Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services Makes Zocalo Cloud Storage And Collaboration Platform Generally Available

Last Wednesday, Amazon Web Services announced the general availability of Zocalo, the cloud storage and collaboration platform, to AWS customers. Zocalo will be available free of charge for a 30 day period for up to 200 GB of storage for a maximum of 50 users. After the 30 day free trial, users can access the Zocalo platform at a rate of $5 per user per month. The announcement of the general availability of Zocalo also featured news that AWS CloudTrail now records API calls made to the Zocalo API and subsequently delivers log files containing details such as API caller identity, time, source, the nature of the API request and Zocalo’s corresponding response. More than just a cloud storage platform, Zocalo provides users with the ability to annotate and provide feedback on files and to additionally receive email notifications regarding team feedback and task-related deadlines. Zocalo has been in limited preview since July but now emerges as a serious contender in the hotly contested cloud storage and collaboration space amongst the likes of Box, Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.

Dropbox, for example, recently announced 1 TB of storage for Dropbox users at the rate of $10/month, in contrast to the 100 GB of storage per month to which Dropbox Pro customers were previously entitled. Moreover, Dropbox Pro now features enhanced security features such as passwords for shared links to Dropbox files, expiration dates for shared links and the ability to delete Dropbox files from lost or stolen devices.  Zocalo now joins the cloud storage party with pricing and functionality to match its competitors, although it remains to be seen whether enterprise customers will choose to opt for AWS for their cloud storage and sharing needs given the heterogeneity of its other cloud products and services, or select to instead opt for a vendor dedicated purely to building a storage and document sharing platform for the enterprise such as Box or Dropbox. Regardless, the battle for cloud storage and collaboration continues to evolve with new twists and turns as AWS throws it hat into the ring with its now generally available Zocalo platform. Amazon Zocalo is now generally available in the US-West-2 (Oregon), US-East-1 (N.Virginia) and the EU (Ireland) AWS Regions.

Categories: Amazon Web Services, Dropbox

Amazon Web Services Expands Authority For GovCloud To Handle Unclassified Department of Defense Data

On Thursday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it had become the first cloud vendor to obtain provisional authorization from the Department information Systems Agency (DISA) to handle DISA data requiring levels 3-5 security clearance under the DISA Cloud Security Model (DISA CSM). Because AWS had already achieved authorization to manage data for levels 1-2 security clearance as of March, Thursday’s announcement means that AWS can now handle all unclassified data given that level 6 security clearance applies to classified data. The DISA CSM imposes even more restrictions on cloud-based data than the FedRAMP certification program. Department of Defense Agencies can now leverage the capabilities of the AWS GovCloud more quickly given the expanded scope of its authorization to handle a greater range of unclassified data. As the very first cloud vendor to obtain DISA clearance for levels 1-5 of unclassified data, AWS stands poised to strengthen its market share advantage in the battle for government-based cloud services given its receipt of a hotly contested contract for $600M and leadership with respect to obtaining FedRAMP certification.

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Amazon Continues To Court Enterprise With Zocalo For File Storage And Collaboration

On Friday, Amazon Web Services announced the release of Amazon Zocalo, an enterprise grade storage and collaboration platform. Zocalo delivers file storage, the ability for users to annotate files and provide feedback for team members in addition to version control and fine-grained access permissions. Users of Zocalo can request feedback from team members and return to the section in the original document to which the feedback refers as illustrated below:

Image source: Look Out Box and Dropbox – Here Comes Amazon’s Zocalo

Collaborators can highlight words or phrases in the original document and receive notifications via email about recently inputted feedback or impending deadlines. Moreover, users have the ability to set up a folder that synchronizes with Zocalo by means of an encrypted connection across all relevant devices. Enterprise customers can use Zocalo as a production-ready collaboration platform that allows employees to dispense with lengthy email collaborations to finalize documents. Moreover, Zocalo features advanced security functionality marked by data encryption, audit logs and integration with Active Directory, all for the low cost of $5 per user for 200 GB of storage per user. The Zocalo platform represents direct competition to file storage and collaboration vendors Box and Dropbox, both of whom target personal users and enterprise customers alike, although Amazon’s pricepoint and breathtaking ability to roll out features renders it an attractive option out of the gate despite being a late arriver to the enterprise file storage landscape. Most importantly, Zocalo constitutes yet another example of Amazon’s investment in courting enterprise customers by delivering a solution that meets enterprise needs for security, simplicity and collaboration-centric functionality.

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Datapipe Extends Range of Services Offered In Managed Cloud For Amazon Web Services

Datapipe today announced an expansion of its Managed Cloud for Amazon Web Services offering marked by the availability of enhanced functionality related to cloud security, risk management, the creation of hybrid cloud infrastructures and operational analytics. As an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, Datapipe’s Managed Cloud for Amazon Web Services delivers a fully managed solution for customers who would like to take advantage of the Amazon Web Services platform and its extraordinary range of features and ancillary product offerings. Specifically, Datapipe offers services that include round the clock issue resolution and monitoring, managed cloud provisioning, cloud scaling, database management, workload migration, SharePoint as a Service and orchestration. As a result of today’s announcement, Datapipe offers enhanced security and risk management solutions including advanced identity management and authentication services, managed security and threat alerts, backup and recovery options that leverage hybrid cloud infrastructures such as Datapipe’s on-premise datacenters and enterprise-level governance and security policies. In addition, Datapipe launches a “Managed hybrid cloud connect” solution that allows customers to create hybrid cloud infrastructures composed of the Amazon Web Services Cloud with Datapipe’s on-premise datacenters in Seattle, WA, Silicon Valley, Ashburn, VA, London and Singapore. Importantly, Datapipe’s “Managed hybrid cloud connect” solution leverages AWS Direct Connect, the dedicated connection to Amazon Web Services that bypasses the public internet. Finally, Datapipe revealed the availability of operational analytics about a customer’s AWS infrastructure that enables customers to track usage trends and operational KPIs towards the end of optimizing the performance of their deployments. Today’s announcement by Datapipe underscores the heterogeneity of strategic alliances in the IaaS space whereby vendors such as Datapipe partner with a leading IaaS player to deliver a fully managed offering with an increasingly rich range of features that enables enterprise customers to access a turnkey solution that meets their needs for infrastructure monitoring, security, data resilience and analytics. The industry should expect more vendors to offer managed cloud solutions on the platforms of major IaaS players as the market for cloud services continues to skyrocket and the need for cloud-related managed services increased in tandem.

