The Orbit Blog

Learn about best practice, news, how-tos, and insight. The goal? Accelerate your AWS Journey.

Running Minecraft on an EC2 instance

By Brett Gillett //

A few weeks back, my nephew spent a few days with us to finish his March break. Like many gamers, he spends most of his time in Fortnite, but when he arrived, he reminded me about our AWS Minecraft server from the previous year. His memory is (much) better than mine, so I had to go digging - but I found the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) we created when we mothballed the Minecraft adventure from the year before.

AWS Resolutions for 2019

By Brett Gillett //

Originally posted to ORBIT - our weekly newsletter - back in December. Want content earlier? Sign up now! As we get closer to the end of the year I’ve been spending time looking at the work we’ve done for customers and the most common questions we’ve received from students in our AWS training sessions. This week I decided to create a list of ‘Resolutions’ for 2019 when it comes to deploying (and/or supporting) solutions on the AWS platform.

How to know if your AWS environment is secure

By Brett Gillett //

Today, let’s talk about security — of your AWS account and cloud infrastructure. If it keeps you up at night, you’re not alone. Many business leaders struggle with the notion of audits, or the security of their account. For instance, maybe you’re thinking about the increasing trend of cyber attacks, which have become more prominent in recent years. Many high-profile organizations have revealed network compromises that led to customer information being stolen or, at minimum, placed at serious risk.

Surviving Re: Invent 2018

By Brett Gillett //

If memory serves me correctly, the upcoming Re: Invent conference in Las Vegas will be my fourth. Every year it gets bigger, and I figured it was about time that I wrote about what I’ve learned about how best to survive Re: Invent. Tip #1: Stay in one spot each day Last year was the first time the conference was spread across many hotels on the Vegas strip. Because everything was so spread out, AWS provided shuttle services between the venues so that people could get to their sessions.

Simple ways to improve the security of your AWS account

By Brett Gillett //

Here are three of the simplest - often overlooked - ways to quickly improve the security of your AWS account. Enable a Password Policy I’m always amazed when we audit an AWS account, how many folks don’t have a password policy enabled in their AWS account. We would never do this on-premise, but for some reason, it happens all the time on AWS. Enabling a password policy takes all of two minutes and ensure that your users have high-quality passwords.

Why AWS DLM is Important

By Brett Gillett //

In case you missed it, back in July AWS announced a new feature for EBS snapshots called Data Lifecycle Management (DLM). DLM removes much of the heavy lifting associated with ensuring your EBS volumes are properly backed up - also known as ‘snapshotting.’ All you need to do is create an IAM role; DLM will do this for you, but you could also use CloudFormation, tag your EBS volumes and then create one or more policies.

Alexa App Around Oakville

By Brett Gillett //

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

By Brett Gillett //

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

By Brett Gillett //

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

By Brett Gillett //

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.

Customer Spotlight

The Canadian Press

Founded in 1917, The Canadian Press is Canada's independent news agency. More than 180 journalists provide real-time, bilingual multimedia stories across a diverse number of platforms. Read about how The Canadian Press partner with us to build a dynamic, cost-effective solution on AWS.

Read Customer Story