Prime Day 2021 – Two Chart-Topping Days

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In what has now become an annual tradition (check out my 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020 posts for a look back), I am happy to share some of the metrics from this year’s Prime Day and to tell you how AWS helped to make it happen.

This year I bought all sorts of useful goodies including a Toshiba 43 Inch Smart TV that I plan to use as a MagicMirror, some watering cans, and a Dremel Rotary Tool Kit for my workshop.

Powered by AWS
As in years past, AWS played a critical role in making Prime Day a success. A multitude of two-pizza teams worked together to make sure that every part of our infrastructure was scaled, tested, and ready to serve our customers. Here are a few examples:

Amazon EC2 – Our internal measure of compute power is an NI, or a normalized instance. We use this unit to allow us to make meaningful comparisons across different types and sizes of EC2 instances. For Prime Day 2021, we increased our number of NIs by 12.5%. Interestingly enough, due to increased efficiency (more on that in a moment), we actually used about 6,000 fewer physical servers than we did in Cyber Monday 2020.

Graviton2 Instances – Graviton2-powered EC2 instances supported 12 core retail services. This was our first peak event that was supported at scale by the AWS Graviton2 instances, and is a strong indicator that the Arm architecture is well-suited to the data center.

An internal service called Datapath is a key part of the Amazon site. It is highly optimized for our peculiar needs, and supports lookups, queries, and joins across structured blobs of data. After an in-depth evaluation and consideration of all of the alternatives, the team decided to port Datapath to Graviton and to run it on a three-Region cluster composed of over 53,200 C6g instances.

At this scale, the price-performance advantage of the Graviton2 of up to 40% versus the comparable fifth-generation x86-based instances, along with the 20% lower cost, turns into a big win for us and for our customers. As a bonus, the power efficiency of the Graviton2 helps us to achieve our goals for addressing climate change. If you are thinking about moving your workloads to Graviton2, be sure to study our very detailed Getting Started with AWS Graviton2 document, and also consider entering the Graviton Challenge! You can also use Graviton2 database instances on Amazon RDS and Amazon Aurora; read about Key Considerations in Moving to Graviton2 for Amazon RDS and Amazon Aurora Databases to learn more.

Amazon CloudFront – Fast, efficient content delivery is essential when millions of customers are shopping and making purchases. Amazon CloudFront handled a peak load of over 290 million HTTP requests per minute, for a total of over 600 billion HTTP requests during Prime Day.

Amazon Simple Queue Service – The fulfillment process for every order depends on Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS). This year, traffic set a new record, processing 47.7 million messages per second at the peak.

Amazon Elastic Block Store – In preparation for Prime Day, the team added 159 petabytes of EBS storage. The resulting fleet handled 11.1 trillion requests per day and transferred 614 petabytes per day.

Amazon AuroraAmazon Fulfillment Technologies (AFT) powers physical fulfillment for purchases made on Amazon. On Prime Day, 3,715 instances of AFT’s PostgreSQL-compatible edition of Amazon Aurora processed 233 billion transactions, stored 1,595 terabytes of data, and transferred 615 terabytes of data

Amazon DynamoDBDynamoDB powers multiple high-traffic Amazon properties and systems including Alexa, the sites, and all Amazon fulfillment centers. Over the course of the 66-hour Prime Day, these sources made trillions of API calls while maintaining high availability with single-digit millisecond performance, and peaking at 89.2 million requests per second.

Prepare to Scale
As I have detailed in my previous posts, rigorous preparation is key to the success of Prime Day and our other large-scale events. If your are preparing for a similar event of your own, I can heartily recommend AWS Infrastructure Event Management. As part of an IEM engagement, AWS experts will provide you with architectural and operational guidance that will help you to execute your event with confidence.


Planetary-Scale Computing – 9.95 PFLOPS & Position 41 on the TOP500 List

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Weather forecasting, genome sequencing, geoanalytics, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and other types of high-performance computing (HPC) workloads can take advantage of massive amounts of compute power. These workloads are often spikey and massively parallel, and are used in situations where time to results is critical.

Old Way
Governments, well-funded research organizations, and Fortune 500 companies invest tens of millions of dollars in supercomputers in an attempt to gain a competitive edge. Building a state-of-the-art supercomputer requires specialized expertise, years of planning, and a long-term commitment to the architecture and the implementation. Once built, the supercomputer must be kept busy in order to justify the investment, resulting in lengthy queues while jobs wait their turn. Adding capacity and taking advantage of new technology is costly and can also be disruptive.

New Way
It is now possible to build a virtual supercomputer in the cloud! Instead of committing tens of millions of dollars over the course of a decade or more, you simply acquire the resources you need, solve your problem, and release the resources. You can get as much power as you need, when you need it, and only when you need it. Instead of force-fitting your problem to the available resources, you figure out how many resources you need, get them, and solve the problem in the most natural and expeditious way possible. You do not need to make a decade-long commitment to a single processor architecture, and you can easily adopt new technology as it becomes available. You can perform experiments at any scale without long term commitment, and you can gain experience with emerging technologies such as GPUs and specialized hardware for machine learning training and inferencing.

Top500 Run

Descartes Labs optical and radar satellite imagery analysis of historical deforestation and estimated forest carbon loss for a region in Kalimantan, Borneo.

AWS customer Descartes Labs uses HPC to understand the world and to handle the flood of data that comes from sensors on the ground, in the water, and in space. The company has been cloud-based from the start, and focuses on geospatial applications that often involves petabytes of data.

CTO & Co-Founder Mike Warren told me that their intent is to never be limited by compute power. In the early days of his career, Mike worked on simulations of the universe and built multiple clusters and supercomputers including Loki, Avalon, and Space Simulator. Mike was one of the first to build clusters from commodity hardware, and has learned a lot along the way.

After retiring from Los Alamos National Lab, Mike co-founded Descartes Labs. In 2019, Descartes Labs used AWS to power a TOP500 run that delivered 1.93 PFLOPS, landing at position 136 on the TOP500 list for June 2019. That run made use of 41,472 cores on a cluster of C5 instances. Notably, Mike told me that they launched this run without any help from or coordination with the EC2 team (because Descartes Labs routinely runs production jobs of this magnitude for their customers, their account already had sufficiently high service quotas). To learn more about this run, read Thunder from the Cloud: 40,000 Cores Running in Concert on AWS. This is my favorite part of that story:

We were granted access to a group of nodes in the AWS US-East 1 region for approximately $5,000 charged to the company credit card. The potential for democratization of HPC was palpable since the cost to run custom hardware at that speed is probably closer to $20 to $30 million. Not to mention a 6–12 month wait time.

After the success of this run, Mike and his team decided to work on an even more substantial one for 2021, with a target of 7.5 PFLOPS. Working with the EC2 team, they obtained an EC2 On-Demand Capacity Reservation for a 48 hour period in early June. After some “small” runs that used just 1024 instances at a time, they were ready to take their shot. They launched 4,096 EC2 instances (C5, C5d, R5, R5d, M5, and M5d) with a total of 172,692 cores. Here are the results:

  • Rmax – 9.95 PFLOPS. This is the actual performance that was achieved: Almost 10 quadrillion floating point operations per second.
  • Rpeak – 15.11 PFLOPS. This is the theoretical peak performance.
  • HPL Efficiency – 65.87%. The ratio of Rmax to Rpeak, or a measure of how well the hardware is utilized.
  • N: 7,864,320 . This is the size of the matrix that is inverted to perform the Top500 benchmark. N2 is about 61.84 trillion.
  • P x Q: 64 x 128. This is is a parameter for the run, and represents a processing grid.

