Containers on AWS: a quick guide

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Containerisation allows development teams to move quickly and deploy more efficiently

 

Instead of virtualising the hardware stack (as you would with virtual machines), containers run on top of the OS kernel, virtualising at the OS level.

Here are the most popular container formats available:

 

Docker

 

In 2010, a company known as Docker helped transform cloud containerisation. This new way of architecting paved the way for the DevOps movement. But what made containers so popular? Thanks to the huge improvements in virtualisation and the rapid increase of cloud computing, containers can allow for isolated workloads based on an OS, exposing and accessing only what is necessary.

Within just a few years, Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) was introduced in November 13, 2014 and was the primary way to run containers in the public cloud. ECS is a container management service that allows you to run Docker containers on a cluster.

 

 

Kubernetes

Google released Kubernetes in June 2014, which was later released to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) community the following year. The Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure were early adopters to Kubernetes, but with GCP being the only public cloud provider to have a working service called Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). GKE was launched in 2015 and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) was released in the Fall of 2017 into preview mode.

 

 

Amazon EKS

Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) is a fully managed service that makes it easy for you to use kubernetes on EKS runs upstream Kubernetes so you can connect to it with kubectl just like a self managed Kubernetes. AWS Introduced EKS at re:Invent 2017 and claims to upstream Kubernetes by using countless AWS growing services.

 

 

AWS Fargate

AWS has a hidden service that neither GCP or Azure have. AWS Fargate is a new service for running containers without needing to manage the underlying infrastructure. Fargate supports ECS and EKS but is also often closely compared with Lambda. You pay per computing second used without having to worry about the EC2 instances.

Managing Kubernetes can be complicated and usually requires a deep understanding of how to schedule, manage your masters, pods, services, and additional orchestration of architecture on top of the virtualisation that was already abstracted from you.

Fargate takes all of this away by streamlining deployments. The game-changer is that you do not need to start with Fargate, but that you can use EKS or ECS then migrate your workloads to Fargate when your program has matured further.

 

 

KOPS

 

KOPS was the go to method of deploying Kubernetes on ECS via EC2 instances or on EC2 instances. KOPS is an open sourced project that makes running kubernetes easy. KOPS is built using EC2 instances. KOPS provides a multitude of controls on deployments and good support for high availability.

 

Containers are not just a hype, but they could be the future for at least the next few years. With AWS finally joining the Kubernetes club, and Fargate being a strong game-changer, anything is possible. However, there is is still a lot of unanswered questions that we hope will be addressed.

EKS and Fargate are currently limited in Ohio and Virginia regions, but you should see a big push to use these services as more regions get rolled out.

 

What do we do in the meantime? I’m reminded of this quote:

 

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Gandalf

 

Until then, I believe KOPS will be the best method to use.

 

What containers do you use on AWS and are you waiting to explore with AWS EKS or Fargate? Let us know by contacting us here.

Check also my previous blog post on Container security here

 

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Cloud Computing News #1: Financial institutions need cloud

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This week we focus on cloud adoption in the Financial Services Industry.

 

Global study reveals investment banks welcome public cloud adoption for innovation first, not cost reduction

GFT, the global IT consultancy for the financial services industry revealed in July the results of their global study into cloud adoption across the capital markets functions of over 32 tier 1 and tier 2 investment banks.

According to the cloud adoption survey:

  • Cloud adoption is on the rise: investment banks are set to increase their use of public cloud by over 50 % within the next five years
  • Main benefits agility and elasticity: 3/4 of investment banks are more excited by cloud computing’s ability to introduce agility and resource elasticity into their businesses than its ability to simply deliver cost reductions (50% of respondents)
  • Where to adopt it first: investment banks are most keen to introduce cloud in development / testing (67%), front office (55%) and risk (43%) departments
  • Some concerns remain:  90% of respondents cite regulation their main concern for cloud adoption, followed by data protection (72%), and security (70%).

Find out more about this study here

Read more on why the Financial Services Industry needs to rethink its IT by embracing the cloud in our recent blog here.

 

Open banking forces banks to focus on consumer centric products and services

According to a recent study by PwC, the emergence of open banking requires financial institutions to think differently about how they will deliver value to their customers. Open banking is going to transform the way we pay for goods and services and manage our finances.

