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Last Month at AWS: July Edition

Last Month at AWS: July Edition

The year may be more than 50 percent complete, but AWS continues to churn out improvements and upgrades to its offerings, a steady stream of tweaks to a cloud infrastructure and platform that touches our lives in some way every day. And while cloud is ubiquitous in terms of digital transformation and business optimization, the last month at AWS has maintained the frantic pace that comes with being the global leader.

July saw numerous announcements from AWS, many of which have a direct impact on the services that Apexon provides to its customers. Regular readers of this monthly review will know that time prohibits us from discussing each one of these communications from this cloud behemoth, but the prime focus would appear to be security, storage and data processing.

From our perspective, there were two standout moments: the general availability of Amazon Healthlake and the continued customization to the AWS Well-Architected tool. Healthlake was originally announced at Amazon’s annual re:invent conference in December 2020 and is part of the company’s AWS for Health program.

Both announcements are covered in more detail below, but the AWS Partner Team has (as ever) sifted through the plethora of significant updates and highlighted the ones that we believe will have an immediate impact in how our customers engage with cloud solutions.

Amazon Athena Adds Parameterized Queries to Improve Reusability and Security

Posted On: Jul 6, 2021

Amazon Athena users can now leverage the reusability, simplification, and security benefits of parameterized queries.

Analysts can save time and eliminate errors by converting queries that have frequently modified criteria, such as date filters or aggregation periods, into a parameterized query that serves multiple use cases. Application developers can use them to safeguard against SQL injection risks and simplify application integrations that generate SQL based on a user’s selections.

You can read the full announcement here.

Why It Matters

As digitization becomes the norm across various business sectors, organizations and their associated applications receive a significant amount of unstructured and semi-structured data. As we know, the daily generation of data is extremely important for organizations of all sizes and plays a key role in business optimization strategies.

For companies that want to derive the best possible outcome out of unstructured and semi-structured data, Athena’s capabilities are a critical part of dealing with this kind of information. Athena helps to not only to synthesize the data but also analyze the unstructured, semi-structured and structured data stored in Amazon S3.

Apexon’s digital engineering experience and AWS expertise ensures that our customers and their applications do not encounter any issues with incoming unstructured and semi-structured data, allowing them to derive analytical value out of that data.

Amazon Lightsail Now Offers Object Storage for Storing Static Content

Posted On: Jul 14, 2021

Amazon Lightsail now provides you with the ability to store your static content such as images, videos or HTML files in an object storage that can be used for your websites and applications.

Lightsail object storage can be associated to your Lightsail CDN distribution with a few simple clicks, making it quick and easy to accelerate the delivery of your content to a global audience. It can also be used as a low cost, secure backup solution. Lightsail object storage comes with the same predicable pricing as its other offerings with three different flat rate bundles starting at $1/month.

You can read the full announcement here.

Why It Matters

There is a consensus that the use of agile methodologies to deliver digital products is directly related to the demands of those of customers. And with the fast pace of the connected society impacting more business sectors, those products and apps need to reach customer base at the same speed. For that reason alone, AWS Lightsail helps developers with all the necessary infrastructure to build and host customers’ applications in the cloud. This way, customers can publish their products to the market sooner.

As part of its ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction, AWS has extended Lightsail to allow developers to store static content such as images or HTML files in an object storage location that can be used for websites and applications. This enhancement gives the customer more security, competitive pricing and control over the static assets, an upgrade that gels with Apexon’s own commitment to utilizing all the benefits that AWS offers.

Amazon Textract Announces Specialized Support for Automated Processing of Invoices and Receipts

Posted On: Jul 27, 2021

Amazon Textract, a machine learning service that extracts text and structured data from any document or image, now offers specialized support for invoices and receipts.

Until now, these important documents were difficult to process at scale because they do not follow set design rules, and often require context to interpret correctly. For example, customers might need to extract the vendor’s name from the Amazon logo at the top of an invoice even though it is not labeled “Vendor: Amazon.”

Now with Textract, customers can extract explicitly labeled data, implied data, and line items from itemized list of goods or services from almost any invoice or receipt without any templates or configuration.

You can read the full announcement about Amazon Textract’s additional capabilities here.

Why It Matters

As part of our constant interactions with our clients, we see that valuable business data is often stored in documents. That data is extremely likely to be at the heart of a required digital transformation. The caveat is that the available information is either in unstructured or semi-structured formats like business invoices, emails, receipts, pdf reports etc.

The challenge for the customers here is to not only extract the data out of these documents but also make the most of the information contained in said documents. That is where the AWS Textract service comes into play. Apexon’s capabilities in applying data-driven insights to achieve business goals ensures that this upgrade is a useful one to highlight.

