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AWS Hackathon: Blendr, Amazon Alexa, Service Config

Last week, Logicworks hosted its 2nd annual Hackathon — and it yielded some innovative and exciting projects! The Hackathon encouraged teams to experiment with new cloud products and try out ideas for making Logicworks better. Here are the winning projects:

Logicworks Blendr

If your company is growing quickly, you know how difficult it is to keep up with new hires and maintain the feeling of a small, tightly knit community. Logicworks is hiring fast, and so it is not uncommon to see unfamiliar faces in the common kitchen.

Enter Blendr — a phone app built by Ben Maynard and Chuck Youngfelt, Sr. DevOps Engineers, that randomly matches you up with someone else in the company for lunch. Blendr was built in Angular JS running on Ionic and Cordova, and has a completely serverless backend built in AWS Lambda, AWS DynamoDB, and AWS S3. Authentication is also serverless with AWS Cognito.

Blendr registration page showing authentication with AWS Cognito.

Blendr won first place at the Hackathon by popular vote, so clearly this is a service that people want to use! The company was also very impressed by Ben’s use of serverless AWS tools to build the application.

Alexa Personal Assistant

Logicworks manages IT infrastructure for many businesses and exposes monitoring and cost data about those environments to our clients’ engineers. But Product Manager Daniel Pohl decided that it would be even better if our clients could access this data verbally — through Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Alexa. Credit: Amazon.com

Here’s the conversation Daniel demonstrated:

Daniel: Alexa, open Logicworks.

Alexa: I am a Logicworks Personal Assistant. I live in the cloud, alongside your application. Would you like to hear your choices?

Daniel: Yes

Alexa: Would you like to hear your AWS costs?

Daniel: Yes

Alexa: Last month’s AWS costs were $598.87.

Daniel also plans to expand the personal assistant’s skill set by adding functionality to ask about ticket status and system health. This will allow our clients to simply ask ask Alexa to get the status of service requests, today’s bills, unexpected events, etc. rather than having to access our customer portal.

Amazon recently released a completely new developer interface for the Alexa Skills Kit, which helped Daniel build out this Alexa app relatively easily. You can learn more about how to develop your own Alexa app here.

Daniel won 2nd place for his project, and while it is not quite ready for prime time, it demonstrates Alexa’s capabilities in a fun way. It also hints at the possibility that one day, a client developer may be able to build out a Logicworks-configured AWS environment by voice.

AWS Service Config

Sometimes, the best projects aren’t necessarily the “flashiest” — but are practical scripts that your company can use on a day-to-day basis. Josh Rosen, Sr. DevOps Engineer, decided to improve on the ability to identify services running and report on them.

If you run a complex cloud environment, you know it can be a challenge to make sure that 3rd party software like intrusion detection and antivirus or cloud-native monitoring tools like AWS Inspector are running in every environment. Josh built a simple Ruby script to check if various services are running and output that data in a format specific to AWS EC2 Systems Manager’s custom inventory. Then Josh wrote a script in AWS Lambda to make sure EC2 instances are in the AWS inventory and go through all the services to see if they are running; if they’re not running, we say the instance is not compliant. If you go into AWS Config, you can see a list of instances and whether or not they are compliant:

This can be incredibly useful if you manage large environments with many instances. AWS Config has templated rule sets, but Josh’s project allows us to build custom rule sets and continually check against those conditions.

Josh’s project won third place and has immediate usefulness for our projects!

 

Overall, this year’s Hackathon was a great time that demonstrated, yet again, that Logicworks’ engineers are some of the best and brightest in the industry. If you are interested in joining our team, please look at our Careers page or contact us.

Posted on May 15, 2017 in Cloud Automation, Cloud Security, DevOps, Managed AWS

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About the Author

Logicworks is a cloud automation and managed services provider with 20+ years of experience in IT operations. To learn more about Logicworks, contact us at (212) 625-5300 or sales@logicworks.net.
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