Technology

Push Notifications for Chrome on OSX at Last! (Update)

Update: Warning, Do Not Enable!
For the moment, please do not enable this flag as it will crash your browser upon relaunch. The only way in then is to delete the profile or, remove the flag from the Local State file.

If you have already enabled this and Version 52.0.2743.116 (64-bit) broke it, you can use the following steps to get your browser with all of your settings back in order:

  1. Navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Local State

  2. Open the file and remove “browser”:{“enabled_labs_experiments”:[“enable-native-notifications”],“last_redirect_origin”:””}, the underlined text.
  3. Save the file and you should now be able to open Chrome.

Has this affected anyone else? Please post so in the comments below.

***

Chrome and OSX notifications will finally play nicely together. When you turn on “Do Not Disturb” mode on your Mac, you will no longer receive popup notifications from new e-mail on Gmail for example. For those who often share their screen on remote meetings, this is priceless.

While the feature is not yet Generally Available, you can easily enable it by entering this into Chrome: “chrome://flags/#enable-native-notifications” and then clicking enable. Then relaunch your Chrome browser.

Your notifications will now all funnel through the OSX Notification Center. Enjoy!

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Modeling RDS Reservations

rds-modeling-blog-image[originally posted on https://www.cloudhealthtech.com/blog/modeling-rds-reservations]

In a previous blog series, I discussed the basics of EC2 Reserved Instances, the importance of purchasing them, and how to maximize your return on investment. If you are using Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) to operate and scale a relational database such as MySQL or Oracle in the cloud, it’s highly advisable that you purchase reserved instances. Not only will you minimize your costs, but you also guarantee your ability to launch RDS instances when you need them. If AWS runs out of available RDS instances in a specific region, those with reserved instances have guaranteed capacity while the ones running On-Demand do not.

What is RDS?

Amazon RDS makes it easy to configure, run, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while managing time-consuming database administration tasks that save your team precious time. With Amazon RDS you can choose from six different database engines, including Amazon Aurora, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and MariaDB.

Currently the average user spends about 6% of their total AWS bill on RDS. It has become a critical building block for cloud applications. Surprisingly, however, even though RDS reserved instances can save 60%+ on the compute costs of operating an RDS instance, on average only 14% of RDS instances actually run under a reservation.

Why Reserve? (Pricing)

Not unlike EC2 Reservations, RDS Reserved Instances can be purchased for either a 1-year or 3-year term. This results in a significant discount (somewhere between 20-60%) compared to the On-Demand Instance hourly pricing. In addition, it has the added perk of guaranteeing your ability to launch the instances you reserved when you need them.

You can choose between three payment options when you purchase a Reserved Instance:

  • All Upfront
    • Pay for the entire term with one upfront payment.
    • Receive up to a 63% discount off of On-Demand pricing.
    • The payback period is typically around 9 months.
  • Partial Upfront
    • Pay a low upfront payment and receive a discounted hourly rate for the instance for the duration of the Reserved Instance term.
    • Receive up to a 60% discount off of On-Demand pricing.
    • The payback period is typically between 5 and 7 months.
  • No Upfront
    • Pay nothing upfront.
    • Pay only a discounted hourly rate for the duration of the term. Savings are typically around 30% off of On-Demand pricing.
    • The payback period is immediate.

 

All Reserved Instance types are available for Aurora, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQL Server (except for SQL Server as the license is included) database engines.

How Do I Know What I Should Reserve?

Step 1: What’s my usage?

Analyze your On-Demand usage by choosing a time period such as the previous month, week or even day. You should look to reserve the running instances in a time period that is most reflective of the usage you expect in the future. For more static environments I recommend a longer period of time.

Eliminate any groups or instances that won’t run more than 65% of the time. You can calculate this by the total number of hours the instance ran in a one-month period. See the image below.

Also eliminate any that you don’t expect to be running 6 months from now.

Step 2: Run across multiple Availability Zones?

Your current instance usage will dictate the regions (e.g. us-east-1 or us-west-1) in which you should reserve. However, you’ll still need to decide if you want the reservation to run across multiple Availability Zones (multi-AZ) within a region.

One of the most compelling RDS features is the ability to have a fully managed high availability deployment. But, keep in mind that since multi-AZ support requires an instance running in two different zones, the average compute cost will be doubled.

Step 3: Choose a term: 1-year vs. 3-year?

Most AWS customers gravitate toward the 1-year term for reservations as a hedge against the potential for new instance types being made available during the course of the reservation term. However, since 3-year reservations provide the highest discount rate, think twice before ruling out this option.