This run sits at position 41 on the June 2021 TOP500 list, and represents a 417% performance increase in just two years. When compared to the other CPU-based runs, this one sits at position 20. The GPU-based runs are certainly impressive, but ranking them separately makes for the best apples-to-apples comparison.

Mike and his team were very pleased with the results, and believe that it demonstrates the power and value of the cloud for HPC jobs of any scale. Mike noted that the Thinking Machines CM-5 that took the top spot in 1993 (and made a guest appearance in Jurassic Park) is actually slower than a single AWS core!

The run wrapped up at 11:56 AM PST on June 4th. By 12:20 PM, just 24 minutes later, the cluster had been taken down and all of the instances had been stopped. This is the power of on-demand supercomputing!

Imagine a Beowulf Cluster
Back in the early days of Slashdot, every post that referenced some then-impressive piece of hardware would invariably include a comment to the effect of “Imagine a Beowulf cluster.” Today, you can easily imagine (and then launch) clusters of just about any size and use them to address your large-scale computational needs.

If you have planetary-scale problems that can benefit from the speed and flexibility of the AWS Cloud, it is time to put your imagination to work! Here are some resources to get you started:

I would like to offer my congratulations to Mike and to his team at Descartes Labs for this amazing achievement! Mike has worked for decades to prove to the world that mass-produced, commodity hardware and software can be used to build a supercomputer, and the results more than speak for themselves.

To learn more about this run and about Descartes Labs, read Descartes Labs Achieves #41 in TOP500 with Cloud-based Supercomputing Demonstration Powered by AWS, Signaling New Era for Geospatial Data Analysis at Scale.



Customize and Package Dependencies With Your Apache Spark Applications on Amazon EMR on Amazon EKS

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Last AWS re:Invent, we announced the general availability of Amazon EMR on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), a new deployment option for Amazon EMR that allows customers to automate the provisioning and management of Apache Spark on Amazon EKS.

With Amazon EMR on EKS, customers can deploy EMR applications on the same Amazon EKS cluster as other types of applications, which allows them to share resources and standardize on a single solution for operating and managing all their applications. Customers running Apache Spark on Kubernetes can migrate to EMR on EKS and take advantage of the performance-optimized runtime, integration with Amazon EMR Studio for interactive jobs, integration with Apache Airflow and AWS Step Functions for running pipelines, and Spark UI for debugging.

When customers submit jobs, EMR automatically packages the application into a container with the big data framework and provides prebuilt connectors for integrating with other AWS services. EMR then deploys the application on the EKS cluster and manages running the jobs, logging, and monitoring. If you currently run Apache Spark workloads and use Amazon EKS for other Kubernetes-based applications, you can use EMR on EKS to consolidate these on the same Amazon EKS cluster to improve resource utilization and simplify infrastructure management.

Developers who run containerized, big data analytical workloads told us they just want to point to an image and run it. Currently, EMR on EKS dynamically adds externally stored application dependencies during job submission.

Today, I am happy to announce customizable image support for Amazon EMR on EKS that allows customers to modify the Docker runtime image that runs their analytics application using Apache Spark on your EKS cluster.

With customizable images, you can create a container that contains both your application and its dependencies, based on the performance-optimized EMR Spark runtime, using your own continuous integration (CI) pipeline. This reduces the time to build the image and helps predicting container launches for a local development or test.

Now, data engineers and platform teams can create a base image, add their corporate standard libraries, and then store it in Amazon Elastic Container Registry (Amazon ECR). Data scientists can customize the image to include their application specific dependencies. The resulting immutable image can be vulnerability scanned, deployed to test and production environments. Developers can now simply point to the customized image and run it on EMR on EKS.

Customizable Runtime Images – Getting Started
To get started with customizable images, use the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) to perform these steps:

  1. Register your EKS cluster with Amazon EMR.
  2. Download the EMR-provided base images from Amazon ECR and modify the image with your application and libraries.
  3. Publish your customized image to a Docker registry such as Amazon ECR and then submit your job while referencing your image.

You can download one of the following base images. These images contain the Spark runtime that can be used to run batch workloads using the EMR Jobs API. Here is the latest full image list available.

Release Label Spark Hadoop Versions Base Image Tag
emr-5.32.0-latest Spark 2.4.7 + Hadoop 2.10.1 emr-5.32.0-20210129
emr-5.33-latest Spark 2.4.7-amzn-1 + Hadoop 2.10.1-amzn-1 emr-5.33.0-20210323
emr-6.2.0-latest Spark 3.0.1 + Hadoop 3.2.1 emr-6.2.0-20210129
emr-6.3-latest Spark 3.1.1-amzn-0 + Hadoop 3.2.1-amzn-3 emr-6.3.0:latest

These base images are located in an Amazon ECR repository in each AWS Region with an image URI that combines the ECR registry account, AWS Region code, and base image tag in the case of US East (N. Virginia) Region.

Now, sign in to the Amazon ECR repository and pull the image into your local workspace. If you want to pull an image from a different AWS Region to reduce network latency, choose the different ECR repository that corresponds most closely to where you are pulling the image from US West (Oregon) Region.

$ aws ecr get-login-password --region us-west-2 | docker login --username AWS --password-stdin
$ docker pull

Create a Dockerfile on your local workspace with the EMR-provided base image and add commands to customize the image. If the application requires custom Java SDK, Python, or R libraries, you can add them to the image directly, just as with other containerized applications.

The following example Docker commands are for a use case in which you want to install useful Python libraries such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) using Spark and Pandas.

USER root
### Add customizations here ####
RUN pip3 install pyspark pandas spark-nlp // Install Python NLP Libraries
USER hadoop:hadoop

In another use case, as I mentioned, you can install a different version of Java (for example, Java 11):

USER root
### Add customizations here ####
RUN yum install -y java-11-amazon-corretto // Install Java 11 and set home
ENV JAVA_HOME /usr/lib/jvm/java-11-amazon-corretto.x86_64
USER hadoop:hadoop

If you’re changing Java version to 11, then you also need to change Java Virtual Machine (JVM) options for Spark. Provide the following options in applicationConfiguration when you submit jobs. You need these options because Java 11 does not support some Java 8 JVM parameters.

"applicationConfiguration": [ 
    "classification": "spark-defaults",
    "properties": {
        "spark.driver.defaultJavaOptions" : "
		    -XX:OnOutOfMemoryError='kill -9 %p' -XX:MaxHeapFreeRatio=70",
        "spark.executor.defaultJavaOptions" : "
		    -verbose:gc -Xlog:gc*::time -XX:+PrintGCDetails -XX:+PrintGCDateStamps 
			-XX:OnOutOfMemoryError='kill -9 %p' -XX:MaxHeapFreeRatio=70 

To use custom images with EMR on EKS, publish your customized image and submit a Spark workload in Amazon EMR on EKS using the available Spark parameters.

You can submit batch workloads using your customized Spark image. To submit batch workloads using the StartJobRun API or CLI, use the spark.kubernetes.container.image parameter.

$ aws emr-containers start-job-run 
    --virtual-cluster-id <enter-virtual-cluster-id> 
    --name sample-job-name 
    --execution-role-arn <enter-execution-role-arn> 
    --release-label <base-release-label>  # Base EMR Release Label for the custom image
    --job-driver '{
        "sparkSubmitJobDriver": {
        "entryPoint": "local:///usr/lib/spark/examples/jars/spark-examples.jar",
        "entryPointArguments": ["1000"],
        "sparkSubmitParameters": [ "--class org.apache.spark.examples.SparkPi --conf"

Use the kubectl command to confirm the job is running your custom image.

