Mar 31, 2021

The private space race: Amazon’s startup space accelerator

space
Startups
Cloud
satellites
William Smith
2 min
 Amazon's AWS Space Accelerator will offer business development and research and investment guidance for the ten companies selected
Amazon's AWS Space Accelerator will offer business development and research and investment guidance for the ten companies selected...

Historically, the frontier of space has been impenetrable for small businesses, and breached only by the enormous cash reserves and non-profit focus of governments.

In recent times, however, there has been a revolution in space access thanks to new technologies and approaches that have massively reduced the cost to put items into orbit. That’s led to a new boom in satellite constellations such as OneWeb or SpaceX’s Starlink.

Indeed, even NASA now relies on privately-operated spacecraft built by Boeing and SpaceX in its Commercial Crew Program to ferry astronauts to and from the international space station.

It’s not just the biggest companies that are taking advantage of the new relative ease of accessing space, however. With SpaceX’s Smallsat Rideshare Program allowing companies to put 200kg into orbit for $1mn, startup companies such as Planet are launching satellites, in this case to take high resolution images of the earth’s surface.

Startup space accelerator

Now, Amazon has announced its AWS Space Accelerator, a four-week programme for startups using AWS cloud. The company is partnering with specialist space investment group Seraphim on the project, which has opened for applications and will offer business development and research and investment guidance for the ten companies selected.

“Startups provide a catalyst for bold new experimentation in the space industry,” said Clint Crosier, director of aerospace and satellite at AWS. “We are proud to announce the AWS Space Accelerator as part of our ongoing commitment to help startups succeed, and to shape the future of aerospace. We look forward to helping the first cohort of companies launch and grow through this new program.”

The program is open to startups at all ages of maturity operating in areas such as robotics, earth observation and more.

“AWS is building a world-class accelerator program for space startups tailored around the use of AWS services, and we are excited to work with them,” said Rob Desborough, partner, Seraphim. “Combined with Seraphim’s unique domain expertise in space investment and acceleration, we hope to attract, select, and accelerate startups who will go on to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

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Jun 8, 2021

Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage

Technology
Fastly
servers
websites
Tilly Kenyon & Oliver James Fr...
3 min
Multiple outages have hit social media, government, and news websites across the globe

A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.

It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.

“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.

What is Fastly?

Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.

The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06. 

What are CDNs?

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.

They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times. 

Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.

The Risk of CDNs

Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features. 

Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray. 

Over the coming days, both Technology Magazine and Data Centre Magazine will continue to provide updates on the current situation as developments are made.

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