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Mobile Virtual Desktops with Amazon WorkSpaces

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Recently, Amazon has released a new service aimed to virtualize desktops in the Cloud. WorkSpaces gives us the opportunity to virtualize our workstations and access them everywhere using devices such as computers (Windows, Linux and Mac), tablets, and smartphones (iOS and Android).

Amazon WorkSpaces
Amazon WorkSpaces

With WorkSpaces we can access our virtual desktop with all the software previously installed and the documents we’ve been working on. This can be very useful in several scenarios, for example:

  • When someone in our company needs to move between different geographical locations having all their software and documents updated everywhere. This also gives us the security to have all the data stored in a private subnet and not locally on the device.
  • Training centers or colleges can leverage this service by creating always-clean environments with access to specific software and documents. When training ends everything can be wiped securely.
  • Enforce strict security policies: If our company works with freelancers or other people external to our organization, we can generate fully disposable workstations and roles and destroy them when the partnership ends.

» Read more: Mobile Virtual Desktops with Amazon WorkSpaces

AWS Price Reduction

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This week at the AWS Summit in San Francisco, Andy Jassy, Head of Amazon Web Services has announced the 42th price reduction since 2008. Effective April 1, 2014 prices on EC2, S3, RDS, ElastiCache and Elastic MapReduce services will be slashed up to 61%.

AWS Summit in San Francisco 42th price reduction

Simple Storage Service Major reductions affect S3 where prices for both Standard and Reduced Redundancy Storage went down by an average of 51 percent spotting a 65% on the first stored TeraByte.

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Seeding torrents from S3

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Amazon S3 is mostly used in a client/server schema, but it supports the BitTorrent protocol and we can use it to save costs distributing our files. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files using peer-to-peer communication, it is distributed by definition and reduces server and network load.

This might not be a popular feature, but it is probably one of the coolest, you can preseed your torrents with S3 help. You just need to store your file in a bucket and generate the torrent file, Amazon will take care of the rest, they will even keep the tracker service running when you remove the file from S3. This way you save bandwidth and costs from your AWS bill, reusing your users’ upload speed while they download.

It is not a complicated process, anyway we did test it and are willing to share the details with you.

BitTorrent & S3

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Architecting for Costs in AWS

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Having the opportunity of provisioning servers, storage and services with a click it’s wonderful and we know. But what about costs? Are we using all the resource we created? Are they right-sized?

Architecting for costs in AWS

While talking about reasons to choose AWS we usually highlight the agility in growing our infrastructure, the elasticity and the possibility to go global in minutes. Sometimes we point out the economical benefits of the Pay-as-you-Go model, the triviality of Capacity Planning and an lower overall costs. We’ll avoid (this time) to mention the transition from CAPEX to OPEX and its advantages, we’ll just focus on Cost Optimization when we’re already “deployed” in AWS. Here’s some tips to lower the bill in different AWS services:

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An Introduction to AWS OpsWorks With Tips And Tricks

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With OpsWorks, AWS enables us to deploy full application stacks in the Cloud while retaining control over the details of the deployment. There are no constraints on what we can tell our EC2 instances to do, provided that we can either reuse, extend or replace AWS’s cookbooks.

AWS Opsworks

The OpsWorks premise is quite simple: take empty EC2 instances, write down some instructions for them to follow in order to have your application up and running. Do you need an HTTP server? Teach your instance to install and configure it. Maybe what you need is a MySQL one? Teach it to become a database server.

Those instructions are Chef recipes and writing them is the tricky part. Luckily, the people at AWS have gone through the hassle of writing common recipes that will help you get started. But, before we get to that, let’s take a look at the structural foundations of OpsWorks: Stacks, Layers, Instances and Apps.

» Read more: An Introduction to AWS OpsWorks With Tips And Tricks