$ kubectl get pod -n <namespace> | grep "driver" | awk '{print $1}'
Example output: k8dfb78cb-a2cc-4101-8837-f28befbadc92-1618856977200-driver

Get the image for the main container in the Driver pod (Uses jq).

$ kubectl get pod/<driver-pod-name> -n <namespace> -o json | jq '.spec.containers
| .[] | select(.name=="spark-kubernetes-driver") | .image '
Example output:

To view jobs in the Amazon EMR console, under EMR on EKS, choose Virtual clusters. From the list of virtual clusters, select the virtual cluster for which you want to view logs. On the Job runs table, select View logs to view the details of a job run.

Automating Your CI Process and Workflows
You can now customize an EMR-provided base image to include an application to simplify application development and management. With custom images, you can add the dependencies using your existing CI process, which allows you to create a single immutable image that contains the Spark application and all of its dependencies.

You can apply your existing development processes, such as vulnerability scans against your Amazon EMR image. You can also validate for correct file structure and runtime versions using the EMR validation tool, which can be run locally or integrated into your CI workflow.

The APIs for Amazon EMR on EKS are integrated with orchestration services like AWS Step Functions and AWS Managed Workflows for Apache Airflow (MWAA), allowing you to include EMR custom images in your automated workflows.

Now Available
You can now set up customizable images in all AWS Regions where Amazon EMR on EKS is available. There is no additional charge for custom images. To learn more, see the Amazon EMR on EKS Development Guide and a demo video how to build your own images for running Spark jobs on Amazon EMR on EKS.

You can send feedback to the AWS forum for Amazon EMR or through your usual AWS support contacts.


Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer Updates: New Java Detectors and CI/CD Integration with GitHub Actions

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Amazon CodeGuru allows you to automate code reviews and improve code quality, and thanks to the new pricing model announced in April you can get started with a lower and fixed monthly rate based on the size of your repository (up to 90% less expensive). CodeGuru Reviewer helps you detect potential defects and bugs that are hard to find in your Java and Python applications, using the AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, and AWS CLI.

Today, I’m happy to announce that CodeGuru Reviewer natively integrates with the tools that you use every day to package and deploy your code. This new CI/CD experience allows you to trigger code quality and security analysis as a step in your build process using GitHub Actions.

Although the CodeGuru Reviewer console still serves as an analysis hub for all your onboarded repositories, the new CI/CD experience allows you to integrate CodeGuru Reviewer more deeply with your favorite source code management and CI/CD tools.

And that’s not all! Today we’re also releasing 20 new security detectors for Java to help you identify even more issues related to security and AWS best practices.

A New CI/CD Experience for CodeGuru Reviewer
As a developer or development team, you push new code every day and want to identify security vulnerabilities early in the development cycle, ideally at every push. During a pull-request (PR) review, all the CodeGuru recommendations will appear as a comment, as if you had another pair of eyes on the PR. These comments include useful links to help you resolve the problem.

When you push new code or schedule a code review, recommendations will appear in the Security > Code scanning alerts tab on GitHub.

Let’s see how to integrate CodeGuru Reviewer with GitHub Actions.

First of all, create a .yml file in your repository under .github/workflows/ (or update an existing action). This file will contain all your actions’ step. Let’s go through the individual steps.

The first step is configuring your AWS credentials. You want to do this securely, without storing any credentials in your repository’s code, using the Configure AWS Credentials action. This action allows you to configure an IAM role that GitHub will use to interact with AWS services. This role will require a few permissions related to CodeGuru Reviewer and Amazon S3. You can attach the AmazonCodeGuruReviewerFullAccess managed policy to the action role, in addition to s3:GetObject, s3:PutObject and s3:ListBucket.

This first step will look as follows:

- name: Configure AWS Credentials
  uses: aws-actions/configure-aws-credentials@v1
    aws-access-key-id: ${{ secrets.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID }}
    aws-secret-access-key: ${{ secrets.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY }}
    aws-region: eu-west-1

These access key and secret key correspond to your IAM role and will be used to interact with CodeGuru Reviewer and Amazon S3.

Next, you add the CodeGuru Reviewer action and a final step to upload the results:

- name: Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer Scanner
  uses: aws-actions/codeguru-reviewer
  if: ${{ always() }} 
    build_path: target # build artifact(s) directory
    s3_bucket: 'codeguru-reviewer-myactions-bucket'  # S3 Bucket starting with "codeguru-reviewer-*"
- name: Upload review result
  if: ${{ always() }}
  uses: github/codeql-action/upload-sarif@v1
    sarif_file: codeguru-results.sarif.json

The CodeGuru Reviewer action requires two input parameters:

  • build_path: Where your build artifacts are in the repository.
  • s3_bucket: The name of an S3 bucket that you’ve created previously, used to upload the build artifacts and analysis results. It’s a customer-owned bucket so you have full control over access and permissions, in case you need to share its content with other systems.

Now, let’s put all the pieces together.

Your .yml file should look like this:

name: CodeGuru Reviewer GitHub Actions Integration
on: [pull_request, push, schedule]
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - name: Configure AWS Credentials
        uses: aws-actions/configure-aws-credentials@v1
          aws-access-key-id: ${{ secrets.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID }}
          aws-secret-access-key: ${{ secrets.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY }}
          aws-region: us-east-2
	  - name: Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer Scanner
        uses: aws-actions/codeguru-reviewer
        if: ${{ always() }} 
          build_path: target # build artifact(s) directory
          s3_bucket: 'codeguru-reviewer-myactions-bucket'  # S3 Bucket starting with "codeguru-reviewer-*"
      - name: Upload review result
        if: ${{ always() }}
        uses: github/codeql-action/upload-sarif@v1
          sarif_file: codeguru-results.sarif.json

It’s important to remember that the S3 bucket name needs to start with codeguru_reviewer- and that these actions can be configured to run with the pull_request, push, or schedule triggers (check out the GitHub Actions documentation for the full list of events that trigger workflows). Also keep in mind that there are minor differences in how you configure GitHub-hosted runners and self-hosted runners, mainly in the credentials configuration step. For example, if you run your GitHub Actions in a self-hosted runner that already has access to AWS credentials, such as an EC2 instance, then you don’t need to provide any credentials to this action (check out the full documentation for self-hosted runners).

Now when you push a change or open a PR CodeGuru Reviewer will comment on your code changes with a few recommendations.

Or you can schedule a daily or weekly repository scan and check out the recommendations in the Security > Code scanning alerts tab.

New Security Detectors for Java
In December last year, we launched the Java Security Detectors for CodeGuru Reviewer to help you find and remediate potential security issues in your Java applications. These detectors are built with machine learning and automated reasoning techniques, trained on over 100,000 Amazon and open-source code repositories, and based on the decades of expertise of the AWS Application Security (AppSec) team.

For example, some of these detectors will look at potential leaks of sensitive information or credentials through excessively verbose logging, exception handling, and storing passwords in plaintext in memory. The security detectors also help you identify several web application vulnerabilities such as command injection, weak cryptography, weak hashing, LDAP injection, path traversal, secure cookie flag, SQL injection, XPATH injection, and XSS (cross-site scripting).

