computing education.

National Centre for Computing Education

Working with our partners, STEM Learning and the British Computer Society, we will establish a new National Centre for Computing Education, and deliver a comprehensive programme of support for computing teachers in primary and secondary schools. This will include resources, training, research, certification, and more.

A teacher works at a computer, smiling delightedly. Another adult, standing in the background, observes. national centre for computing education

All of the online resources and courses will be completely free for anyone to use. Face-to-face training will be available at no cost to teachers in priority schools, and at very low cost to teachers in other schools. We will also provide bursaries to ensure that schools can release teachers to take part in professional development.

Several children, some smiling broadly and some concentrating intently, work with Raspberry PI computers and electronic components in a classroom

An unprecedented level of investment

This level of investment in computing education is unprecedented anywhere in the world. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we teach computing and computer science.

The announcement follows the Royal Society’s report from last November, which drew attention to the scale of the challenge. The report was quickly followed by a commitment from the Chancellor in last year’s budget statement that the government would invest £100 million in computing education across the UK. Earlier this year, the Department for Education launched a procurement process focused on England, and today’s announcement is the outcome of that process.

national centre for computing education

The consortium has been tasked with delivering three pieces of work:

  • A National Centre for Computing Education, which will establish a network of Computing Hubs to provide continuing professional development (CPD) and resources for computing teachers in primary and secondary schools and colleges. The Centre will also facilitate strong links with industry.
  • A teacher training programme to upskill existing teachers to teach GCSE Computer Science.
  • A programme to support AS- and A-level Computer Science students and teachers with high-quality resources and CPD.

national centre for computing education

A powerful coalition

One of the things I am most excited about is the amazing coalition of partners that has come together around the plans. The consortium brings together subject expertise and knowledge, significant experience of creating brilliant learning experiences and resources, and a track record of delivering high-quality professional development for educators. But we can’t do it on our own.

For example, we’re working with the University of Cambridge team that created Isaac Physics to adapt and extend that platform and programme to support teachers and students of Computer Science A Level.

Our friends at Google have provided practical support and a grant of £1 million to help us create free online courses that will help teachers develop the knowledge and skills to teach computing and computer science.

national centre for computing education

We’re working with the Behavioural Insights Team to make it as easy as possible for teachers to get involved with the programme, and with FutureLearn to provide high-quality online courses.

We’ll also be working in partnership with industry, universities, and non-profits, pooling our expertise and resources to provide the support that educators and schools desperately want. That’s not just a vague promise. As part of the bid process, we secured specific commitments from over 60 organisations who pledged to work with us to make our vision a reality.

A woman and a man sit at a desk, evidently collaborating on work on a laptop. The woman is smiling and the man is grinning and making an "A-OK" hand gesture.

Get involved

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing more about our plans. In the meantime, here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Check out the launch website for the National Centre for Computing Education and register your email for updates.
  2. Spread the word to teachers, school leaders, industry, non-profits, and anyone else you think might be interested. Send them a link to this blog, or share it on social media.
  3. Help us find amazing, talented people who can join the team to bring this all to life.

national centre for computing education

A message to readers outside England

Improving computing education should be a priority for every education system and every government in the world. This announcement is focused on computing in schools in England because it’s about funding that has come from the government for that purpose.

I am proud that the Raspberry Pi Foundation will be playing its part in transforming computing education in England. But our mission is global, and our commitment is that the resources and online courses we create will be freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

If you are a policy maker outside of England and want to talk about how we could collaborate to advance computing education in your country, please get in touch. We’d love to help.

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Working with the Scout Association on digital skills for life

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/working-with-scout-association-digital-skills-for-life/

Today we’re launching a new partnership between the Scouts and the Raspberry Pi Foundation that will help tens of thousands of young people learn crucial digital skills for life. In this blog post, I want to explain what we’ve got planned, why it matters, and how you can get involved.

This is personal

First, let me tell you why this partnership matters to me. As a child growing up in North Wales in the 1980s, Scouting changed my life. My time with 2nd Rhyl provided me with countless opportunities to grow and develop new skills. It taught me about teamwork and community in ways that continue to shape my decisions today.

As my own kids (now seven and ten) have joined Scouting, I’ve seen the same opportunities opening up for them, and like so many parents, I’ve come back to the movement as a volunteer to support their local section. So this is deeply personal for me, and the same is true for many of my colleagues at the Raspberry Pi Foundation who in different ways have been part of the Scouting movement.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Scouting and Raspberry Pi share many of the same values. We are both community-led movements that aim to help young people develop the skills they need for life. We are both powered by an amazing army of volunteers who give their time to support that mission. We both care about inclusiveness, and pride ourselves on combining fun with learning by doing.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi started life in 2008 as a response to the problem that too many young people were growing up without the skills to create with technology. Our goal is that everyone should be able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies, for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.

In 2012 we launched our first product, the world’s first $35 computer. Just six years on, we have sold over 20 million Raspberry Pi computers and helped kickstart a global movement for digital skills.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation now runs the world’s largest network of volunteer-led computing clubs (Code Clubs and CoderDojos), and creates free educational resources that are used by millions of young people all over the world to learn how to create with digital technologies. And lots of what we are able to achieve is because of partnerships with fantastic organisations that share our goals. For example, through our partnership with the European Space Agency, thousands of young people have written code that has run on two Raspberry Pi computers that Tim Peake took to the International Space Station as part of his Mission Principia.

Digital makers

Today we’re launching the new Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge to help tens of thousands of young people learn how to create with technology through Scouting. Over the past few months, we’ve been working with the Scouts all over the UK to develop and test the new badge requirements, along with guidance, project ideas, and resources that really make them work for Scouting. We know that we need to get two things right: relevance and accessibility.

Relevance is all about making sure that the activities and resources we provide are a really good fit for Scouting and Scouting’s mission to equip young people with skills for life. From the digital compass to nature cameras and the reinvented wide game, we’ve had a lot of fun thinking about ways we can bring to life the crucial role that digital technologies can play in the outdoors and adventure.

Compass Coding with Raspberry Pi

We are beyond excited to be launching a new partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which will help tens of thousands of young people learn digital skills for life.

We also know that there are great opportunities for Scouts to use digital technologies to solve social problems in their communities, reflecting the movement’s commitment to social action. Today we’re launching the first set of project ideas and resources, with many more to follow over the coming weeks and months.

Accessibility is about providing every Scout leader with the confidence, support, and kit to enable them to offer the Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge to their young people. A lot of work and care has gone into designing activities that require very little equipment: for example, activities at Stages 1 and 2 can be completed with a laptop without access to the internet. For the activities that do require kit, we will be working with Scout Stores and districts to make low-cost kit available to buy or loan.

We’re producing accessible instructions, worksheets, and videos to help leaders run sessions with confidence, and we’ll also be planning training for leaders. We will work with our network of Code Clubs and CoderDojos to connect them with local sections to organise joint activities, bringing both kit and expertise along with them.




Get involved

Today’s launch is just the start. We’ll be developing our partnership over the next few years, and we can’t wait for you to join us in getting more young people making things with technology.

Take a look at the brand-new Raspberry Pi resources designed especially for Scouts, to get young people making and creating right away.

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Pirates Taunt Amazon Over New “Turd Sandwich” Prime Video Quality

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-taunt-amazon-over-new-turd-sandwich-prime-video-quality-180419/

Even though they generally aren’t paying for the content they consume, don’t fall into the trap of believing that all pirates are eternally grateful for even poor quality media.

Without a doubt, some of the most quality-sensitive individuals are to be found in pirate communities and they aren’t scared to make their voices known when release groups fail to come up with the best possible goods.

This week there’s been a sustained chorus of disapproval over the quality of pirate video releases sourced from Amazon Prime. The anger is usually directed at piracy groups who fail to capture content in the correct manner but according to a number of observers, the problem is actually at Amazon’s end.

Discussions on Reddit, for example, report that episodes in a single TV series have been declining in filesize and bitrate, from 1.56 GB in 720p at a 3073 kb/s video bitrate for episode 1, down to 907 MB in 720p at just 1514 kb/s video bitrate for episode 10.

Numerous theories as to why this may be the case are being floated around, including that Amazon is trying to save on bandwidth expenses. While this is a possibility, the company hasn’t made any announcements to that end.

Indeed, one legitimate customer reported that he’d raised the quality issue with Amazon and they’d said that the problem was “probably on his end”.

“I have Amazon Prime Video and I noticed the quality was always great for their exclusive shows, so I decided to try buying the shows on Amazon instead of iTunes this year. I paid for season pass subscriptions for Legion, Billions and Homeland this year,” he wrote.

“Just this past weekend, I have noticed a significant drop in details compared to weeks before! So naturally I assumed it was an issue on my end. I started trying different devices, calling support, etc, but nothing really helped.

“Billions continued to look like a blurry mess, almost like I was watching a standard definition DVD instead of the crystal clear HD I paid for and have experienced in the past! And when I check the previous episodes, sure enough, they look fantastic again. What the heck??”

With Amazon distancing itself from the issues, piracy groups have already begun to dig in the knife. Release group DEFLATE has been particularly critical.

“Amazon, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to start fucking with the quality of their encodes. They’re now reaching Netflix’s subpar 1080p.H264 levels, and their H265 encodes aren’t even close to what Netflix produces,” the group said in a file attached to S02E07 of The Good Fight released on Sunday.

“Netflix is able to produce drastic visual improvements with their H265 encodes compared to H264 across every original. In comparison, Amazon can’t decide whether H265 or H264 is going to produce better results, and as a result we suffer for it.”

Arrr! The quality be fallin’

So what’s happening exactly?

A TorrentFreak source (who tells us he’s been working in the BluRay/DCP authoring business for the last 10 years) was kind enough to give us two opinions, one aimed at the techies and another at us mere mortals.

“In technical terms, it appears [Amazon has] increased the CRF [Constant Rate Factor] value they use when encoding for both the HEVC [H265] and H264 streams. Previously, their H264 streams were using CRF 18 and a max bitrate of 15Mbit/s, which usually resulted in file sizes of roughly 3GB, or around 10Mbit/s. Similarly with their HEVC streams, they were using CRF 20 and resulting in streams which were around the same size,” he explained.

