by Michael Rink

AWS Announces Satellite Download Service

On November 27th at AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) announced AWS Ground Station. Ground Station is a new service that enables customers to download data from satellites into AWS Global Infrastructure Regions using a fully managed network of 12 ground station antennas located around the world. Using AWS Ground Station, customers can save up to 80 percent of their ground station costs by paying for antenna access time on demand.

The graphical interface allows you to identify antenna locations and communications windows, then schedule by-the-minute time on the appropriate antenna. Amazon also says you can cancel or reschedule prior to the scheduled contact time. Because many AWS Ground Station antennas are co-located with AWS Regions, customers have low-latency, local access to other AWS services to process and store this data. One example Amazon gives is: use Amazon EC2 to control satellites and downlink data to store and share the data in Amazon S3, then use Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) for secure communications between Amazon EC2 instances, and finally hunt for real-time business insights with Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce.

Not content with radically expanding their services to include downloading data from satellites orbiting the planet in space, Amazon Web Services announced several other new services and updates of interest. AWS launched Private Marketplace this week as well as a number of new IoT applications.

AWS Private Marketplace is essentially a customizable version of AWS Marketplace. Marketplace is AWS's curated digital catalog of third-party software. It now counts 160 container products that can be deployed on Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon ECS for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS). Private Marketplace allows IT admins to create customized catalogs of a subset of the full marketplace. This is useful for keeping track of which third-party vendors that align with an organization’s vendor and product policies or just for earmarking commonly used products to save time trawling through the full catalog.

AWS announced four new IoT focused services:

  • AWS IoT Greengrass Connectors (available today) is a new feature of AWS IoT Greengrass intended to provide better interfacing with third-party applications. Or perhaps its better described as a series of features. AWS provides a list of 11 connector interfaces for Greengrass including one that allows reads and writes to a serial port on the core device! 
  • AWS IoT SiteWise (available in preview) is a managed service that collects data from the plant floor, structures. It then labels the data, and generates real-time key performance indicators to allow for data-driven decisions. 
  • AWS IoT Events (available in preview) is a managed service that makes it easy for industrial, consumer, and commercial customers to detect and respond to events from many different IoT sensors and applications. Events are patterns of data that identify changes in equipment like a conveyor belt becoming stuck or a motion sensor detecting movement after hours. Using IoT Events, customers can easily detect events like this at massive scale by analyzing data across thousands of IoT sensors and hundreds of equipment management applications in real time. For example, when temperature changes indicate that a freezer door is not sealing properly, business logic can be used through AWS IoT Events to send a text message to a service technician. 
  • AWS IoT Things Graph (available in preview) is basically a very sophisticated WYSIWYG development tool. Amazon is claiming that it will allow developers to build IoT applications by representing devices and cloud services as reusable models that can be combined through a visual drag-and-drop interface, instead of writing low-level code. Depending on how well this works, it could be a huge time and costs savings.

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