Amazon Web Services will Soon Bill Customers by the Second

When Amazon Web Services launched in 2006, it sparked the cloud computing revolution. Fast forward a few years, and we now have the likes of Dropbox and Airbnb following the introduction of Amazon’s server by the hour model. Developers would no longer have to build and maintain their own servers at considerable cost. Instead, they could pay by the hour for access to supercomputers, as and when they need it. The latest changes are small, but could once again disrupt the way that software is made. Instead of billing users by the hour, they will now be billed by the second.

This isn’t the first time Amazon Web Services has trialled charging users by the second. In 2014, Amazon developed a tool called Lambda to help developers with short-term server needs. This brought to light the trend of serverless computing, as developers could use Amazon’s servers for exactly as long as they needed.

For example, if creating a translation app, the server used to process a request might not exist until required, and then would disappear once the request has been fulfilled. This allows developers to focus on the task of building great software rather than worrying about the deployment and footing the bill for unused server space. By charging users for exactly as much as they need, and operating a generous free tier policy, this opens the floor for developers to get creative. However, while Lambda might have billed by the second, the rest of Amazon Web Services was still billed by the hour, so the process wasn’t entirely seamless.

The latest development, named Amazon EC2 will allow developers to take a more flexible approach to capacity. As outlined on the Amazon Web Services website, developers will be able to increase or decrease their capacity within minutes, rather than hours or days. EC2 will also introduce the option of auto-scaling, which will allow members to maximise the performance of their applications by scaling up or down as required.

Not only will this present money-saving options for developers, but some have also noted that it might encourage developers to push the boundaries of their current offering. According to Amazon’s Jeff Barr: “many of our customers are dreaming up applications for EC2 that can make good use of a large number of instances for shorter amounts of time, sometimes just a few minutes.”

The new billing option will be available from 2nd October on Linux instances launched in On-demand, reserved and spot form.

Spotlight on our partners: Veeam Software

For a new series on our blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at our software partners. If you’ve ever wondered about how we deliver our services, it wouldn’t be possible without the help of our software partners. These companies are the disruptive forces that move the whole IT industry forward and force us to challenge the way we’ve always done things. Often, they are the background processes that make the user experience seamless and enjoyable. Starting with Veeam Software, we’re going to take a look at what they do, where they came from and where they’re headed…

What is Veeam Software?

Veeam Software is a technology company that specialises in backup, disaster recovery and virtualisation management. This software ensures that downtime for virtualized environments is minimal and also ensures systems can stick to their service-level agreements. An example of this was seen recently when they streamlined the backup process for Bupa Dental UK, saving them over £350,000 per year. Each of the 400 UK-based practices was moved to a single backup system through virtualization with 250 virtual machines. The result? Rather than each individual practice taking responsibility for their own backups, the process was virtualized and centralised, which saved them money.

How did Veeam Software get started?

Veeam Software was founded in 2006 in Switzerland. The company’s headquarters are still based in Baar, Switzerland, although they have regional offices around the world. The company was founded by Ratmir Timashev and Andrei Baronov after selling their previous software company, Aelita Software Corporation, to Quest Software. The company grew from just 10 employees in 2008 to 2,000 employees by the end of 2015. In 2014, Veeam Software hosted VeeamON, its first conference on data protection. The event is now hosted annually in Las Vegas, USA.

What do they have in store in future?

In October this year, while attending the GITEX conference, Veeam Software will reveal their new Availability Suite v10 which aims to bridge the “availability gap” between the customer and their demand for uninterrupted access to IT services. This availability gap is said to be holding companies back and having a huge impact on their profitability. By cutting the downtime, companies will be more competitive and be able to provide a seamless experience. We wrote about the release of the Availability Suite 9.5 in May 2016.

If you’re interested in Veeam Software, virtualisation and cloud backup options, get in touch with our team today.

Major Ransomware Attack Underway, according to Security Experts

If you received a suspicious-looking email this weekend and aren’t sure about the attachment, it might be wise to send it straight to the trash. According to IT security experts Barracuda Networks, there is currently a widespread ransomware attack in progress that could be set to disrupt healthcare and other industries. The extent of the attack is not yet known, but in the past few weeks, researchers at Barracuda Networks have detected around 20 millions attempted attacks.

This latest attack comes just months after the dust from the WannaCry ransomware attack has settled. This latest attack uses impersonation to gain the trust of the recipient and infect individual computers and networks. The attack starts with an email from a spoofed address landing in your inbox. The attachment name is variable but will be included in the subject line. According to the example provided, the subject line is a variation of the following: “Payment_201708-6165” with variable numbers at the end.

The attachment is a Javascript file in a 7-Zip archive folder, and it should be picked up by up-to-date anti-virus software, but unfortunately, many people will circumnavigate these protections, turn them off, or fail to update them. Once the user downloads the file and unzips it, the user will be presented with a document demanding payment for a decryption key. You can read more about the ransomware attack in this blog post.

What should I do if my computer is infected with ransomware?

If you see a screen demanding money or BitCoin in exchange for the decryption key, it’s important not to bow to demands or hand over any money. For starters, there’s no guarantee that you will actually receive the code to unlock your files. It also makes you an easy target for future attacks as hackers will know that you are willing to part with money to get your computer back in working order. During a company-wide attack, it can be tempting to hand over the money just to return to normal, but this is unwise.

Often, if you have a sufficient backup plan in place, then a ransomware attack can easily be resolved by reverting to a previous backup. Prevention is often the best way to keep the hackers at bay, so regularly reviewing your IT security plan and ensuring you regularly back up systems and files is essential. If you aren’t sure what to do in the event of an IT security breach, get in touch to speak to our team about our IT security solutions.