“In the past week, the H264 streams have decreased by up to 50% for some streams. While there are no longer any x264 headers embedded in the H264 streams, the HEVC streams still retain those headers and the CRF value used has been increased, so it does appear this change has been done on purpose.”

In layman’s terms, our source believes that Amazon had previously been using an encoding profile that was “right on the edge of relatively good quality” which kept bitrates relatively low but high enough to ensure no perceivable loss of quality.

“H264 streams encoded with CRF 18 could provide an acceptable compromise between quality and file size, where the loss of detail is often negligible when watched at regular viewing distances, at a desk, or in a lounge room on a larger TV,” he explained.

“Recently, it appears these values have been intentionally changed in order to lower the bitrate and file sizes for reasons unknown. As a result, the quality of some streams has been reduced by up to 50% of their previous values. This has introduced a visual loss of quality, comparable to that of viewing something in standard definition versus high definition.”

With the situation failing to improve during the week, by the time piracy group DEFLATE released S03E14 of Supergirl on Tuesday their original criticism had transformed into flat-out insults.

“These are only being done in H265 because Amazon have shit the bed, and it’s a choice between a turd sandwich and a giant douche,” they wrote, offering these images as illustrative of the problem and these indicating what should be achievable.

With DEFLATE advising customers to start complaining to Amazon, the memes have already begun, with unfavorable references to now-defunct group YIFY (which was often chastized for its low quality rips) and even a spin on one of the most well known anti-piracy campaigns.

You wouldn’t download stream….

TorrentFreak contacted Amazon Prime for comment on both the recent changes and growing customer complaints but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Backblaze at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-at-nab-2018-in-las-vegas/

Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage NAB Booth

Backblaze just returned from exhibiting at NAB in Las Vegas, April 9-12, where the response to our recent announcements was tremendous. In case you missed the news, Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage continues to extend its lead as the most affordable, high performance cloud on the planet.

Backblaze’s News at NAB

Backblaze at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas

The Backblaze booth just before opening

What We Were Asked at NAB

Our booth was busy from start to finish with attendees interested in learning more about Backblaze and B2 Cloud Storage. Here are the questions we were asked most often in the booth.

Q. How long has Backblaze been in business?
A. The company was founded in 2007. Today, we have over 500 petabytes of data from customers in over 150 countries.

B2 Partners at NAB 2018

Q. Where is your data stored?
A. We have data centers in California and Arizona and expect to expand to Europe by the end of the year.

Q. How can your services be so inexpensive?
A. Backblaze’s goal from the beginning was to offer cloud backup and storage that was easy to use and affordable. All the existing options were simply too expensive to be viable, so we created our own infrastructure. Our purpose-built storage system — the Backblaze’s Storage Pod — is recognized as one of the most cost efficient storage platforms available.

Q. Tell me about your hardware.
A. Backblaze’s Storage Pods hold 60 HDDs each, containing as much as 720TB data per pod, stored using Reed-Solomon error correction. Storage Pods are arranged in Tomes with twenty Storage Pods making up a Vault.

Q. Where do you fit in the data workflow?
A. People typically use B2 in for archiving completed projects. All data is readily available for download from B2, making it more convenient than off-line storage. In addition, DAM and MAM systems such as CatDV, axle ai, Cantemo, and others have integrated with B2 to store raw images behind the proxies.

Q. Who uses B2 in the M&E business?
A. KLRU-TV, the PBS station in Austin Texas, uses B2 to archive their entire 43 year catalog of Austin City Limits episodes and related materials. WunderVu, the production house for Pixvana, uses B2 to back up and archive their local storage systems on which they build virtual reality experiences for their customers.

Q. You’re the company that publishes the hard drive stats, right?
A. Yes, we are!

Backblaze Case Studies and Swag at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas

Were You at NAB?

If you were, we hope you stopped by the Backblaze booth to say hello. We’d like to hear what you saw at the show that was interesting or exciting. Please tell us in the comments.

The post Backblaze at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Japanese Govt Intervention Fails to Stop Mass Dragon Ball Super Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japanese-govt-intervention-fails-to-stop-mass-dragon-ball-super-piracy-180319/

Earlier this month, fans of Dragon Ball Super in Mexico started a movement on social media which suggested that everyone should be able to watch episode 130 (titled “The Greatest Showdown of All Time! The Ultimate Survival Battle!!”) together in public.

Surprisingly, this movement started receiving support from various local governments, many of which agreed to erect large screens in public places, from town and city squares to football stadiums.

Official government Twitter accounts lit up with announcements from the authorities, with posters like the one below issued for many of the events.

While this all sounded wonderful in practice, there was a huge problem. According to Toei Animation, the Japanese company behind the hit anime show, no one had the licensing rights to show Dragon Ball Super in public.

The company issued a statement condemning the plans, branding the proposed performances as “illegal screenings that incite piracy” while urging people to support the creators by only watching on officially licensed platforms.

As Saturday drew near, some regions announced that without permission from Toei, their screenings would not go ahead. Others, however, offered no cooperation whatsoever, effectively informing Toei that it was powerless to do anything to stop what would amount to government-approved mass piracy.

Whether Toei had anything to do with it or not isn’t clear, but on Friday the ambassador of Japan took the highly unusual step of writing to various local governments with a demand for them to cancel the events. El Espanol obtained a copy of the letter, as shown below.

The letter from the Ambassador of Japan

“The Government of Japan is aware that episode 130 and 131 of the Dragon Ball Super series, whose copyright belongs to Japanese company Toei Animation, will be shown in public places and places without the author’s due authorization,” the letter reads.

“In the event the exhibition is illegal, the Government of Japan wishes that it be suspended.”

It seems that as a result of the letter, some of the screenings were canceled, causing much disappointment for the fans of the series. However, in some areas of Mexico the events went ahead anyway, with tens of thousands of massively enthusiastic people in attendance.

But it didn’t stop there. The DBS fever also spread to Chile, Peru, El Salvador and Ecuador, with outdoor events attracting huge cheering crowds.

Whether there will be any diplomatic fallout from these shows of defiance isn’t yet clear but if anyone needed a visualization of what torrent sharing might look like if it took place in the physical realm, there are no better examples than these videos. In Ecuador, where more than ten thousand people gathered in just one location, fun was had by all.



Why Toei didn’t make the most of this opportunity is anyone’s guess but it looks like the company could have made a killing selling official t-shirts alone. Nevermind, maybe next time.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ on sale now at $35

Post Syndicated from Eben Upton original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-3-model-bplus-sale-now-35/

Here’s a long post. We think you’ll find it interesting. If you don’t have time to read it all, we recommend you watch this video, which will fill you in with everything you need, and then head straight to the product page to fill yer boots. (We recommend the video anyway, even if you do have time for a long read. ‘Cos it’s fab.)

A BRAND-NEW PI FOR π DAY

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is now on sale now for $35, featuring: – A 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU – Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2 – Faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0) – Power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT) – Improved PXE network and USB mass-storage booting – Improved thermal management Alongside a 200MHz increase in peak CPU clock frequency, we have roughly three times the wired and wireless network throughput, and the ability to sustain high performance for much longer periods.

If you’ve been a Raspberry Pi watcher for a while now, you’ll have a bit of a feel for how we update our products. Just over two years ago, we released Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. This was our first 64-bit product, and our first product to feature integrated wireless connectivity. Since then, we’ve sold over nine million Raspberry Pi 3 units (we’ve sold 19 million Raspberry Pis in total), which have been put to work in schools, homes, offices and factories all over the globe.

Those Raspberry Pi watchers will know that we have a history of releasing improved versions of our products a couple of years into their lives. The first example was Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+, which added two additional USB ports, introduced our current form factor, and rolled up a variety of other feedback from the community. Raspberry Pi 2 didn’t get this treatment, of course, as it was superseded after only one year; but it feels like it’s high time that Raspberry Pi 3 received the “plus” treatment.

So, without further ado, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is now on sale for $35 (the same price as the existing Raspberry Pi 3 Model B), featuring:

  • A 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2
  • Faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0)
  • Power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT)
  • Improved PXE network and USB mass-storage booting
  • Improved thermal management

Alongside a 200MHz increase in peak CPU clock frequency, we have roughly three times the wired and wireless network throughput, and the ability to sustain high performance for much longer periods.

Behold the shiny

Raspberry Pi 3B+ is available to buy today from our network of Approved Resellers.

New features, new chips

Roger Thornton did the design work on this revision of the Raspberry Pi. Here, he and I have a chat about what’s new.

Introducing the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is now on sale now for $35, featuring: – A 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU – Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2 – Faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0) – Power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT) – Improved PXE network and USB mass-storage booting – Improved thermal management Alongside a 200MHz increase in peak CPU clock frequency, we have roughly three times the wired and wireless network throughput, and the ability to sustain high performance for much longer periods.

The new product is built around BCM2837B0, an updated version of the 64-bit Broadcom application processor used in Raspberry Pi 3B, which incorporates power integrity optimisations, and a heat spreader (that’s the shiny metal bit you can see in the photos). Together these allow us to reach higher clock frequencies (or to run at lower voltages to reduce power consumption), and to more accurately monitor and control the temperature of the chip.

Dual-band wireless LAN and Bluetooth are provided by the Cypress CYW43455 “combo” chip, connected to a Proant PCB antenna similar to the one used on Raspberry Pi Zero W. Compared to its predecessor, Raspberry Pi 3B+ delivers somewhat better performance in the 2.4GHz band, and far better performance in the 5GHz band, as demonstrated by these iperf results from LibreELEC developer Milhouse.

Tx bandwidth (Mb/s) Rx bandwidth (Mb/s)
Raspberry Pi 3B 35.7 35.6
Raspberry Pi 3B+ (2.4GHz) 46.7 46.3
Raspberry Pi 3B+ (5GHz) 102 102

The wireless circuitry is encapsulated under a metal shield, rather fetchingly embossed with our logo. This has allowed us to certify the entire board as a radio module under FCC rules, which in turn will significantly reduce the cost of conformance testing Raspberry Pi-based products.

We’ll be teaching metalwork next.

Previous Raspberry Pi devices have used the LAN951x family of chips, which combine a USB hub and 10/100 Ethernet controller. For Raspberry Pi 3B+, Microchip have supported us with an upgraded version, LAN7515, which supports Gigabit Ethernet. While the USB 2.0 connection to the application processor limits the available bandwidth, we still see roughly a threefold increase in throughput compared to Raspberry Pi 3B. Again, here are some typical iperf results.

