AWS re: Invents Itself Again: New and Improved Products and Services at November Conference

AWS is the undisputed leader in the Cloud Computing world, and their managed Web Services are the benchmark for providers and customers alike. In light of that, the November 11-14 AWS re:Invent 2014 Conference in Las Vegas was a Mecca for all things Cloud.  AWS has rolled out numerous offerings in 2014, including Zocalo and the Fire Phone. Given the host of new products introduced at the conference, it’s obvious that the parade of innovation continues into 2015.

Here are some the new offerings grouped by functionality.

Security and Encryption

Reblaze is an all-in-one private virtual cloud-based security product, implemented with a simple DNS change.

Porticor Virtual Private Data (VPD) platform is a versatile cloud encryption and key management solution. Available as a virtual appliance, and includes a secure, cloud-based API for integration and automation. Pricing starts at $599/month.

Cavirin enhances security by continuously applying OOB policies to your environment. Also generates Compliances Scorecards.

Backup, Storage and Replication

CloudBerry Backup compresses and encrypts data using customer keys before transference to the cloud, and works with all major cloud storage providers.

DRUVA Phoenix eliminates tape and off-site storage, and reduces the costs of managing server backup, archiving, retention and recovery. A 3 year plan starts at $0.60/GB/Month.

Zadara Multi-Zone HA enables a fully disaster tolerant system by distributing application servers across different AWS Availability Zones, and avoid facility-level failure and application. Prices start as low as $0.49/hour to enable the Multi-Zone HA replication feature.

Zerto Virtual Replication for Amazon Web Services (AWS) extends hypervisor-based replication to the public cloud. Will be available Q1 2015 and priced at $745 per protected VM.

Cloudant, the IBM NoSQL database, now replicates JSON data to dashDB. Monthly metered pricing is based on data storage ($1.00 per GB) and the types / frequency of RESTful API calls.

Data Analytics

Xplenty provides integration, processing and preparation of data for analytics without writing code. Three tier pricing starts at $99/Month.

ExtraHop Wire Data Analytics for FireEye Threat Analytics Platform (TAP) provides the events and metrics needed to detect advanced persistent threats, including DNS activity, HTTP payload data, Session tracking, and reconnaissance activity as attackers probe networks.

Logentries Unlimited Log Management & On-demand Analytics allows you to log data from any source or format into a centralized location, and analyze in real-time. Pricing starts at $359/month.

Segment is a hub that collects, translates and routes customer data to more than one hundred analytics and marketing apps with the flip of a switch. It recently announced support for automatic data transformation and loading into Amazon Redshift. Self-service plans range from $0-$350 a month.

Apprenda newest version (5.5) is now available in the AWS Marketplace. Apprenda allows you  to run a powerful private PaaS on public IaaS. The 16 GB image is free.

Administrative Tools allows you to map and visualize all AWS cloud resources and interdependencies, and quickly see unused or rogue resources.

RightScale Cloud Appliance for vSphere now has a self service portal for access to existing vSphere templates and resources, expanded tenancy options, and support for storage policies, and support for vSAN datastores.

VNS3:ms is a single dashboard to manage and monitor your VNS3 networks and VPN connections. $50 per manager monitored per month.

Directory-as-a-Service connects AWS servers to an on premise AD or LDAP directory. Works with Windows, Macintosh and Linux. First 10 users are free, additional users are $10/month.

Testing Platforms

BlazeMeter Version 3.0 Unlimited Testing Platform has redesigned User Interface, a mobile dashboard for iPhone and Android, Selenium testing, Multi-Cloud support, comprehensive REST API, and Multi-Instance tests.

Skytap Dev/Test Environments on AWS utilizes three new AWS support capabilities: dynamic IPSEC VPN, Secure Remote Desktop Client, and third-party URL sharing. Price ranges from $30-$60 per month per VM.

VDI (Visual Desktop Interface)

ViewSonic SC-Z55 Discrete Zero Client utilizes VDI (Visual Desktop Interface) technology to support advanced 2D/3D applications for high-end workstations.

