SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.


Amazon Web Services (AWS), having been around for a decade, is the market leader by miles in the cloud-based computing industry, providing the foundation and framework to power application developments, storage and data processing. However, aws logo 100584713 carousel.idgegrowth figures, as reported by Synergy Research Group for 2016 (53%), puts them behind Microsoft’s Azure (100%) and Google’s Cloud Platform (162%); even for a business with 45% market share (more than twice the size of the next three competitors combined), those growth figures will make them shake like a leaf.

Market share figures may suggest absolute dominance in the short term, but AWS is aware of the growth waves of the other competitors; a clear indication that the market will most likely look enormously diverse in the long run, probably even before their second decade. The power of Google is also intimidating even from a distance; Android developers are increasingly finding Google’s Cloud Platform preferable. Also, both Google and Microsoft are heavily resourcing their research and development departments and the fruits have been a rhythmic launch of new products. AWS though, seems to want to focus on a new target market; Enterprise customers.

Enterprise customers was widely referred to as wealth beneath the soil. These are large organizations using systems such as SQL Server, MariaDB, MySQL, Oracle … and are either slow or reluctant to migrate onto any cloud platform. Amazon is trying to make migration from any of these systems seamless with their AWS Database Migration Service. The aim is to be the market leader for enterprise customer; to sweep every organization that falls under this category as Google and Microsoft focus on startups and individual developers. However, Microsoft is also tapping into its long-standing relationships with some of these organizations to have them migrate onto Azure. Google though, was a major winner last year when Apple signed up for their Cloud Service for some of its iCloud services. Clearly, Microsoft and Google will also focus on this market sooner than later, but AWS would have lead the market by the nose.

Another area AWS seems to want to revamp is security. TechCrunch reported earlier this year that AWS has acquired a cyber security firm called; a startup which is known for using artificial intelligence to assess and analyze the behavior of users around a company’s IP to automatically nullify any attacks. This will eliminate the need for third party security for some AWS subscribers. This will also enhance the work of Amazon Inspector; a security service that enables users to analyze the behavior of applications used in AWS to unearth potential security threats.

Some may find AWS decision to focus on a new market a major risk; others may find making startups an opportunity cost costly, but that is business. Enterprises are continually looking for new ways to get work done faster, smarter and cheaper. Startups are most likely going to deal with Google anyway. AWS has been shrewd to say the least, and they will continue to rule the roost this year.

Continue reading

Amazon Web Services for Small & Medium Sized- Businesses

As seasoned IT professionals running a small-sized business, you probably must be aware of the advantages cloud-based platforms bring over in-house deployment of hardware.

Most of the small business and startups lack the budget and workforce to purchase, install, handle and maintain on-site data centers and servers. Cloud Computing has long been known as the solution for such businesses, where rather than deploying aws logo 100584713 carousel.idgein-house IT hardware, the business model is deployed on the infrastructures hosted by a third-party. Most of these providers use a pay-per-use model and the initial investment is almost negligible.

Cost aside, cloud-based solutions offer flexibility and scalability. If you are using an in-house IT infrastructure, scaling up your business systems demands heavy investment in hardware, often at the cost of downtime for your business. With cloud hosting platforms, the peak demands are automatically met through the pay-per-use model without any additional hardware costs.

There are numerous cloud-hosting providers in the market currently. Unarguably, AWS (Amazon Web Services) is the most popular one, especially when it comes to catering to small businesses.

What does AWS offer?
AWS includes numerous cloud-based computing, storage, database, networking, administration, security, mobile services and enterprise-based applications. When you open the main console of AWS, you will see more than 30 tools available in each section such as EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) in Cloud Computing, S3 (Simple Storage Service) in Storage and Content Delivery, RDS (Relationship Database Service) in Database and many more.

Here are some noteworthy features of AWS:

1.  Prebuilt AMIs (Amazon Machine Images):

It is extremely simple and easy to build your product with the wide variety of prebuilt Amazon Machine Images. Additionally, there is a marketplace where there are user-built Machine Images (MI) and a vibrant community that creates and shares such MIs. With AWS, you can build a product and reach your customer within a matter of hours.

2.  Understand your usage of IT applications and save more:

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring tool within AWS to monitor your use of IT applications. This tool provides you multiple insights and metrics that will aid you in choosing the correct price model for the service you want to deploy- be it Amazon EC2 or the S3 .

3. Automated infrastructure:

AWS offers auto-scaling through services such as Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, which automatically scales up your service capacity when the traffic spikes and downgrades it when demand is low and helps you decrease costs while ensuring 100% uptime for your business.

4. Cost management:

AWS offers a very transparent billing model with many instances where you can cut down your expenditure. The Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances can cut down your hourly costs by 50% if you invest in a reserved capacity upfront. AWS also offers Spot instances, where you bid your own price based on a fixed usage of resources and this can significantly reduce your costs. The ‘Cost-aware architecture’ allows you to monitor and tweak your architecture to control the usage to adjust to your business’ growth over time.

5. AWS Activate:

AWS Activate is a global program developed by AWS and directed at SMBs to help them develop their products easily and provides them the same computing power and technology used by global corporations. With AWS, you can get started for free to try out the many services within AWS and see if it is fit for your business and budget.

Continue reading

Microsoft Azure Becomes the First PCP to Offer Clear Linux

Microsoft announced on January 18 the availability of Clear Linux OS for Intel on Azure, which makes them the first public cloud provider to offer that. Linux users now have a foundation to experiment and create systems with the option to choose a much preferred and suitable bundle. Clear Linux also has the Docker container platform; a straightforward approach to bundle Microsoft Azurean application and its runtime conditions into a solitary compartment and provides runtime independence which empowers the container to keep running crosswise over various forms of the Linux Kernel. It is also preloaded with common open source tools to enable Linux users develop machine learning applications.