Tx bandwidth (Mb/s) Rx bandwidth (Mb/s)
Raspberry Pi 3B 94.1 95.5
Raspberry Pi 3B+ 315 315

We use a magjack that supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), and bring the relevant signals to a new 4-pin header. We will shortly launch a PoE HAT which can generate the 5V necessary to power the Raspberry Pi from the 48V PoE supply.

There… are… four… pins!

Coming soon to a Raspberry Pi 3B+ near you

Raspberry Pi 3B was our first product to support PXE Ethernet boot. Testing it in the wild shook out a number of compatibility issues with particular switches and traffic environments. Gordon has rolled up fixes for all known issues into the BCM2837B0 boot ROM, and PXE boot is now enabled by default.

Clocking, voltages and thermals

The improved power integrity of the BCM2837B0 package, and the improved regulation accuracy of our new MaxLinear MxL7704 power management IC, have allowed us to tune our clocking and voltage rules for both better peak performance and longer-duration sustained performance.

Below 70°C, we use the improvements to increase the core frequency to 1.4GHz. Above 70°C, we drop to 1.2GHz, and use the improvements to decrease the core voltage, increasing the period of time before we reach our 80°C thermal throttle; the reduction in power consumption is such that many use cases will never reach the throttle. Like a modern smartphone, we treat the thermal mass of the device as a resource, to be spent carefully with the goal of optimising user experience.

This graph, courtesy of Gareth Halfacree, demonstrates that Raspberry Pi 3B+ runs faster and at a lower temperature for the duration of an eight‑minute quad‑core Sysbench CPU test.

Note that Raspberry Pi 3B+ does consume substantially more power than its predecessor. We strongly encourage you to use a high-quality 2.5A power supply, such as the official Raspberry Pi Universal Power Supply.

FAQs

We’ll keep updating this list over the next couple of days, but here are a few to get you started.

Are you discontinuing earlier Raspberry Pi models?

No. We have a lot of industrial customers who will want to stick with the existing products for the time being. We’ll keep building these models for as long as there’s demand. Raspberry Pi 1B+, Raspberry Pi 2B, and Raspberry Pi 3B will continue to sell for $25, $35, and $35 respectively.

What about Model A+?

Raspberry Pi 1A+ continues to be the $20 entry-level “big” Raspberry Pi for the time being. We are considering the possibility of producing a Raspberry Pi 3A+ in due course.

What about the Compute Module?

CM1, CM3 and CM3L will continue to be available. We may offer versions of CM3 and CM3L with BCM2837B0 in due course, depending on customer demand.

Are you still using VideoCore?

Yes. VideoCore IV 3D is the only publicly-documented 3D graphics core for ARM‑based SoCs, and we want to make Raspberry Pi more open over time, not less.

Credits

A project like this requires a vast amount of focused work from a large team over an extended period. Particular credit is due to Roger Thornton, who designed the board and ran the exhaustive (and exhausting) RF compliance campaign, and to the team at the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed, South Wales. A partial list of others who made major direct contributions to the BCM2837B0 chip program, CYW43455 integration, LAN7515 and MxL7704 developments, and Raspberry Pi 3B+ itself follows:

James Adams, David Armour, Jonathan Bell, Maria Blazquez, Jamie Brogan-Shaw, Mike Buffham, Rob Campling, Cindy Cao, Victor Carmon, KK Chan, Nick Chase, Nigel Cheetham, Scott Clark, Nigel Clift, Dominic Cobley, Peter Coyle, John Cronk, Di Dai, Kurt Dennis, David Doyle, Andrew Edwards, Phil Elwell, John Ferdinand, Doug Freegard, Ian Furlong, Shawn Guo, Philip Harrison, Jason Hicks, Stefan Ho, Andrew Hoare, Gordon Hollingworth, Tuomas Hollman, EikPei Hu, James Hughes, Andy Hulbert, Anand Jain, David John, Prasanna Kerekoppa, Shaik Labeeb, Trevor Latham, Steve Le, David Lee, David Lewsey, Sherman Li, Xizhe Li, Simon Long, Fu Luo Larson, Juan Martinez, Sandhya Menon, Ben Mercer, James Mills, Max Passell, Mark Perry, Eric Phiri, Ashwin Rao, Justin Rees, James Reilly, Matt Rowley, Akshaye Sama, Ian Saturley, Serge Schneider, Manuel Sedlmair, Shawn Shadburn, Veeresh Shivashimper, Graham Smith, Ben Stephens, Mike Stimson, Yuree Tchong, Stuart Thomson, John Wadsworth, Ian Watch, Sarah Williams, Jason Zhu.

If you’re not on this list and think you should be, please let me know, and accept my apologies.

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How to Delegate Administration of Your AWS Managed Microsoft AD Directory to Your On-Premises Active Directory Users

Post Syndicated from Vijay Sharma original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-delegate-administration-of-your-aws-managed-microsoft-ad-directory-to-your-on-premises-active-directory-users/

You can now enable your on-premises users administer your AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory, also known as AWS Managed Microsoft AD. Using an Active Directory (AD) trust and the new AWS delegated AD security groups, you can grant administrative permissions to your on-premises users by managing group membership in your on-premises AD directory. This simplifies how you manage who can perform administration. It also makes it easier for your administrators because they can sign in to their existing workstation with their on-premises AD credential to administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

AWS created new domain local AD security groups (AWS delegated groups) in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. Each AWS delegated group has unique AD administrative permissions. Users that are members in the new AWS delegated groups get permissions to perform administrative tasks, such as add users, configure fine-grained password policies and enable Microsoft enterprise Certificate Authority. Because the AWS delegated groups are domain local in scope, you can use them through an AD Trust to your on-premises AD. This eliminates the requirement to create and use separate identities to administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD. Instead, by adding selected on-premises users to desired AWS delegated groups, you can grant your administrators some or all of the permissions. You can simplify this even further by adding on-premises AD security groups to the AWS delegated groups. This enables you to add and remove users from your on-premises AD security group so that they can manage administrative permissions in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

In this blog post, I will show you how to delegate permissions to your on-premises users to perform an administrative task–configuring fine-grained password policies–in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. You can follow the steps in this post to delegate other administrative permissions, such as configuring group Managed Service Accounts and Kerberos constrained delegation, to your on-premises users.

Background

Until now, AWS Managed Microsoft AD delegated administrative permissions for your directory by creating AD security groups in your Organization Unit (OU) and authorizing these AWS delegated groups for common administrative activities. The admin user in your directory created user accounts within your OU, and granted these users permissions to administer your directory by adding them to one or more of these AWS delegated groups.

However, if you used your AWS Managed Microsoft AD with a trust to an on-premises AD forest, you couldn’t add users from your on-premises directory to these AWS delegated groups. This is because AWS created the AWS delegated groups with global scope, which restricts adding users from another forest. This necessitated that you create different user accounts in AWS Managed Microsoft AD for the purpose of administration. As a result, AD administrators typically had to remember additional credentials for AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

To address this, AWS created new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope in a separate OU called AWS Delegated Groups. These new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope are more flexible and permit adding users and groups from other domains and forests. This allows your admin user to delegate your on-premises users and groups administrative permissions to your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Note: If you already have an existing AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory containing the original AWS delegated groups with global scope, AWS preserved the original AWS delegated groups in the event you are currently using them with identities in AWS Managed Microsoft AD. AWS recommends that you transition to use the new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope. All newly created AWS Managed Microsoft AD directories have the new AWS delegated groups with domain local scope only.

Now, I will show you the steps to delegate administrative permissions to your on-premises users and groups to configure fine-grained password policies in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Prerequisites

For this post, I assume you are familiar with AD security groups and how security group scope rules work. I also assume you are familiar with AD trusts.

The instructions in this blog post require you to have the following components running:

Solution overview

I will now show you how to manage which on-premises users have delegated permissions to administer your directory by efficiently using on-premises AD security groups to manage these permissions. I will do this by:

  1. Adding on-premises groups to an AWS delegated group. In this step, you sign in to management instance connected to AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory as admin user and add on-premises groups to AWS delegated groups.
  2. Administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory as on-premises user. In this step, you sign in to a workstation connected to your on-premises AD using your on-premises credentials and administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

For the purpose of this blog, I already have an on-premises AD directory (in this case, on-premises.com). I also created an AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory (in this case, corp.example.com) that I use with Amazon RDS for SQL Server. To enable Integrated Windows Authentication to my on-premises.com domain, I established a one-way outgoing trust from my AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory to my on-premises AD directory. To administer my AWS Managed Microsoft AD, I created an Amazon EC2 for Windows Server instance (in this case, Cloud Management). I also have an on-premises workstation (in this case, On-premises Management), that is connected to my on-premises AD directory.

The following diagram represents the relationships between the on-premises AD and the AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

The left side represents the AWS Cloud containing AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. I connected the directory to the on-premises AD directory via a 1-way forest trust relationship. When AWS created my AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory, AWS created a group called AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators that has permissions to configure fine-grained password policies in AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

The right side of the diagram represents the on-premises AD directory. I created a global AD security group called On-premises fine grained password policy admins and I configured it so all members can manage fine grained password policies in my on-premises AD. I have two administrators in my company, John and Richard, who I added as members of On-premises fine grained password policy admins. I want to enable John and Richard to also manage fine grained password policies in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD.

While I could add John and Richard to the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators individually, I want a more efficient way to delegate and remove permissions for on-premises users to manage fine grained password policies in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD. In fact, I want to assign permissions to the same people that manage password policies in my on-premises directory.

Diagram showing delegation of administrative permissions to on-premises users

To do this, I will:

  1. As admin user, add the On-premises fine grained password policy admins as member of the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators security group from my Cloud Management machine.
  2. Manage who can administer password policies in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory by adding and removing users as members of the On-premises fine grained password policy admins. Doing so enables me to perform all my delegation work in my on-premises directory without the need to use a remote desktop protocol (RDP) session to my Cloud Management instance. In this case, Richard, who is a member of On-premises fine grained password policy admins group can now administer AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory from On-premises Management workstation.

