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Bushfire mitigation through Machine Learning with AusNet and AWS

Eastern Australia is among the most fire-prone regions in the world. Although bushfires are a regular occurrence in Australia, the 2019–2020 bushfire crisis set ablaze over 17 million hectares of land (larger than the size of England), costing the Australian economy more than $100 billion between property, infrastructure, social, and environmental costs. With increasingly extreme…

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Eastern Australia is among the most fire-prone regions in the world. Although bushfires are a regular occurrence in Australia, the 2019–2020 bushfire crisis set ablaze over 17 million hectares of land (larger than the size of England), costing the Australian economy more than $100 billion between property, infrastructure, social, and environmental costs.

With increasingly extreme weather events, bushfire risk in Australia isn’t going away anytime soon. This means the responsibility on Australia’s energy network operators to maintain a safe and reliable supply has never been greater.

The Australian energy network includes over 880,000 kilometers of distribution and transmission lines (approximately 22 trips around the Earth’s circumference) and 7 million power poles. Extreme climate conditions and vegetation growth close to power lines have to be carefully managed to mitigate bushfire risk.

In this post, we discuss how AusNet uses machine learning (ML) and Amazon SageMaker to help mitigate bushfires.

AusNet innovation with LiDAR

AusNet manages 54,000 kilometers of power lines and brings energy to more than 1.5 million Victorian homes and businesses. 62% of this network is located in high bushfire risk areas. AusNet has developed an innovative solution to safely maintain its energy network and minimize the risk of vegetation causing damage to the network.

Since 2009, AusNet has been capturing high-quality LiDAR data across the network using both aerial and road-based mapping systems. LiDAR is a remote-sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances and directions. A sensed point of an object has 3D coordinate information (x, y, z) as well as additional attributes such as density, number of returns, return number, GPS timestamp, and so on. Those points are represented as a 3D point cloud, which is a collection of all the point information. Upon processing, the LiDAR is turned into a 3D model of AusNet’s network assets, identifying the vegetation growth that needs to be trimmed for bushfire safety.

The previous process for LiDAR classification used business rule-driven inference, with a heavy reliance on accurate Geographic Information System (GIS) asset locations to drive automation. Manual labor effort using custom-built labeling tools was required to correctly label LiDAR points where asset locations were inaccurate or simply didn’t exist. The manual correction and classification of LiDAR points increased processing turnaround times and made it difficult to scale.

AusNet and Amazon Machine Learning

AusNet’s Geospatial team partnered with the Amazon ML specialists, including the Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab and Professional Services, to investigate how ML could automate LiDAR point classification and accelerate the onerous process of manually correcting inaccurate GIS location data.

The annual cost of accurately classifying trillions of captured LiDAR points that represent the different network configurations around Australia exceeded $700,000 per year and inhibited AusNet’s ability to expand this to larger areas of the network.

AusNet and AWS teamed up to use Amazon SageMaker to experiment with, and build deep learning models to automate the point-wise classification of this large collection of LiDAR data. Amazon SageMaker is a fully managed service that helps data scientists and developers to prepare, build, train, and deploy high-quality machine learning models quickly. The AusNet and AWS team successfully built a semantic segmentation model that accurately classified 3D point cloud data into the following categories: conductor, building, pole, vegetation, and others.

Outcomes for AusNet and bushfire mitigation

The collaboration between AWS and AusNet was a huge success, producing the following outcomes for both the business and bushfire risk reduction:

  • Increased worker safety by using LiDAR data and reducing the need for engineers, surveyors, and designers to travel to sites
  • Resulted in 80.53% accuracy across all five segmentation categories, saving AusNet an estimated AUD $500,000 per year through automated classification
  • Provided 91.66% and 92% accuracy in detecting conductors and vegetation, respectively, improving automatic classification of the two most important segment classes
  • Provided the flexibility to utilize LiDAR data obtained from drones, helicopters, planes, and ground-based vehicles, while accounting for each data source’s unique variability
  • Enabled the business to innovate faster and scale analytics across their entire network by reducing the dependency on GIS reference data and manual correction processes
  • Provided the ability to scale analytics across their entire energy network with increased ML automation and reduced dependency on manual GIS correction processes

The following table depicts the performance of the semantic segmentation model on unseen data (measured using “precision” and “recall” metrics, with higher being better), across the five categories.

