Amazon Lightsail Update – 9 More Regions and Global Console

Amazon Lightsail lets you launch Virtual Private Servers on AWS with just a few clicks. With prices starting at $5 per month, Lightsail takes care of the heavy lifting and gives you a simple way to build and host applications. As I showed you in my re:Invent post (Amazon Lightsail – The Power of AWS, the Simplicity of a VPS), you can choose a configuration from a menu and launch a virtual machine preconfigured with SSD-based storage, DNS management, and a static IP address.

Since we launched in November, many customers have used Lightsail to launch Virtual Private Servers. For example, Monash University is using Amazon Lightsail to rapidly re-platform a number of CMS services in a simple and cost-effective manner. They have already migrated 50 workloads and are now thinking of creating an internal CMS service based on Lightsail to allow staff and students to create their own CMS instances in a self-service manner.

Today we are expanding Lightsail into nine more AWS Regions and launching a new, global console.

New Regions
At re:Invent we made Lightsail available in the US East (Northern Virginia) Region. Earlier this month we added support for several additional Regions in the US and Europe. Today we are launching Lightsail in four of our Asia Pacific Regions, bringing the total to ten. Here’s the full list:

  • US East (Northern Virginia)
  • US West (Oregon)
  • US East (Ohio)
  • EU (London)
  • EU (Frankfurt)
  • EU (Ireland)
  • Asia Pacific (Mumbai)
  • Asia Pacific (Tokyo)
  • Asia Pacific (Singapore)
  • Asia Pacific (Sydney)

Global Console
The updated Lightsail console makes it easy for you to create and manage resources in one or more Regions. I simply choose the desired Region when I create a new instance:

I can see all of my instances and static IP addresses on the same page, no matter what Region they are in:

And I can perform searches that span all of my resources and Regions. All of my LAMP stacks:

Or all of my resources in the EU (Ireland) Region:

I can perform a similar search on the Snapshots tab:

A new DNS zones tab lets me see my existing zones and create new ones:

Creation of SSH keypairs is now specific to a Region:

I can manage my key pairs on a Region-by-Region basis:

Static IP addresses are also specific to a particular Region:

Available Now
You can use the new Lightsail console and create resources in all ten Regions today!



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New AWS Certification Specialty Exams & Benefits

We are making two important updates to the AWS Certification program today. We are introducing two new AWS Certification Specialty Exams and our new AWS Certification Benefits Program, giving you another way to validate your skills and to showcase your expertise.

New AWS Certification Specialty Exams
Our new AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty and AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty exams are designed for people with at least one current Associate AWS Certification and deep hands-on experience in the relevant specialty. These credentials can help you stand out from the crowd, get recognized, and provide more evidence of your unique technical skills.

New AWS Certification Benefits
Designed to help showcase your achievement and further advance your AWS expertise, tiered AWS Certification Benefits include newly designed AWS Certified logos and certificates, digital badges, free practice exams, branded merchandise, transcript sharing, and more. Benefits are accessed based on the AWS Certifications you have achieved. The more exams you successfully complete, the more benefits you will receive.

Access Your Specialty Exams and Benefits Today
Sign in to the AWS Training and Certification Portal using an Amazon account or (if you are an APN Partner) your APN Portal credentials. Then click on the Certification link on the AWS Training and Certification Portal to access your AWS Certification Account:

If you previously had an account in Webassessor, you can link your accounts so that your AWS Certification history shows in the portal (read “I already have an AWS Certification account in Webassessor. How do I access my AWS Certification history?” in the AWS Training FAQ to see how to do this).

Learn More
Check out the AWS Certifications FAQ and the AWS Training and Certification Portal FAQ if you have any questions.


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AWS Online Tech Talks – June 2017

As the sixth month of the year, June is significant in that it is not only my birth month (very special), but it contains the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day with the most daylight hours, and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, the day with the fewest daylight hours. In the United States, June is also the month in which we celebrate our dads with Father’s Day and have month-long celebrations of music, heritage, and the great outdoors.

Therefore, the month of June can be filled with lots of excitement. So why not add even more delight to the month, by enhancing your cloud computing skills. This month’s AWS Online Tech Talks features sessions on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Storage, Big Data, and Compute among other great topics.

