Feds give Amazon cloud the nod for Obamacare application

AWS_LOGO_RGB_300pxThe cloud market is nothing if not fluid. Businesses must weigh concerns sparked by Edward Snowden’s disclosures of government scooping up customer data from cloud providers and the agility and flexibility that cloud computing offers. There is appeal in renting, not buying, compute and storage, especially for spiky workloads but … you have to worry about all that data.

Given all that, it the move to cloud still seems inexorable.

Last week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told health insurers that they can use Amazon Web Services to store data they need to share with it, according to CNBC.com. AWS storage costs would be between $6,000 and $24,000 annually per insurer.

According to CNBC, Aaron Albright, CMS spokesman said:

“Based on feedback from stakeholders, CMS is offering issuers a new option for data reporting under the risk adjustment and reinsurance program … Issuers may select the option that best works for them for reporting data that is expected to begin later this year.”

This was probably welcome news to some, but not all, of the insurers since some had already bought the hardware they were told they’d need to handle their workloads.

Health insurance is one of those highly regulated vertical industries that pose special issues for public clouds. Vendors must show that data is secure and private despite the use of shared infrastructure. This will be a topic front and center next week at Structure, where Amazon.com CTO Werner Vogels will be on stage.


Get more apps on your Kindle Fire using the cloud

The Amazon Kindle Fire is quite a popular device, but its app selection is initially limited to the Amazon Appstore, which doesn’t have every app you’d find elsewhere. If you have a second Android device, you can actually take apps from one device and send them to another without even needing a computer. You will need to have a cloud storage account through something like Dropbox to make this work.

On both the Fire and the other Android device, you’ll need to install the ES File Explorer File Manager app. It’s free and available in both the Amazon Appstore and Google Play Store. On your non-Fire device, you’ll need to install another app called Apk Extractor. This app can repackage installed apps on your device so you can bring them over to your Kindle.

In this example, we wanted to ship over the Logitech Harmony remote app that is available on Google Play, but not the Amazon Appstore. Open up Apk Extractor and find the app you want to export. A simple tap will package up the app you want to grab and send it to a directory on your phone; in our case the APK wound up in /storage/emulated/0/ApkExtractor.

Then launch ES File Explorer File Manager on your Android device and connect your cloud storage account. We used Dropbox in our example, but ES File Explorer supports a number of alternatives, including Box and OneDrive. Click settings, then tap Cloud from the menu, then hit the plus icon on the bottom to connect your cloud storage account to ES File Explorer File Manager.

Now, navigate back to where your exported app lives and and long press it until you see new options for cut, copy, and paste on the bottom of the app. Select copy, then navigate to your cloud storage and paste the app there. You’re done messing around with this Android device; now get your Kindle Fire.

On your Kindle Fire, go to Settings by swiping down from the top of the device, then click Applications. Find the "Apps from Unknown Sources" option and hit the toggle button to allow installation of apps from outside the Amazon Appstore. This will allow you to install the APK you exported.

Open up ES File Explorer and connect it to your cloud storage account the same way you did on your other device. Navigate to the Harmony APK and open the file. Your Kindle will ask you if you want to install this application, so click Install. Congratulations, you just sideloaded an app on your Kindle Fire without using a computer.


AWS Launches Cloud VDI Service

AWS Launches Cloud VDI Service

Amazon officially enters the desktop virtualisation market with the release of its new WorkSpaces

Amazon Web Services has finally caught up with its rivals in regards to virtual desktop implementations (VDI).

It’s a strange fact that AWS, so far ahead of the curve in hosted cloud services that most other competitors can’t even see its dust, was so equally far behind a slew of other companies — such as Dell Wyse, VMware, Moka Five,nComputing, and Hewlett-Packard — in a sector that is some 15 years old.

AWS WorkSpaces

In truth, the VDI business has always had some type of nagging problem shadowing it over the years: expense, management complexity, latency, and implementation difficulties being foremost among them. Only in the last few years have most of these issues been solved.

With this as background, AWS on 26 March announced the general availability of Amazon WorkSpaces, a fully managed desktop computing service in the cloud that was originally introduced in limited preview at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas last November.

At the same time, Amazon made it a point to talk trash about private clouds – which, according to a number of industry studies, are now the most popular type of cloud being built.

“All the things you have to spend a lot of money for in a private cloud – security, full automation, monitoring, many other things – we already have at AWS,” Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services Vice President for Cloud Services, told about 4,000 attendees at an AWS Summit in San Francisco.

Jassy also cited a recent Forrester Research paper that concluded that “92 percent of private clouds are still falling short of the core requirements of self-service, full automation, tracking and monitoring.”

“If you’re not planning on using the public cloud in some significant fashion, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage,” Jassy said. “Private clouds offer none of the benefits of a robust public cloud and are simply a stopgap solution.”

One enticement for WorkSpaces will that it will cost about half that of current VDI systems, Jassy said. Go here for more details.

Seamless Movement

AWS said the service will work on a number of devices and will allow users to seamlessly move their sessions between desktops, tablets and smartphones. Amazon provided a pricing guide showing a range of $35 (£21) to $75 (£45) per workspace used per month. There is no upfront fee and Workspaces can be added or deleted on a monthly basis.

The desktop virtualisation offering marks a departure for AWS in that the company’s traditional offerings focused on replacing traditional data centre operations, but WorkSpaces offers a direct inroad to customer-device management.

“We believe that eventually very few enterprises will run their own data centres,” Jassy said. “That guides our approach in how we build. We will meet enterprises where they are now, but we will make it simple to transition to where the future workloads will be, in the cloud.”

VDI technology, which stumbled for a few years until some of its inherent problems were solved, is a hot sector again. Earlier this month, VMware launched its Horizon DaaS (desktop as a service), a new cloud-based service that it claims delivers cost-effective, enterprise-class virtual desktops running on VMware vCloud Hybrid Service.

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