How the Seahawks are using a data lake to improve their game

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Growing up in the Netherlands, American football was largely a foreign concept to me. My version of football was The Beautiful Game, or as most Americans know it, soccer. Football, futbol, soccer, or whatever else you call it, will always be something I’m deeply passionate about, especially my hometown team, Ajax.

When I joined Amazon and Seattle became my new home, I began to see how my colleagues shared this same level of passion for American football – and particularly the fervent fans known as “The 12s” of the local team, the Seattle Seahawks. As I started to better understand this version of football, it was easy for me to get excited about the game as well as what was happening behind the scenes. Coaching staffs, decision makers, and even the announcers are using data to make real-time decisions, each team constantly working to gain even a fraction of an advantage over its opponent.

One of the things that I find most interesting about football is how the evolution of technology is having an impact on its progression. In my opinion, the Seahawks are one of the best examples of this, where they have been at the forefront in adopting new technology, like machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), and serverless architecture, to make improvements from player safety to performance on the field.

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D Watson-Parris and NASA Worldview

As the COVID pandemic continues to sequester many of us to our homes, our everyday behaviors have come mostly to a collective halt. The immediate effects are obvious, as cities, roads, and public spaces have emptied. Reports of nature intermingling with spaces once claimed by humans have amazed audiences worldwide. Coyotes casually strolling by the Golden Gate Bridge and through the streets of San Francisco, the canals of Venice running clear and teeming with fish, and the [Himalayas visible from India(https://www.insider.com/himalayas-seen-from-india-pollution-drop-coronavirus-lockdown-2020-4) for the first time in three decades are just a few of the examples made famous by popular culture.

At the same time, with tragic wildfires ravaging the Pacific Coast and an already record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season underway, many are feeling a weighty pull towards action for the environment.

These are just a few examples which have made manifest the challenging and complex problem scientists have been working to understand for years: climate change. Now more than ever, technology is positioned to help scientists understand and untangle the complicated web of cause and effect unfolding across the planet.

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Today I’m happy to announce our plans to open a new AWS Region in Switzerland in the second half of 2022. When the AWS Europe (Zurich) Region is launched, developers, start-ups, and enterprises, as well as government, education, and non-profit organizations will be able to run their applications and serve end users across the region from data centers located in Switzerland.

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Reinventing virtualization with the AWS Nitro System

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Running a business at the scale of Amazon, we often have to solve problems that no other company has faced before. The disadvantage of this is that there is no “how to” guide for us—a lot is unknown. However, the advantage is that when we solve a new problem, it’s an opportunity to reinvent our services and create new benefits for our customers. Indeed, we have created some of our most innovative and successful ideas when we have entered unchartered territory.

When you’re a customer-centric company, you often find yourself in the great unknown because customers will always want more and better. You will need to invent on their behalf. A great example of this approach to innovation and problem solving is the creation of the AWS Nitro System, the underlying platform for our EC2 instances.

After years of optimizing traditional virtualization systems to the limit, we knew we had to make a dramatic change in the architecture if we were going to continue to increase performance and security for our customers. This realization forced us to rethink everything and became the spark for our creating the Nitro System, the first infrastructure platform to offload virtualization functions to dedicated hardware and software. Now, with the Nitro System, we can offer the best price performance in the cloud, the most secure environment, and a faster pace of innovation.

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Now Go Build - Season 2

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I have always been very fortunate to meet our AWS customers where they have most impact, at their customers. Many of these AWS customers are solving really hard human problems, in ways that is extremely inspiring for any builder, like me. That became the inspiration for the Now Go Build series that chronicles my conversations with these innovators and their customers.

In the first season, we had a wonderful diverse group of young businesses showing their impact on the world. From providing identity to smallholder farms in Indonesia to healthcare in Brazil and conservation in South Africa.

The second season that we are launching today will again have four wonderful stories. In the coming weeks I will go into more detail, but these are the first three:

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The OS Classics

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A few days ago I was fortunate to pick up a copy of a book that had a major impact on my early career as kernel engineer;

The Design and Implementation of the 4.3 BSD UNIX Operating System by Samuel J. Leffler, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Michael J. Karels and John S. Quarterman.

It was the first authoritative description of Berkeley UNIX, its design and implementation. The book covers the internal structure of the 4.3 BSD systems and the concepts, data structures and algorithms used in implementing the system facilities. But most importantly it was written by practitioners and builders and as such gave insights that academic text book would never give you.

In those days I was doing an internship at NIKHEF who were still using a collection of PDP 11s and one of my tasks was to get BSD2.9 to run on them. Lots of late nights and head scratching, but got it done eventually. I did learn how to boot from tape, over and over again (Zen!!). When I returned to school, they were about to decommission a PDP 11. I convinced them to put it in a old (big) cleaning closet, upgrade the power to the room, and I went right back to building out my BSD kernel expertise. I started late at Computer Science (28) but worked hard to catch up by getting my hands dirty.

When I posted on twitter I found of the book, many of our peers came up with a list of other books I had also read from that era.

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The journey to modern manufacturing with AWS

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One of the most rewarding parts of my job is getting to watch different industries implement new technologies that improve and transform business operations. Manufacturing, in particular, has always captivated my attention in this respect. When I think about how Amazon’s globally connected distribution network has changed in the last decade alone, it’s incredible. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and task automation to predictive maintenance technology, the advancements in this space are creating a world of new opportunity.

But this is complicated by that fact that many manufacturers have been around for decades or longer. Some of their equipment was designed before the internet even existed. If replacing this equipment isn’t an option, how do these manufacturers begin their journey to modern manufacturing? The choice of what to embrace and where to start can be daunting.

Ultimately, the reason for adopting any new technology in manufacturing is usually to achieve one or more of the following objectives: produce more, increase safety, or increase quality—and all at a lower cost. The good news is that the most important thing a manufacturer needs to accomplish with any of these objectives is something they already have. It’s something they’ve had since the moment they opened their doors, whether that was yesterday or 100 years ago: data.

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The global healthcare pandemic has been like nothing many of us in Europe have ever known. During this time, many organizations have been contemplating their role in the COVID-19 crisis, and how they can best serve their communities. I can tell you it has been no different for us at Amazon Web Services (AWS). We are focused on where we can make the biggest difference, to help the global communities in which we all live and work. This is why today we are announcing that the AWS Europe (Milan) Region is now open. The opening of the AWS (Milan) Region demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the people of Italy and the long-term potential we believe there is in the country.

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La maggior parte di noi, in Europa, non aveva mai conosciuto prima una pandemia globale come quella in corso. Durante questo periodo, molte organizzazioni stanno riflettendo sul proprio ruolo nella crisi COVID-19 e su quale può essere il modo migliore per supportare la propria comunità. Posso dirvi che per noi di Amazon Web Services (AWS) non è stato diverso. Ci siamo concentrati su come e dove avremmo potuto fare la differenza più grande aiutando le comunità globali in cui viviamo e lavoriamo. Con questo obiettivo in mente, oggi annunciamo l'apertura della Regione AWS Europe (Milano). Il lancio della Regione AWS in Italia conferma il nostro costante impegno per gli italiani e rafforza ulteriormente il nostro sostegno al grande potenziale del paese.

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As COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it, I have been inspired by the stories of organizations around the world using AWS in very important ways to help combat the virus and its impact. Whether it is supporting the medical relief effort, advancing scientific research, spinning up remote learning programs, or standing-up remote working platforms, we have seen how providing access to scalable, dependable, and highly secure computing power is vital to keep organizations moving forward. This is why, today, we are announcing the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region is now open.

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