Currently, banks are burdened by a product-centered thinking legacy.

What are the challenges open banking poses for traditional banks?

  • New strategy and business model
  • New customer centric operating model
  • Openness to partnerships or operating as part of a wider ecosystem of providers
  • Data management
  • Technology platform
  • Cybersecurity and risk management

Open banking revolution will create new partnerships or create joint ventures between banks, fintechs or hyper-scale cloud providers and enablers like Nordcloud to be relevant in the future. In the long term, banks will need to find a new place in the disrupting industry.

Download the PwC survey here

Read also in our blog how to build a business case for the cloud in financial services.

 

Barclays Bank intends to shut down 18 datacenters and go all-in with AWS public cloud services

According to Barclays, the project is part of a wider push by the banking giant to increase its ability to respond to the ever-changing financial services landscape.

“With cloud technology, you can scale from zero and get to market very quickly; and get an idea to market in weeks, if not days” said Nick Funnell, development practice lead in Barclays’ chief technology officer application hosting division.

Barclays is going all-in on the AWS public cloud through adopting the principles of DevOps.

Read the full article in ComputerWeekly

 

Follow our blog to get more regular updates on financial institutions and the public cloud!

 

Cloud computing is on the rise in the financial services – are you ready?

Download our free white paper Compliance in the cloud: How to embrace the cloud with confidence, where we outline some of the many benefits that the cloud can offer, such as:

  • Lowered costs
  • Scalability and agility
  • Better customer insights
  • Tighter security

Download whitepaper

 

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Why the Financial Services Industry needs to rethink its IT by embracing the cloud

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2018 has witnessed PR failures from some of the major global financial institutions in the UK after the breaching of certain regulatory compliance due to outdated technical architecture and processes which fail to manage risk within these businesses.

This is not only a huge reputation risk but also highlights the weak areas and slow pace of innovation at these big conglomerates.

At the same time, these financial institutions are taking a hit on their customer satisfaction and loyalty due to operational glitches/service non-availability. In an industry where the competition and cost of customer acquisition is fairly steep, this is an anti-pattern which should be avoided.

Regulators and banking associations have significantly improved their messaging. Instead of giving hints and tips, they are coming out in the open and offering solid guidelines & directives for the Financial Services Industry to think about the changing technology landscape, business dynamics (as new customer products & offerings emerge), and increased regulatory overhead which is mandatory to gauge the health of the FSI vertical.

 

How to improve operation resilience for financial market infrastructure

Recently, Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and Bank Of England (BoE) published an article and also kicked off a joint discussion paper (DP) to improve operation resilience for financial market infrastructure in the light of recent incidents. Yet another great example of how regulators are trying to push the boundaries and asking these firms to think ahead and embrace new technology to solve business problem.

They laid down a few key concepts:

  • Business continuity planning (BCP) to manage operational resilience

BCP is key to operational resilience, a lot needs to be done (from procuring to testing to maintaining) to have a truly good BC plan. Buying upfront capacity and taking a hit on CapEx is an option but clearly losing out on the opportunity costs (what else can you do if not this?) and also not viable long-term strategy. Public cloud offers amazing business agility and with automation that can manage back-ups, auto-provisioning and disaster recovery across the globe they can significantly improve operational resilience at much lower costs and let you focus on what you’re best at.

  • Board approved tolerances and level of disruption

This again highlights the holes in the existing IT governance and how an exacerbated IT demands good governance. Cloud not only offers the right tools to give management level visibility and KPI tracking, it also enables smarter governance by automation & effective risk management through infrastructure as code and compliance as code. It’s important to re-organise, up-skill, and operate with a new governance model to set tolerances and manage them better.

  • Planning for failures

This is a great point. Financial institutions often plan for service operations and not really for failures. This requires significant scaling capabilities along with full infrastructure for IT teams to perform a series of non-functional tests before they can ship their products to the market. Cloud is perfectly suited to offer the on-demand scalability along with tools that boost staff productivity and improve code quality through DevOps process improvement.

 

Public cloud providers can solve operational, technology and security issues

We think it’s a great start and a perfect way to start discussions within the FSI and to help them re-focus on operational challenges. More importantly, it will help with what they want to do today, tomorrow and next year to make them profitable.