ML model classified points from a helicopter capture:

Solution overview

The ML Solutions Lab team brought in a team of highly experienced ML scientists and architects to help drive innovation and experimentation. With cutting-edge ML experience across industries, the team collaborated with AusNet’s Geospatial team to solve some of the most challenging technology problems for the business. Based on the deep ML capabilities of SageMaker, AusNet and AWS were able to complete the pilot in just 8 weeks.

The breadth and depth of SageMaker played a key role in allowing the developers and data scientists from both AusNet and AWS to collaborate on the project.  The team utilized code and notebook-sharing features and easily accessed on-demand ML compute resources for training. The elasticity of SageMaker enabled the team to iterate quickly. The team was also able to take advantage of the availability of different hardware configurations to experiment on AWS without needing to invest in upfront capital to acquire on-premises hardware. This allowed AusNet to easily pick the right-sized ML resources and scale their experiments on demand. The flexibility and availability on GPU resources are critical, especially when the ML task requires cutting-edge experiments.

We used SageMaker notebook instances for exploring the data and developing preprocessing code, and used SageMaker processing and training jobs for large-scale workloads. The team also used hyperparameter optimization (HPO) to quickly iterate on multiple training jobs with various configurations and dataset versions to fine-tune the hyperparameters and find the best performing model. For example, we created different versions of datasets using down sampling and augmentation methods to overcome data imbalance issues. Running multiple training jobs with different datasets in parallel allows you to find the right dataset quickly. With large and imbalanced point cloud datasets, SageMaker provided the ability to iterate quickly using many configurations of experiments and data transformations.

ML engineers could conduct initial explorations of data and algorithms using low-cost notebook instances, then offload heavy data operations to the more powerful processing instances. Per-second billing and automatic lifecycle management make sure that the more expensive training instances are started and stopped automatically and only remain active for as long as necessary, which increases utilization efficiency.

The team was able to train a model at a rate of 10.8 minutes per epoch on 17.2 GiB of uncompressed data across 1,571 files totaling approximately 616 million points. For inference, the team was able to process 33.6 GiB of uncompressed data across 15 files totaling 1.2 billion points in 22.1 hours. This translates to inferencing an average of 15,760 points per second including amortized startup time.

Solving the semantic segmentation problem

ML model classified points from a fixed wing capture:

ML model classified points from a mobile capture:

The problem of assigning every point in a point cloud to a category from a set of categories is called a semantic segmentation problem. AusNet’s 3D point clouds from LiDAR datasets consist of millions of points. Accurately and efficiently labeling every point in a 3D point cloud involves tackling two challenges:

  • Imbalanced data – Class imbalance is a common problem in real-world point clouds. As seen in the preceding clips, the majority of the points consist of vegetation, with significantly fewer points composed of power lines or conductors making up less than 1% out of the total points. Models trained using the imbalanced dataset are easily biased toward the major classes, and work poorly on the minors. This class imbalance is a common issue in LiDAR point cloud data for outdoor environments. For this task, it’s critical to have good performance in classifying conductor points. Training a model that works well on both the major and minor class is the largest challenge.
  • Large scale point cloud – The amount of point cloud data from the LiDAR sensor can cover a large open area. In AusNet’s case, the number of points per point cloud can range from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions, with each point cloud file varying from hundreds of megabytes up to gigabytes. Most of the point cloud segmentation ML algorithms require sampling because the operators can’t take all the points as their input. Unfortunately, many of the sampling methods are computationally heavy, which makes both training and inference slow. In this work, we need to choose the most efficient ML algorithm that works on large-scale point clouds.

The AWS and AusNet teams invented a novel downsampling strategy via clustering points to solve the heavily imbalanced classes issue. This downsampling strategy together with existing mitigations, such as class weighting, helped solve the challenges in training an accurate model with an imbalanced dataset and also enhanced the inference performance. We also experimented with an upsampling strategy by duplicating the minor classes and placing them in different locations. This process was built as a SageMaker Processing job so that it could be applied to the newly acquired dataset for further model training within an MLOps pipeline.

The teams researched various point cloud segmentation models considering accuracy, scalability in term of the number of points, and efficiency. Throughout multiple experiments, we chose a state-of-the-art ML algorithm for a point cloud semantic segmentation, which met the requirements. We also adopted augmentation methods so that the model could learn from various datasets.

Production architecture

To roll out the point cloud segmentation solution, the team designed an ML pipeline using SageMaker for training and inference. The following diagram illustrates the overall production architecture.

