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Amazon’s Away Teams laid bare: How AWS’s hivemind of engineers develop and maintain their internal tech (via) Some interesting insights into how Amazon structure their engineering organization to maximize team productivity in a service-oriented environment. Two things that stood out to me: each service is owned by a “home team”, but sometimes features that are needed by other teams can be built by forming an “away team” to build out that functionality. Secondly, Amazon has a concept of “bar raisers” who are engineers across the organization who help approve key design and architectural decisions. It’s possible to go against the recommendation of a bar raiser but “such a move is noted and made visible to higher levels of management”. # 14th May 2019, 6:32 pm
One of the standards you have to have demonstrated to being able to reach Principle Engineer inside Amazon is “Respect what has gone before”. It’s very likely you don’t know the why, what or how of it. Often what was written was the best that could be done to the constraints.
Here’s a fascinating article about Amazon’s fulfilment center in Swansea, Wales which gives a glimpse behind the scenes: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/new...[... 35 words]
The Amazon Fulfillment Web Service used to handle this http://aws.amazon.com/fws/—but their site now says "Effective June 2012, Amazon Services will no longer support Amazon Fulfillment Web Service (Amazon FWS). All functions and services currently supported by Amazon FWS are currently available through Amazon Marketplace Web Service (Amazon MWS)." So I guess you want the Amazon Marketplace Web Service: https://developer.amazonservices...[... 82 words]
The excess capacity story is a myth. It was never a matter of selling excess capacity, actually within 2 months after launch AWS would have already burned through the excess Amazon.com capacity. Amazon Web Services was always considered a business by itself, with the expectation that it could even grow as big as the Amazon.com retail operation.
Amazon S3: Versioning Proposal. The us-west-1 S3 bucket region now optionally supports versioning—once enabled on a bucket, all previous versions of keys will be preserved. # 24th January 2010, 1:38 pm
Since we moved to EC2, the number of unique users has gone up 50%, and pageviews are up more than 100%. To support this growth, we have added 30% more ram and 50% more CPU, yet because of Amazon’s constant price reductions, we are actually paying less per month now than when we started.
One way to establish that peace-preserving threat of mutual assured destruction is to commit yourself beforehand, which helps explain why so many retailers promise to match any competitor’s advertised price. Consumers view these guarantees as conducive to lower prices. But in fact offering a price-matching guarantee should make it less likely that competitors will slash prices, since they know that any cuts they make will immediately be matched. It’s the retail version of the doomsday machine.
When I worked at Amazon.com we had a deeply-ingrained hatred for all of the SQL databases in our systems. Now, we knew perfectly well how to scale them through partitioning and other means. But making them highly available was another matter. Replication and failover give you basic reliability, but it’s very limited and inflexible compared to a real distributed datastore with master-master replication, partition tolerance, consensus and/or eventual consistency, or other availability-oriented features.
Tile Drawer (via) The most inspired use of EC2 I’ve seen yet: center a map on an area, pick a Cascadenik stylesheet URL (or write and link to your own) and Tile Drawer gives you an Amazon EC2 AMI and a short JSON snippet. Launch the AMI with the JSON as the “user data” parameter and you get your own OpenStreetMap tile rendering server, which self-configures on startup and starts rendering and serving tiles using your custom design. # 26th August 2009, 9:32 am
Introducing Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Amazon now let you create a network of private EC2 instances completely isolated from the internet and the rest of the EC2 cloud, then link them back to your home network via a VPN. # 26th August 2009, 8:42 am
This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.
Evidence of OpenID at Amazon. It looks like Amazon are using OpenID for SSO between their different properties—I clicked a link to sign in to AWS and the URL had OpenID query string parameters. # 6th July 2009, 1:25 am
You can buy an iPod nano on Apple, Best Buy, etc. for about $149. Amazon sells it for $134. That’s probably cost price. It turns out that Amazon can sell almost everything at cost price and still make a product because of volume. It’s all down to the Negative Operating Cycle. Amazon turns over its inventory every 20 days whereas Best Buy takes 74 days. Standard retail term payments take 45 days. So Best Buy is in debt between day 45 and day 74. Amazon, on the other hand, are sitting on cash between day 20 and day 45. In that time, they can invest that money. That’s where their profit comes from.
