With individuals and institutions facing lockdowns, movement restrictions, and ongoing health threats from the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon Web Services (AWS) — the online retail giant ‘s multi billion-dollar cloud computing division — is joining the global effort at managing the novel coronavirus by making contributions on several fronts. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the things that AWS is doing.
The COVID-19 HPC Consortium
The COVID-19 HPC Consortium maintains an online portal that invites submissions from researchers looking into various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic that could improve our understanding of the novel coronavirus. AWS is a member of this consortium and is offering research companies and institutions technical support and promotional credits for their use of Amazon Web Services.
Researchers and scientists working to advance research on diagnostic techniques, treatment methods, and vaccines can use AWS to gain instant access to virtually unlimited IT infrastructure capacity, and the latest storage, compute, and networking technologies to accelerate results on time-critical projects.
Proposals submitted to the COVID-19 HPC Consortium are evaluated by a panel of experts, and members of the consortium will then assign computing resources to the research organization, in line with their needs and the relative merits of their proposal.
Research projects assigned to Amazon Web Services are given a specialist AWS account from which they can redeem AWS Promotional Credits provided by the COVID-19 HPC Consortium, and configure and manage the HPC cluster allocated to them on the AWS platform.
AWS has also established a Registry of Open Data, which makes a variety of Public Data Sets available to researchers and the general public.
The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative (DDI)
In addition to its membership of the COVID-19 HPC Consortium, the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative (DDI) provides support for innovations in rapid and accurate patient testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Here again, AWS is offering technical support and promotional credits to encourage the use of AWS services in developing these test methods, and diagnostic solutions for future virus and disease outbreaks.
To assist medical researchers, AWS is publishing a set of online guides on how to use services such as Amazon S3, AWS Step Functions, AWS Batch, and popular open source workflow orchestrators like Cromwell and Nextflow, to run large scale genomics workflows on AWS.
AWS Teams Up With Salesforce Care To Expand The Range Of Customer Service
COVID-19 lockdown protocols have been disrupting business affairs across the board. One of the aspects common to most enterprises is customer service. With help desk staff having to leave their habitual contact centers to work remotely, the need for cloud-based customer support resources is growing.
Amazon Web Services and Salesforce are now collaborating to make free credits available to enterprises for Amazon Connect, the AWS contact center service that’s based on the same technology that powers Amazon’s own customer service division.
The Amazon Connect Computer Telephony (CTI) Adapter allows any business to quickly and easily create and manage a call center experience within Salesforce. Amazon Connect is initially available to Salesforce Care customers free of charge, and organizations can get support from AWS Amazon Connect to help with the implementation of their virtual contact centers.
The deal is a limited-time offer that’s only compatible with the Salesforce Care Employee and Customer Support environment.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Offers More Credits And Funding For COVID-19 Test Research
Since establishing the Diagnostic Development Initiative, AWS has been expanding the scale of its contributions to COVID-19 testing research. As of the end of March 2020, Amazon Web Services is offering $20 million worth of credits and technical support to users of its platform who are working to develop faster COVID-19 testing. Though the focus of the scheme remains on COVID-19, it could extend to other infectious diseases in future.
The expanded program will deliver what Amazon calls “in-kind credits and technical support” for AWS customers who are finding new ways to use the cloud to tackle challenges related to the crisis. Private companies and accredited research institutions eligible for the scheme must be using AWS to develop testing procedures that can be conducted at home, or which provide same-day results at a clinic.
Elsewhere, Amazon has recently donated €21 million (around $23 million USD) to relief organizations across Europe that have been struggling to manage the coronavirus. Donations totaling €12.5 million went to the Civil Protection Department in Italy, and Red Cross organizations in the UK, Germany, France, and Spain. Other beneficiaries include non-profit agencies in Poland, Turkey, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria.
The Amazon COVID-19 Blog
Amazon has set up a COVID-19 blog, with news and features on how the organization is addressing the global pandemic crisis. The site features articles detailing recent COVID-19 related activities involving Amazon Web Services and other Amazon divisions, and gives updates from the Amazon Operations Network.
Recent examples include the roll out of COVID-19 temperature checks across the organization’s entire US and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores, and support for communities by Public Sector Partners within the AWS Partner Network (APN), during the ongoing global health crisis.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Educate is also mobilizing its vast network of educators who have experience of teaching online. Starting on April 6, webinars covering a variety of remote learning topics will be available on AWS at no cost, to assist people in facing COVID-19 lockdown and movement restrictions.
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