The training pipeline features a custom processing container in SageMaker Processing to perform point cloud format conversion, category remapping, upsampling, downsampling, and splitting of the dataset. The training job takes advantage of the multi-GPU instances in SageMaker with higher memory capacity to support training the model with a larger batch size.

AusNet’s LiDAR classification workflow begins with the ingestion of up to terabytes of point cloud data from land and aerial surveillance vehicles into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). The data is then processed and passed into an inference pipeline for point cloud classification. To support this, a SageMaker Transform is used to run batch inference across the dataset, with the output being classified point cloud files with confidence scores. The output is then processed by AusNet’s classification engine, which analyzes the confidence score and generates an asset management report.

One of the key aspects of the architecture is that it provides AusNet with a scalable and modular approach to experiment with new datasets, data processing techniques, and models. With this approach, AusNet can adapt their solution to changing environmental conditions and adopt future point cloud segmentation algorithms.

Conclusion and next steps with AusNet

In this post, we discussed how AusNet’s Geospatial team partnered with Amazon ML scientists to automate LiDAR point classification by completely removing dependency on the GIS location data from the classification task. Hence, the delay occurred by manual GIS correction is removed to make the classification task faster and scalable.

“Being able to quickly and accurately label our aerial survey data is a critical part of minimizing the risk of bushfires. Working with the Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab, we were able to create a model that achieved 80.53% mean accuracy in data labeling. We expect to be able to reduce our manual labeling efforts by up to 80% with the new solution,” says Daniel Pendlebury, Product Manager at AusNet.

AusNet envisions ML classification models playing a significant role in driving efficiencies across their network operations. By expanding their automatic classification libraries with new segmentation models, AusNet can utilize vast datasets more productively to ensure the safe, reliable supply of energy to communities throughout Victoria.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Sergiy Redko, Claire Burrows, William Manahan, Sahil Deshpande, Ross King, and Damian Bisignano of AusNet for their involvement in the project and bringing their domain expertise on LiDAR datasets and ML training using different ML algorithms.

Amazon ML Solutions Lab

Amazon ML Solutions Lab pairs your team with ML experts to help you identify and implement your organization’s highest-value ML opportunities. If you’d like help with accelerating your use of ML in your products and processes, please contact the Amazon ML Solutions Lab.

About the Authors

Daniel Pendlebury is a Product Manager at AusNet Services specializing in the provision of innovative, automated compliance products to utilities in the Vegetation Management and Asset Maintenance areas.

Nathanael Weldon is a geospatial software developer at Ausnet Services. He specializes in building and tuning large-scale geospatial data processing systems, with experience across the utilities, resources and environmental sectors.

David Motamed is an Account Manager at Amazon Web Services. Based in Melbourne, Australia, he helps enterprise customers succeed along their digital transformation journeys.

Simon Johnston is an AI leader and is responsible for the Amazon Web Services AI/ML business across Australia and New Zealand, specializing in AI strategy and economics. 20+ years research, management and consulting experience (US, EU, APAC) covering a range of innovative, industry-led research and commercialization AI ventures – engaging across start-ups / SMEs / large corps, and the wider ecosystem.

Derrick Choo is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. He is based in Melbourne, Australia and works closely with enterprise customers to accelerate their journey in the cloud. He is passionate in helping customers create value through innovation and building scalable applications and has a particular interest in AI and ML.

Muhyun Kim is a data scientist at Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab. He solves customer’s various business problems by applying machine learning and deep learning, and also helps them gets skilled.

Sujoy Roy is a scientist with the Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab with 20+ years of academic and industry experience building and deploying ML based solutions for business problems. He has applied machine learning to solve customer problems in industries like telco, media and entertainment, AdTech, remote sensing, retail and manufacturing.

Jiyang Kang is a Senior Deep Learning Architect at Amazon ML Solutions Lab, where he helps AWS customers across multiple industries with AI and cloud adoption. Prior to joining the Amazon ML Solutions Lab, he worked as a Solutions Architect for one of AWS’ most advanced enterprise customers, designing various global scale cloud workloads on AWS. He previously worked as a software developer and system architect for companies such as Samsung Electronics in industries such as semiconductors, networking, and telecommunications.

Eden Duthie is the lead of the Reinforcement Learning Professional Services team at AWS. Eden is passionate about developing decision making solutions for customers. He is especially interested in helping industrial customers with a strong focus on supply chain optimization.