Although I’m showing a specific case using fine grained password policy delegation, you can do this with any of the new AWS delegated groups and your on-premises groups and users.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Add on-premises groups to AWS delegated groups

In this step, open an RDP session to the Cloud Management instance and sign in as the admin user in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. Then, add your users and groups from your on-premises AD to AWS delegated groups in AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. In this example, I do the following:

  1. Sign in to the Cloud Management instance with the user name admin and the password that you set for the admin user when you created your directory.
  2. Open the Microsoft Windows Server Manager and navigate to Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.
  3. Switch to the tree view and navigate to corp.example.com > AWS Delegated Groups. Right-click AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators and select Properties.
  4. In the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy window, switch to Members tab and choose Add.
  5. In the Select Users, Contacts, Computers, Service Accounts, or Groups window, choose Locations.
  6. In the Locations window, select on-premises.com domain and choose OK.
  7. In the Enter the object names to select box, enter on-premises fine grained password policy admins and choose Check Names.
  8. Because I have a 1-way trust from AWS Managed Microsoft AD to my on-premises AD, Windows prompts me to enter credentials for an on-premises user account that has permissions to complete the search. If I had a 2-way trust and the admin account in my AWS Managed Microsoft AD has permissions to read my on-premises directory, Windows will not prompt me.In the Windows Security window, enter the credentials for an account with permissions for on-premises.com and choose OK.
  9. Click OK to add On-premises fine grained password policy admins group as a member of the AWS Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators group in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

At this point, any user that is a member of On-premises fine grained password policy admins group has permissions to manage password policies in your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Step 2 – Administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD as on-premises user

Any member of the on-premises group(s) that you added to an AWS delegated group inherited the permissions of the AWS delegated group.

In this example, Richard signs in to the On-premises Management instance. Because Richard inherited permissions from Delegated Fine Grained Password Policy Administrators, he can now administer fine grained password policies in the AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory using on-premises credentials.

  1. Sign in to the On-premises Management instance as Richard.
  2. Open the Microsoft Windows Server Manager and navigate to Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.
  3. Switch to the tree view, right-click Active Directory Users and Computers, and then select Change Domain.
  4. In the Change Domain window, enter corp.example.com, and then choose OK.
  5. You’ll be connected to your AWS Managed Microsoft AD domain:

Richard can now administer the password policies. Because John is also a member of the AWS delegated group, John can also perform password policy administration the same way.

In future, if Richard moves to another division within the company and you hire Judy as a replacement for Richard, you can simply remove Richard from On-premises fine grained password policy admins group and add Judy to this group. Richard will no longer have administrative permissions, while Judy can now administer password policies for your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory.

Summary

We’ve tried to make it easier for you to administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory by creating AWS delegated groups with domain local scope. You can add your on-premises AD groups to the AWS delegated groups. You can then control who can administer your directory by managing group membership in your on-premises AD directory. Your administrators can sign in to their existing on-premises workstations using their on-premises credentials and administer your AWS Managed Microsoft AD directory. I encourage you to explore the new AWS delegated security groups by using Active Directory Users and Computers from the management instance for your AWS Managed Microsoft AD. To learn more about AWS Directory Service, see the AWS Directory Service home page. If you have questions, please post them on the Directory Service forum. If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below.

 

Amazon Redshift – 2017 Recap

Post Syndicated from Larry Heathcote original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/amazon-redshift-2017-recap/

We have been busy adding new features and capabilities to Amazon Redshift, and we wanted to give you a glimpse of what we’ve been doing over the past year. In this article, we recap a few of our enhancements and provide a set of resources that you can use to learn more and get the most out of your Amazon Redshift implementation.

In 2017, we made more than 30 announcements about Amazon Redshift. We listened to you, our customers, and delivered Redshift Spectrum, a feature of Amazon Redshift, that gives you the ability to extend analytics to your data lake—without moving data. We launched new DC2 nodes, doubling performance at the same price. We also announced many new features that provide greater scalability, better performance, more automation, and easier ways to manage your analytics workloads.

To see a full list of our launches, visit our what’s new page—and be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed.

Major launches in 2017

Amazon Redshift Spectrumextend analytics to your data lake, without moving data

We launched Amazon Redshift Spectrum to give you the freedom to store data in Amazon S3, in open file formats, and have it available for analytics without the need to load it into your Amazon Redshift cluster. It enables you to easily join datasets across Redshift clusters and S3 to provide unique insights that you would not be able to obtain by querying independent data silos.

With Redshift Spectrum, you can run SQL queries against data in an Amazon S3 data lake as easily as you analyze data stored in Amazon Redshift. And you can do it without loading data or resizing the Amazon Redshift cluster based on growing data volumes. Redshift Spectrum separates compute and storage to meet workload demands for data size, concurrency, and performance. Redshift Spectrum scales processing across thousands of nodes, so results are fast, even with massive datasets and complex queries. You can query open file formats that you already use—such as Apache Avro, CSV, Grok, ORC, Apache Parquet, RCFile, RegexSerDe, SequenceFile, TextFile, and TSV—directly in Amazon S3, without any data movement.

For complex queries, Redshift Spectrum provided a 67 percent performance gain,” said Rafi Ton, CEO, NUVIAD. “Using the Parquet data format, Redshift Spectrum delivered an 80 percent performance improvement. For us, this was substantial.

To learn more about Redshift Spectrum, watch our AWS Summit session Intro to Amazon Redshift Spectrum: Now Query Exabytes of Data in S3, and read our announcement blog post Amazon Redshift Spectrum – Exabyte-Scale In-Place Queries of S3 Data.

DC2 nodes—twice the performance of DC1 at the same price

We launched second-generation Dense Compute (DC2) nodes to provide low latency and high throughput for demanding data warehousing workloads. DC2 nodes feature powerful Intel E5-2686 v4 (Broadwell) CPUs, fast DDR4 memory, and NVMe-based solid state disks (SSDs). We’ve tuned Amazon Redshift to take advantage of the better CPU, network, and disk on DC2 nodes, providing up to twice the performance of DC1 at the same price. Our DC2.8xlarge instances now provide twice the memory per slice of data and an optimized storage layout with 30 percent better storage utilization.

Redshift allows us to quickly spin up clusters and provide our data scientists with a fast and easy method to access data and generate insights,” said Bradley Todd, technology architect at Liberty Mutual. “We saw a 9x reduction in month-end reporting time with Redshift DC2 nodes as compared to DC1.”

Read our customer testimonials to see the performance gains our customers are experiencing with DC2 nodes. To learn more, read our blog post Amazon Redshift Dense Compute (DC2) Nodes Deliver Twice the Performance as DC1 at the Same Price.

Performance enhancements— 3x-5x faster queries

On average, our customers are seeing 3x to 5x performance gains for most of their critical workloads.

We introduced short query acceleration to speed up execution of queries such as reports, dashboards, and interactive analysis. Short query acceleration uses machine learning to predict the execution time of a query, and to move short running queries to an express short query queue for faster processing.

We launched results caching to deliver sub-second response times for queries that are repeated, such as dashboards, visualizations, and those from BI tools. Results caching has an added benefit of freeing up resources to improve the performance of all other queries.

We also introduced late materialization to reduce the amount of data scanned for queries with predicate filters by batching and factoring in the filtering of predicates before fetching data blocks in the next column. For example, if only 10 percent of the table rows satisfy the predicate filters, Amazon Redshift can potentially save 90 percent of the I/O for the remaining columns to improve query performance.

We launched query monitoring rules and pre-defined rule templates. These features make it easier for you to set metrics-based performance boundaries for workload management (WLM) queries, and specify what action to take when a query goes beyond those boundaries. For example, for a queue that’s dedicated to short-running queries, you might create a rule that aborts queries that run for more than 60 seconds. To track poorly designed queries, you might have another rule that logs queries that contain nested loops.

Customer insights

Amazon Redshift and Redshift Spectrum serve customers across a variety of industries and sizes, from startups to large enterprises. Visit our customer page to see the success that customers are having with our recent enhancements. Learn how companies like Liberty Mutual Insurance saw a 9x reduction in month-end reporting time using DC2 nodes. On this page, you can find case studies, videos, and other content that show how our customers are using Amazon Redshift to drive innovation and business results.

In addition, check out these resources to learn about the success our customers are having building out a data warehouse and data lake integration solution with Amazon Redshift:

Partner solutions

You can enhance your Amazon Redshift data warehouse by working with industry-leading experts. Our AWS Partner Network (APN) Partners have certified their solutions to work with Amazon Redshift. They offer software, tools, integration, and consulting services to help you at every step. Visit our Amazon Redshift Partner page and choose an APN Partner. Or, use AWS Marketplace to find and immediately start using third-party software.

To see what our Partners are saying about Amazon Redshift Spectrum and our DC2 nodes mentioned earlier, read these blog posts:

Resources

Blog posts

Visit the AWS Big Data Blog for a list of all Amazon Redshift articles.

YouTube videos

GitHub

Our community of experts contribute on GitHub to provide tips and hints that can help you get the most out of your deployment. Visit GitHub frequently to get the latest technical guidance, code samples, administrative task automation utilities, the analyze & vacuum schema utility, and more.

Customer support

If you are evaluating or considering a proof of concept with Amazon Redshift, or you need assistance migrating your on-premises or other cloud-based data warehouse to Amazon Redshift, our team of product experts and solutions architects can help you with architecting, sizing, and optimizing your data warehouse. Contact us using this support request form, and let us know how we can assist you.

If you are an Amazon Redshift customer, we offer a no-cost health check program. Our team of database engineers and solutions architects give you recommendations for optimizing Amazon Redshift and Amazon Redshift Spectrum for your specific workloads. To learn more, email us at [email protected].

If you have any questions, email us at [email protected].

 


Additional Reading

If you found this post useful, be sure to check out Amazon Redshift Spectrum – Exabyte-Scale In-Place Queries of S3 Data, Using Amazon Redshift for Fast Analytical Reports and How to Migrate Your Oracle Data Warehouse to Amazon Redshift Using AWS SCT and AWS DMS.


About the Author

Larry Heathcote is a Principle Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services for data warehousing and analytics. Larry is passionate about seeing the results of data-driven insights on business outcomes. He enjoys family time, home projects, grilling out and the taste of classic barbeque.

