This is an opinion piece about how regulation protects the public from bad companies who act in their own self interest, at the expense of the greater good (the public). We cover topics such as privacy, the speed that regulations are created, car safety, and food safety. We also talk about how regulation is not a bad thing for companies who actually want to produce a good product, it actually helps them to make more money. So bring on the red tape.
Regulation is a system of rules and guidelines to promote safety and fairness in markets. It is the system that allows for people to participate in markets, be they producers or consumers. For example, in the 1800s the first car accident took place. Since then, the US government decided to allow the market for the car industry to take off, but for some time there were no real rules to regulate the industry. They did not know what to expect, so they left a lot of the industry regulation to the states. Seemed reasonable.
The first step was to establish a national car safety standard. This is a standard that all cars must meet, in order to be allowed on our roads. If a car does not meet this standard, it is not allowed on our roads. That’s how regulation works best: it applies to everyone.
Much later on, when a new innovation in safety came out (the seat belt), it was up to the regulators to take the next step and decide that all cars had to have seat belts. This is a good example because seat belts are a safety regulation. Seat belts save lives and reduce the human cost of car accidents.
Things are different now, in 2021. Everything is changing so fast. Let’s take a look at a perfect example.
Big companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are monopolies. They have grown to the point where they have so much control over the market that they can manipulate it, and they do. They provide a free service to the public, and they make a lot of money doing it, but they are not doing it to help the public. They are doing it to help themselves. It is in their best interest to have the maximum amount of information on their users, but not to help their users the most.
It’s a classic case of what is best for the company is not what is best for the public. It’s a fast changing industry, which means that regulation has yet to catch up, and so therefore this big problem has popped up unnoticed, and gone on for quite some time before everyone realized.
Regulation, of course. But not just any regulation, fast, tech-savvy, industry-aware regulation. We need better, faster regulation to catch these cases, before they become a huge problem and sway elections. The trouble with this solution is that the government is a big, slow moving beast. It is hard for the government to catch up to fast changing markets. There is a lot of red tape involved in the process of regulation, and the cost of regulation is very high.
We can be our own worst enemy
The above example has mostly talked about how regulation exists to protect the consumers from large companies. However, regulation can also protect citizens from themselves. While it’s important that the government is big and strong (at least, strong enough to stand up to big corporates) it’s also important that the government does not become overbearing and infringe upon the rights of citizens, artists and protesters. It’s important that regulation does not stifle artistic expression, or valid and real dissent against a government that is hurting it’s people.
Take for example, the Food and Drug administration. They are a great example of regulators, who have been quick to stop harmful substances from reaching the public, while also giving breathing room to companies who want to produce and sell foods/drugs that require adult discipline to use recreationally, such as alcohol or other new products.
When a company’s primary goal is to make money, it is also important that they do not make money in a way that is against the law. They have to earn that money in a way that does not violate consumer trust. For example, once a company has reached a certain size, it has enough power not to follow regulations, by hiring lots of lobbyists, bribing officials and using their significant wealth and power to more easily hide their illegal activities. If a company has the power to do this, it is safe to assume (from a regulator’s point of view), that it will do so. This is why it is important to regulate companies at a point before they reach that level, and stay on their case. The government needs to intervene early and with great strength when a company is going off the rails and committing crimes.
On the other hand, regulation is not a bad thing for companies who want to produce a good product. In fact, regulation helps good companies who want to produce a good product with honest means, because it is bad for companies who try to cut corners (because they will not be able to make as much money).
So in conclusion, regulation is a good thing (as long as it’s fast!), and we need more of it.
In his 1932 dystopian novel “Brave New World“, English author Aldous Huxley imagines a future where life has been engineered to be pain-free but is ultimately meaningless. Almost a century later, most people have access to more material goods than even Huxley could have imagined, and by most measures life is getting easier and easier. At the same time, societies around the world are suffering from a deep lack of meaning and most people, whether they admit it or not, struggle to build deep and meaningful connections with others. Is it a coincidence, or is our rampant technology-fueled consumerism responsible for our unhappiness?
Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” which very succinctly sums up the problem most of us face in our daily lives: we are unable to appreciate the big picture, and instead are too busy chasing after the next material good or pleasure to satisfy our desire for excitement. This desire is much stronger today than it was in Huxley’s time, and it’s almost impossible to tell whether it’s caused by modern technology, or whether the technology is just making the problem worse.