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Secure Amazon SageMaker Studio presigned URLs Part 2: Private API with JWT authentication

In part 1 of this series, we demonstrated how to resolve an Amazon SageMaker Studio presigned URL from a corporate network using Amazon private VPC endpoints without traversing the internet. In this post, we will continue to build on top of the previous solution to demonstrate how to build a private API Gateway via Amazon API…

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In part 1 of this series, we demonstrated how to resolve an Amazon SageMaker Studio presigned URL from a corporate network using Amazon private VPC endpoints without traversing the internet. In this post, we will continue to build on top of the previous solution to demonstrate how to build a private API Gateway via Amazon API Gateway as a proxy interface to generate and access Amazon SageMaker presigned URLs. Furthermore, we add an additional guardrail to ensure presigned URLs are only generated and accessed for the authenticated end-user within the corporate network.

Solution overview

The following diagram illustrates the architecture of the solution.

The process includes the following steps:

  1. In the Amazon Cognito user pool, first set up a user with the name matching their Studio user profile and register Studio as the app client in the user pool.
  2. The user federates from their corporate identity provider (IdP) and authenticates with the Amazon Cognito user pool for accessing Studio.
  3. Amazon Cognito returns a token to the user authorizing access to the Studio application.
  4. The user invokes createStudioPresignedUrl API on API Gateway along with a token in the header.
  5. API Gateway invokes a custom AWS Lambda authorizer and validates the token.
  6. When the token is valid, Amazon Cognito returns an access grant policy with studio user profile id to API Gateway.
  7. API Gateway invokes the createStudioPresignedUrl Lambda function for creating the studio presigned url.
  8. The createStudioPresignedUrl function creates a presigned URL using the SageMaker API VPC endpoint and returns to caller.
  9. User accesses the presigned URL from their corporate network that resolves over the Studio VPC endpoint.
  10. The function’s AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policy makes sure that the presigned URL creation and access are performed via VPC endpoints.

The following sections walk you through solution deployment, configuration, and validation for the API Gateway private API for creating and resolving a Studio presigned URL from a corporate network using VPC endpoints.

  1. Deploy the solution
  2. Configure the Amazon Cognito user
  3. Authenticating the private API for the presigned URL using a JSON Web Token
  4. Configure the corporate DNS server for accessing the private API
  5. Test the API Gateway private API for a presigned URL from the corporate network
  6. Pre-Signed URL Lambda Auth Policy
  7. Cleanup

Deploy the solution

You can deploy the solution through either the AWS Management Console or the AWS Serverless Application Model (AWS SAM).

To deploy the solution via the console, launch the following AWS CloudFormation template in your account by choosing Launch Stack. It takes approximately 10 minutes for the CloudFormation stack to complete.

To deploy the solution using AWS SAM, you can find the latest code in the aws-samples GitHub repository, where you can also contribute to the sample code. The following commands show how to deploy the solution using the AWS SAM CLI. If not currently installed, install the AWS SAM CLI.

  1. Clone the repository at https://github.com/aws-samples/secure-sagemaker-studio-presigned-url.
  2. After you clone the repo, navigate to the source and run the following code:

Configure the Amazon Cognito user

To configure your Amazon Cognito user, complete the following steps:

  1. Create an Amazon Cognito user with the same name as a SageMaker user profile: aws cognito-idp admin-create-user –user-pool-id –username
  2. Set the user password: aws cognito-idp admin-set-user-password –user-pool-id –username –password –permanent
  3. Get an access token: aws cognito-idp initiate-auth –auth-flow USER_PASSWORD_AUTH –client-id –auth-parameters USERNAME=,PASSWORD=

Authenticating the private API for the presigned URL using a JSON Web Token

When you deployed a private API for creating a SageMaker presigned URL, you added a guardrail to restrict access to access the presigned URL by anyone outside the corporate network and VPC endpoint. However, without implementing another control to the private API within the corporate network, any internal user within the corporate network would be able to pass unauthenticated parameters for the SageMaker user profile and access any SageMaker app.

To mitigate this issue, we propose passing a JSON Web Token (JWT) for the authenticated caller to the API Gateway and validating that token with a JWT authorizer. There are multiple options for implementing an authorizer for the private API Gateway, using either a custom Lambda authorizer or Amazon Cognito.

With a custom Lambda authorizer, you can embed a SageMaker user profile name in the returned policy. This prevents any users within the corporate network from being able to send any SageMaker user profile name for creating a presigned URL that they’re not authorized to create. We use Amazon Cognito to generate our tokens and a custom Lambda authorizer to validate and return the appropriate policy. For more information, refer to Building fine-grained authorization using Amazon Cognito, API Gateway, and IAM. The Lambda authorizer uses the Amazon Cognito user name as the user profile name.