Step 4: Evaluate the reservation type – All Upfront, Partial or None?

Sometimes the increased savings you reap from All Upfront reservations are not enough to justify their initial upfront fee. The table below shows how purchasing an All Upfront db.t2.micro reservation will cost $51 more in advance and only offer 2% more in monthly savings. Obviously the number of reservations will affect the dollar amount savings. Just be sure to do the math.

Step 5: In which account should I make a purchase?

If you have more than one account linked to a consolidated bill, you can either purchase in the consolidated account or in each individual linked account.

As reservations can float between linked accounts under a consolidated bill, other accounts can still benefit from the associated discount if a valid instance isn’t running in the purchasing account.

If your goal is to simplify the purchase and management of your reservations and you are indifferent to capacity reservation, you should purchase in your consolidated account. However, if you want to ensure that you’re guaranteed the ability to launch the instances you are reserving whenever you need them, you will want to purchase in each individual linked account.

Final Thoughts

Running relational databases in the cloud? RDS is a simple and cost effective option that takes the database management out of the equation. Utilizing RDS reservations will allow you to take advantage of cost savings that optimize your cloud investment while guaranteeing capacity.

The ability to easily manage RDS usage and reservations and maximize cloud efficiency is at your fingertips with CloudHealth. Try a free 14 day trial to see how you can model, optimize and plan your most cost optimal purchase in seconds.

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London Calling! Microsoft follows AWS into the UK

London-Underground-LONDON-CALLING-351x185

Less than a week after Werner Vogels announced AWS’ third region coming to the UK, Microsoft has followed suit. Looking to attract more customers as the cloud vendor war heats up, CEO Satya Nadella revealed today in London that Azure, Dynamics CRM and Office 365 services will be available from a UK data center region by the end of of 2016.

Both moves confirm the importance of the UK in the cloud computing landscape and qualm EU fears of PII leaving the Union, especially in light of the EU top court’s ruling of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework last month. 

It will be interesting to see how the customer adoption battle plays out. AWS regions typically consist of multiple, physical data centers making up their multiple Availability Zones (AZ’s) and Direct Connect (DX) locations.  Microsoft’s regions, however, appear to consist of only one  distinct data center per location, i.e. Japan “East” and Japan “West”. Which strategy is better for hosting cross-site high availability applications in the UK?

All in all, 2016 is already shaping up to be a very interesting year for cloud computing in the UK. Let’s see what the New Year brings!azurevsaws

 

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AWS Launching New UK Region!

UK workIn exciting news for the UK cloud computing market, AWS recently announced that the UK will be home to their third EU region after Dublin and Frankfurt. The announcement recognises the UK’s importance as a place to do business and addresses growing concerns over data sovereignty for customers in the UK.

Amazon CTO Warner Vogels broke the news via blog post last Friday, noting that the region should be functional by the end of 2016 or early 2017 and will provide lower latency and stronger data sovereignty for local users.

Vogels highlighted that this new region will provide customers with quick, low-latency access to websites, mobile applications, games, SaaS applications, big data analysis, Internet of Things applications, and more.

The move also comes as many organisations are increasingly concerned about where their data is stored and processed, especially considering the recent European Court of Justice ruling that rendered invalid the Safe Harbour framework for US-based companies to transfer data outside Europe.

Liam Maxwell, CTO for the UK Government, welcomed the announcement stating,”It’s great to see that AWS will be providing commercial cloud services from data centres in the UK…Not only will this mean a significant investment in the UK economy, but more healthy competition and innovation in the UK data centre market. This is good news for the UK government given the significant amount of data we hold that needs to be kept onshore.”

In addition to the UK, AWS has also recently announced plans to open regions in South Korea and India, with a second and fourth region coming to China and the US respectively.

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How To Plan an RI Purchase in 6 Steps

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[originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse @ http://linkd.in/1H5Kvvr]

Do Reserved Instances make you anxious? They shouldn’t.

A lot of people get caught up in all the different possible reservations you can purchase and wait months before making their first purchase.

Don’t do that.

Below is all you need to start saving money and take advantage of Amazon’s capacity guarantee today.

Step 1: Arrange Your Instances by Their Purpose

How do you group your infrastructure? By project, environment or application? Great. Put them all together and separate by OS and move on to step 2. If you mix Windows and Linux instances, it will complicate the entire process because of licensing and pricing differences.

Step 2: Figure Out the Cost

Once you’ve organized your instances into groups by their purpose, figure out what your current on-demand costs are and arrange your groups in descending order.

Step 3: Find Out Who Makes the Cut

Eliminate any groups or instances that won’t be running more than 65% of the time. Also eliminate any that you don’t expect to be running 1 year from now.

