Alexa App Around Oakville

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a Smart Cities meet up co-sponsored by the Town of Oakville and Silicon Halton. It was interesting to have a chance to hear many different perspectives on what precisely a Smart City is. Many people spoke at the event including town employees and consultants, as well as from Silicon Halton members. After the formal part of the meeting had concluded I had the opportunity to chat with a few different folks about Smart Cities in general and in particular Open Data.

AWS EC2 - Getting Started

Last week I taught an Architecting on AWS course. During the course, we spend a fair amount of time talking about Compute (Elastic Compute Cloud) and Storage (Elastic Block Storage), which always leads to some great discussion around how to get started. We’ve talked about ‘right-sizing’ your compute and what reserved instances are before on the site, but I’ve never dived into how to get started - so here we go.

Integrating CloudWatch events into Slack via Lambda and SNS

Slack is an essential tool at Curious Orbit. We use it to communicate internally - whether we’re looking for project updates from Asana, figuring out who is on vacation, or even who is at the front door. We also use it for all our AWS Managed Support customers as a way to provide technical support and keep our customers up-to-date with what is happening in their AWS account. Before building this solution we used the Simple Notification Service (SNS) to send emails to customers when CloudWatch detected something out of the ordinary occurring in their AWS account - maybe a root login, or someone logging in without a multi-factor authentication (MFA) token associated to their IAM account.

Building a Cloud Center of Excellence

A few weeks back, I wrote about how we help organizations find talent with the attributes we feel make excellent members of an AWS team. This week, I’d like to build on the topic and describe to you how we help organizations construct a CCoE. Think of the Cloud Center of Excellence as a hub of a wheel; it’s the team within the organization which sets the overall direction and empowers other groups within the company to move as fast as they can within a set of guardrails built and maintained by the members of the CCoE.

Building an Sentiment Analysis Solution With AWS Comprehend

At the last Re: Invent conference AWS announced several additions to their Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning portfolio. One of the new services, in particular, caught my attention - AWS Comprehend. In previous posts, I’ve talked about how important AWS’ AI/ML solutions are to organizations, as well as how easy they are to use. AWS Comprehend is no different. It’s an easy to use Natural Language Processing (NLP) service which allows you to analyze text.

Building an Effective AWS Team

If I had to weigh the difficulty of the AWS platform versus finding the right technical resources, by far the search for the best resources for your team is the most challenging aspect of building solutions on the AWS platform. Over the last year and a bit, we’ve helped dozens of organizations build their internal teams. In this article, I’ll outline some of the most important things we look for when scouting for AWS resources.

AWS Global Infrastructure

A significant selling point for AWS is the ability to go global in minutes. To better understand what that means, this article is going to break down Amazon’s existing global infrastructure for AWS. To start, let’s look at the world; on any globe, we group countries into continents, and that is where the AWS footprint starts: Regions. Each Region is a physical location in the world comprised multiple Availability Zones.

IAM Access Keys - Do you really need them?

IAM Access Keys - Does the user really require them? I have very strong feelings when it comes to IAM Access Keys which I can sum up rather quickly - never - ever - provide Access Keys to your users - end of story. Let me explain why I take this stance - in my experience 99% of the time the user doesn’t actually require them. Sure you have power users within the organization who want to interact with AWS via the CLI or maybe a script or two (more on that later), but in my experience the vast majority of AWS users interact with the platform via the AWS Management Console and these users do not need keys.

What Is a Lambda Function?

In a recent blog article, I talked about Going Serverless in 2018, so I figured I follow that article with a high-level overview of Lambda. When I mention this strategy during a training session or maybe during a customer visit I often get this following question: “What the heck is a Lambda function?!” I understand why I get this question so often. In the majority of cases when an organization decides to start using AWS for their computing needs they begin by ‘Lifting and Shifting’ a workload to the Amazon platform - while this approach is an entirely valid strategy it doesn’t mean your work is finished.

What is a Virtual Private Cloud?

What is a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Whenever I describe AWS services to organizations just starting on their AWS journey, I like to take an approach I use when learning new things myself: relate new concepts to material of which I’m already intimately knowledgeable. One of the core components almost every AWS service relies on is the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). I like to visualize a VPC as a network switch inside a large office building; every piece of your network infrastructure must connect to the switch to communicate with one another.