Let’s take the issue of materialism. For most of human history, the average person would only own a few possessions, most of which would be used to make their life more comfortable or enjoyable. Nowadays, it is the norm to own many more things than that, and the sheer number of things we own is not in itself the problem; the problem is that we have been brainwashed to think that the things we own will make us happy. Most of the time this is true, but only in the short term. After a few hours, your new shoes will no longer make you happy, and you’ll want to buy some new ones. Your new car will be the same, and so on. This is also true for the big-ticket items like houses and yachts. After a few years of being owned, they will seem as boring as the average car or house does to you now.
The reason this happens is that all of the things we own are very similar, and they have no personality. They are just a means to an end, and so they have no value other than the pleasure they bring in the short term. The same is true for most of the material goods and services that modern technology provides us with. There’s nothing wrong with this, but we are losing touch with the fact that we need relationships with other people in order to have a meaningful life. We are so busy consuming that we cannot see the trees for the forest; we are trapped in the material world and we do not know how to escape.
The importance of meaningful work
The question this raises is whether work can bring us happiness. The answer, of course, is yes, but only if the work makes you feel valued. Let me explain with an analogy.
I have a beautiful labrador retriever, Kelsie. If you aren’t familiar with labradors, they are extremely intelligent dogs. I can give her all the food, water and shelter she wants but if she isn’t using her brain, she isn’t happy. About a year ago I bought her a snuffle mat (a kind of game where you hide food and the dog uses its nose to find it), and was amazed at the effect it had on her behavior and demeanor – as soon as she had to use her brain and nose to forage for her dinner, her life had meaning. The same is true for us humans. Getting everything we want is not enough – we have to work for it, and we have to believe the work we are doing is meaningful – like a dog foraging for its food.
There’s no point in having a job that pays well but is boring or tedious. Unfortunately, jobs that are not meaningful tend to pay well. It is a fact of life that people will pay you more to perform a job that is tedious, boring or dangerous than they would pay you to do a job that is interesting and exciting but not as useful. People are not stupid, and they do not want to pay more than they have to for anything, including your labor.
If you are lucky enough to have a job that is meaningful to you, then congratulations. That is the best thing you can have in your life. If you aren’t, then you should try to find one, and if you can’t, you should try to create one. It’s not easy, but it is possible and it can be done.
Technology is not going away, and neither is consumerism. We are all going to continue living in a world of material abundance and it would be a mistake to turn our backs on it. Instead, the best thing we can do is to start paying attention to what brings us meaning.
This means paying attention to what you’re spending your time on and the things you’re buying. Most of the time, the things we buy are not bringing us joy; they are bringing us frustration, because we already have a lot of stuff and we are running out of places to put it. This is a good time to reevaluate the things in your life and ask yourself whether they are bringing you joy, or if they are just a means to an end. If they are the latter, you should probably get rid of them.
Now is also a good time to start thinking about what you’d like to do for a living. You don’t have to do what you love to do – many people don’t – but you should at least try to have a job that makes you feel valued. If you cannot find one, it is worth considering starting your own business, especially if you can do it remotely.
Technology has brought us many benefits, but it is also making us unhappy and it’s important to be aware of this. We need to spend time thinking about what makes us happy, and we need to take steps to make sure we get it. If we want to be happy people, we have to put in the effort.
Many organizations are moving workloads to the public cloud, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a primary option. Read on to understand key cloud migration concepts, options for migrating to AWS, pricing and costs you can expect after your migration, and automated tools that can help you plan and execute your migration.
What is Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration involves moving information systems, applications or data to a cloud computing environment. Three common cloud migration models are:
- Moving workloads from an on-premises data center to the public cloud
- Moving workloads from one public cloud provider to another (cloud to cloud migration)
- Reverse cloud migration, also known as repatriation, which involves moving workloads from a public cloud back to a local data center
The overall goal or benefit of a cloud migration is to host applications and data in the most effective IT environment possible, optimizing factors like cost, performance, and security. Many organizations migrate on-premises applications and data to public cloud infrastructure to take advantage of improved resiliency, self-service, redundancy, and flexible pay-as-you-go models.
AWS Cloud Migration Strategy
If you are migrating an application or portfolio of applications to AWS, here are key considerations for building your strategy.
Migration Preparation and Goals
Get a clear understanding of the current situation, the architecture of your existing applications, the challenges you face and your business goals. Define goals and set up a business case for the AWS migration. Possible goals could include:
- Reducing costs
- Easier scalability
- Improving resilience and availability
Based on your goals, decide which applications should be migrated to Amazon.
