Skeddly Blog

Skeddly news and announcements...

VSS-Enabled EBS Snapshots

When creating EBS snapshots, it’s important that the snapshots be “consistent”. This means that the data on the snapshot is whole and complete. An EBS snapshot can be considered “inconsistent” if not all data was flushed to the filesystem, and/or if an application running on the EC2 instance was mid-write when the EBS snapshot was initiated.

AWS recommends pausing all writes to the filesystem, and if that’s not possible, unmounting the volume from your EC2 instance when creating the EBS snapshot. However, that’s not possible for root EBS volumes.

For many years, Skeddly has included a “Stop Instance” consistency method when creating EBS snapshots. Stopping the EC2 instance is another way to ensure all data written to the EBS volume is flushed to the hardware. With this option enabled, Skeddly briefly shuts down the EC2 instance, initiates the EBS snapshot, then restarts the EC2 instance. Usually, the EC2 instance is stopped for only a minute or so. But, in some cases, even this brief moment of unavailability is not allowed.

If you are using Windows, you can use a feature called Volume Shadow Copy, or VSS for short, to help create consistent snapshots. AWS has an SSM document in AWS Systems Manager that you can use to create VSS-Enabled EBS snaphots.

Today, we’re making available a VSS option to our EBS snapshot actions that you can use to automate the creation of VSS-enabled EBS snapshots.

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Delete Unused Elastic IP Addresses Action

One difficult task for the AWS account administrator is to keep track of used and unused resources. That’s why we’re adding more actions to help track down unused resources.

Today, we’re happy to announce a new action: Delete Unused Elastic IP Addresses.

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Start Transfer for SFTP Servers Action

This week was very exciting at AWS re:Invent. There were many, many new services announced. One new service that was announced is called AWS Transfer for SFTP.

AWS Transfer for SFTP allows you to setup a managed SFTP server which will upload and download files to Amazon S3, using the SFTP protocol. This is a great way to transfer files in to and out of Amazon S3 using standard tools.

However, running an SFTP server can be expensive. In the Virginia region (us-east-1), the SFTP server costs $0.30 per hour to keep running. Data transferred is charged on top of that. The nice part: SFTP servers can be started and stopped. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Today, I’m happy to announce a new action that has been added to Skeddly: Start Transfer for SFTP Servers.

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AWS re:Invent 2018 Lanyard Colours

This week is AWS re:Invent 2018. For the 7th time, it’s bigger than ever, spanning 7 hotels: The Venetian, The Mirage, Encore, Aria, MGM Grand, Bellagio, and Vdara. So plan your transitions well, make sure you have some good walking shoes, and take the AWS shuttles between hotels.

Like previous years, you’ll notice different coloured lanyards holding everyone’s badges. Here’s an updated list.

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CloudFormation Stack Drift Report Action

Last week, AWS announced a fantastic new feature for AWS CloudFormation, CloudFormation Drift Detection. Drift detection allows you to determine whether the AWS resources controlled by your CloudFormation stacks have drifted from their original configuration. This can happen if you manually adjust properties of your AWS resources.

Today, we’re excited to announce a new action to report on your CloudFormation drifted stacks: CloudFormation Stack Drift Report.

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Check Root Access Keys Action

Still referencing Best Practices for Managing AWS Access Keys, best practices recommends that root access keys are never used and should be completely removed from your AWS account. Instead, IAM users with limited permissions should be used.

In fact, Skeddly even prevents root access keys from being registered with Skeddly. We always recommend using IAM third-party roles, however, access keys can still be used. And we only allow IAM user access keys to be registered.

Today, we’re happy to announce a new action to monitor for root access keys: Check Root Access Keys.

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Disable Unused IAM Access Keys Action

According to Best Practices for Managing AWS Access Keys, if you must utilize IAM access keys, it is best to remove or disable unused keys. This will close possible security holes in your AWS account.

Today, we’re happy to announce a new action to help with this task: Disable Unused IAM Access Keys.

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Manage Azure Disk Snapshots With Skeddly

Now that we’re all saving money on our Azure bills, it’s time to backup those Azure VM disks. Skeddly now supports the creation and deletion of Azure disk snapshots with our two new actions:

  • Backup Virtual Machines
  • Delete Disk Snapshots

Both of these actions work like their AWS counterparts.

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Post Action Execution Triggers

Now you can trigger events when your action executions complete. This new feature gives you more flexibility and options when it comes to your action executions.

With post-execution triggers, more advanced workflows are now possible:

  • Chain actions together
  • Start or stop multiple resources in a given sequence
  • Execute a second function in response to a failed action execution, perhaps as a form of extra notification or recovery
  • Invoke an Amazon Lambda function to do anything else we haven’t thought of

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Skeddly Now Supports Microsoft Azure

For 7 years, AWS users have been using Skeddly to lower their AWS bills by starting & stopping EC2 and RDS instances, along with Redshift and ElastiCache clusters. Now, Azure users can join the party too.

Today, we’re adding support for Microsoft Azure by adding two new actions:

  • Start Virtual Machines
  • Stop Virtual Machines

These are our first actions for Azure, launching our foray into multi-cloud management.

Similar to our actions for AWS, our Azure actions can start and stop your virtual machines in order to reduce your cloud costs. Used strategically, these can be used to reduce your Azure bills by up to 65%.

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