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Amazon Web Services Reveals Low Cost T2 Instances Marked By Burstable CPU Capability

Amazon Web Services recently introduced T2 instances, a new EC2 instance offering for applications that do not require sustained high CPU performance. The T2 instances constitute the cheapest instance available on the EC2 platform with prices starting at $0.013/hour. T2 instances deliver a baseline CPU in conjunction with the capacity to “burst” above the baseline. The baseline CPU level and bursting ability are determined by “CPU Credits” that instances can accrue when they are idle. The more the CPU is idle, the greater the ability of the T2 instance to burst above its baseline capacity. The T2 instances are ideal for web servers, small databases and development environments that sparingly use the full capacity of the CPU. Applications with high, consistent CPU needs such as computationally intensive applications or applications leveraging streaming data will require fixed performance EC2 instances in contrast to the burstable performance instances specific to the T2 instance. T2 instances are available in micro, small and medium sizes with 1, 2 and 4 GB of memory respectively. Overall, the T2 instance offering positions Amazon even more strongly with respect to its competitors in catering to the needs of organizations with low CPU needs in general, but that “require the full CPU resources for short bursts,” according to Matt Garman, VP of Amazon EC2 at Amazon Web Services.

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Amazon Fire Phone Signals Beginning Of Unlimited Cloud Storage

Amazon’s announcement of details of its Amazon Fire Phone on June 18 promises to disrupt not only the economics of the smartphone industry, but also the use of cloud computing for backup and archival purposes more generally. In Wednesday’s unveiling of Amazon’s first phone, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted that the Amazon Fire Phone will offer unlimited, cloud-based photo storage for pictures taken from the phone’s 13 MP camera. As noted by MG Siegler, the Amazon Fire Phone’s offer of unlimited photo storage outstrips its contemporaries because Apple’s iPhone cloud storage limits are capped in conjunction with a customer’s limits on iCloud. Whereas Android offers unlimited photo uploads to Google+, it does so at lower resolutions than that of the original image. Third party application Flickr offers 1 TB of photo storage, but has yet to be integrated with the out of the box phone technology.

With the release of its first phone, Amazon throws down the gauntlet to other cloud providers to offer unlimited cloud-based photo storage and implicitly heralds the day when cloud vendors will offer unlimited backup and archival services for a range of file types in addition to photographs. For example, the industry should expect personal storage platforms such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive to continue expanding the allotment of free storage and ultimately offer either unlimited storage, or more likely, 1 TB of free storage to consumers, particularly as cloud infrastructure prices continue to fall in conjunction with Moore’s law. In the short term, however, customers should expect Apple to raise the free limits on its iCloud platform in response to the Amazon Fire Phone.

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AWS Cuts Prices For 42nd Time, Announces VPC Peering Capability And General Availability Of Amazon Workspaces

A day after Google announced price cuts and enhancements to its cloud computing products, Amazon Web Services responded with price cuts of its own at its AWS Summit in San Francisco. Price cuts for Amazon Web Services are nothing new, and the company took care to note as such by pointing out that the April 1, 2014 price reductions represent the 42nd time the Seattle tech behemoth has slashed prices since its 2006 inception. Amazon EC2 pricing cuts ranged from 10-40% for Linux/Unix virtual machines and 7-35% for Windows-based machines. Similarly, AWS announced deep price cuts on its reserved instances offering on the order of 10-40%. Prices for Amazon S3 were reduced by 51% on average, with a hefty discount of 65% for the 0-1 TB range. Meanwhile, Amazon RDS experienced a price cut of 28% on average. AWS also announced the general availability of Amazon Workspaces, a fully managed desktop as a service offering that allows customers to configure and deliver desktop environments for their employees from a centrally hosted location on the AWS cloud. Amazon Workspaces supports the synchronized, bundled delivery of designated software applications to end users on multiple devices. In addition, AWS elaborated on new functionality in the form of “peering connections” between virtual private clouds (VPC) in the same AWS Region that supports use cases such as separate virtual private clouds for different business units within a large organization. As an example of one such use case, VPC peering connections allow EC2 instances from a VPC for the Finance department to access data in a VPC dedicated to Operations, but not necessarily vice versa, depending on the business rules established by the customer for “peering” or data sharing. Finally, AWS took note of its recent achievement of Department of Defense (DoD) provisional authorization, which certifies it as compliant with DOD security protocols over and beyond those achieved by the FedRAMP certification which AWS has already earned. Overall, today’s announcements from the AWS Summit failed to match the depth and variety of cloud-specific product enhancements revealed by Google, but they confirmed Amazon’s enduring ability to cut prices and innovate as well as its growing credibility amongst U.S. government customers.

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