 

 

 

[$] A look at the handling of Meltdown and Spectre

Post Syndicated from jake original https://lwn.net/Articles/743363/rss

The Meltdown/Spectre debacle has,
deservedly, reached the mainstream press
and, likely, most of the public that has even a remote interest in computers
and security. It only took a day or so from the accelerated disclosure
date of January 3—it was originally scheduled for
January 9—before the bugs
were making big headlines. But Spectre has been known for at least six
months and Meltdown for nearly as long—at least to some in the industry.
Others that were affected were completely blindsided by the
announcements and have joined the scramble to mitigate these hardware bugs
before they bite users. Whatever else can be said about Meltdown and Spectre,
the handling (or, in truth, mishandling) of this whole incident has been a
horrific failure.

AWS Direct Connect Update – Ten New Locations Added in Late 2017

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-direct-connect-update-ten-new-locations-added-in-late-2017/

Happy 2018! I am looking forward to getting back to my usual routine, working with our teams to learn about their upcoming launches and then writing blog posts to bring the news to you. Right now I am still catching up on a few launches and announcements from late 2017.

First on the list for today is our most recent round of new cities for AWS Direct Connect. AWS customers all over the world use Direct Connect to create dedicated network connections from their premises to AWS in order to reduce their network costs, increase throughput, and to pursue a more consistent network experience.

We added ten new locations to our Direct Connect roster in December, all of which offer both 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps connectivity, along with partner-supplied options for speeds below 1 Gbps. Here are the newest locations, along withe the data centers and associated AWS Regions:

  • Bangalore, India – NetMagic DC2Asia Pacific (Mumbai).
  • Cape Town, South Africa – Teraco Ct1EU (Ireland).
  • Johannesburg, South Africa – Teraco JB1EU (Ireland).
  • London, UK – Telehouse North TwoEU (London).
  • Miami, Florida, US – Equinix MI1US East (Northern Virginia).
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, US – Cologix MIN3US East (Ohio)
  • Ningxia, China – Shapotou IDC – China (Ningxia).
  • Ningxia, China – Industrial Park IDC – China (Ningxia).
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Equinix RJ2South America (São Paulo).
  • Tokyo, Japan – AT Tokyo ChuoAsia Pacific (Tokyo).

You can use these new locations in conjunction with the AWS Direct Connect Gateway to set up connectivity that spans Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) spread across multiple AWS Regions (this does not apply to the AWS Regions in China).

If you are interested in putting Direct Connect to use, be sure to check out our ever-growing list of Direct Connect Partners.

Jeff;

Serverless @ re:Invent 2017

Post Syndicated from Chris Munns original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/serverless-reinvent-2017/

At re:Invent 2014, we announced AWS Lambda, what is now the center of the serverless platform at AWS, and helped ignite the trend of companies building serverless applications.

This year, at re:Invent 2017, the topic of serverless was everywhere. We were incredibly excited to see the energy from everyone attending 7 workshops, 15 chalk talks, 20 skills sessions and 27 breakout sessions. Many of these sessions were repeated due to high demand, so we are happy to summarize and provide links to the recordings and slides of these sessions.

Over the course of the week leading up to and then the week of re:Invent, we also had over 15 new features and capabilities across a number of serverless services, including AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, AWS [email protected], AWS SAM, and the newly announced AWS Serverless Application Repository!

AWS Lambda

Amazon API Gateway

  • Amazon API Gateway Supports Endpoint Integrations with Private VPCs – You can now provide access to HTTP(S) resources within your VPC without exposing them directly to the public internet. This includes resources available over a VPN or Direct Connect connection!
  • Amazon API Gateway Supports Canary Release Deployments – You can now use canary release deployments to gradually roll out new APIs. This helps you more safely roll out API changes and limit the blast radius of new deployments.
  • Amazon API Gateway Supports Access Logging – The access logging feature lets you generate access logs in different formats such as CLF (Common Log Format), JSON, XML, and CSV. The access logs can be fed into your existing analytics or log processing tools so you can perform more in-depth analysis or take action in response to the log data.
  • Amazon API Gateway Customize Integration Timeouts – You can now set a custom timeout for your API calls as low as 50ms and as high as 29 seconds (the default is 30 seconds).
  • Amazon API Gateway Supports Generating SDK in Ruby – This is in addition to support for SDKs in Java, JavaScript, Android and iOS (Swift and Objective-C). The SDKs that Amazon API Gateway generates save you development time and come with a number of prebuilt capabilities, such as working with API keys, exponential back, and exception handling.

AWS Serverless Application Repository

Serverless Application Repository is a new service (currently in preview) that aids in the publication, discovery, and deployment of serverless applications. With it you’ll be able to find shared serverless applications that you can launch in your account, while also sharing ones that you’ve created for others to do the same.

AWS [email protected]

[email protected] now supports content-based dynamic origin selection, network calls from viewer events, and advanced response generation. This combination of capabilities greatly increases the use cases for [email protected], such as allowing you to send requests to different origins based on request information, showing selective content based on authentication, and dynamically watermarking images for each viewer.

AWS SAM

Twitch Launchpad live announcements

Other service announcements

Here are some of the other highlights that you might have missed. We think these could help you make great applications:

AWS re:Invent 2017 sessions

Coming up with the right mix of talks for an event like this can be quite a challenge. The Product, Marketing, and Developer Advocacy teams for Serverless at AWS spent weeks reading through dozens of talk ideas to boil it down to the final list.

From feedback at other AWS events and webinars, we knew that customers were looking for talks that focused on concrete examples of solving problems with serverless, how to perform common tasks such as deployment, CI/CD, monitoring, and troubleshooting, and to see customer and partner examples solving real world problems. To that extent we tried to settle on a good mix based on attendee experience and provide a track full of rich content.

Below are the recordings and slides of breakout sessions from re:Invent 2017. We’ve organized them for those getting started, those who are already beginning to build serverless applications, and the experts out there already running them at scale. Some of the videos and slides haven’t been posted yet, and so we will update this list as they become available.

Find the entire Serverless Track playlist on YouTube.

Talks for people new to Serverless

Advanced topics

Expert mode

Talks for specific use cases

Talks from AWS customers & partners

Looking to get hands-on with Serverless?

At re:Invent, we delivered instructor-led skills sessions to help attendees new to serverless applications get started quickly. The content from these sessions is already online and you can do the hands-on labs yourself!
Build a Serverless web application

Still looking for more?

We also recently completely overhauled the main Serverless landing page for AWS. This includes a new Resources page containing case studies, webinars, whitepapers, customer stories, reference architectures, and even more Getting Started tutorials. Check it out!

Now Open AWS EU (Paris) Region

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/now-open-aws-eu-paris-region/

Today we are launching our 18th AWS Region, our fourth in Europe. Located in the Paris area, AWS customers can use this Region to better serve customers in and around France.

The Details
The new EU (Paris) Region provides a broad suite of AWS services including Amazon API Gateway, Amazon Aurora, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon CloudWatch, CloudWatch Events, Amazon CloudWatch Logs, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), EC2 Container Registry, Amazon ECS, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon EMR, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon Glacier, Amazon Kinesis Streams, Polly, Amazon Redshift, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Route 53, Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWF), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, Auto Scaling, AWS Certificate Manager (ACM), AWS CloudFormation, AWS CloudTrail, AWS CodeDeploy, AWS Config, AWS Database Migration Service, AWS Direct Connect, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), AWS Key Management Service (KMS), AWS Lambda, AWS Marketplace, AWS OpsWorks Stacks, AWS Personal Health Dashboard, AWS Server Migration Service, AWS Service Catalog, AWS Shield Standard, AWS Snowball, AWS Snowball Edge, AWS Snowmobile, AWS Storage Gateway, AWS Support (including AWS Trusted Advisor), Elastic Load Balancing, and VM Import.

The Paris Region supports all sizes of C5, M5, R4, T2, D2, I3, and X1 instances.

There are also four edge locations for Amazon Route 53 and Amazon CloudFront: three in Paris and one in Marseille, all with AWS WAF and AWS Shield. Check out the AWS Global Infrastructure page to learn more about current and future AWS Regions.

The Paris Region will benefit from three AWS Direct Connect locations. Telehouse Voltaire is available today. AWS Direct Connect will also become available at Equinix Paris in early 2018, followed by Interxion Paris.

All AWS infrastructure regions around the world are designed, built, and regularly audited to meet the most rigorous compliance standards and to provide high levels of security for all AWS customers. These include ISO 27001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, SOC 1 (Formerly SAS 70), SOC 2 and SOC 3 Security & Availability, PCI DSS Level 1, and many more. This means customers benefit from all the best practices of AWS policies, architecture, and operational processes built to satisfy the needs of even the most security sensitive customers.

AWS is certified under the EU-US Privacy Shield, and the AWS Data Processing Addendum (DPA) is GDPR-ready and available now to all AWS customers to help them prepare for May 25, 2018 when the GDPR becomes enforceable. The current AWS DPA, as well as the AWS GDPR DPA, allows customers to transfer personal data to countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) in compliance with European Union (EU) data protection laws. AWS also adheres to the Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers in Europe (CISPE) Code of Conduct. The CISPE Code of Conduct helps customers ensure that AWS is using appropriate data protection standards to protect their data, consistent with the GDPR. In addition, AWS offers a wide range of services and features to help customers meet the requirements of the GDPR, including services for access controls, monitoring, logging, and encryption.

From Our Customers
Many AWS customers are preparing to use this new Region. Here’s a small sample:

Societe Generale, one of the largest banks in France and the world, has accelerated their digital transformation while working with AWS. They developed SG Research, an application that makes reports from Societe Generale’s analysts available to corporate customers in order to improve the decision-making process for investments. The new AWS Region will reduce latency between applications running in the cloud and in their French data centers.

SNCF is the national railway company of France. Their mobile app, powered by AWS, delivers real-time traffic information to 14 million riders. Extreme weather, traffic events, holidays, and engineering works can cause usage to peak at hundreds of thousands of users per second. They are planning to use machine learning and big data to add predictive features to the app.

Radio France, the French public radio broadcaster, offers seven national networks, and uses AWS to accelerate its innovation and stay competitive.

Les Restos du Coeur, a French charity that provides assistance to the needy, delivering food packages and participating in their social and economic integration back into French society. Les Restos du Coeur is using AWS for its CRM system to track the assistance given to each of their beneficiaries and the impact this is having on their lives.