June 2017 – Schedule

Noted below are the upcoming scheduled live, online technical sessions being held during the month of June. Make sure to register ahead of time so you won’t miss out on these free talks conducted by AWS subject matter experts. All schedule times for the online tech talks are shown in the Pacific Time (PDT) time zone.

Webinars featured this month are:

Thursday, June 1


9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Deep Dive on Amazon Elastic File System

Big Data

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM: Migrating Big Data Workloads to Amazon EMR


12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM: Building AWS Lambda Applications with the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM)


Monday, June 5

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Lex


Tuesday, June 6

Management Tools

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Automated Compliance and Governance with AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail


Wednesday, June 7


9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Backing up Amazon EC2 with Amazon EBS Snapshots

Big Data

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: Intro to Amazon Redshift Spectrum: Quickly Query Exabytes of Data in S3


12:00 Noon – 12:40 PM: Introduction to AWS CodeStar: Quickly Develop, Build, and Deploy Applications on AWS


Thursday, June 8

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Polly

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Rekognition


Monday, June 12

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Exploring the Business Use Cases for Amazon Machine Learning


Tuesday, June 13


9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: DevOps with Visual Studio, .NET and AWS


10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: Create, with Intel, an IoT Gateway and Establish a Data Pipeline to AWS IoT

Big Data

12:00 Noon – 12:40 PM: Real-Time Log Analytics using Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Elasticsearch Service


Wednesday, June 14


9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Batch Processing with Containers on AWS

Security & Identity

12:00 Noon – 12:40 PM: Using Microsoft Active Directory across On-premises and Cloud Workloads


Thursday, June 15

Big Data

12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM: Building Big Data Applications with Serverless Architectures


Monday, June 19

Artificial Intelligence

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Deep Learning for Data Scientists: Using Apache MxNet and R on AWS


Tuesday, June 20


9:00 AM – 9:40 AM: Cloud Backup & Recovery Options with AWS Partner Solutions

Artificial Intelligence

10:30 AM – 11:10 AM: An Overview of AI on the AWS Platform


The AWS Online Tech Talks series covers a broad range of topics at varying technical levels. These sessions feature live demonstrations & customer examples led by AWS engineers and Solution Architects. Check out the AWS YouTube channel for more on-demand webinars on AWS technologies.


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AWS Hot Startups – May 2017

April showers bring May startups! This month we have three hot startups for you to check out. Keep reading to find out what they’re up to, and how they’re using AWS to do it.

Today’s post features the following startups:

  • Lobster – an AI-powered platform connecting creative social media users to professionals.
  • Visii – helping consumers find the perfect product using visual search.
  • Tiqets – a curated marketplace for culture and entertainment.

Lobster (London, England)

Every day, social media users generate billions of authentic images and videos to rival typical stock photography. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, Lobster enables brands, agencies, and the press to license visual content directly from social media users so they can find that piece of content that perfectly fits their brand or story. Lobster does the work of sorting through major social networks (Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, Vk, YouTube, and Vimeo) and cloud storage providers (Dropbox, Google Photos, and Verizon) to find media, saving brands and agencies time and energy. Using filters like gender, color, age, and geolocation can help customers find the unique content they’re looking for, while Lobster’s AI and visual recognition finds images instantly. Lobster also runs photo challenges to help customers discover the perfect image to fit their needs.

Lobster is an excellent platform for creative people to get their work discovered while also protecting their content. Users are treated as copyright holders and earn 75% of the final price of every sale. The platform is easy to use: new users simply sign in with an existing social media or cloud account and can start showcasing their artistic talent right away. Lobster allows users to connect to any number of photo storage sources so they’re able to choose which items to share and which to keep private. Once users have selected their favorite photos and videos to share, they can sit back and watch as their work is picked to become the signature for a new campaign or featured on a cool website – and start earning money for their work.

Lobster is using a variety of AWS services to keep everything running smoothly. The company uses Amazon S3 to store photography that was previously ordered by customers. When a customer purchases content, the respective piece of content must be available at any given moment, independent from the original source. Lobster is also using Amazon EC2 for its application servers and Elastic Load Balancing to monitor the state of each server.

To learn more about Lobster, check them out here!

