Today at AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), announced AWS Greengrass, software which allows customers to run AWS compute, messaging, data caching, and sync capabilities on connected devices. With AWS Greengrass, devices can run AWS Lambda functions to perform tasks locally, keep device data in sync, and communicate with other devices while leveraging the full processing, analytics, and storage power of the AWS Cloud. AWS also announced a new Snowball data transfer appliance, the AWS Snowball Edge, that can transport two times more data than the original AWS Snowball (up to 100 TB), and includes AWS Greengrass, making it a purpose-built hybrid edge device that can transfer data to and from Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), cluster with other Snowball Edge devices to form an on-premises storage pool, and run AWS Lambda to process and analyze data. To get started with AWS Greengrass, visit https://aws.amazon.com/greengrass/, and to get started with AWS Snowball Edge, visit https://aws.amazon.com/snowball-edge/.
AWS Greengrass brings local compute, messaging, data caching, and sync to connected devices
With the proliferation of IoT devices, enterprises are increasingly managing on-premises infrastructure that is not located in a data center, such as connected devices in factories, oil wells, agricultural fields, hospitals, cars, and various other venues. Because these devices are powered by microprocessors that have limited processing power and memory, they often rely heavily on AWS and the cloud for processing, analytics, and storage. However, there are circumstances when relying exclusively on the cloud isn’t optimal due to latency requirements or intermittent connectivity that make a round trip to the cloud unfeasible. In these situations, IoT devices must be able to perform some tasks locally. Programming and updating software functionality on IoT devices is challenging and complex. Relatively few developers have the expertise to update these embedded systems, and even fewer can do so without creating unwanted downtime.
AWS Greengrass is software for running AWS Lambda functions and AWS IoT functionality locally on virtually any connected device. AWS Greengrass eliminates the complexity involved in programming and updating IoT devices by allowing customers to use AWS Lambda to run code locally on virtually any connected device in the same way they do on the AWS Cloud. With AWS Greengrass, developers can add AWS Lambda functions to a connected device right from the AWS Management Console, and the device executes the code locally so that devices can respond to events and take actions in near real-time. AWS Greengrass also includes AWS IoT messaging and synching capabilities so devices can send messages to other devices without connecting back to the cloud. AWS Greengrass allows customers the flexibility to have devices rely on the cloud when it makes sense, perform tasks on their own when it makes sense, and talk to each other when it makes sense – all in a single, seamless environment.
“For our customers who are pioneering large-scale IoT deployments, connected devices represent a growing percentage of their infrastructure, and as they move quickly to migrate their servers to the cloud, these IoT devices will become the primary on-premises infrastructure customers are managing – this is the next generation of hybrid IT,” said Marco Argenti, Vice President, Mobile and IoT at AWS. “Customers want their IoT devices to be able to perform computing tasks and process data locally, functioning as a seamless extension of their AWS environment. AWS Greengrass makes this possible by putting a ‘mini AWS,’ a select set of AWS capabilities, inside connected devices. With AWS Lambda and AWS IoT messaging and security, customers can run IoT applications seamlessly across local IoT devices and the AWS Cloud using the same programming model.”
AWS Greengrass works on almost any device with a general-purpose CPU that runs Ubuntu or Amazon Linux, and supports ARM and x86 architectures. Programming AWS Greengrass devices is as easy as creating AWS Lambda functions; developers can use the same programming language and model that they use in their existing AWS environments and deploy the AWS Lambda functions to their connected devices. This also means that developers can create and test their device software in the cloud, and then seamlessly deploy it to all of their devices. With AWS IoT’s messaging functionality, devices can send messages to one another on a local network when there is no available connection to AWS. AWS Greengrass authenticates and encrypts device data at all points of connection using AWS IoT’s security and access management capabilities so that data is never exchanged between devices or the cloud without proven identity.
A growing ecosystem of semiconductor manufacturers, including Intel, Qualcomm, and Annapurna Labs are integrating AWS Greengrass into their platforms so devices will come with AWS Greengrass built-in. Customers that want to use AWS Greengrass with existing connected devices that are AWS Greengrass-capable can download the AWS Greengrass execution environment from Amazon S3 or the AWS Management Console. In addition, Canonical will distribute AWS Greengrass through the Ubuntu Snap software channel app store for Ubuntu Linux software.
Technicolor is a leader in digital innovation for the media and entertainment industry, partnering with content creators, device manufacturers, and network service providers – including mobile, cable and telco operators – to deliver immersive experiences to audiences around the world. “On the content distribution front, we improve consumer access to content through IPTV set-top boxes, gateways, and Connected Life tablets,” said Gary Gutknecht, Senior Vice President, Connected Home Division at Technicolor. “On average, one million Technicolor devices are shipped to people’s homes worldwide, every week. As content and services grow in size and complexity, network service providers are flooded with calls concerning home networking issues that are difficult and time consuming to resolve. With AWS Greengrass, our devices can monitor connection quality in the home and automatically troubleshoot the steps that used to require a phone call to customer service, often automatically correcting issues before the customer even notices a problem. AWS Greengrass works with Technicolor gateways to help network service providers gain insight into new revenue opportunities by gathering and analyzing operational data in the cloud, and then deploying enhancements back down to connected homes quickly and easily.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) operates complex machinery such as Mars Rovers in the harshest environments in space or on Earth. JPL relies on the ability of its robots to execute code locally on Earth, Mars, and elsewhere in the solar system. At re:Invent 2016, JPL will demonstrate AWS Greengrass running on “Rov-E” (Remotely Operated Vehicle for Education), showing how JPL can speed up the programming and testing of its robots. JPL is working with AWS Greengrass to perform big data calculations and analytics in the cloud with the same code working online and offline, maximizing the value of data collected, and better translating expert insights into physical actions.