Discovery and Migration Planning
Explore your IT product portfolio and consider the migration strategy to use for each application. Common strategies are:
- Lift and shift – move applications to the cloud as-is
- Refactor – rebuild applications to suit cloud infrastructure
- Replatform – use an existing cloud-based service to replace the current application
Each application can use a different migration strategy. Map out your entire portfolio and decide which applications should be migrated, and to what extent.
Designing, Migrating, and Validating Applications
Based on your selected strategy, create a detailed migration plan for each application. To understand how your migration strategy and tools actually behave in your environment, start with a few applications as a proof of concept. Then, with the support of your organization’s
stakeholders, proceed to execute a complete migration plan.
When the application moves to the cloud, it runs within AWS and the on-premise version of the application is retired (unless you are using a hybrid model). Closely monitor applications and collect feedback from users and stakeholders, to see how successful your first AWS applications are. Learn from the feedback and use it to fine tune migration processes for the next applications.
AWS Pricing Models Overview
Costs are a central consideration in any migration project. In many cases, a key motivation for migration is cost savings. Therefore, before migrating to AWS, you should understand AWS pricing models, decide which one to apply to each application, and use the AWS cost calculator or other tools to estimate your actual expected costs.
The default AWS pricing model is called on demand pricing. Amazon resources are billed per hour or per second depending on actual usage. On-demand pricing is flexible, but it is also the most expensive option. Many organizations start with on-demand pricing as they adapt to the cloud environment and understand their requirements, and later move to a different model.
The major advantage of on-demand pricing is that it converts costs to operating expenses (OpEx) without any upfront investments or time commitments. It is most suitable for mission-critical applications or workloads with unexpected load peaks.
On-Demand Pricing with Enterprise Discount Program (EDP)
Organizations can apply for long-term on-demand rates with Amazon EDP. To use EDP, you must purchase enterprise support and commit to a certain level of spending within a specified amount of time. You will receive a predetermined discount depending on your spending commitment, and you can and should negotiate to get a bigger discount.
For example, you can improve your bargaining power by planning and optimizing your workloads ahead of time, and consolidating accounts between different departments or business units to show more spend.
EDP is suitable for organizations with a large cloud budget and well-known, predictable infrastructure requirements. An organization may have several applications with irregular workloads, but which combined, have a predictable total capacity.
On Amazon, you can reserve instances for 1 to 3 years and receive up to 75% off the price. However, if at some point during the term you need to scale down, you cannot delete a Reserved Instance. This reduces flexibility, but you can still benefit from advanced automation options and service ecosystem offered by Amazon.
The reserved instance model is mainly suitable for running large enterprise applications in the cloud, with predictable usage or pre-planned growth.
AWS spot instances offer the biggest discount, with up to 90% off the price of on-demand compute instances. Spot Instances let you bid on spare computing power on Amazon’s open market. Prices change every 5 minutes. If your bid is higher than the current market price, you will receive a spot instance of the instance type you select, in a specific Amazon availability zone.
Spot instances can be tricky to work with, because Amazon may suspend an instance if capacity is unavailable, or if the current Spot price exceeds your maximum bid, with only 2 minutes notice.
Spot instances are suitable for organizations with advanced cloud-native development capabilities and the ability to dynamically cluster, start, stop, and migrate applications. Also highly suitable to stateless and highly distributed batch processing applications.
AWS Migration Assessment Tools
Vendor-provided migration tools, which in the case of AWS are provided at no extra cost, are extremely helpful in executing a successful migration. Here are tools Amazon provides that can help you plan and optimize your cloud migration.
Migration Evaluator provides accurate data-driven recommendations to select the right size and cost for cloud deployments. Its predictive analytics provide insights about environments, price changes and deployment options, ensuring each workload is running in the configuration with the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TCO). The tool can help you establish a
clear business case for accelerating your migration plan.
Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART)
AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART) is a survey-based solution that checks your organization’s readiness for migrating to AWS. The surveys are broken into six categories:
- Business – whether business goals are aligned with the cloud
- People – skill sets and cultural enablers for cloud migration
- Process – IT and business processes that could benefit from cloud migration
- Platform – existing technological and IT systems
- Operations – operational processes that could impact migration
- Security – security and compliance requirements for applications and datasets
After completing the CART survey, you can download a customized Cloud Migration Assessment, which charts your readiness and suggests next steps. CART reports include maps, charts, and scores that can help you assess your current state of readiness and understand how to improve your readiness score.
AWS Migration Hub
Migration Hub helps you track and monitor AWS migration projects, regardless of which tools or approaches you are using to perform migration. It provides metrics and migration progress visibility for entire application portfolios, as they are gradually migrated to the cloud. The tool can also provide recommendations for right-sizing AWS resources for on-premise workloads.