Cloud Management

2nd Watch Cloud Factory automates migration of enterprise workloads to the public clouds with an automated workflow that includes extraction, batching, conversion, importing, configuring, launching, and testing. Pricing starts at $2,000 per server.

Virtual FXT Edge Filer from Avere Systems provides the ability to deploy and scale while using both on-premises and cloud-based storage resources, such as Amazon EC2. $4,620 per month.

CTP Labs for Amazon Web Services (AWS) transforms legacy software products and systems into multitenant, auto-scaling cloud services. $150,000 for 1 month Rapid Minimum Viable Product (RMVP) starter engagement; $450,000 for 3 month RMVP engagement. (Duration and price range varies depending on application complexity.)

vNOC Cloud Management Platform for Cloudnexa now has a User Interface to manage existing resources, audit and troubleshoot change management issues, and view AWS account snapshot summary reports. A free limited version is available.

AWS Opens Zocalo for Widespread Use

Amazon Web Services recently launched its enterprise-level document-sharing service for public use, putting it in a position to compete with services like Dropbox. Called Zocalo, the service allows teams to store and share files, even commenting on them. Because it’s cloud-based, Zocalo can be accessed using PCs or mobile devices.

Aggressive Pricing

For only $5 per user per month, managed AWS users can deploy Zocalo across the organization. This grants each end user 200 GB of storage, as well as file-sharing capabilities. Administrators have access to a panel that allows them to manage user permissions and integrate with an existing Active Directory environment.

To try out the new service, businesses can sign up for a 30-day free trial. While Amazon is competing with other services for business file storage, the company already had a consumer-grade file storage service called Amazon Cloud Drive. Cloud Drive is popular with Amazon Fire owners, since they automatically receive unlimited file storage for their phones.

Call Recordings

In addition to rolling out Zocalo, Amazon also announced that AWS CloudTrail now will record phone calls made to the Zocalo API. This opens up the future possibility for businesses to build applications that will integrate with the Zocalo API. The company is soliciting feedback about the types of applications they’d build to work with Zocalo.

Zocalo has been available to select managed AWS users in preview since July. The company opened the preview up to those who expressed interest in participating on a space-available basis. At the same time as this launch, Dropbox has gone after the corporate world, lowering prices and increasing storage for its pro customers.

Amazon has posted several videos to the Zocalo site explaining how the service can benefit organizations. From here, businesses can create an account that will launch a 30-day free trial of the service, giving them time to try it out and see if it’s the best solution to meet their unique needs.

How Cloud Analytics Can Help Your Small Business

analyticsDespite the buzz surrounding the future of data analytics, small businesses aren’t sure how they can gain access to detailed information about every aspect of operations. With the right analytics in place, businesses are finding that they can access statistics about network performance that can help them improve server productivity. However, many smaller businesses assume they don’t have access to this technology due to their size.

But the recent announcement that Datapipe Cloud Analytics won the 2014 Cloud Computing Excellence Award has raised awareness of the availability of third-party analytics services to businesses of all sizes. Provided to Managed AWS customers, Datapipe delivers information on AWS usage to management to help them make decisions that can save money.

Tracking Costs and Security

With Datapipe, AWS users can track data usage trends over a period of days, weeks, or months to determine where savings can be leveraged. You may be paying for a higher capacity than you are using, for instance, or you may realize that you need more capacity at certain times and less at others.

In addition to cost savings, businesses can use cloud analytics to pinpoint areas of weakness to avoid a security breach. Thanks to email alerts, businesses can be aware immediately when an issue has been discovered so that they can take immediate action to prevent further damage.

For Managed AWS users, Datapipe is a great option. The company’s partnership with Amazon ensures businesses are getting the specialized information they need. With 24/7 support, businesses also have the technical support they need.

Data analytics will soon invade every area of business, with companies seeking insight on how customers are interacting with their websites and bricks-and-mortar locations. With the ability to see details about your cloud behaviors, you’ll have the information you need to optimize your websites and data storage while also saving money.