AlloResto by JustEat (a leader in the French FoodTech industry), is using AWS to to scale during traffic peaks and to accelerate their innovation process.

AWS Consulting and Technology Partners
We are already working with a wide variety of consulting, technology, managed service, and Direct Connect partners in France. Here’s a partial list:

AWS Premier Consulting PartnersAccenture, Capgemini, Claranet, CloudReach, DXC, and Edifixio.

AWS Consulting PartnersABC Systemes, Atos International SAS, CoreExpert, Cycloid, Devoteam, LINKBYNET, Oxalide, Ozones, Scaleo Information Systems, and Sopra Steria.

AWS Technology PartnersAxway, Commerce Guys, MicroStrategy, Sage, Software AG, Splunk, Tibco, and Zerolight.

AWS in France
We have been investing in Europe, with a focus on France, for the last 11 years. We have also been developing documentation and training programs to help our customers to improve their skills and to accelerate their journey to the AWS Cloud.

As part of our commitment to AWS customers in France, we plan to train more than 25,000 people in the coming years, helping them develop highly sought after cloud skills. They will have access to AWS training resources in France via AWS Academy, AWSome days, AWS Educate, and webinars, all delivered in French by AWS Technical Trainers and AWS Certified Trainers.

Use it Today
The EU (Paris) Region is open for business now and you can start using it today!

Jeff;

 

Glenn’s Take on re:Invent 2017 – Part 3

Post Syndicated from Glenn Gore original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/glenns-take-on-reinvent-2017-part-3/

Glenn Gore here, Chief Architect for AWS. I was in Las Vegas last week — with 43K others — for re:Invent 2017. I checked in to the Architecture blog here and here with my take on what was interesting about some of the bigger announcements from a cloud-architecture perspective.

In the excitement of so many new services being launched, we sometimes overlook feature updates that, while perhaps not as exciting as Amazon DeepLens, have significant impact on how you architect and develop solutions on AWS.

Amazon DynamoDB is used by more than 100,000 customers around the world, handling over a trillion requests every day. From the start, DynamoDB has offered high availability by natively spanning multiple Availability Zones within an AWS Region. As more customers started building and deploying truly-global applications, there was a need to replicate a DynamoDB table to multiple AWS Regions, allowing for read/write operations to occur in any region where the table was replicated. This update is important for providing a globally-consistent view of information — as users may transition from one region to another — or for providing additional levels of availability, allowing for failover between AWS Regions without loss of information.

There are some interesting concurrency-design aspects you need to be aware of and ensure you can handle correctly. For example, we support the “last writer wins” reconciliation where eventual consistency is being used and an application updates the same item in different AWS Regions at the same time. If you require strongly-consistent read/writes then you must perform all of your read/writes in the same AWS Region. The details behind this can be found in the DynamoDB documentation. Providing a globally-distributed, replicated DynamoDB table simplifies many different use cases and allows for the logic of replication, which may have been pushed up into the application layers to be simplified back down into the data layer.

The other big update for DynamoDB is that you can now back up your DynamoDB table on demand with no impact to performance. One of the features I really like is that when you trigger a backup, it is available instantly, regardless of the size of the table. Behind the scenes, we use snapshots and change logs to ensure a consistent backup. While backup is instant, restoring the table could take some time depending on its size and ranges — from minutes to hours for very large tables.

This feature is super important for those of you who work in regulated industries that often have strict requirements around data retention and backups of data, which sometimes limited the use of DynamoDB or required complex workarounds to implement some sort of backup feature in the past. This often incurred significant, additional costs due to increased read transactions on their DynamoDB tables.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) was our first-released AWS service over 11 years ago, and it proved the simplicity and scalability of true API-driven architectures in the cloud. Today, Amazon S3 stores trillions of objects, with transactional requests per second reaching into the millions! Dealing with data as objects opened up an incredibly diverse array of use cases ranging from libraries of static images, game binary downloads, and application log data, to massive data lakes used for big data analytics and business intelligence. With Amazon S3, when you accessed your data in an object, you effectively had to write/read the object as a whole or use the range feature to retrieve a part of the object — if possible — in your individual use case.

Now, with Amazon S3 Select, an SQL-like query language is used that can work with delimited text and JSON files, as well as work with GZIP compressed files. We don’t support encryption during the preview of Amazon S3 Select.

Amazon S3 Select provides two major benefits:

  • Faster access
  • Lower running costs

Serverless Lambda functions, where every millisecond matters when you are being charged, will benefit greatly from Amazon S3 Select as data retrieval and processing of your Lambda function will experience significant speedups and cost reductions. For example, we have seen 2x speed improvement and 80% cost reduction with the Serverless MapReduce code.

Other AWS services such as Amazon Athena, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon EMR will support Amazon S3 Select as well as partner offerings including Cloudera and Hortonworks. If you are using Amazon Glacier for longer-term data archival, you will be able to use Amazon Glacier Select to retrieve a subset of your content from within Amazon Glacier.

As the volume of data that can be stored within Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier continues to scale on a daily basis, we will continue to innovate and develop improved and optimized services that will allow you to work with these magnificently-large data sets while reducing your costs (retrieval and processing). I believe this will also allow you to simplify the transformation and storage of incoming data into Amazon S3 in basic, semi-structured formats as a single copy vs. some of the duplication and reformatting of data sometimes required to do upfront optimizations for downstream processing. Amazon S3 Select largely removes the need for this upfront optimization and instead allows you to store data once and process it based on your individual Amazon S3 Select query per application or transaction need.

Thanks for reading!

Glenn contemplating why CSV format is still relevant in 2017 (Italy).

Glenn’s Take on re:Invent Part 2

Post Syndicated from Glenn Gore original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/glenns-take-on-reinvent-part-2/

Glenn Gore here, Chief Architect for AWS. I’m in Las Vegas this week — with 43K others — for re:Invent 2017. We’ve got a lot of exciting announcements this week. I’m going to check in to the Architecture blog with my take on what’s interesting about some of the announcements from an cloud architectural perspective. My first post can be found here.

The Media and Entertainment industry has been a rapid adopter of AWS due to the scale, reliability, and low costs of our services. This has enabled customers to create new, online, digital experiences for their viewers ranging from broadcast to streaming to Over-the-Top (OTT) services that can be a combination of live, scheduled, or ad-hoc viewing, while supporting devices ranging from high-def TVs to mobile devices. Creating an end-to-end video service requires many different components often sourced from different vendors with different licensing models, which creates a complex architecture and a complex environment to support operationally.

AWS Media Services
Based on customer feedback, we have developed AWS Media Services to help simplify distribution of video content. AWS Media Services is comprised of five individual services that can either be used together to provide an end-to-end service or individually to work within existing deployments: AWS Elemental MediaConvert, AWS Elemental MediaLive, AWS Elemental MediaPackage, AWS Elemental MediaStore and AWS Elemental MediaTailor. These services can help you with everything from storing content safely and durably to setting up a live-streaming event in minutes without having to be concerned about the underlying infrastructure and scalability of the stream itself.

In my role, I participate in many AWS and industry events and often work with the production and event teams that put these shows together. With all the logistical tasks they have to deal with, the biggest question is often: “Will the live stream work?” Compounding this fear is the reality that, as users, we are also quick to jump on social media and make noise when a live stream drops while we are following along remotely. Worse is when I see event organizers actively selecting not to live stream content because of the risk of failure and and exposure — leading them to decide to take the safe option and not stream at all.

With AWS Media Services addressing many of the issues around putting together a high-quality media service, live streaming, and providing access to a library of content through a variety of mechanisms, I can’t wait to see more event teams use live streaming without the concern and worry I’ve seen in the past. I am excited for what this also means for non-media companies, as video becomes an increasingly common way of sharing information and adding a more personalized touch to internally- and externally-facing content.

AWS Media Services will allow you to focus more on the content and not worry about the platform. Awesome!

Amazon Neptune
As a civilization, we have been developing new ways to record and store information and model the relationships between sets of information for more than a thousand years. Government census data, tax records, births, deaths, and marriages were all recorded on medium ranging from knotted cords in the Inca civilization, clay tablets in ancient Babylon, to written texts in Western Europe during the late Middle Ages.

One of the first challenges of computing was figuring out how to store and work with vast amounts of information in a programmatic way, especially as the volume of information was increasing at a faster rate than ever before. We have seen different generations of how to organize this information in some form of database, ranging from flat files to the Information Management System (IMS) used in the 1960s for the Apollo space program, to the rise of the relational database management system (RDBMS) in the 1970s. These innovations drove a lot of subsequent innovations in information management and application development as we were able to move from thousands of records to millions and billions.

Today, as architects and developers, we have a vast variety of database technologies to select from, which have different characteristics that are optimized for different use cases:

  • Relational databases are well understood after decades of use in the majority of companies who required a database to store information. Amazon Relational Database (Amazon RDS) supports many popular relational database engines such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, and Oracle. We have even brought the traditional RDBMS into the cloud world through Amazon Aurora, which provides MySQL and PostgreSQL support with the performance and reliability of commercial-grade databases at 1/10th the cost.
  • Non-relational databases (NoSQL) provided a simpler method of storing and retrieving information that was often faster and more scalable than traditional RDBMS technology. The concept of non-relational databases has existed since the 1960s but really took off in the early 2000s with the rise of web-based applications that required performance and scalability that relational databases struggled with at the time. AWS published this Dynamo whitepaper in 2007, with DynamoDB launching as a service in 2012. DynamoDB has quickly become one of the critical design elements for many of our customers who are building highly-scalable applications on AWS. We continue to innovate with DynamoDB, and this week launched global tables and on-demand backup at re:Invent 2017. DynamoDB excels in a variety of use cases, such as tracking of session information for popular websites, shopping cart information on e-commerce sites, and keeping track of gamers’ high scores in mobile gaming applications, for example.
  • Graph databases focus on the relationship between data items in the store. With a graph database, we work with nodes, edges, and properties to represent data, relationships, and information. Graph databases are designed to make it easy and fast to traverse and retrieve complex hierarchical data models. Graph databases share some concepts from the NoSQL family of databases such as key-value pairs (properties) and the use of a non-SQL query language such as Gremlin. Graph databases are commonly used for social networking, recommendation engines, fraud detection, and knowledge graphs. We released Amazon Neptune to help simplify the provisioning and management of graph databases as we believe that graph databases are going to enable the next generation of smart applications.

