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“The Russians will not bomb the clouds.” Ukraine signed an important agreement and we were there

A modern state cannot function without digital infrastructure. Even this war-torn must continue to run the administration and bank. Ukraine need not fear that its critical IT systems will be destroyed as a result of Russian aggression. The country is migrating its systems to the world’s largest cloud. And Amazon has promised to continue to help and cooperate.

Ukrainian law, like many other European countries, required until recently that data from the public administration and data from selected companies be stored in the country. But when Ukrainian intelligence was almost certain that Russia was about to attack, the law was quickly changed to allow the transfer of this data outside the country for security reasons. Immediately after the introduction of the new law, the Ukrainian administration openly called for help. Amazon responded.

With Microsoft, before the war broke out, he helped build a defense network in cyberspace that still faces Russian cyberattacks today. However, it was clear that it was not enough. Even the best security can be breached, and the servers or data centers themselves, while resistant to attacks in cyberspace – may not be so resistant to rocket fire. A bold relocation plan was developed involving the Ukrainian administration, Amazon Web Services and partners in Poland.

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AWS Snowball, an armored data rescue boat

On February 24, 2022, AWS and the government of Ukraine agreed to a rescue plan. Amazon Web Services would take over Ukraine’s data and this would be accepted by transport equipment specially developed for this purpose. AWS Snowball, as they are officially called, are armored computers with a lot of memory. Ukraine’s IT was literally carried out in armored (cyber) suitcases.

AWS snowball

Already two days after the agreement on the plan, the first Snowball units arrived in Krakow. Their further fate is not public, but Krakow was the last stop before Ukraine, where they were transported the same night. IT specialists in the public administration of Ukraine, together with Amazon Web Services engineers, worked tirelessly to transfer critical data to the cloud as quickly as possible.

Four months after the outbreak of the war, more than 10 petabytes (1 petabyte = 1024 terabytes) of data from 27 Ukrainian ministries, 18 Ukrainian universities, the largest Ukrainian platform for distance learning in basic education and from servers of dozens of private companies have already been uploaded to AWS- cloud.

Adam Selipsky, president of AWS, talks about the cooperation with Ukraine in the opening speech of Amazon Re:Ignite

The continued functioning of the public administration, undisturbed by military operations, is crucial for Ukraine. Citizens of Ukraine can easily get a certificate of their education, including higher education, when looking for a job in the country or abroad. Children can continue their education and get an education. Ukrainian universities can still conduct research – as an example, the analysis of radiation in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in the vicinity of military operations was given.

The Ukrainian private sector also benefits from this. PrivatBank already operates with AWS, that is, a bank that services around 40 percent of Ukraine’s entire population. Moving his infrastructure from a war-torn country to Amazon Web Services required migrating 270 applications and 4 petabytes of data from 3,500 servers in a total of 45 days. Ukraine should not build everything from scratch and ashes. Her IT tax is safe – and it works.

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This will not be a temporary collaboration. Amazon Web Services and Ukraine sign a cooperation agreement

AWS will allocate a total of $75 million in human and cloud resources to further support Ukraine’s administration in its transition to the cloud. The agreement was signed in Las Vegas during the Amazon Re:Invent conference. On behalf of AWS, it was signed by Liam Maxwell, Director of the Department of Digital Transformation of Public Administration. On behalf of Ukraine, it was signed by Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation.

This is the most advanced warfare in human history. Every day we see how technology kills. But we also see how it can help, make our lives easier. In Ukraine, technology saves lives, homes and jobs every day – Minister Fedorov said at a meeting with journalists, thanking Amazon for the faith and help it showed from the beginning.

Mykhailo Fedorov signs a memorandum on further cooperation with AWS

When asked about the most striking example of the benefits it has brought in such a difficult time, he replied: This is the core of our economy, finance, banking and administration. And there wasn’t a single day when it didn’t work. Even during a blackout or rocket fire, there was not a day when the administration could not function.

The Russians can’t bomb the cloud – the deputy minister ended the meeting. And while this is not entirely true, because Russia could attack another country, including the one with AWS servers, the metaphor is quite obvious. Is it a good idea in peacetime, after Ukraine’s victory, to migrate public administration to a commercial public cloud? Ukraine is finding out. Today, however, it has incomparably more important problems – and thanks to the help of AWS, the Russians no longer have any opportunity to disrupt the work of this administration.

“The Russians will not bomb the clouds.” Ukraine signed an important agreement and we were there

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