Visii (London, England)

In today’s vast web, a growing number of products are being sold online and searching for something specific can be difficult. Visii was created to cater to businesses and help them extract value from an asset they already have – their images. Their SaaS platform allows clients to leverage an intelligent visual search on their websites and apps to help consumers find the perfect product for them. With Visii, consumers can choose an image and immediately discover more based on their tastes and preferences. Whether it’s clothing, artwork, or home decor, Visii will make recommendations to get consumers to search visually and subsequently help businesses increase their conversion rates.

There are multiple ways for businesses to integrate Visii on their website or app. Many of Visii’s clients choose to build against their API, but Visii also work closely with many clients to figure out the most effective way to do this for each unique case. This has led Visii to help build innovative user interfaces and figure out the best integration points to get consumers to search visually. Businesses can also integrate Visii on their website with a widget – they just need to provide a list of links to their products and Visii does the rest.

Visii runs their entire infrastructure on AWS. Their APIs and pipeline all sit in auto-scaling groups, with ELBs in front of them, sending things across into Amazon Simple Queue Service and Amazon Aurora. Recently, Visii moved from Amazon RDS to Aurora and noted that the process was incredibly quick and easy. Because they make heavy use of machine learning, it is crucial that their pipeline only runs when required and that they maximize the efficiency of their uptime.

To see how companies are using Visii, check out Style Picker and Saatchi Art.

Tiqets (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Tiqets is making the ticket-buying experience faster and easier for travelers around the world.  Founded in 2013, Tiqets is one of the leading curated marketplaces for admission tickets to museums, zoos, and attractions. Their mission is to help travelers get the most out of their trips by helping them find and experience a city’s culture and entertainment. Tiqets partners directly with vendors to adapt to a customer’s specific needs, and is now active in over 30 cities in the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

With Tiqets, travelers can book tickets either ahead of time or at their destination for a wide range of attractions. The Tiqets app provides real-time availability and delivers tickets straight to customer’s phones via email, direct download, or in the app. Customers save time skipping long lines (a perk of the app!), save trees (don’t need to physically print tickets), and most importantly, they can make the most out of their leisure time. For each attraction featured on Tiqets, there is a lot of helpful information including best modes of transportation, hours, commonly asked questions, and reviews from other customers.

The Tiqets platform consists of the consumer-facing website, the internal and external-facing APIs, and the partner self-service portals. For the app hosting and infrastructure, Tiqets uses AWS services such as Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, and Amazon ElastiCache. Through the infrastructure orchestration of their AWS configuration, they can easily set up separate development or test environments while staying close to the production environment as well.

Tiqets is hiring! Be sure to check out their jobs page if you are interested in joining the Tiqets team.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out April’s Hot Startups if you missed it.

-Tina Barr



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Amazon EC2 Container Service – Launch Recap, Customer Stories, and Code

Today seems like a good time to recap some of the features that we have added to Amazon EC2 Container Service over the last year or so, and to share some customer success stories and code with you! The service makes it easy for you to run any number of Docker containers across a managed cluster of EC2 instances, with full console, API, CloudFormation, CLI, and PowerShell support. You can store your Linux and Windows Docker images in the EC2 Container Registry for easy access.

Launch Recap
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the newest ECS features and some helpful how-to blog posts that will show you how to use them:

Application Load Balancing – We added support for the application load balancer last year. This high-performance load balancing option runs at the application level and allows you to define content-based routing rules. It provides support for dynamic ports and can be shared across multiple services, making it easier for you to run microservices in containers. To learn more, read about Service Load Balancing.

IAM Roles for Tasks – You can secure your infrastructure by assigning IAM roles to ECS tasks. This allows you to grant permissions on a fine-grained, per-task basis, customizing the permissions to the needs of each task. Read IAM Roles for Tasks to learn more.

Service Auto Scaling – You can define scaling policies that scale your services (tasks) up and down in response to changes in demand. You set the desired minimum and maximum number of tasks, create one or more scaling policies, and Service Auto Scaling will take care of the rest. The documentation for Service Auto Scaling will help you to make use of this feature.

Blox – Scheduling, in a container-based environment, is the process of assigning tasks to instances. ECS gives you three options: automated (via the built-in Service Scheduler), manual (via the RunTask function), and custom (via a scheduler that you provide). Blox is an open source scheduler that supports a one-task-per-host model, with room to accommodate other models in the future. It monitors the state of the cluster and is well-suited to running monitoring agents, log collectors, and other daemon-style tasks.