A common use case I am hearing every week as I talk to customers is how to incorporate chatbots within their organizations. Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly have made it easy for customers to experiment and build chatbots for a wide range of scenarios, but one of the missing pieces of the puzzle was how to model decision trees and and knowledge graphs so the chatbot could guide the conversation in an intelligent manner.

Graph databases are ideal for this particular use case, and having Amazon Neptune simplifies the deployment of a graph database while providing high performance, scalability, availability, and durability as a managed service. Security of your graph database is critical. To help ensure this, you can store your encrypted data by running AWS in Amazon Neptune within your Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) and using encryption at rest integrated with AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS). Neptune also supports Amazon VPC and AWS Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM) to help further protect and restrict access.

Our customers now have the choice of many different database technologies to ensure that they can optimize each application and service for their specific needs. Just as DynamoDB has unlocked and enabled many new workloads that weren’t possible in relational databases, I can’t wait to see what new innovations and capabilities are enabled from graph databases as they become easier to use through Amazon Neptune.

Look for more on DynamoDB and Amazon S3 from me on Monday.

 

Glenn at Tour de Mont Blanc

 

 

Glenn’s Take on re:Invent 2017 Part 1

Post Syndicated from Glenn Gore original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/glenns-take-on-reinvent-2017-part-1/

GREETINGS FROM LAS VEGAS

Glenn Gore here, Chief Architect for AWS. I’m in Las Vegas this week — with 43K others — for re:Invent 2017. We have a lot of exciting announcements this week. I’m going to post to the AWS Architecture blog each day with my take on what’s interesting about some of the announcements from a cloud architectural perspective.

Why not start at the beginning? At the Midnight Madness launch on Sunday night, we announced Amazon Sumerian, our platform for VR, AR, and mixed reality. The hype around VR/AR has existed for many years, though for me, it is a perfect example of how a working end-to-end solution often requires innovation from multiple sources. For AR/VR to be successful, we need many components to come together in a coherent manner to provide a great experience.

First, we need lightweight, high-definition goggles with motion tracking that are comfortable to wear. Second, we need to track movement of our body and hands in a 3-D space so that we can interact with virtual objects in the virtual world. Third, we need to build the virtual world itself and populate it with assets and define how the interactions will work and connect with various other systems.

There has been rapid development of the physical devices for AR/VR, ranging from iOS devices to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which provide excellent capabilities for the first and second components defined above. With the launch of Amazon Sumerian we are solving for the third area, which will help developers easily build their own virtual worlds and start experimenting and innovating with how to apply AR/VR in new ways.

Already, within 48 hours of Amazon Sumerian being announced, I have had multiple discussions with customers and partners around some cool use cases where VR can help in training simulations, remote-operator controls, or with new ideas around interacting with complex visual data sets, which starts bringing concepts straight out of sci-fi movies into the real (virtual) world. I am really excited to see how Sumerian will unlock the creative potential of developers and where this will lead.

Amazon MQ
I am a huge fan of distributed architectures where asynchronous messaging is the backbone of connecting the discrete components together. Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) is one of my favorite services due to its simplicity, scalability, performance, and the incredible flexibility of how you can use Amazon SQS in so many different ways to solve complex queuing scenarios.

While Amazon SQS is easy to use when building cloud-native applications on AWS, many of our customers running existing applications on-premises required support for different messaging protocols such as: Java Message Service (JMS), .Net Messaging Service (NMS), Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP), MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT), Simple (or Streaming) Text Orientated Messaging Protocol (STOMP), and WebSockets. One of the most popular applications for on-premise message brokers is Apache ActiveMQ. With the release of Amazon MQ, you can now run Apache ActiveMQ on AWS as a managed service similar to what we did with Amazon ElastiCache back in 2012. For me, there are two compelling, major benefits that Amazon MQ provides:

  • Integrate existing applications with cloud-native applications without having to change a line of application code if using one of the supported messaging protocols. This removes one of the biggest blockers for integration between the old and the new.
  • Remove the complexity of configuring Multi-AZ resilient message broker services as Amazon MQ provides out-of-the-box redundancy by always storing messages redundantly across Availability Zones. Protection is provided against failure of a broker through to complete failure of an Availability Zone.

I believe that Amazon MQ is a major component in the tools required to help you migrate your existing applications to AWS. Having set up cross-data center Apache ActiveMQ clusters in the past myself and then testing to ensure they work as expected during critical failure scenarios, technical staff working on migrations to AWS benefit from the ease of deploying a fully redundant, managed Apache ActiveMQ cluster within minutes.

Who would have thought I would have been so excited to revisit Apache ActiveMQ in 2017 after using SQS for many, many years? Choice is a wonderful thing.

Amazon GuardDuty
Maintaining application and information security in the modern world is increasingly complex and is constantly evolving and changing as new threats emerge. This is due to the scale, variety, and distribution of services required in a competitive online world.

At Amazon, security is our number one priority. Thus, we are always looking at how we can increase security detection and protection while simplifying the implementation of advanced security practices for our customers. As a result, we released Amazon GuardDuty, which provides intelligent threat detection by using a combination of multiple information sources, transactional telemetry, and the application of machine learning models developed by AWS. One of the biggest benefits of Amazon GuardDuty that I appreciate is that enabling this service requires zero software, agents, sensors, or network choke points. which can all impact performance or reliability of the service you are trying to protect. Amazon GuardDuty works by monitoring your VPC flow logs, AWS CloudTrail events, DNS logs, as well as combing other sources of security threats that AWS is aggregating from our own internal and external sources.

The use of machine learning in Amazon GuardDuty allows it to identify changes in behavior, which could be suspicious and require additional investigation. Amazon GuardDuty works across all of your AWS accounts allowing for an aggregated analysis and ensuring centralized management of detected threats across accounts. This is important for our larger customers who can be running many hundreds of AWS accounts across their organization, as providing a single common threat detection of their organizational use of AWS is critical to ensuring they are protecting themselves.

Detection, though, is only the beginning of what Amazon GuardDuty enables. When a threat is identified in Amazon GuardDuty, you can configure remediation scripts or trigger Lambda functions where you have custom responses that enable you to start building automated responses to a variety of different common threats. Speed of response is required when a security incident may be taking place. For example, Amazon GuardDuty detects that an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance might be compromised due to traffic from a known set of malicious IP addresses. Upon detection of a compromised EC2 instance, we could apply an access control entry restricting outbound traffic for that instance, which stops loss of data until a security engineer can assess what has occurred.

Whether you are a customer running a single service in a single account, or a global customer with hundreds of accounts with thousands of applications, or a startup with hundreds of micro-services with hourly release cycle in a devops world, I recommend enabling Amazon GuardDuty. We have a 30-day free trial available for all new customers of this service. As it is a monitor of events, there is no change required to your architecture within AWS.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on AWS Media Services and Amazon Neptune.

 

Glenn during the Tour du Mont Blanc

Weekly roundup: Upside down

Post Syndicated from Eevee original https://eev.ee/dev/2017/11/22/weekly-roundup-upside-down/

Complicated week.

  • blog: I wrote a rather large chunk of one post, but didn’t finish it. I also made a release category for, well, release announcements, so that maybe things I make will have a permanent listing and not fade into obscurity on my Twitter timeline.

  • fox flux: Drew some experimental pickups. Started putting together a real level with a real tileset (rather than the messy sketch sheet i’ve been using). Got doors partially working with some cool transitions. Wrote a little jingle for picking up a heart.

  • veekun: Started working on Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon; I have the games dumped to YAML already, so getting them onto the site shouldn’t take too much more work.

The Decision on Transparency

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/transparency-in-business/

Backblaze transparency

This post by Backblaze’s CEO and co-founder Gleb Budman is the seventh in a series about entrepreneurship. You can choose posts in the series from the list below:

  1. How Backblaze got Started: The Problem, The Solution, and the Stuff In-Between
  2. Building a Competitive Moat: Turning Challenges Into Advantages
  3. From Idea to Launch: Getting Your First Customers
  4. How to Get Your First 1,000 Customers
  5. Surviving Your First Year
  6. How to Compete with Giants
  7. The Decision on Transparency

Use the Join button above to receive notification of new posts in this series.

“Are you crazy?” “Why would you do that?!” “You shouldn’t share that!”

These are just a few of the common questions and comments we heard after posting some of the information we have shared over the years. So was it crazy? Misguided? Should you do it?

With that background I’d like to dig into the decision to become so transparent, from releasing stats on hard drive failures, to storage pod specs, to publishing our cloud storage costs, and open sourcing the Reed-Solomon code. What was the thought process behind becoming so transparent when most companies work so hard to hide their inner workings, especially information such as the Storage Pod specs that would normally be considered a proprietary advantage? Most importantly I’d like to explore the positives and negatives of being so transparent.

Sharing Intellectual Property

The first “transparency” that garnered a flurry of “why would you share that?!” came as a result of us deciding to open source our Storage Pod design: publishing the specs, parts, prices, and how to build it yourself. The Storage Pod was a key component of our infrastructure, gave us a cost (and thus competitive) advantage, took significant effort to develop, and had a fair bit of intellectual property: the “IP.”

The negatives of sharing this are obvious: it allows our competitors to use the design to reduce our cost advantage, and it gives away the IP, which could be patentable or have value as a trade secret.

The positives were certainly less obvious, and at the time we couldn’t have guessed how massive they would be.

We wrestled with the decision: prospective users and others online didn’t believe we could offer our service for such a low price, thinking that we would burn through some cash hoard and then go out of business. We wanted to reassure them, but how?

This is how our response evolved:

We’ve built a lower cost storage platform.
But why would anyone believe us?
Because, we’ve designed our own servers and they’re less expensive.
But why would anyone believe they were so low cost and efficient?
Because here’s how much they cost versus others.
But why would anyone believe they cost that little and still enabled us to efficiently store data?
Because here are all the components they’re made of, this is how to build them, and this is how they work.
Ok, you can’t argue with that.

Great — so that would reassure people. But should we do this? Is it worth it?