Snowball Edge: Petabyte-scale data transport with compute on board
AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transfer service that uses secure appliances to allow customers to transfer large amounts of data to and from AWS at as little as one-fifth of the cost of using high-speed internet connections. Since AWS introduced the AWS Snowball data transfer service in October 2015, customers have sent AWS Snowball devices a distance equal to circling the world more than 100 times. The new Snowball Edge appliance has all the durability, portability, security, and ease-of-use of a Snowball, but can hold twice as much data as the original Snowball – up to 100 TB – and has four times the network speed, built in WiFi and cellular wireless communication, and a Network File System (NFS) interface with an Amazon S3-compatible endpoint that allows the Snowball Edge to connect to the cloud and pass data back and forth with Amazon S3. Customers can also cluster multiple AWS Snowball Edge devices to create a storage pool and easily mount the Snowball Edge devices into existing data center rack environments.
The new AWS Snowball Edge also comes with AWS Greengrass embedded, and computing power equivalent to an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) m4.4 xlarge instance for local processing tasks. This means customers can execute AWS Lambda functions and process data locally on the AWS Snowball Edge, making it possible to collect and analyze sensor data streams, transcode multimedia content, compress images in-real time, or run a local Amazon S3-compatible file server. Ordering an AWS Snowball Edge is as easy as a few clicks in the AWS Management Console where customers can configure Amazon S3 buckets and AWS Lambda functions. When the AWS Snowball Edge arrives, customers simply connect it to their network, set the IP address, and use the included Snowball Validation tool to unlock the AWS Snowball Edge for use. AWS Snowball Edge includes the same embedded cryptography and security as the original AWS Snowball, and all data stored is automatically encrypted using 256 bit encryption keys, which customers own and manage in the AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS). With AWS Snowball Edge, encryption is now performed on the device, instead of on the client, producing higher performance and data throughput rates.
“We were blown away by customer response to AWS Snowball when we launched last year – we ran out of Snowballs in less than a week. When we talked to customers about what they liked most and what they would like to see next, they told us they would like to be able to transfer more data, cluster multiple Snowballs, and perform some data processing on the device,” said Bill Vass, Vice President, Storage Services at AWS. “We are excited to introduce AWS Snowball Edge, a true hybrid edge device. Not only does it allow customers to transport 100 TB of data in less than a week, but Snowball Edge also gives them the flexibility to transfer data back and forth between the Snowball Edge’s location and Amazon S3, to cluster Snowballs into an on-premises storage pool, and to process data on-premises before shipping the Snowball Edge back to AWS.”
Philips is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment, and home care. “As a global leader in health technology, we support many thousands of care providers and millions of patients around the world with our innovations that aim to improve patient outcomes anytime and anywhere,” said Dale Wiggins, Business Leader, HealthSuite digital platform at Philips. “Snowball Edge is a promising new technology that could further enhance how we deliver our critical services to medical facilities, with secure and continuous connectivity at all times. Snowball Edge enables us to extend the innovative capabilities of HealthSuite, our cloud-enabled connected health ecosystem of devices, applications and digital tools supported by AWS, even when there is no network support.”
The Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) is a leading marine laboratory and the campus for the Oregon State University’s research, education, and outreach in marine and coastal sciences, collecting and analyzing hundreds of terabytes of real-time oceanic and coast images every year to improve environmental sustainability and provide strategic insights to coastal process and planning. “Our original method for capturing oceanic image data involved many small hard drives, and we had to hand-carry each one to our computing center and loaded them one at a time. It would take weeks to months before we could analyze the images we collected, so it really slowed down our research. It also cost us tens of thousands of dollars per year,” said Bob Cowen, Director of Hatfield Marine Research Center at Oregon State University. “With AWS Snowball Edge, we can now collect 100 TB of data with no intermediate steps, and we can also analyze the images immediately using the onboard compute capabilities. This allows us to do deeper analysis, and we can upload all the raw data to the AWS Cloud by simply shipping the AWS Snowball Edge device back. AWS Snowball Edge allows us to access AWS storage and compute capabilities in our coastal explorations where no internet is available and allows us to move petabytes to the AWS Cloud quickly and easily where we can continue to use all the power of the AWS platform.”
AWS Snowball Edge is available immediately to customers in the United States, and we expect to make it available to customers outside of the United States in the coming months.
Hybrid Cloud Architectures with AWS
AWS Greengrass and AWS Snowball Edge are the latest additions to the comprehensive set of capabilities AWS offers to make it easy for customers to run all of their on-premises infrastructure alongside AWS. Customers use AWS services such as Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and Amazon Direct Connect for integrated networking, AWS Storage Gateway and AWS Snowball for data integration, and AWS Directory Service for identity integration. For customers that want to run the same software on servers in their data centers and on the AWS Cloud, the recently announced VMware Cloud on AWS, to be launched in mid-2017, allows customers to extend their VMware environment to AWS with the flexibility to run applications seamlessly between the two environments.