In this article I reviewed the basic concepts and strategies of AWS migration. I discussed AWS pricing options such as on-demand pricing, reserved instances and spot instances, and automated tools offered by AWS at not cost which can help speed your migration:
- Migration Evaluator
- Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool
- AWS Migration Hub
I hope this will be helpful in making your migration to the Amazon cloud a success.
What is Rich Media?
Rich media is an umbrella term that encompases a wide scope of interactive digital media. This media typically exhibits dynamic motion, using elements like audio, animation, and video.
Here are common types of rich media content:
- Video files
- Instagram and Facebook stories
- Audiobooks and podcasts
- Live video streams
- Topical webinars
Rich media files have been proven as highly effective in improving customer engagement and user experience. You can store rich media files in various locations, including cloud storage, on-premise data centers, and digital asset management (DAM) systems.
Consideration for Rich Media Storage
Rich media files are digital assets that consume storage resources. These files are typically very heavy and the more files the organization uses the higher the storage costs. Asides from costs, there are other considerations when choosing storage repositories for rich media, involving efficiency, performance, and security.
Rich media files consume a lot of storage resources, as well as bandwidth when transmitted. This is a fact. However, there are ways to optimize billing. For example, you can assess your files and determine which files need frequent access. You can store these files in high-performance storage.
Rich media files that are used infrequently can be stored in archival storage. This type of storage is significantly lower than high performance storage. There are three common types of archive storage you can use:
- On-premise storage—usually digital, magnetic, tape-based storage in a Linear Tape-Open (LTO) library.
- Cloud storage—the majority of cloud computing vendors offer archival storage options in the public cloud and in private cloud environments.
- Hybrid storage—a combination of on-premise resources and cloud storage.
Performance and Accessibility
Performance and accessibility are key factors that define the user experience of the storage repository. There are several metrics that impact performance and accessibility, for example:
- Input/output operations per second (IOPS)—a unit of measurement that determines performance based on workload types and drive speed.
- Transaction processing workload—indicates the requests received, modification performed, and other operations.
- Read and write speed—a read speed determines how long it takes to read (open) data from the device, and a write speed determines how long it takes to write (open) data to the device.
Storage repositories store various types of data. Whether the data is deemed for infrequent use and kept in archives or deemed as needed frequently and kept in high performance storage, the data needs to be securely stored.
Storage repositories should be equipped, at minimum, with encryption capabilities that scramble the data and make it meaningless if accessed by unauthorized users. You should also create a backup and recovery strategy that ensures you have copies of the data to fail to when and if disaster occurs.
Storage and Backup Solutions for Rich Media
Rich Media Services on AWS
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a popular cloud vendor offering a massive amount of cloud-based services. For rich media, AWS provides storage, backup, machine learning (ML), analytics services.
You can leverage AWS services to create highly scalable, secure, and elastic content production pipelines, typically composed of systems in production, a combination of high performance and archival storage, as well as processing and distribution.
AWS provides flexible payment models, many of which are “pay-as-you-go”, and analytics capabilities that can provide data-driven insights. You can leverage these insights to improve and optimize your content investments, monetization efforts, and provide a personalized user experience.
Azure Media Services
Azure Media Services is a cloud-based media workflow platform that provides many capabilities for rich media management. For example, you can use Azure Media Services to index, secure, and package rich media.
You can also use Azure Media Services to stream video at scale. The platform is particularly effective for using high-definition video encoding for streaming on any user device. The platform also provides artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for improving content performance and discoverability, as well as content protection using digital rights management (DRM).
Cloudian offers cost-effective disk-based storage. The solution is highly scalable, letting you start from small capacities and reach petabytes when needed with no downtime or disruptions. This high-capacity storage is ideal for a growing active archive. It is essentially a storage cluster that only requires adding more storage nodes to scale up.
Cloud storage provides always-on data access and built-in data durability which enables you to distribute data across nodes. This means that even if nodes fail, you can still access your media. The costs of this type of storage are typically 1/2 cent per GB/month. In addition to data storage, you get capabilities for rich metadata tagging, compatibility with media software, and multi-cloud integration.
Rich media is a digital asset used by most (if not all) organizations. Organizations use rich media for branding and marketing purposes, but also for IT, development, and educational purposes. Since rich media files are inherently very heavy, they consume a lot of storage resources.
To ensure that your files are always available and properly protected, you need to design a storage and backup strategy that considers all of your business needs. Your strategy should account for costs, performance, accessibility, and security. These four considerations impact your normal operations and can determine user experience.