What Amazon’s Fire Phone Brings to Your Small Business

amazonfireAs Amazon enters the smartphone space, many consumers are adopting a “wait and see” approach to the new device. The company’s Kindle carved out a niche in the market by reaching out to book enthusiasts, but what sets its phone apart from the others?

For businesses, there are a small number of benefits that may set the Fire Phone apart from the others. While it may be a while before the Fire Phone replaces BlackBerry and Android phones as the office smartphone of choice, there are some compelling reasons to consider it for your users.

Business Apps

If you’re currently a Managed AWS customer, you may find the phone is an ideal solution for your environment, but there are other business-friendly features, as well. Through the Amazon app store, users can gain access to popular apps like Evernote and Dropbox to make accessing documents on the road easier. A free office suite called Kingsoft Office gives users full functionality with spreadsheet and document software that can be emailed or uploaded to Dropbox.

But many of these same apps are available for more established cell phones. Currently the smartphone lacks the ability to download apps from Google Play, leaving users with the limited apps in the Amazon app store. So what would direct professional users to the Amazon phone over its competitors?

24/7 Tech Support

One of the best features of the Amazon Fire Phone is its ease of use. Novice users will find the straightforward interface easy to learn and Amazon’s on-demand tech support will help with any problems. This tech support is available at the touch of a button, 24/7.

While many businesses may choose a more established phone for professional users, the Amazon Fire Phone shows promise, especially with around-the-clock technical support provided. In an environment that is increasingly requiring users to work without on-site computer support, the idea of getting live virtual help at the touch of a button will likely spread to other devices, as well.

Windows XP Support is Ending: Is Now the Time to Go Virtual?

rsz_xpWhile the response toward cloud storage and networking has been overwhelmingly positive, businesses are still slowly warming up to the idea of virtualized desktops. Amazon Workspaces stands to make the concept more mainstream, offering a simple format with affordable prices. But businesses are still unsure what a desktop in the cloud really means to daily operations.

Big Changes

Currently, a major change in Microsoft Windows is leading many businesses to consider multiple options. Microsoft officially ended support for its extremely popular Windows XP operating system on April 8, leaving businesses vulnerable to viruses and data breaches. According to NetMarketShare, the 12-year-old operating system still has 28 percent of the O/S market, with many of those computers in use in both businesses and government agencies.

The expiration date has left many businesses with a big decision to make. Since many copies of Windows XP reside on devices that already need to be replaced, costly equipment replacements are often the only option. New devices will likely come with the vastly unpopular Windows 8 O/S, leaving businesses to downgrade to Windows 7 or choose a Mac O/S as an option. This has led some businesses to look at a third, less talked-about option: making the move to a virtual desktop.

Amazon Workspaces

Through an AWS consultant, businesses can utilize expert support in implementing Amazon WorkSpaces in their businesses. Employees are no longer tied to a laptop or desktop, with their entire desktop available through tablets or PCs, from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it easier for employees who travel or telecommute to conduct their work on a daily basis.

In time, virtual desktops will become a part of every business, but currently organizations are still interested in learning more. For businesses currently running Window XP, this may be the perfect time to consider Amazon WorkSpaces as an alternative to the operating systems available today.

Will Amazon’s Workspaces Mean the End of Cubicle Life?

The concept of virtual desktops has been a distant dream for many in the IT industry for a while. Instead of purchasing a PC or laptop and installing software on each device, businesses would only be responsible for providing a device that connects to the network, where a user’s entire operating system is stored.

Enter Amazon Workspaces

So far, the technology has been too expensive to be accessible to most businesses. But Amazon stands to potentially change that. Through a Managed AWS provider, businesses can sign up for Amazon Workspaces, a service that provides cloud-based work areas to each of its workers. Because its affordability makes it accessible to businesses of all sizes, Workspaces stands to be a game-changer in the virtual desktop space.

But the most appealing feature of virtual desktops isn’t that businesses are no longer required to purchase desktop PCs to access work data. Virtual desktops appeal to the emerging mobile workforce, which is gradually being redefined as mobile rather than desk-based. A cloud-based workspace means workers can log on from a smartphone, home PC, or smartphone and see the same desktop–icons, applications, files, e-mail connectivity, and the like. This constant accessibility may remove the final barriers to a mobile workforce, freeing workers to conduct business while on the go.