The new security detectors for Java can identify security issues with the Java Servlet APIs and web frameworks such as Spring. Some of the new detectors will also help you with security best practices for AWS APIs when using services such as Amazon S3, IAM, and AWS Lambda, as well as libraries and utilities such as Apache ActiveMQ, LDAP servers, SAML parsers, and password encoders.

Available Today at No Additional Cost
The new CI/CD integration and security detectors for Java are available today at no additional cost, excluding the storage on S3 which can be estimated based on size of your build artifacts and the frequency of code reviews. Check out the CodeGuru Reviewer Action in the GitHub Marketplace and the Amazon CodeGuru pricing page to find pricing examples based on the new pricing model we launched last month.

We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback, launching more detectors to help you identify potential issues, and integrating with even more CI/CD tools in the future.

You can learn more about the CI/CD experience and configuration in the technical documentation.


New – AWS BugBust: It’s Game Over for Bugs

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Today, we are launching AWS BugBust, the world’s first global challenge to fix one million bugs and reduce technical debt by over $100 million.

You might have participated in a bug bash before. Many of the software companies where I’ve worked (including Amazon) run them in the weeks before launching a new product or service. AWS BugBust takes the concept of a bug bash to a new level.

AWS BugBust allows you to create and manage private events that will transform and gamify the process of finding and fixing bugs in your software. It includes automated code analysis, built-in leaderboards, custom challenges, and rewards. AWS BugBust fosters team building and introduces some friendly competition into improving code quality and application performance. What’s more, your developers can take part in the world’s largest code challenge, win fantastic prizes, and receive kudos from their peers.

Behind the scenes, AWS BugBust uses Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer and Amazon CodeGuru Profiler. These developer tools use machine learning and automated reasoning to find bugs in your applications. These bugs are then available for your developers to claim and fix. The more bugs a developer fixes, the more points the developer earns. A traditional bug bash requires developers to find and fix bugs manually. With AWS BugBust, developers get a list of bugs before the event begins so they can spend the entire event focused on fixing them.

Fix Your Bugs and Earn Points
As a developer, each time you fix a bug in a private event, points are allocated and added to the global leaderboard. Don’t worry: Only your handle (profile name) and points are displayed on the global leaderboard. Nobody can see your code or details about the bugs that you’ve fixed.

As developers reach significant individual milestones, they receive badges and collect exclusive prizes from AWS, for example, if they achieve 100 points they will win an AWS BugBust T-shirt and if they earn 2,000 points they will win an AWS BugBust Varsity Jacket. In addition, on the 30th of September 2021, the top 10 developers on the global leaderboard will receive a ticket to AWS re:Invent.

Create an Event
To show you how the challenge works, I’ll create a private AWS BugBust event. In the CodeGuru console, I choose Create BugBust event.

Under Step 1- Rules and scoring, I see how many points are awarded for each type of bug fix. Profiling groups are used to determine performance improvements after the players submit their improved solutions.

In Step 2, I sign in to my player account. In Step 3, I add event details like name, description, and start and end time.

I also enter details about the first-, second-, and third-place prizes. This information will be displayed to players when they join the event.

After I have reviewed the details and created the event, my event dashboard displays essential information, I can also import work items and invite players.

I select the Import work items button. This takes me to the Import work items screen where I choose to Import bugs from CodeGuru Reviewer and profiling groups from CodeGuru Profiler. I choose a repository analysis from my account and AWS BugBust imports all the identified bugs for players to claim and fix. I also choose several profiling groups that will be used by AWS BugBust.

Now that my event is ready, I can invite players. Players can now sign into a player portal using their player accounts and start claiming and fixing bugs.

Things to Know
Amazon CodeGuru currently supports Python and Java. To compete in the global challenge, your project must be written in one of these languages.

When you create your first AWS BugBust event, all costs incurred by the underlying usage of Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer and Amazon CodeGuru Profiler are free of charge for 30 days per AWS account. This 30 day free period applies even if you have already utilized the free tiers for Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer and Amazon CodeGuru Profiler. You can create multiple AWS BugBust events within the 30-day free trial period. After the 30-day free trial expires, you will be charged for Amazon CodeGuru Reviewer and Amazon CodeGuru Profiler based on your usage in the challenge. See the Amazon CodeGuru Pricing page for details.

Available Today
Starting today, you can create AWS BugBust events in the Amazon CodeGuru console in the US East (N. Virginia) Region. Start planning your AWS BugBust today.

— Martin

Introducing a Public Registry for AWS CloudFormation

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AWS CloudFormation and the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) provide scalable and consistent provisioning of AWS resources (for example, compute infrastructure, monitoring tools, databases, and more). We’ve heard from many customers that they’d like to benefit from the same consistency and scalability when provisioning resources from AWS Partner Network (APN) members, third-party vendors, and open-source technologies, regardless of whether they are using CloudFormation templates or have adopted the CDK to define their cloud infrastructure.

I’m pleased to announce a new public registry for CloudFormation, providing a searchable collection of extensions – resource types or modules – published by AWS, APN partners, third parties, and the developer community. The registry makes it easy to discover and provision these extensions in your CloudFormation templates and CDK applications in the same manner you use AWS-provided resources. Using extensions, you no longer need to create and maintain custom provisioning logic for resource types from third-party vendors. And, you are able to use a single infrastructure as code tool, CloudFormation, to provision and manage AWS and third-party resources, further simplifying the infrastructure provisioning process (the CDK uses CloudFormation under the hood).

Launch Partners
We’re excited to be joined by over a dozen APN Partners for the launch of the registry, with more than 35 extensions available for you to use today. Blog posts and announcements from the APN Partners who collaborated on this launch, along with AWS Quick Starts, can be found below (some will be added in the next few days).

Registries and Resource Types
In 2019, CloudFormation launched support for private registries. These enabled registration and use of resource providers (Lambda functions) in your account, including providers from AWS and third-party vendors. After you registered a provider you could use resource types, comprised of custom provisioning logic, from the provider in your CloudFormation templates. Resource types were uploaded by providers to an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket, and you used the types by referencing the relevant S3 URL. The public registry provides consistency in the sourcing of resource types and modules, and you no longer need to use a collection of Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets.

Third-party resource types in the public registry also integrate with drift detection. After creating a resource from a third-party resource type, CloudFormation will detect changes to the resource from its template configuration, known as configuration drift, just as it would with AWS resources. You can also use AWS Config to manage compliance for third-party resources consumed from the registry. The resource types are automatically tracked as Configuration items when you have configured AWS Config to record them, and used CloudFormation to create, update, and delete them. Whether the resource types you use are third-party or AWS resources, you can view configuration history for them, in addition to being able to write AWS Config rules to verify configuration best practices.

The public registry also supports Type Configuration, enabling you to configure third-party resource types with API keys and OAuth tokens per account and region. Once set, the configuration is stored securely and can be updated. This also provides a centralized way to configure third-party resource types.

Publishing Extensions to the Public Registry
Extension publishers must be verified as AWS Marketplace sellers, or as GitHub or BitBucket users, and extensions are validated against best practices. To publish extensions (resource types or modules) to the registry, you must first register in an AWS Region, using one of the mentioned account types.

After you’ve registered, you next publish your extension to a private registry in the same Region. Then, you need to test that the extension meets publishing requirements. For a resource type extension, this means it must pass all the contract tests defined for the type. Modules are subject to different requirements, and you can find more details in the documentation. With testing complete, you can publish your extension to the public registry for your Region. See the user guide for detailed information on publishing extensions.

