AWS Quick Start

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Amazon Web Services is now available at Illinois for research, instruction, and administrative use. You can request access or log into an account at the University of Illinois AWS service gateway: http://aws.illinois.edu/

Amazon will be on campus regularly to provide guided labs and consultation. More information is available in our Spring 2018 Lab Schedule.

You can contact the Illinois AWS team at aws-support@illinois.edu. We’re always available to sit down and discuss whether AWS is a good fit for your unit’s needs, design solutions, or take feedback on how we can improve the service.

Spring 2018 AWS Labs

We’ve locked in our Spring lab schedule:

  • January 17: 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. in 28 Illini Hall
  • February 8: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in 27 Illini Hall
  • March 7: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in 27 Illini Hall
  • April 11: 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. in 28 Illini Hall
  • April 25: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in 28 Illini Hall
  • May 9: 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. in 28 Illini Hall
  • May 23: 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in 28 Illini Hall
  • June 6: 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. in 28 Illini Hall

During each lab session, you’ll have your choice of topics:

  • AWS 101: Introduction to EC2
  • Identity and Access Management
  • S3 and CloudFront for content distribution
  • Relational Database Service
  • Automating AWS with CloudFormation
  • Introduction to Lambda
  • Building clusters with Alces Flight
  • Elastic MapReduce

You may run through multiple labs if time allows.

Technology Services will grant you access to a shared AWS account for the lab; you don’t need your own. Computers will be available onsite, though you’re welcome to bring your own laptop if you prefer.

An Amazon solutions architect will be on site along with University of Illinois staff to guide you through lab materials and discuss cloud topics.

Please register here to reserve your seat.

AWS Security Maintenance: Meltdown & Spectre

Amazon is in the process of planning how to patch their remaining EC2 hosts to protect against Meltdown and Spectre. Official details are here:

https://aws.amazon.com/security/security-bulletins/AWS-2018-013/

We’ll probably receive a small number of maintenance notifications in the next few days. I’ll try to forward those onto account owners in a timely fashion. Since Amazon is trying to fully remediate as quickly as possible, we can expect substantially less lead time than Amazon provides for normal maintenance.

Amazon’s work should protect their hypervisors, disallowing use of the attacks to break out of a VM, but you’ll still need to update the OS inside your VM to protect at that level.

re:Invent Service Launches

Amazon re:Invent was held last week in Las Vegas. We saw a lot of exciting announcements, some expected and some more surprising. Amazon has the major launches detailed here:

https://aws.amazon.com/new/reinvent/

For our campus usage, I’m most excited about these:

  • Fargate – makes containers easier than ever before.
  • ECS for Kubernetes – allows container management with Kubernetes, which may be how you’re already doing it.
  • Hibernation for Spot Instances – don’t lose your work if you get outbid.
  • New Spot Pricing Model – smooths out spot market pricing to avoid sudden surprises.
  • Aurora Serverless – auto-scale database capacity, even down to zero (with a quick scale-up when you need it again)
  • DynamoDB Backups – I can get rid of the scripts I wrote to back up DynamoDB; they don’t work as well as the new service.
  • Comprehend – process spoken language.
  • Translate – translate between spoken languages.
  • SageMaker – machine learning made easy.
  • Inter-Region VPC Peering – we’re evaluating how we can make the UOFI Active Directory available in regions outside us-east-2.
  • PrivateLink – access private services without advanced VPC configuration.
  • GuardDuty – use AWS’ behind-the-scenes machine learning to alert on unexpected behavior within your account.

Students Capitalize on Computational Genomics Research Using AWS

by Katherine Kendig

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) campus contract, which integrates security and support from both Amazon and Illinois’s Technology Services, enabled the NCSA Genomics team to initiate two forays into cloud computing during the summer of 2017: Ellen Nie, a student researcher, deployed a software prototype on the cloud that will make data-intensive genomic studies faster and more feasible, while Jennie Zermeno investigated cloud-based containerization to streamline workflows. Continue reading

AWS re:Invent Keynote Livestreams

In just under two weeks Amazon Web Service’s annual re:Invent conference will kick off in Las Vegas. During the week-long conference, there will be three separate keynote events where Andy Jassy, Werner Vogels, and Peter Desantis will be sharing new services, roadmaps, and vision of where AWS will be going over the next year.

This year the keynote events will be live streamed and you can watch live from your office/home/phone while these announcements are made. AWS has published a website to register for watching the live stream, and it includes all the relevant information about when the events are occurring, etc.  Please take a moment to check it out and register if you are interested.

https://reinvent.awsevents.com/live-stream/

Schedule of keynote live streams:

Tuesday Night Live with Peter DeSantis, VP, AWS Global Infrastructure
Tuesday, Nov. 28 |8:00 PM – 9:30 PM PT

Keynote featuring Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon Web Services
Wednesday, Nov. 29 | 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM PT

Keynote featuring Werner Vogels, Chief Technology Officer, Amazon.com
Thursday, Nov. 30 | 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM PT

If you cannot view the live stream, the events should be available to view via YouTube or Twitch within the next week.