On-Site Support Reduction

Businesses are increasingly moving away from having a full staff of I.T. workers on site. Instead, on-site and remote support is becoming the norm in a growing number of organizations. While businesses may still need help with troubleshooting printer problems and issues with network connectivity in-office, most customer support can be done at the cloud service provider level, with businesses only being charged when they call for help. Since software is managed at the server level, though, there are likely to be far fewer glitches and bugs than there are with hundreds or thousands of separate installations in one organization.

Amazon is unveiling several new offerings as it continues to grow in the cloud services space. Workspaces is a promising new offering that can potentially change the way both personal and business customers access the cloud today.

What Cloud-Based Apps Mean for Your Business

We’ve long heard that the days of CDs, DVDs, and the hardware to play them were numbered, but what does this mean for business? Many businesses are operating without these media already, instead storing the apps they need to install regularly on servers or external hard drives.

But with Amazon’s AppStream, businesses may soon have an even easier option. With AppStream, apps are stored in the cloud, accessible by any device with an Internet connection. This means smartphones and tablets can run the apps businesses use each day without them being installed on the device.

When sourced through a managed AWS provider, AppStream can be set up to run your applications from the cloud, bringing the following benefits to your company.


AppStream brings scalability to businesses, which means apps grow as a business’s needs grow. Businesses specify the capacity they’ll need and the service automatically scales within that range, making sure apps are able to constantly meet demand.

Business Continuity

Because apps are hosted in the cloud, they’re safe from any disaster your physical location could encounter. Floods, fires, hurricanes… Amazon ensures your application is not only safe, but that it is accessible in the event your building becomes uninhabitable. Employees can connect from home using a PC or mobile device, allowing your business to continue to function.


A business no longer has to worry about creating a version of its app for each device. With AppStream, a business’s managed AWS provider can upload an application, along with a client application for each device that will be using it. As new devices emerge, a business’s developers need only create a new client application to support those devices.

With AppStream, Amazon is at the forefront of what will likely be a new era of gaming and application access. By streaming apps from the cloud, businesses no longer have to deal with resource-consuming apps on equipment and they’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that their apps are safe.

3 Reasons Your Data Should Be Available in Real Time

As the holiday season approaches, the demand on servers around the globe will reach the highest point of the year. To remain competitive, businesses are feeling more pressure to provide always-up-to-date inventory information, live streaming news, and scaling to accommodate growing customer demand. Smaller businesses may think this type of technology is out of their reach, but with products like Kinesis from Amazon Web Services (AWS), even the smallest businesses can deploy the latest technology to meet consumer demand.

When set up by a managed AWS/Azure provider, Kinesis can begin working for you immediately. No complicated setup is required and you won’t have to hire a high-salaried software developer to handle the code. On your end, you’ll begin to enjoy the benefits of technology many large corporations already have in place.

Real-Time Inventory Information

If your website doesn’t display up-to-date inventory information, your customer service may already be suffering. Items should be noted as out of stock immediately to prevent a customer from trying to purchase them. If you’re still required to occasionally contact a customer to let them know the item they’ve ordered is on back-order and won’t ship for four weeks, you’re probably aware of the customer relations nightmare that can pose.

Big Data Capabilities

You may have heard that Big Data is the next big thing, but assume it doesn’t apply to your business. Big Data is expected to be an integral part of doing business in 2014. Kinesis is designed to process a large amount of data in real-time, giving even the smallest businesses the information they need to make decisions and move their business to the next level. Kinesis users can get back data as frequently as each hour on everything from financial transactions to social media feeds.

Real-Time Analytics

No more waiting until the end of a specified period of time to gain insight about your marketing campaigns, website sales, and similar information. With Kinesis, consumers can see results immediately, which can be particularly helpful in presenting reports to board members, clients, and management.

With Kinesis, AWS brings another level of corporate functionality to businesses of all sizes. Because it’s hosted in the cloud, all data is supported by some of the best technology professionals in the business.