Using Extensions in the Public Registry
I decided to try a couple of extensions related to Kubernetes, contributed by AWS Quick Starts, to make configuration changes to a cluster. Personally, I don’t have a great deal of experience with Kubernetes and its API so this was a great chance to examine how extensions could save me significant time and effort. During the process of writing this post I learned from others that using the Kubernetes API (the usual way to achieve the changes I had in mind) would normally involve effort even for those with more experience.

For this example I needed a Kubernetes cluster, so I followed this tutorial to set one up in Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), using the Managed nodes – Linux node type. With my cluster ready, I want to make two configuration changes.

First, I want to add a new namespace to the cluster. A namespace is a partitioning construct that lets me deploy the same set of resources to different namespaces in the same cluster without conflict thanks to the isolation namespaces provide. Second, I want to set up and use Helm, a package manager for Kubernetes. I’ll use Helm to install the kube-state-metrics package from the Prometheus helm-charts repository for gathering cluster metrics. While I can use CloudFormation to provision clusters and compute resources, previously, to perform these two configuration tasks, I’d have had to switch to the API or various bespoke tool chains. With the registry, and these two extensions, I can now do everything using CloudFormation (and of course, as I mentioned earlier, I could also use the extensions with the CDK, which I’ll show later).

Before using an extension, it needs to be activated in my account. While activation is easy to do for single accounts using the console, as we’ll see in a moment, if I were using AWS Organizations and wanted to activate various third-party extensions across my entire organization, or for a specific organization unit (OU), I could achieve this using Service-Managed StackSets in CloudFormation. Using the resource type AWS::CloudFormation::TypeActivation in a template submitted to a Service-Managed StackSet, I can target an entire Organization, or a particular OU, passing the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) identifying the third-party extension to be activated. Activation of extensions is also very easy to achieve (whether using AWS Organizations or not) using the CDK with just a few lines of code, again making use of the aforementioned TypeActivation resource type.

To activate the extensions, I head to the CloudFormation console and click Public extensions from the navigation bar. This takes me to the Registry:Public extensions home page, where I switch to viewing third party resource type extensions.

Viewing third-party types in the registry

The extensions I want are AWSQS::Kubernetes::Resource and AWSQS::Kubernetes::Helm. The Resource extension is used to apply a manifest describing configuration changes to a cluster. In my case, the manifest requests a namespace be created. Clicking the name of the AWSQS::Kubernetes::Resource extension takes me to a page where I can view schema, configuration details, and versions for the extension.

Viewing details of the Resource extension

What happens if you deactivate an extension you’re using, or an extension is withdrawn by the publisher? If you deactivate an extension a stack depends on, any resources created from that extension won’t be affected, but you’ll be unable to perform further stack operations, such as Read, Update, Delete, and List (these will fail until the extension is re-activated). Publishers must request their extensions be withdrawn from the registry (there is no “delete” API). If the request is granted, customers who activated the extension prior to withdrawal can still perform Create/Read/Update/Delete/List operations, using what is effectively a snapshot of the extension in their account.

Clicking Activate takes me to a page where I need to specify the ARN of an execution role that CloudFormation will assume when it runs the code behind the extension. I create a role following this user guide topic, but the basic trust relationship is below for reference.

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Principal": {
        "Service": ""
      "Action": "sts:AssumeRole"

I also add permissions for the resource types I’m using to my execution role. Details on the permissions needed for the types I chose can be found on GitHub, for Helm, and for Kubernetes (note the GitHub examples include the trust relationship too).

When activating an extension, I can elect to use the default name, which is how I will refer to the type in my templates or CDK applications, or I can enter a new name. The name chosen has to be unique within my account, so if I’ve enabled a version of an extension with its default name, and want to enable a different version, I must change the name. Once I’ve filled in the details, and chosen my versioning strategy (extensions use semantic versioning, and I can elect to accept automatic updates for minor version changes, or to “lock” to a specific version) clicking Activate extension completes the process.

Activating an extension from the registry

That completes the process for the first extension, and I follow the same steps for the AWSQS::Kubernetes::Helm extension. Navigating to Activated extensions I can view a list of all my enabled extensions.

Viewing the list of enabled extensions

I have one more set of permissions to update. Resource types make calls to the Kubernetes API on my behalf so I need to update the aws-auth ConfigMap for my cluster to reference the execution role I just used, otherwise the calls made by the resource types I’m using will fail. To do this, I run the command kubectl edit cm aws-auth -n kube-system at a command prompt. In the text editor that opens, I update the ConfigMap with a new group referencing my CfnRegistryExtensionExecRole, shown below (if you’re following along, be sure to change the account ID and role name to match yours).

apiVersion: v1
  mapRoles: |
    - groups:
      - system:bootstrappers
      - system:nodes
      rolearn: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/myAmazonEKSNodeRole
      username: system:node:{{EC2PrivateDNSName}}
    - groups:
      - system:masters
      rolearn: arn:aws:iam::111122223333:role/CfnRegistryExtensionExecRole
      username: cfnresourcetypes
kind: ConfigMap
  creationTimestamp: "2021-06-04T20:44:24Z"
  name: aws-auth
  namespace: kube-system
  resourceVersion: "6355"
  selfLink: /api/v1/namespaces/kube-system/configmaps/aws-auth
  uid: dc91bfa8-1663-45d0-8954-1e841913b324

Now I’m ready to use the extensions to configure my cluster with a new namespace, Helm, and the kube-state-metrics package. I create a CloudFormation template that uses the extensions, adding parameters for the elements I want to specify when creating a stack: the name of the cluster to update, and the namespace name. The properties for the KubeStateMetrics resource reference the package I want Helm to install.

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: "2010-09-09"
    Type: String
    Type: String
    Type: AWSQS::Kubernetes::Helm
      ClusterID: !Ref ClusterName
      Name: kube-state-metrics
      Namespace: !GetAtt KubeNamespace.Name
      Chart: prometheus-community/kube-state-metrics
    Type: AWSQS::Kubernetes::Resource
      ClusterName: !Ref ClusterName
      Namespace: default
      Manifest: !Sub |
        apiVersion: v1
        kind: Namespace
          name: ${Namespace}
            name: ${Namespace}

On the Stacks page of the CloudFormation console, I click Create stack, upload my template, and then give my stack a name and the values for my declared parameters.

Launching a stack with my activated extensions

I click Next to proceed through the rest of the wizard, leaving other settings at their default values, and then Create stack to complete the process.

Once stack creation is complete, I verify my changes using the kubectl command line tool. I first check that the new namespace, newsblog-sample-namespace, is present with the command kubectl get namespaces. I then run the kubectl get all --namespace newsblog-sample-namespace command to verify the kube-state-metrics package is installed.