AWS Import/Export: Ship Us That Disk! Andrew Tanenbaum said “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway”, and now you can ship your storage device direct to Amazon and have them load the data in to an S3 bucket for you. # 21st May 2009, 11:22 am
EC2: Creating an Image. Here’s the easier way of creating your own AMI: start with a running instance in EC2, then customise it to fit your purposes and create a new bundle (and then AMI) using the ec2-bundle-vol command. # 19th May 2009, 7:50 pm
HOWTO Building a self-bundling Debian AMI. Not as terrifying as you would have thought. Also contains some neat hints as to how some of the more magical parts of EC2 work (like the way your SSH public key automatically ends up in /root/.ssh/authorized_keys). # 19th May 2009, 7:49 pm
New Features for EC2: Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling, and Amazon CloudWatch. EC2 now fulfils the promise of “magic scaling in the cloud” out of the box—CloudWatch monitors performance of your EC2 instances without needing to install any monitoring software, Auto Scaling allows you to configure “scaling triggers” which start up new instances based on information from CloudWatch, and Elastic Load Balancing balances requests across all available instances. # 18th May 2009, 10:07 am
Amazon Says Listing Problem Was an Error, Not a Hack (via) “A friend within the company told him that someone working on Amazon’s French site mistagged a number of keyword categories, including the ’Gay and Lesbian’ category, as pornographic, using what’s known internally as the Browse Nodes tool. Soon the mistake affected Amazon sites worldwide.” # 14th April 2009, 8:32 am
How to cause moral outrage from the entire Internet in ten lines of code. Looks legit—the author claims to have sparked this weekend’s #amazonfail moral outrage (where Amazon where accused of removing Gay and Lesbian books from their best seller rankings) by exploiting a CSRF hole in Amazon’s “report as inappropriate” feature to trigger automatic takedowns. EDIT: His claim is disputed elsewhere (see comments) # 13th April 2009, 7:48 pm
Experiences deploying a large-scale infrastructure in Amazon EC2. “At OpenX we recently completed a large-scale deployment of one of our server farms to Amazon EC2. Here are some lessons learned from that experience.” # 10th April 2009, 9:43 am
Finding similar items with Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Python, and Hadoop streaming. Tutorial for running Hadoop jobs on Elastic MapReduce using Python and the 2005 Audioscrobbler dataset. # 7th April 2009, 9:19 am
Amazon Elastic MapReduce (via) Hadoop as a service. Basically a web based GUI around Hadoop—you could roll this yourself on EC2 but for a small markup on regular EC2 prices you get to avoid the extra work setting everything up. Data processing scripts can be written in Java, Ruby, Perl, Python, PHP, R, or C++ and are loaded in to S3 before firing off the job. # 2nd April 2009, 10:25 am
Manage Amazon EC2 With New Web-Based AWS Management Console. Finally! I’m amazed it took Amazon so long to do this. Managing EC2 instances from a custom Firefox extension was pretty bizarre. It’s a very nice interface, built on top of YUI. Unfortunately you still have to manage your entire virtual server farm using a single shared Amazon account. # 9th January 2009, 9:34 am
Amazon SimpleDB—Now With Select. So now all three of Yahoo!, Amazon and Google have invented their own SQL-like languages (YQL, SimpleDB and GQL)—though it looks like Yahoo!’s is the only one that attempts to provide joins. # 18th December 2008, 8:59 am
Amazon CloudFront. The Amazon CDN front end for S3 has launched. Traffic is 2 cents per GB more than S3. I’d like to see a price comparison with existing CDNs; I have a hunch it’s an order of magnitude less expensive. # 18th November 2008, 2:37 pm
Coming Soon: Amazon EC2 With Windows. It’s not instantly clear if you need to source your own Windows licenses or if the license comes as part of the hourly VM charge. If it’s the latter, I can see this being fantastically useful for both automated and manual cross-browser testing—throw up a Windows VM for just as long as you need to run your tests, running them through rdesktop. # 1st October 2008, 9:16 am
Cheap, Easy Audio Transcription with Mechanical Turk. Andy Baio’s in-depth tutorial on submitting HITs to Mechanical Turk. I hadn’t realised how straight forward and powerful the interface has become. # 25th September 2008, 6:37 pm
Google’s Usability Research on Federated Login. Fascinating—suggests an approach to federated auth based on the Amazon.com “Yes, I have a password” login flow. Feels convoluted to me but apparently it tests really well against a mainstream audience. The more research shared around this stuff the better. # 22nd September 2008, 8:56 pm