Step 4: Figure Out Where Your Reservations Will Reside

Once you’ve figured out the region (e.g. us-east-1 or us-west-1), you’ll need to specifically choose the availability zone where you currently have the most on-demand usage (e.g. 1a or 1b).

You’ll also have to choose whether they will reside within a VPC or in classic EC2 mode. For most newer customers your infrastructure will most likely already be in a VPC.

Step 5: Decide How Much You’re Going to Give AWS Upfront

Sometimes the increased savings you reap from all upfront reservations are not enough to justify their initial upfront fee. The table below shows how purchasing an all upfront m3.large reservation will cost $308 ($751-$443) more and only offer 2% more in monthly savings. Obviously the number of reservations will affect the dollar amount savings, so make sure to do the math regardless.

Step 6: Determine the Purchasing Account

Do you have more than one account linked to a consolidated bill?

You should:

a)   Purchase in the consolidated account if you don’t care about the capacity reservation. This option simplifies the purchase and management of reservations, but you’re not guaranteed to be able to launch an instance based on a reservation in a linked account if the reservation was made in another account.

b)    Purchase in the linked accounts if you want to receive the cost and capacity reservation of the RI, although the planning process will be significantly more complex. Note: Other accounts can still benefit from the associated discount if a valid instance isn’t running in the purchasing account.

Based on experience, the best advice I can give is to purchase reservations on an account-by-account basis.

Don’t want to spend all this time to model out your purchase? I don’t blame you. I used to do it before we released the RI Optimizer. Have it plan your most cost-optimal purchase in seconds.

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Reserved Instances Shouldn’t Give You Cold Feet

cloudcostscales

Keeping costs under control as your cloud infrastructure scales is no easy feat. To balance the two challenges, Reserved Instances provide substantial cost and capacity benefits. Their pricing discounts can even “float” across accounts that are linked to the consolidated bill to get the most of our your investment.

Afraid of Commitment? Don’t Be.

Although many fear overcommitting to Reserved Instances, a 1-year term reservation will almost always break even after 6 months. This is the point at which you can stop using that instance and still benefit from the reservation’s pricing discount. For a 3-year reservation, this break-even point typically occurs around 9 months.

With that said, if you’re worried about your usage needs changing down the road, it’s easy to determine whether reservations can still be more cost-effective than on-demand pricing. If all that concerns you is the instance type or availability zone, AWS makes it simple to modify reservations. In the worst case scenario, you could always sell them on the Reserved Instance Marketplace, provided you have a US bank account.

Pay Attention to the Payback Period

Taking this into consideration, the cost benefits become very apparent to organizations with infrastructure that is always-on. Using the effective rate formula we can easily calculate the exact number of months at 100% usage we need before we receive a price benefit. We call this the payback period. This metric is invaluable for mitigating the risks of reservations by identifying how long you must actually use them before they break even. It’s calculated by comparing the cash outlay for on-demand usage and the proposed offering over each month in a term, and then identifying the month at which the cost for the on-demand instance usage exceeds the cost for the reserved offering. There is no payback period for a no-upfront reservation, since they are less expensive than on-demand immediately.

Let’s take a look at just how cost-effective reservations can be over time. With a 1-year upfront reservation for an m3.large instance in the us-east-1a region you can expect to save 37% per month!

effective rate = upfront payment / reservation term / interval + recurring usage charges for interval

While the effective cost per month savings are certainly significant, let’s take a look at one of the more confusing behaviors of RI’s – their ability to “float” across accounts.

What Happens When My Reservations “Float”?

By default, reservations have a tendency to satisfy the needs of the account in which they were purchased. However, if there is no instance usage in a given hour in the purchasing account, the reservations can “float” to a linked account to take advantage of the reservation.

While the price reduction benefits of RIs “float”, it’s important to note that the capacity reservation does not. Therefore, if you have an available reservation in account A but want to launch an equivalent instance in account B, you have no guarantee that sufficient capacity will be available.

Stay tuned for the next post on the best practices of RI management – from modeling purchases to modifying them and beyond.

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Apple’s “Grey Screen of Death”

windows-blue-screen-of-death-pfn_list_corrupt

It was only a few years ago when the dreaded, and all too common, Windows blue screen of death elicited the “you should just get a Mac” jeer from your friends.

While I still love my Macbook, I can’t help but notice performance issues on the rise across Apple’s luxury electronics.