Windows – We launched ECS with support for Linux containers and followed up with support for running Windows Server 2016 Base with Containers.

Container Instance Draining – From time to time you may need to remove an instance from a running cluster in order to scale the cluster down or to perform a system update. Earlier this year we added a set of lifecycle hooks that allow you to better manage the state of the instances. Read the blog post How to Automate Container Instance Draining in Amazon ECS to see how to use the lifecycle hooks and a Lambda function to automate the process of draining existing work from an instance while preventing new work from being scheduled for it.

CI/CD Pipeline with Code* – Containers simplify software deployment and are an ideal target for a CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment) pipeline. The post Continuous Deployment to Amazon ECS using AWS CodePipeline, AWS CodeBuild, Amazon ECR, and AWS CloudFormation shows you how to build and operate a CI/CD pipeline using multiple AWS services.

CloudWatch Logs Integration – This launch gave you the ability to configure the containers that run your tasks to send log information to CloudWatch Logs for centralized storage and analysis. You simply install the Amazon ECS Container Agent and enable the awslogs log driver.

CloudWatch Events – ECS generates CloudWatch Events when the state of a task or a container instance changes. These events allow you to monitor the state of the cluster using a Lambda function. To learn how to capture the events and store them in an Elasticsearch cluster, read Monitor Cluster State with Amazon ECS Event Stream.

Task Placement Policies – This launch provided you with fine-grained control over the placement of tasks on container instances within clusters. It allows you to construct policies that include cluster constraints, custom constraints (location, instance type, AMI, and attribute), placement strategies (spread or bin pack) and to use them without writing any code. Read Introducing Amazon ECS Task Placement Policies to see how to do this!

EC2 Container Service in Action
Many of our customers from large enterprises to hot startups and across all industries, such as financial services, hospitality, and consumer electronics, are using Amazon ECS to run their microservices applications in production. Companies such as Capital One, Expedia, Okta, Riot Games, and Viacom rely on Amazon ECS.

Mapbox is a platform for designing and publishing custom maps. The company uses ECS to power their entire batch processing architecture to collect and process over 100 million miles of sensor data per day that they use for powering their maps. They also optimize their batch processing architecture on ECS using Spot Instances. The Mapbox platform powers over 5,000 apps and reaches more than 200 million users each month. Its backend runs on ECS allowing it to serve more than 1.3 billion requests per day. To learn more about their recent migration to ECS, read their recent blog post, We Switched to Amazon ECS, and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.

Travel company Expedia designed their backends with a microservices architecture. With the popularization of Docker, they decided they would like to adopt Docker for its faster deployments and environment portability. They chose to use ECS to orchestrate all their containers because it had great integration with the AWS platform, everything from ALB to IAM roles to VPC integration. This made ECS very easy to use with their existing AWS infrastructure. ECS really reduced the heavy lifting of deploying and running containerized applications. Expedia runs 75% of all apps on AWS in ECS allowing it to process 4 billion requests per hour. Read Kuldeep Chowhan‘s blog post, How Expedia Runs Hundreds of Applications in Production Using Amazon ECS to learn more. provides home buyers and sellers with a comprehensive database of properties that are currently for sale. Their move to AWS and ECS has helped them to support business growth that now numbers 50 million unique monthly users who drive up to 250,000 requests per second at peak times. ECS has helped them to deploy their code more quickly while increasing utilization of their cloud infrastructure. Read the Case Study to learn more about how they use ECS, Kinesis, and other AWS services.

Instacart talks about how they use ECS to power their same-day grocery delivery service:

Capital One talks about how they use ECS to automate their operations and their infrastructure management:

Clever developers are using ECS as a base for their own work. For example:

Rack is an open source PaaS (Platform as a Service). It focuses on infrastructure automation, runs in an isolated VPC, and uses a single-tenant build service for security.

Empire is also an open source PaaS. It provides a Heroku-like workflow and is targeted at small and medium sized startups, with an emphasis on microservices.

Cloud Container Cluster Visualizer (c3vis) helps to visualize resource utilization within ECS clusters:

Stay Tuned
We have plenty of new features in the works for ECS, so stay tuned!



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