Amazon Research Awards Seeking Proposals

Amazon has opened a call for proposals for the 2017 round of Amazon Research Awards (ARA) in a number of areas, including machine translation, natural language understanding, search, robotics, and more. The program is open to faculty members at academic institutions in North America and Europe and awards up to 80,000 USD in cash and 20,000 USD in AWS promotional credits.

Proposal submissions are accepted until September 15, 2017.

For complete information visit the Amazon Research Rewards webpage. Should you complete a proposal, please contact the Illinois AWS team and make them aware so they can provide support.

Fall 17 Lab Schedule

We’ll be holding free AWS labs throughout the Fall semester. Here’s the full schedule of dates. Times and locations will be updated when available:

  • July 12: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Undergraduate Library ICS Lab
  • July 19: 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. in the Undergraduate Library ICS Lab
  • August 9: 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. in 27 Illini Hall
  • August 30: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in 27 Illini Hall
  • September 13: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in 27 Illini Hall
  • September 27: 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. in 27 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. An Amazon solutions architect will be on-site with our local staff to offer technical assistance and discuss cloud topics.

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.

Please register here to reserve your seat.

Free Amazon Web Services Summit

Do you have questions about how you can use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to enhance your research, storage, or website hosting? AWS will host a FREE seminar in Chicago on Wednesday July 26 and Thursday July 27 at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center. To register online or see additional details visit https://aws.amazon.com/summits/chicago/.

This summit is a great, low-cost way to attend technical sessions and workshops, bootcamp training events, and labs. AWS engineers, solutions architects and AWS partners will be present and available throughout the event.

Onsite registration begins at 7:30am on Wednesday followed by labs and the keynote presentation at 9:30am.

Public Snapshots

Today’s recommended reading: An Elegant Way to Ruin Your Company’s Day – Introduction to Public AWS EBS Snapshots.

I found the article fascinating because it’s a good look into modern attack strategies. Rather than breaking through defenses, the researchers were able to identify snapshots which had been shared publicly and automatically examine their contents for sensitive-looking data.

Some of the snapshots were only shared for a few minutes at a time, suggesting an intentional collaboration technique. The article demonstrates that even such brief lapses are likely to be exploited. With the private sector’s massive migration to public clouds and the value of those companies’ data, it’s a fair bet that there will always be someone somewhere looking to exploit not-quite-best practices.

Amazon Web Services Technical Updates

Below are a number of technical updates announced by Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently:

    1. FPGA nodes in Amazon Web Services (AWS) are now available
    2. Research IT and Technology Services continue to work with the University on getting the Terms and Conditions agreed to and contracts in place for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud platform. For announcements visit http://cloud.illinois.edu.
    3. A new version of the AWS Deep Learning machine image was released in April. It includes popular deep learning frameworks, including MXNet, Caffe, Caffe2, TensorFlow, Theano, CNTK, Torch and Keras. It also includes popular packages including Jupyter notebooks with Python 2.7 and Python 3.4 kernels, Matplotlib, Scikit-image, CppLint, Pylint, pandas, Graphviz, Bokeh Python packages, Boto and Boto 3 and the AWS CLI. The Deep Learning machine image also comes packaged with Anaconda 2 and Anaconda 3 Data Science platforms. More information can be found at https://aws.amazon.com/marketplace/pp/B01M0AXXQB
    4. The AWS Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) service, which provides tools such as Hadoop, Spark, Hbase, Presto and Hive, updated to versions of Presto (0.170), Apache Zeppelin (0.7.1), and Hue (3.12.0) on Amazon EMR release 5.5.0. Presto 0.170 includes support for LDAP authentication and various improvements and bug fixes. Hue 3.12.0 adds new features to the SQL editor, timeline and pivot graphing for visualization, and email notifications for Apache Oozie workflow completion. https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2017/04/updates-to-presto-apache-zeppelin-apache-flink-and-hue-now-available-on-amazon-emr-release-5-5-0/