In the issue at hand, my Macbook Air will freeze for about 5 seconds before jolting to the grey screen shown below:TS3742-ML_Panic-001-en

What’s even more interesting is that I’ve heard from colleagues and friends that they’re experiencing the same issues recently (all on OSX 10.10, Macbook Airs with the HD4000 integrated graphics card). The error that’s in all my logs is “BSD process name corresponding to current thread: Google Chrome He”. I am always using Chrome (when is it not open?) when this issue occurs but am not sure if it’s Chrome, OS X or the graphics card.

Has this been happening to anyone else? Will post a solution when one is to be had.

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Demystifying Reserved Instances

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Everyone talks about them, many reserve them but there’s still quite a bit of mystery surrounding how they actually work. As long as the bill is paid and your application isn’t down, many don’t think twice about them. But, in order to maximize your ROI, there’s a few important concepts to be conscious of in your cloud strategy.

What Are They?

AWS Reserved Instances (RIs) allow you to make a time and cost commitment to AWS to use specific instance types in return for a discount on the on-demand cost. The other, sometimes overlooked, major benefit is, of course, the capacity reservation. While spot instances can and will be terminated at the drop of a hat, on-demand instances provide an hourly capacity guarantee but reserved instances ensure that your workloads will run uninterrupted for the length of your 1 or 3 year reservations.

How Do They Differ from On-Demand Instances?

It is a common misconception that RIs are directly connected to specific launched instances. They are not. Instead, they are a simply pricing discount applied to any instance usage of a specific type (e.g. m3.large in us-east-1a running Linux). In other words, all usage is always billed at the on-demand rate. If you launch an instance that matches the example instance type, region, availability zone and operating system, at the end of the month you will be billed within the discounted percentage shown above, rather than the base on-demand amount. That’s it.

How Do They Reduce My Cost?

RI Pricing

Think back to a time before landline phone plans included unlimited long distance minutes. Imagine a telephone service that charges $.05 per minute of usage, but $0.02 per minute to certain locations, provided that you subscribe to a particular plan. Once you’ve prepaid for a reservation, your hourly charges (think phone minutes) will be billed at a reduced rate, but only for calls within a certain region. Call one (think: launch an instance) that is outside of your subscription area (read: instance type, region, AZ and OS) and you won’t receive the discount that you signed up for. Because of this, it is critical to understand your instance usage by several factors, in order to maximize your return on investment.

Which Instance Gets The Discount?

Since multiple different reservation types (upfront amount and reservation term) and instance usage can match, the selection of a reservation gives preference toward applying the lowest hourly rate first. It’s also worth noting that reservations have an affinity toward the account in which they were purchased, although they can “float”. Assuming that you have more on-demand hours of usage for a different instance type of the same family, or even in a different AZ, reservations can be “modified” so that you receive the optimal cost benefit (more about this in a future post).

This randomized approach of RIs is both a powerful feature and a source of constant confusion. What I hear most from customers is that they purchased RIs for a specific environment or department, only to find out come bill time that its cost benefit has been applied elsewhere.

Keep your eye out for my next post on how reservations work with a consolidated bill and what it means when they “float”.

In the meantime, do you leverage RIs? If so, how are you managing them?

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New Time Proposed Bug – Gmail

How many times have you had someone propose a new time to a previously scheduled meeting only to have to go back and forth to figure out which time they actually proposed because of a Gmail bug?

This happens to me at least once a week, but luckily there is a workaround.

What typically happens is that someone using another mail client, such as Outlook, suggests a new time for a meeting you scheduled using Google Calendar but the e-mail you receive does not show the new time.

New Time E-Mail

 

However, if you open the message in a mail client such as Apple Mail, you’ll see that there is an attached .ics file.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 5.37.02 PM

Click on it once to highlight (don’t double click as it will open it up in Apple Calendar) and then press the spacebar to see the newly proposed time.

New Proposed Time

 

Has this helped you? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Cloud Autonomics is the Future

re:Invent 2014 was certainly full of many surprises such as Lambda, AWS Config, RDS for Aurora and, of course, AWS’s commitment to the enterprise.

One of the biggest takeaways for my company was that while there are many cost optimization tools on the market, cost is just one of the features of our management platform. We’re all about optimization across all aspects of your infrastructure such as:

  • Cost
  • Availability
  • Usage
  • Performance
  • Security

Using a holistic approach, we not only deliver value through analysis and reporting for the CTO/CIO and their management team but we take it a step further and suggest the most optimal infrastructure recommendations. From there, we automate the changes and govern via policy driven actions. “It’s like Chef for the CIO” as my CTO is keen on saying (3:30 in the video). Check out his interview with Ofir Nachmani of @iamondemand below…

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