It’s clear that financial institutions are great at creating financial products and public cloud providers are great at solving operational, technology, security issues as they have the skills and the resources to do so. It’s important that financial institutions start off-loading these non-core functions and look for partnerships or create joint ventures with hyper-scale cloud providers and enablers like Nordcloud to be relevant in the future.

 

Cloud computing is on the rise in the financial services – are you ready?

Download our free white paper Compliance in the cloud: How to embrace the cloud with confidence, where we outline some of the many benefits that the cloud can offer, such as:

  • Lowered costs
  • Scalability and agility
  • Better customer insights
  • Tighter security

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Nordcloud recognised as Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider

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Nordcloud is extremely proud to earn the status of Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider program. The new Microsoft status allows Nordcloud to prove our capabilities and expertise amongst the best Azure service providers around the globe.

Microsoft Azure Expert MSP program

As customers move to the public cloud with increasing pace, they need partners with a deep level of cloud expertise and experience to guide them. Inclusion in the Microsoft Azure Expert MSP program is awarded to partners that meet a stringent set of requirements, including verified proof of excellence in customer delivery and technical expertise, and the successful completion of an independent audit of their managed services, people, processes, and technologies. Only the most high-fidelity cloud managed service providers are awarded the Azure Expert MSP badge, intended to give customers confidence when selecting a partner to help them meet their digital transformation goals.

With Nordcloud’s Managed Cloud service, our customers can ‘step-up’ to the next level in terms of agility, new innovations, and time to market

“Nordcloud offers 24/7 Managed Services for a customer’s cloud environments and manages the Azure operations so that the customer has more time to add value to their business operations. With the proven Azure Expert MSP status customers are rest assured that they can trust their Azure environments are well-managed by Nordcloud’s highly skilled experts”, says Jan Kritz, CEO at Nordcloud.

“We are excited to see Strategic Partners like Nordcloud achieve Azure Expert MSP in their portfolio”, said Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft Corp. “Azure customers need well configured, secure, reliant, and best performing applications or infrastructure. With the Azure Expert MSP status, Nordcloud is able to support the customers with these needs 24/7.”

Nordcloud’s Managed Cloud is your full-stack life-cycling managed services solution providing flexible service bundles to fit your IT needs.

Contact us for Managed Services

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Nordcloud nominated ‘Preferred AI Training Partner’ by Microsoft

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Microsoft has nominated Nordcloud as a preferred AI Training Partner on the topics “Azure Machine Learning”, “Batch AI” and “Team Data Science Process”.

The topics are covered e.g. in the 2 day “Professional AI developer bootcamp”, where participants are learned how to use the Azure Machine Learning Workbench to develop, test and deploy Machine Learning solutions to Azure Container Services using an agile and team-oriented framework.

Why Microsoft for AI?

Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service offers a fast-growing range of Platform Services for AI, machine learning and IoT development.

Microsoft´s AI platform consists of 3 core areas:

  • AI Services: Developers can rapidly consume high-level “finished” services that accelerate the development of AI solutions. Compose intelligent applications, customised to your organisation’s availability, security, and compliance requirements.
  • AI Infrastructure: Services and tools backed by a best-of-breed infrastructure with enterprise grade security, availability, compliance, and manageability. Harness the power of infinite scale infrastructure and integrated AI services.
  • AI Tools: Leverage a set of comprehensive tools and frameworks to build, deploy, and operationalise AI products and services at scale. Use the extensive set of supported tools and IDEs of your choice and harness the intelligence with massive datasets through deep learning frameworks of your choice.

Azure AI

Download our guide: Steps needed to build an AI enabled solution in Azure here 

We’d love to help you to boost your business with the adoption of AI technologies

You may find yourself in a position where you need a fully customised option but lack access to some of the specific expertise required. In that case we are available to advise and where appropriate, help directly.

Nordcloud offers a range of services from managed service provision through to full cloud-software project management and execution. Just as you’re sure to find a suitable development option within Azure, we can offer you whatever support you need for your AI/ML project.

Contact us for AI training and consultation!

Check also our data driven solutions that will make an impact on your business here.

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