Aside the packed features, Microsoft believes that bringing Clear Linux to Azure will streamline sustentations and arrangements which will be as vital as infrastructure scales by isolating the framework defaults and ensuring circulation best practices from user preferred structures. This demonstrates their continual support for open source options which creates the much-needed agility in the cloud. It demonstrates their flexibility and a direct focus to attract organizations which fancy open source options. The collaboration between Microsoft and Intel last year to make this possible on Azure is a milestone both celebrate for strategic alliance and competition purposes. The collaboration also ensured that Clear Linux was finetuned to maximize the performance and value of Intel architecture.

Microsoft made it possible in August last year for anyone to run Ubuntu and Bash on the anniversary edition of Windows 10. This was a partnership with Canonical and the product, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), has been successful. Currently, it is also possible to run openSUSE Leap 42.2 on Windows 10. SUSE is providing tutorials for that online. In a market where Amazon holds the reins, Microsoft needs to turn every stone to solidify its grasp on certain segments of the markets in other to keep growing. The focus on open source appears to be one of those steps and by the end of Q4 this year, it will be known to what extent this move has been a contributing factor to growth and profit figures.

Continue reading

What is Amazon Web Service? Features explained

Over the years when digital world has taken revolution, Cloud Computing has grown tremendously as a service. Today it is described as one remote service to store, process and manage information. Cloud Computing is management of vast set of information infrastructures. It is management of information tools, systems and architectures.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been a recognized Cloud service provider since 2007. It operates from 16 different host destinations providing exclusive Cloud service to global clients. It features On-demand Cloud, Elastic Cloud Computing, Simple Storage, Internet of things and much more in comprehensive Cloud Computing.

What is AWS and what are its salient features is matter of our discussion. We will elaborate on AWS basics to make Cloud users a slight more aware about AWS.

Cloud Computing

Simple Storage and AWS

Simple storage (S3) through AWS means a highly flexible and always available web storage service. It is a round the clock service to store major sets of information in optimum time. Using S3 gives good flexibility in accessing data to any assigned URL. S3 provides effective access control with resourceful data protection. Robust backup and expiration times are further notable features of S3. It is simple and indeed very convenient to use.

Elastic Cloud Computing and AWS

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a scalable technology that provides cloud computing to multiple virtual computers. Every virtual machine is assigned with an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing tools, infrastructure and any web service that is rented to machine’s user. For EC2 provision Amazon applies ‘Pay as you Go’ price model which means on-Demand computing service. EC2 caters and manages virtual machines that are provisioned independently and with frequent modifications. Instead of buying a conventional server during changing or unpredictable workload, EC2 is most preferred.


Internet of things (IoT) and AWS

Amazon IoT platform offers diverse and adaptive cloud computing, adapted by virtual user to connect their devices with cloud applications. Controlled interaction between devices is possible through AWS platform. IoT at AWS means organized exchange of messages between billions of devices at one time. Fast and effective exchange of trillions of messages is made possible through AWS IoT.

What have we Built

AWS IoT integrates with other devices for managing larger groups of data. It integrates with devices to build and organize IT infrastructures. For building web applications. AWS IoT effectively integrates with Amazon Dynamo, Amazon Machine Learning, S3 and Kinesis.

Continue reading

Start-over: Technology Innovation in 435 Congressional Districts

Before the end of the year, Karl Palachuk and I intend to do our quarterly analyst briefing webinar that typically enjoys a receptive audience. On deck on the agenda for our to-be-announced 4Q Analyst Report webinar is a non-partisan review of the election. We’ll stick to the facts and discuss how it results impact MSPs. Trust us!
I want to leak one topic right here, right now. At a high-level it concerns each part of America having the ability to innovate technology. For example, my hometown Anchorage Alaska could be an Arctic engineering powerhouse (it’s the same altitude as Finland which is very technologically oriented).
This amazing study here was published by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and written by John Wu, Adams Nager and Jospeh Chuzhin. It’s pitch is simple: “Contrary to perceptions, America’s innovation-driven, high-tech economy is not concentrated around hubs like Silicon Valley; it is widely diffused—and every state and congressional district has a stake in its success.”
For years, policy discussions about America’s innovation-driven, high-tech economy have focused on just a few iconic places, such as the Route 128 tech corridor around Boston, Massachusetts; Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and, of course, California’s white-hot Silicon Valley. This has always been too myopic a view of how innovation is distributed across the country, because many other metropolitan areas and regions—from Phoenix to Salt Lake City to Philadelphia—are innovative hot spots, too, and many more areas are developing tech capabilities. An unfortunate result of this myopia has been that policy debates about how to bolster the country’s innovative capacity have often been seen as the province of only the few members of Congress who represent districts or states that are recognizably tech-heavy, while many members from other districts focus on other issues. This needs to change, not only because the premise is incorrect, but also because the country’s competitive position in the global economy hinges on developing a broad-based, bipartisan, bicameral understanding and support for federal policies to spur innovation and growth.
A defining trend of the last decade is the degree to which technology—information technology, in particular—has become a critical driver of productivity and competitiveness for the whole economy, not just the tech sector itself. This is abundantly clear throughout the United States, as revealed in both traditional economic data, such as high-tech export activity, and in newer metrics, such as broadband deployment. Indeed, all districts have some kind of technology and innovation-driven activity occurring locally, either because long-established industries such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and professional services are rapidly evolving into tech-enabled industries, or because new developments such as cloud computing and ubiquitous access to broadband Internet service allow innovators to create new, IT-enabled enterprises in any small town or rural area they may choose, not just in Silicon Valley or Boston.
Bottom Line
This is a great study. You’ll need to get your smarts on to read the 56+ pages but, trust me, it’s worth it! Download here. 
Continue reading