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Cloud Month In Review – July 2017

Cloud month July 2017AWS kicks off July with new features for EC2

EC2 Auto Scaling Uses Target Tracking Policies

AWS has previously released an Application Auto Scaling model that automates capacity management for DynamoDB tables. One feature of this model is target tracking. Each Auto Scaling policy with target tracking requires that you choose a target value for a CloudWatch metric. Auto Scaling will then drive the metric towards this specified target and simultaneously adjust CloudWatch alarms.

This is easier and more direct as opposed to having to set up ranges and thresholds with the old step-scaling policy. But you still have the option to use target tracking with step scaling to create an advanced scaling policy.

AWS just announced that target tracking has been added to EC2 Auto Scaling. Now you may generate scaling policies that are driven by a metric you choose: application load balancer request counts, CPU load, network traffic, and so on.

You may start creating target tracking policies through the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface, or the AWS SDKs.


Amazon Kinesis Streams Adds Server-side Encryption

Amazon Kinesis Streams is a service that lets you build applications that read, aggregate, analyze, and store data from streaming data sources. This may be social media devices, market data feeds, web clickstream, or logs from your data infrastructure. Amazon Kinesis Streams also let you process data in parallel. As such, you can have several AWS services (e.g. EC2LambdaRedshift) work on the same stream at once.

Given that the Kinesis Streams will be handling sensitive data, Amazon is increasing security with server-side encryption (SSE).

Every data record and partition key placed in a Kinesis Stream is encrypted through the AWS Key Management Service (KMS) master key.  This lets Kinesis Streams use the 256-bit Advanced Encryption standard for incoming data.

Server-side encryption may be enabled through the Kinesis management console or with an AWS SDK. You can also audit your stream encryption history, validate the encryption status of particular streams in the Kinesis Stream console, or verify that the PutRecord or GetRecord transactions are encrypted in AWS CloudTrail.

Encryption makes it easier for users to meet compliance and regulatory requirements for their industry. In fact, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance program has designated as one of the AWS Services in Scope. Kinesis Streams is also compliant with FedRAMP in AWS GovCloud.


Amazon CloudWatch High-Resolution Custom Metrics

Launched in 2009, Amazon CloudWatch has proven an integral service for monitoring one’s use of AWS resources and applications. Its own custom metrics functionality lets you create your own business and application metrics, see them in graph format, and kick off actions using Amazon CloudWatch Alarms.

With the rise of high-demand applications such as streaming videos, running flash sales, and code deployments that require quick reporting as changes occur, a one-minute interval for reporting has too little. As such, AWS is introducing high-resolution metrics.

High-resolution metrics lets you publish Amazon CloudWatch metrics with a 1-second resolution. Similarly, CloudWatch alarms will check every 10 seconds for actions to take. This is a great feature for catching transient spikes that would have gone unnoticed, such as low memory. These hi-res metrics would enable you to act on these problems within a matter of seconds.

You have two ways for publishing high-resolution metrics: a) through the API, where you can set the PutMetricData function’s Storage Resolution parameter to 1, or;  b) the CloudWatch collected plugin now supports the collection and publication of high-res metrics. Just set the enable_high_resolution_metrics parameter to do so.

This feature is available for free in all AWS Regions, with AWS Govcloud soon to follow. Pricing can be found in the CloudWatch page.


EC2 Systems Manager Now Syncs with S3

The Amazon EC2 Systems Manager is a service that allows users to create system images, gather information on your software,  manage Windows and Linux operating systems, and install patches. This means you get to securely and remotely manage your EC2 instances and environments for your on-premise machines that are on EC2 Systems Manager.

AWS announced a new feature for EC2 Systems Manager: Resource Data Sync or S3 Sync. With this, you may gather data from all your EC2 instances in any region and store in them in Amazon S3. From here you can use Amazon Athena to run queries against the instance inventory.  You can also use Amazon Quicksight to view the software installed on your instances. You can learn more about this process through the user guide.

With EC2 Systems Manager, you don’t have to make custom scripts to gather all inventory data from your instances. This feature can do that for you, letting you preserve the data even after the instance is decommissioned. You can even send inventory data from instances in other regions straight to your S3 bucket.

Catch us again next month for more game-changing updates from Amazon Web Services!

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