Verifying the extensions applied by changes

Extensions can also be used with the AWS Cloud Development Kit. To wrap up this exploration of using the new registry, I’ve included an example below of a CDK application snippet in TypeScript that achieves the same effect, using the same extensions, as the YAML template I showed earlier (I could also have written this using any of the languages supported by the CDK – C#, Java, or Python).

import {Stack, Construct, CfnResource} from '@aws-cdk/core';
export class UnoStack extends Stack {
  constructor(scope: Construct, id: string) {
    super(scope, id);
    const clusterName = 'newsblog-cluster';
    const namespace = 'newsblog-sample-namespace';

    const kubeNamespace = new CfnResource(this, 'KubeNamespace', {
      type: 'AWSQS::Kubernetes::Resource',
      properties: {
        ClusterName: clusterName,
        Namespace: 'default',
        Manifest: this.toJsonString({
          apiVersion: 'v1',
          kind: 'Namespace',
          metadata: {
            name: namespace,
            labels: {
              name: namespace,
    new CfnResource(this, 'KubeStateMetrics', {
      type: 'AWSQS::Kubernetes::Helm',
      properties: {
        ClusterID: clusterName,
        Name: 'kube-state-metrics',
        Namespace: kubeNamespace.getAtt('Name').toString(),
        Repository: '',
        Chart: 'prometheus-community/kube-state-metrics',

As mentioned earlier in this post, I don’t have much experience with the Kubernetes API, and Kubernetes in general. However, by making use of the resource types in the public registry, in conjunction with CloudFormation, I was able to easily configure my cluster using a familiar environment, without needing to resort to the API or bespoke tool chains.

Get Started with the CloudFormation Public Registry
Pricing for the public registry is the same as for the existing registry and private resource types. There is no additional charge for using native AWS resource types; for third-party resource types you will incur charges based on the number of handler operations (add, delete, list, etc.) you run per month. For details, see the AWS CloudFormation Pricing page. The new public registry is available today in the US East (N. Virginia, Ohio), US West (Oregon, N. California), Canada (Central), Europe (Ireland, Frankfurt, London, Stockholm, Paris, Milan), Asia Pacific (Hong Kong, Mumbai, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, Seoul, Tokyo), South America (Sao Paulo), Middle East (Bahrain), and Africa (Cape Town) AWS Regions.

For more information, see the AWS CloudFormation User Guide and User Guide for Extension Development, and start publishing or using extensions today!

— Steve

Dark Web

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The Dark Web is a network of systems connected to the Internet designed to share information securely and anonymously. These capabilities are abused by cyber criminals to enable their activities, for example selling hacking tools or purchasing stolen information such as credit card data. Be aware that your information could be floating around the Dark Web, making it easier for cyber criminals to create custom attacks targeting you..

New – AWS Step Functions Workflow Studio – A Low-Code Visual Tool for Building State Machines

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AWS Step Functions allow you to build scalable, distributed applications using state machines. Until today, building workflows on Step Functions required you to learn and understand Amazon State Language (ASL). Today, we are launching Workflow Studio, a low-code visual tool that helps you learn Step Functions through a guided interactive interface and allows you to prototype and build workflows faster.

In December 2016, when Step Functions was launched, I was in the middle of a migration to serverless. My team moved all the business logic from applications that were built for a traditional environment to a serverless architecture. Although we tried to have functions that did one thing and one thing only, when we put all the state management from our applications into the functions, they became very complex. When I saw that Step Functions was launched, I realized they would reduce the complexity of the serverless application we were building. The downside was that I spent a lot of time learning and writing state machines using ASL, learning how to invoke different AWS services, and performing the flow operations the state machine required. It took weeks of work and lots of testing to get it right.

Step Functions is amazing for visualizing the processes inside your distributed applications, but developing those state machines is not a visual process. Workflow Studio makes it easy for developers to build serverless workflows. It empowers developers to focus on their high-value business logic while reducing the time spent writing configuration code for workflow definitions and building data transformations.

Workflow Studio is great for developers who are new to Step Functions, because it reduces the time to build their first workflow and provides an accelerated learning path where developers learn by doing. Workflow Studio is also useful for developers who are experienced in building workflows, because they can now develop them faster using a visual tool. For example, you can use Workflow Studio to do prototypes of the workflows and share them with your stakeholders quickly. Or you can use Workflow Studio to design the boilerplate of your state machine. When you use Workflow Studio, you don’t need to have all the resources deployed in your AWS account. You can build the state machines and start completing them with the different actions as they get ready.

Workflow Studio simplifies the building of enterprise applications such as ecommerce platforms, financial transaction processing systems, or e-health services. It abstracts away the complexities of building fault-tolerant, scalable applications by assembling AWS services into workflows. Because Workflow Studio exposes many of the capabilities of AWS services in a visual workflow, it’s easy to sequence and configure calls to AWS services and APIs and transform the data flowing through a workflow.

Build a workflow using Workflow Studio
Imagine that you need to build a system that validates data when an account is created. If the input data is correct, the system saves the record in persistent storage and an email is sent to the administrator to confirm the account was created successfully. If the account cannot be created due to a validation error, the data is not stored and an email is sent to notify the administrator that there was a problem with the creation of the account.

There are many ways to solve this problem, but if you want to make the application with the least amount of code, and take advantage of all the managed services that AWS provides, you should use Workflow Studio to design the state machine and build the integrations with all the managed services.

Architectural diagram of what we are building

Let me show you how easy is to create a state machine using Workflow Studio. To get started, go to the Step Functions console and create a state machine. You will see an option to start designing the new state machine visually with Workflow Studio.

Creating a new state machine

You can start creating state machines in Workflow Studio. In the left pane, the States Browser, you can view and search the available actions and flow states. Actions are operations you can perform using AWS services, like invoking an AWS Lambda function, making a request with Amazon API Gateway, and sending a message to an Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) topic. Flows are the state types you can use to make a workflow appropriate for your use case.

Here are some of the available flow states:

  • Choice: Adds if-then-else logic.
  • Parallel: Adds parallel branches.
  • Map: Adds a for-each loop.
  • Wait: Delays for a specific time.

In the center of the page, you can see the state machine you are currently working on.

Screenshot of Studio workflow first view

To build the account validator workflow, you need:

  • One task that invokes a Lambda function that validates the data provided to create the account.
  • One task that puts an item into a DynamoDB table.
  • Two tasks that put a message to an SNS topic.
  • One choice flow state, to decide which action to take, depending on the results of a Lambda function.

When creating the workflow, you don’t need to have all the AWS resources in advance to start working on the state machine. You can build the state machine and then you can add the definitions to the resources later. Or, as we are going to do in this blog post, you can have all your AWS resources deployed in your AWS account before you start working on your state machine. You can deploy the required resources into your AWS account from this Serverless Application Model template. After you create and deploy those resources, you can continue with the other steps in this post.

Configure the Lambda function
The first step in your workflow is the Lambda function. To add it to your state machine, just drag an Invoke action from the Actions list into the center of Workflow Studio, as shown in step 1. You can edit the configuration of your function in the right pane. For example, you can change the name (as shown in step 2). You can also edit which Lambda function should be invoked from the list of functions deployed in this account, as shown in step 3. When you’re done, you can edit the output for this task, as shown in step 4.

Steps for adding a new Lambda function to the state machine

Configuring the output of the task is very important, because these values will be passed to the next state as input. We will construct a result object with just the information we need (in this case, if the account is valid). First, clear Filter output with OutputPath, as shown in step 1. Then you can select Transform result with Result Selector, and add the JSON shown in step 2. Then, to combine the input of this current state with the output, and send it to the next state as input, select Combine input and result with ResultPath, as shown in step 3. We need the input of this state, because the input is the account information. If the validation is successful, we need to store that data in a DynamoDB table.

If need help understanding what each of the transformations does, choose the Info links in each of the transformations.

Screenshot of configuration for the Lambda output

Configure the choice state
After you configure the Lambda function, you need to add a choice state. A choice will validate the input using choice rules. Based on the result of applying those rules, the state machine will direct the execution to a different path.