Amazon Fraud Detector Now Supports PCI DSS Compliance to Help Run Payment Fraud Workloads More Easily

Posted On: Jul 9, 2021

Amazon Fraud Detector is a fully managed service that makes it easy to identify potentially fraudulent online activities, such as credit card transactions that are likely to result in costly chargebacks, using customized machine learning models. The service now supports Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which applies to entities that store, process, or transmit cardholder data or sensitive authentication data.

You can read the full AWS announcement here.

Why It Matters

Digitization has obvious benefits for companies, but there is little doubt that fraudulent online activities are increasing. Security then becomes a top priority, especially for those organizations that are hosting their applications in public cloud solutions.

This becomes even more important for FinTech applications, where customers provide sensitive data. If the app is not as secure as it should be, then this vulnerability can both impact customers and compromise their valuable data. Apexon is constantly monitoring both real and perceived security threats, making certain that all features are constantly updated with new offerings and at a level that gives the end user peace of mind.

AWS Well-Architected Tool: Mark Best Practices as Not Appliable

Posted On: Jul 14, 2021

The AWS Well-Architected Tool (AWS WA Tool) now offers the ability for customers and AWS Partners to mark individual best practices as not applicable during their workload review.

There are instances where customers and AWS Partners might not need to measure a workload against a specific best practice due to factors such as business needs, or organizational maturity. Now the AWS Well-Architected Tool provides a way to mark those best practices as not applicable, and record why the best practice does not apply.

Customers and AWS Partners can also mark best practices as not applicable using the Well-Architected API.

You can learn more about the AWS Well-Architected program here.

Why It Matters

All organizations want their infrastructure workloads to be more reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective. Want, however, does not always mean that they have achieved this goal. AWS Well-Architected is a service that helps organizations evaluate their workloads against the AWS best practices.

It should be noted that some of the best practices may not suit every customer need. That means customers should be given a choice of choosing applicable best practices according to the category under which their applications or product falls. With this announcement, organizations can now opt out of certain AWS best practices during a WAR review by marking which are applicable to a specific business need.

Apexon strives to help its customers make the most of the tools available, thanks to a combination of in-house talent and Well-Architected Review experts. Our digital engineers are proficient in documenting and implementing the best practices required, evaluating workloads by using the AWS Well-Architected tool.

Amazon HealthLake is now Generally Available

Posted On: Jul 15, 2021

Amazon HealthLake, now in General Availability, is a HIPAA-eligible service that enables healthcare providers, health insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies to securely store, transform, query, and analyze health data at petabyte scale.

The full announcement can be accessed here.

Why It Matters

A major (and ongoing) concern for healthcare service providers and associated life-science industries is the ability to store and manage their customer’s health data (PHI) both securely and in a consistent manner.

Apexon has a defined history of helping its healthcare customers with data-related problems. These solutions include simplifying the transfer on-premises health data to AWS, the transformation into a structured format, thereby allowing the provider to make more precise predictions about the health of patients and populations.

Amazon HealthLake’s increased rollout means that we can extend our offerings accordingly. This process will help customers gain more insights into patient’s health data and allow them to grow their business by building various wellness strategies around the health data itself.

It is worth noting that the full service is generally available in three AWS regions (at time of writing): US East (N. Virginia), US East (Ohio) and US West (Oregon)

You can take a deeper dive into what Amazon HealthLake is and how it works by clicking here.

AWS Control Tower Now Provides Support for KMS Encryption

Posted On: Jul 28, 2021

AWS announced new functionality in AWS Control Tower that provides you the option to use a single customer provided AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) key to secure the AWS Control Tower deployed services (AWS CloudTrail, AWS Config) and the associated AWS S3 data. The use of AWS KMS encryption gives you enhanced encryption over the default SSE-S3 encryption used by AWS Control Tower.

Why It Matters

The increased global adoption of the serverless storage model means that the role of Amazon S3 has exponentially grown. As a result of this growth, security becomes a top priority for every object that gets stored on AWS S3. Applying encryption is a simple task and it can protect the organizations from various kinds of data leaks.

As we have noted before, Apexon helps its customers implement the security best practices for the data stored in AWS.

This announcement enables Apexon to make sure that customers AWS accounts are using AWS Control Tower in a more secured way, since it is now feasible to provide the SSE-KMS configuration to Control Tower.

The tool encrypts the S3 buckets (used to store AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config data) with the customer-provided KMS encryption key, instead of SSE-S3 Configuration in which the keys are managed by the S3 itself. As a consequence of this increased functionality, organizations gain more control over the management of the keys used to encrypt the data.

To find out how Apexon can ensure that your digital transformation and cloud migration are done right, first time and every time, please contact us today. Alternatively, to learn more about our cloud services and solutions, please fill out the form below.

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