This was 2009, we were a tiny company of seven people working from our co-founder’s one-bedroom apartment. We decided that the risk of not having potential customers trust us was more impactful than the risk of our competitors possibly deciding to use our server architecture. The former might kill the company in short order; the latter might make it harder for us to compete in the future. Moreover, we figured that most competitors were established on their own platforms and were unlikely to switch to ours, even if it were better.

Takeaway: Build your brand today. There are no assurances you will make it to tomorrow if you can’t make people believe in you today.

A Sharing Success Story — The Backblaze Storage Pod

So with that, we decided to publish everything about the Storage Pod. As for deciding to actually open source it? That was a ‘thank you’ to the open source community upon whose shoulders we stood as we used software such as Linux, Tomcat, etc.

With eight years of hindsight, here’s what happened:

As best as I can tell, none of our direct competitors ever used our Storage Pod design, opting instead to continue paying more for commercial solutions.

  • Hundreds of press articles have been written about Backblaze as a direct result of sharing the Storage Pod design.
  • Millions of people have read press articles or our blog posts about the Storage Pods.
  • Backblaze was established as a storage tech thought leader, and a resource for those looking for information in the space.
  • Our blog became viewed as a resource, not a corporate mouthpiece.
  • Recruiting has been made easier through the awareness of Backblaze, the appreciation for us taking on challenging tech problems in interesting ways, and for our openness.
  • Sourcing for our Storage Pods has become easier because we can point potential vendors to our blog posts and say, “here’s what we need.”

And those are just the direct benefits for us. One of the things that warms my heart is that doing this has helped others:

  • Several companies have started selling servers based on our Storage Pod designs.
  • Netflix credits Backblaze with being the inspiration behind their CDN servers.
  • Many schools, labs, and others have shared that they’ve been able to do what they didn’t think was possible because using our Storage Pod designs provided lower-cost storage.
  • And I want to believe that in general we pushed forward the development of low-cost storage servers in the industry.

So overall, the decision on being transparent and sharing our Storage Pod designs was a clear win.

Takeaway: Never underestimate the value of goodwill. It can help build new markets that fuel your future growth and create new ecosystems.

Sharing An “Almost Acquisition”

Acquisition announcements are par for the course. No company, however, talks about the acquisition that fell through. If rumors appear in the press, the company’s response is always, “no comment.” But in 2010, when Backblaze was almost, but not acquired, we wrote about it in detail. Crazy?

The negatives of sharing this are slightly less obvious, but the two issues most people worried about were, 1) the fact that the company could be acquired would spook customers, and 2) the fact that it wasn’t would signal to potential acquirers that something was wrong.

So, why share this at all? No one was asking “did you almost get acquired?”

First, we had established a culture of transparency and this was a significant event that occurred for us, thus we defaulted to assuming we would share. Second, we learned that acquisitions fall through all the time, not just during the early fishing stage, but even after term sheets are signed, diligence is done, and all the paperwork is complete. I felt we had learned some things about the process that would be valuable to others that were going through it.

As it turned out, we received emails from startup founders saying they saved the post for the future, and from lawyers, VCs, and advisors saying they shared them with their portfolio companies. Among the most touching emails I received was from a founder who said that after an acquisition fell through she felt so alone that she became incredibly depressed, and that reading our post helped her see that this happens and that things could be OK after. Being transparent about almost getting acquired was worth it just to help that one founder.

And what about the concerns? As for spooking customers, maybe some were — but our sign-ups went up, not down, afterward. Any company can be acquired, and many of the world’s largest have been. That we were being both thoughtful about where to go with it, and open about it, I believe gave customers a sense that we would do the right thing if it happened. And as for signaling to potential acquirers? The ones I’ve spoken with all knew this happens regularly enough that it’s not a factor.

Takeaway: Being open and transparent is also a form of giving back to others.

Sharing Strategic Data

For years people have been desperate to know how reliable are hard drives. They could go to Amazon for individual reviews, but someone saying “this drive died for me” doesn’t provide statistical insight. Google published a study that showed annualized drive failure rates, but didn’t break down the results by manufacturer or model. Since Backblaze has deployed about 100,000 hard drives to store customer data, we have been able to collect a wealth of data on the reliability of the drives by make, model, and size. Was Backblaze the only one with this data? Of course not — Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and any other cloud-scale storage provider tracked it. Yet none would publish. Should Backblaze?

Again, starting with the main negatives: 1) sharing which drives we liked could increase demand for them, thus reducing availability or increasing prices, and 2) publishing the data might make the drive vendors unhappy with us, thereby making it difficult for us to buy drives.

But we felt that the largest drive purchasers (Amazon, Google, etc.) already had their own stats and would buy the drives they chose, and if individuals or smaller companies used our stats, they wouldn’t sufficiently move the overall market demand. Also, we hoped that the drive companies would see that we were being fair in our analysis and, if anything, would leverage our data to make drives even better.

Again, publishing the data resulted in tremendous value for Backblaze, with millions of people having read the analysis that we put out quarterly. Also, becoming known as the place to go for drive reliability information is a natural fit with being a backup and storage provider. In addition, in a twist from many people’s expectations, some of the drive companies actually started working closer with us, seeing that we could be a good source of data for them as feedback. We’ve also seen many individuals and companies make more data-based decisions on which drives to buy, and researchers have used the data for a variety of analyses.

traffic spike from hard drive reliability post

Backblaze blog analytics showing spike in readership after a hard drive stats post

Takeaway: Being open and transparent is rarely as risky as it seems.

Sharing Revenue (And Other Metrics)

Journalists always want to publish company revenue and other metrics, and private companies always shy away from sharing. For a long time we did, too. Then, we opened up about that, as well.

The negatives of sharing these numbers are: 1) external parties may otherwise perceive you’re doing better than you are, 2) if you share numbers often, you may show that growth has slowed or worse, 3) it gives your competitors info to compare their own business too.

We decided that, while some may have perceived we were bigger, our scale was plenty significant. Since we choose what we share and when, it’s up to us whether to disclose at any point. And if our competitors compare, what will they actually change that would affect us?

I did wait to share revenue until I felt I had the right person to write about it. At one point a journalist said she wouldn’t write about us unless I disclosed revenue. I suggested we had a lot to offer for the story, but didn’t want to share revenue yet. She refused to budge and I walked away from the article. Several year later, I reached out to a journalist who had covered Backblaze before and I felt understood our business and offered to share revenue with him. He wrote a deep-dive about the company, with revenue being one of the components of the story.

Sharing these metrics showed that we were at scale and running a real business, one with positive unit economics and margins, but not one where we were gouging customers.

Takeaway: Being open with the press about items typically not shared can be uncomfortable, but the press can amplify your story.

Should You Share?

For Backblaze, I believe the results of transparency have been staggering. However, it’s not for everyone. Apple has, clearly, been wildly successful taking secrecy to the extreme. In their case, early disclosure combined with the long cycle of hardware releases could significantly impact sales of current products.

“For Backblaze, I believe the results of transparency have been staggering.” — Gleb Budman

I will argue, however, that for most startups transparency wins. Most startups need to establish credibility and trust, build awareness and a fan base, show that they understand what their customers need and be useful to them, and show the soul and passion behind the company. Some startup companies try to buy these virtues with investor money, and sometimes amplifying your brand via paid marketing helps. But, authentic transparency can build awareness and trust not only less expensively, but more deeply than money can buy.

Backblaze was open from the beginning. With no outside investors, as founders we were able to express ourselves and make our decisions. And it’s easier to be a company that shares if you do it from the start, but for any company, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Ask about sharing: If something significant happens — good or bad — ask “should we share this?” If you made a tough decision, ask “should we share the thinking behind the decision and why it was tough?”
  2. Default to yes: It’s often scary to share, but look for the reasons to say ‘yes,’ not the reasons to say ‘no.’ That doesn’t mean you won’t sometimes decide not to, but make that the high bar.
  3. Minimize reviews: Press releases tend to be sanitized and boring because they’ve been endlessly wordsmithed by committee. Establish the few things you don’t want shared, but minimize the number of people that have to see anything else before it can go out. Teach, then trust.
  4. Engage: Sharing will result in comments on your blog, social, articles, etc. Reply to people’s questions and engage. It’ll make the readers more engaged and give you a better understanding of what they’re looking for.
  5. Accept mistakes: Things will become public that aren’t perfectly sanitized. Accept that and don’t punish people for oversharing.

Building a culture of a company that is open to sharing takes time, but continuous practice will build that, and over time the company will navigate its voice and approach to sharing.

The post The Decision on Transparency appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Grafana and Microsoft Azure

Post Syndicated from Blogs on Grafana Labs Blog original https://grafana.com/blog/2017/11/10/grafana-and-microsoft-azure/

Grafana Launches Microsoft Azure Data Source

Microsoft is a whole new company. Way back in college, I remember that they were vehemently anti-Linux, with Steve Ballmer even going even going so far as to call open source a “cancer”. More recently, I’ve been watching with a sense of astonishment and admiration at some of their moves and announcements. I’ve been particularly impressed with the rise of Azure, and how they’ve come to embrace open source and open standards.

We got a chance to talk to the Azure metrics team a few months ago, and they shared some of their strategy and vision for metrics and observability. They’re all about interoperability and making the data easy to consume; whatever is best for the customer.

The Grafana Labs team quickly realized there was a lot of alignment; we both wanted to help Azure users bring their valuable metrics into Grafana. There, they can be unified with other data to get a complete understanding.

Fast forward a couple of short months, and we now have an official Azure metrics data source for Grafana. Other solutions that integrate with Azure generally require you to ETL all that data out, and deal with the associated pain and cost. This plugin just talks directly to Azure metrics, on demand.

The plugin is the result of collaboration between the Microsoft Azure team and Daniel Lee from Grafana Labs. It’s a preview version, so it’s at the beginning of what will hopefully be a fruitful journey. We’d love your feedback to help shape future development. This plugin can be installed into your self-hosted Grafana or GrafanaCloud – check out the plugin page for installation instructions. If you’d like to dig in a bit more and learn how everything fits together, check out the documentation.

The Azure team also announced the collaboration on their blog, and the availability of Grafana on the Azure Marketplace.

At Grafana Labs, we’re dead serious about bringing together ALL your time series data, wherever it lives. The Azure data source plugin is the 43rd data source in our growing catalog, and I’m sure it will be really well received by our users!