The following figure shows the workflow for adding a choice state. In step 1, you drag it from the flow menu. In step 2, you enter a name for it. In step 3, you can define the rules. For this use case, you will have one rule with a specific condition.

Screenshot of configuring a choice state

The condition for this rule compares the results of the output of the previous state against a boolean constant. If the previous state operation returns a value of true, the rule is executed. This is your happy path. In this example, you want to validate the result of the Lambda function. If the function validates the input data, it returns validated is equals to true, as shown here.

Configuring the rule

If the rule doesn’t apply, the choice state makes the default branch run. This is your error path.

Configure the error path
When there is an error, you want to send an email to let the administrator know that the account couldn’t be created. You should have created an SNS topic earlier in the post. Make sure that the email address you configured in the SNS topic accepts the email subscription for this topic.

To add the SNS task of publishing a message, first search for SNS:Publish task as shown in step 1, and then drag it to the state machine, as shown in step 2. Drag a Fail state flow to the state machine, as shown in step 3, so that when this branch of execution is complete, the state machine is in a fail state.

One nice feature of Workflow Studio is that you can drag the different states around in the state machine and place them in different parts of the worklow.

Now you can configure the SNS task for publishing a message. First, change the state name, as shown in step 4. Choose the topic from the ones deployed in your AWS account, as shown in step 5. Finally, change the message that will be sent in the email to something appropriate for your use case, as shown in step 6.

Steps for configuring the error path

Configure the happy path
For the happy path, you want to store the account information in a DynamoDB table and then send an email using the SNS topic you deployed earlier. To do that, add the DynamoDB:PutItem task, as shown in step 1, and the SNS:Publish task, as shown in step 2, into the state machine. You configure the SNS:Publish task in a similar way to the error path. You just send a different message. For that, you can duplicate the state from the error path, drag it to the right place, and just modify it with the new message.

The DynamoDB:PutItem task puts an item into a DynamoDB table. This is a very handy task because we don’t need to execute this operation inside a Lambda function. To configure this task, you first change its name, as shown in step 3. Then, you need to configure the API parameters, as shown in step 4, to put the right data into the DynamoDB table.

Steps for configuring the happy path

These are the API parameters to use for this particular item (an account):

  "TableName": "<THE NAME OF YOUR TABLE>",
  "Item": {
    "id": {
      "S.$": "$.Name"
    "mail": {
      "S.$": "$.Mail"
    "work": {
      "S.$": "$.Work"

Save and execute the state machine
Workflow Studio created the ASL definition of the state machine for you, but you can always edit the ASL definition and return to the visual editor whenever you want to edit the state machine.

Now that your state machine is ready, you can run the first execution. Save it and start a new execution. When you start a new execution, a message will be displayed, asking for the input event to the state machine. Make sure that the attributes for this event are named Name, Mail and Work, because the execution of the state machine depends on those.

Starting the execution After you run your state machine, you see a visualization for the execution. It shows you all the steps that the execution ran. In each step, you see the step input and step output. This is very useful for debugging and fine-tuning the state machine.

Execution results

Available Now

There are a lot of great features on our roadmap for Workflow Studio. Although the details may change, we are currently working to give you the power to visually create, run, and even debug workflow executions. Stay tuned for more information, and please feel free to send us feedback.

Workflow Studio is available now in all the AWS Regions where Step Functions is available.

Try it and learn more.


Migrate Your Workloads with the Graviton Challenge!

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Starting today, we invite you to take the Graviton Challenge and move your applications to run on AWS Graviton2. The challenge, intended for individual developers and small teams, is based on the experiences of customers who’ve already migrated. It provides a framework of eight, approximately four-hour chunks to prepare, port, optimize, and finally deploy your application onto Graviton2 instances. Getting your application running on Graviton2, and enjoying the improved price performance, aren’t the only rewards. There are prizes and swag for those who complete the challenge!

AWS Graviton2 is a custom-built processor from AWS that’s based on the Arm64 architecture. It’s supported by popular Linux operating systems including Amazon Linux 2, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Ubuntu. Compared to fifth-generation x86-based Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance types, Graviton2 instance types have a 20% lower cost. Overall, customers who have moved applications to Graviton2 typically see up to 40% better price performance for a broad range of workloads including application servers, container-based applications, microservices, caching fleets, data analytics, video encoding, electronic design automation, gaming, open-source databases, and more.

Before I dive in to talk more about the challenge, check out the fun introductory video below from Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist, AWS and Dave Brown, Vice President, EC2. As Jeff mentions in the video: same exact workload, same or better performance, and up to 40% better price performance!

After you complete the challenge, we invite you to tell us about your adoption journey and enter the contest. If you post on social media with the hashtag #ITookTheGravitonChallenge, you’ll earn a t-shirt. To earn a hoodie, include a short video with your post.

To enter the competition, you’ll need to create a 5 to 10-minute video that describes your project and the application you migrated, any hurdles you needed to overcome, and the price performance benefits you realized.

All valid contest entries will each receive a $500 AWS credit (limited to 500 quantity). A panel of judges will evaluate the content entries and award additional prizes across six categories. All category winners will receive an AWS re:Invent 2021 conference pass, flight, and hotel for one company representative, and winners will be able to meet with senior members of the Graviton2 team at the conference. Here are additional category-specific prizes:

  • Best adoption – enterprise
    Based on the performance gains, total cost savings, number of instances the workload is running on, and time taken to migrate the workload (faster is better), for companies with over 1000 employees. The winner will also receive a chance to present at the conference.
  • Best adoption – small/medium business
    Based on the performance gains, total cost savings, number of instances the workload is running on, and time taken to migrate the workload (faster is better), for companies with 100-1000 employees. The winner will also receive a chance to present at the conference.
  • Best adoption – startup
    Based on the performance gains, total cost savings, number of instances the workload is running on, and time taken to migrate the workload (faster is better), for companies with fewer than 100 employees. The winner will also receive a chance to present at the conference.
  • Best new workload adoption
    Awarded to a workload that’s new to EC2 (migrated to Graviton2 from on-premises, or other cloud) based on the performance gains, total cost savings, number of instances the workload is running on, and time taken to migrate the workload (faster is better). The winner will also receive a chance to participate in a video or written case study.
  • Most impactful adoption
    Awarded to the workload with the biggest social impact based on details provided about what the workload/application does. Applications in this category are related to fields such as sustainability, healthcare and life sciences, conservation, learning/education, justice/equity. The winner will also receive a chance to participate in a video or written case study.
  • Most innovative adoption
    Applications in this category solve unique problems for their customers, address new use cases, or are groundbreaking. The award will be based on the workload description, price performance gains, and total cost savings. The winner will also receive a chance to participate in a video or written case study.

Competition submissions open on June 22 and close August 31. Winners will be announced on October 1 2021.

Identifying a workload to migrate
Now that you know what’s possible with Graviton2, you’re probably eager to get started and identify a workload to tackle as part of the challenge. The ideal workload is one that already runs on Linux and uses open-source components. This means you’ll have full access to the source code of every component and can easily make any required changes. If you don’t have an existing Linux workload that is entirely open-source based, you can, of course, move other workloads. A robust ecosystem of ISVs and AWS services already support Graviton2. However, if you are using software from a vendor that does not support Arm64/Graviton2, reach out to the Graviton Challenge Slack channel for support.

What’s involved in the challenge?
The challenge includes eight steps performed over four days (but you don’t have to do the challenge in four consecutive days). If you need assistance from Graviton2 experts, a dedicated Slack channel is available and you can sign up for emails containing helpful tips and guidance. In addition to support on Slack and supporting emails, you also get $25 AWS credit to cover the cost of the taking the challenge. Graviton2-based burstable T4g instances also have a free trial, available until December 31 2021, that can be used to qualify your workloads.

You can download the complete whitepaper can be downloaded from the Graviton Challenge page, but here is an outline of the process.

Day 1: Learn and explore
The first day you’ll learn about Graviton2 and then assess your selected workload. I recommend that you start by checking out the 2020 AWS re:Invent session, Deep dive on AWS Graviton2 processor-powered EC2 instances. The Getting Started with AWS Graviton GitHub repository will be a useful reference as you work through the challenge.

Assessment involves identifying the application’s dependencies and requirements. As with all preparatory work, the more thorough you are at this stage, the better positioned you are for success. So, don’t skimp on this task!

Day 2: Create a plan and start porting
On the second day, you’ll create a Graviton2 environment. You can use EC2 virtual machine instances with AWS-provided images or build your own custom images. Alternatively, you can go the container route, because both Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) support Graviton2-based instances.

After you have created your environment, you’ll bootstrap the application. The Getting Started Guide on GitHub contains language-specific getting started information. If your application uses Java, Python, Node.js, .NET, or other high-level languages, then it might run as-is or need minimal changes. Other languages like C, C++, or Go will need to be compiled for the 64-bit Arm architecture. For more information, see the guides on GitHub.

Day 3: Debug and optimize
Now that the application is running on a Graviton2 environment, it’s time to test and verify its functionality. When you have a fully functional application, you can test performance and compare it to x86-64 environments. If you don’t observe the expected performance, reach out to your account team, or get support on the Graviton Challenge Slack channel. We’re here to help analyze and resolve any potential performance gaps.

Day 4: Update infrastructure and start deployments
It’s shipping day! You’ll update your infrastructure to add Graviton2-based instances, and then start deploying. We recommend that you use canary or blue-green deployments so that a portion of your traffic is redirected to the new environments. When you’re comfortable, you can transition all traffic.

At this point, you can celebrate completing the challenge, publish a post on social media using the #ITookTheGravitonChallenge hashtag, let us know about your success, and consider entering the competition. Remember, entries for the competition are due by August 31, 2021.

Start the challenge today!
Now that you have some details about the challenge and rewards, it’s time to start your (migration) engines. Download the whitepaper from the Graviton Challenge landing page, familiarize yourself with the details, and off you go! And, if you do decide to enter the competition, good luck!

In my role as a .NET Developer Advocate at AWS, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this challenge is equally applicable to .NET applications using .NET Core or .NET 5 and later! In fact, .NET 5 includes ARM64-specific optimizations. For information about performance improvements my colleagues found for .NET applications running on AWS Graviton2, see the Powering .NET 5 with AWS Graviton2: Benchmarks blog post. There’s also a lab for .NET 5 on Graviton2. I invite you to check out the getting started material for .NET in the aws-graviton-getting-started GitHub repository and start migrating.

— Steve

Preview updating PowerShell 7.2 with Microsoft Update

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Updating PowerShell 7 with Microsoft Update

Today, we’re happy to announce that we’re taking the first steps to making PowerShell 7 easier than ever to update on Windows 10 and Server. In the past, Windows users were notified in their console that a new version of PowerShell 7 is available, but they still had to hop over to our GitHub release page to download and install it, or rely on a separate package management tool like the Windows Package Manager, Chocolatey, or Scoop. But with Microsoft Update, you’ll get the latest PowerShell 7 updates directly in your traditional Windows Update (WU) management flow, whether that’s with Windows Update for Business, WSUS, SCCM, or the interactive WU dialog in Settings. With today’s announcement, you’ll soon be able to try this new update process for yourself
on the latest PowerShell 7.2 previews.

How updates will work

Because of the large changes and validation required to get this to work, we will publish updates only for future releases. We have already been working on a release that updates 7.2 preview 5 or newer to 7.2 preview 7. We will begin the Microsoft Update publishing process once we release an update to GitHub.

How you can opt-in and help test the upgrade

First, you’ll need to have Windows 10 RS3 (10.0.16299) or newer installed, as well as PowerShell 7.2 preview.5 or preview.6 installed. You’ll also need to ensure that your machine is set up to receive Microsoft Update updates. (On Windows 10, this is done by going to Settings -> Windows Update -> Advanced options and checking “Receive updates for other Microsoft products when you update Windows.” Next, you’ll need to make sure not to update to the latest 7.2 preview.7 or greater using the MSI. Finally, you’ll need to add a specific registry key to opt-in to Microsoft Update usage for PS7. Running the following script from an elevated PowerShell session will setup the registry for this scenario:

$pwshRegPath = "HKLM:SOFTWAREMicrosoftPowerShellCore"
if (!(Test-Path -Path $pwshRegPath)) {
    throw "PowerShell 7 is not installed"

Set-ItemProperty -Path $pwshRegPath -Name UseMU -Value 1 -Type DWord

About a week after PowerShell 7.2 preview.7 update is released, @PowerShell_Team will tweet that the Microsoft Update release is available. At this point, you should be prompted to update PowerShell 7.2-preview in your standard Windows Update workflow.

Test new installs of PowerShell 7.2 preview

If you don’t already have PowerShell 7.2 preview installed, you can still help us try out a new install method! Again, you’ll need to have Windows 10 RS3 (10.0.16299) or newer installed and Microsoft Update enabled. Then, run the following script from an elevated PowerShell session to setup the registry in such a way that Microsoft Update will install and update the latest version of PowerShell 7 preview. Running the following script from an elevated PowerShell session, will setup the registry for this scenario:

$pwshRegPath = "HKLM:SOFTWAREMicrosoftPowerShellCore"
$previewPath = Join-Path -Path $pwshRegPath -ChildPath "InstalledVersions39243d76-adaf-42b1-94fb-16ecf83237c8"
if (!(Test-Path -Path $previewPath)) {
    $null = New-Item -Path $previewPath -ItemType Directory -Force

Set-ItemProperty -Path $pwshRegPath -Name UseMU -Value 1 -Type DWord
Set-ItemProperty -Path $previewPath -Name Install -Value 1 -Type DWord

Note: due to an issue with the installer, make sure to uninstall any previously installed version of the PowerShell Preview MSI.

Also, as noted in the previous section, this will not work until @PowerShell_Team tweets that the 7.2 preview.7 MU release is live.

If you want to disable either scenario

If you hit an issue that is bad enough you want to disable MU-based install or updates, run the following script from an elevated PowerShell session:

$pwshRegPath = "HKLM:SOFTWAREMicrosoftPowerShellCore"
$previewPath = Join-Path -Path $pwshRegPath -ChildPath "InstalledVersions39243d76-adaf-42b1-94fb-16ecf83237c8"
if (!(Test-Path -Path $previewPath)) {
    throw "PowerShell 7 Preview is not installed"

Set-ItemProperty -Path $pwshRegPath -Name UseMU -Value 0 -Type DWord
Set-ItemProperty -Path $previewPath -Name Install -Value 0 -Type DWord

Final words

Going forward we are working to remove the need to manually add the UseMU registry value.

If you try either scenario and it works, please upvote the Microsoft Update discussion. If you have any issue, please file an issue and link it in the discussion above.

Thanks for all your help,

Travis Plunk

The post Preview updating PowerShell 7.2 with Microsoft Update appeared first on PowerShell Team.