If you’re unable to use Amazon Cognito, you can develop a custom application to authenticate and pass end-user tokens to the Lambda authorizer. For more information, refer to Use API Gateway Lambda authorizers.

Configure the corporate DNS server for accessing the private API

To configure your corporate DNS server, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) console, choose your on-premises DNSA EC2 instance and connect via Systems Manager Session Manager.
  2. Add a zone record in the /etc/named.conf file for resolving to the API Gateway’s DNS name via your Amazon Route 53 inbound resolver, as shown in the following code: zone “zxgua515ef.execute-api..amazonaws.com” { type forward; forward only; forwarders { 10.16.43.122; 10.16.102.163; }; };
  3. Restart the named service using the following command: sudo service named restart

Validate requesting a presigned URL from the API Gateway private API for authorized users

In a real-world scenario, you would implement a front-end interface that would pass the appropriate Authorization headers for authenticated and authorized resources using either a custom solution or leverage AWS Amplify. For brevity of this blog post, the following steps leverages Postman to quickly validate the solution we deployed actually restricts requesting the presigned URL for an internal user, unless authorized to do so.

To validate the solution with Postman, complete the following steps:

  1. Install Postman on the WINAPP EC2 instance. See instructions here
  2. Open Postman and add the access token to your Authorization header: Authorization: Bearer
  3. Modify the API Gateway URL to access it from your internal EC2 instance:
    1. Add the VPC endpoint into your API Gateway URL: https://.execute-api..amazonaws.com/dev/EMPLOYEE_ID
    2. Add the Host header with a value of your API Gateway URL: .execute-api..amazonaws.com
    3. First, change the EMPLOYEE_ID to your Amazon Cognito user and SageMaker user profile name. Make sure you receive an authorized presigned URL.
    4. Then change the EMPLOYEE_ID to a user that is not yours and make sure you receive an access failure.
  4. On the Amazon EC2 console, choose your on-premises WINAPP instance and connect via your RDP client.
  5. Open a Chrome browser and navigate to your authorized presigned URL to launch Studio.

Studio is launched over VPC endpoint with remote address as the Studio VPC endpoint IP.

If the presigned URL is accessed outside of the corporate network, the resolution fails because the IAM policy condition for the presigned URL enforces creation and access from a VPC endpoint.

Pre-Signed URL Lambda Auth Policy

Above solution created the following Auth Policy for the Lambda that generated Pre-Signed URL for accessing SageMaker Studio.

{ “Version”: “2012-10-17”, “Statement”: [ { “Condition”: { “IpAddress”: { “aws:VpcSourceIp”: “10.16.0.0/16” } }, “Action”: “sagemaker:CreatePresignedDomainUrl”, “Resource”: “arn:aws:sagemaker:::user-profile/*/*”, “Effect”: “Allow” }, { “Condition”: { “IpAddress”: { “aws:SourceIp”: “192.168.10.0/24” } }, “Action”: “sagemaker:CreatePresignedDomainUrl”, “Resource”: “arn:aws:sagemaker:::user-profile/*/*”, “Effect”: “Allow” }, { “Condition”: { “StringEquals”: { “aws:sourceVpce”: [ “vpce-sm-api-xx”, “vpce-sm-api-yy” ] } }, “Action”: “sagemaker:CreatePresignedDomainUrl”, “Resource”: “arn:aws:sagemaker:::user-profile/*/*”, “Effect”: “Allow” } ] }

The above policy enforces Studio pre-signed URL is both generated and accessed via one of these three entrypoints:

  1. aws:VpcSourceIp as your AWS VPC CIDR
  2. aws:SourceIp as your corporate network CIDR
  3. aws:sourceVpce as your SageMaker API VPC endpoints

Cleanup

To avoid incurring ongoing charges, delete the CloudFormation stacks you created. Alternatively, if you deployed the solution using SAM, you need to authenticate to the AWS account the solution was deployed and run sam delete.

Conclusion

In this post, we demonstrated how to access Studio using a private API Gateway from a corporate network using Amazon private VPC endpoints, preventing access to presigned URLs outside the corporate network, and securing the API Gateway with a JWT authorizer using Amazon Cognito and custom Lambda authorizers.

Try out with this solution and experiment integrating this with your corporate portal, and leave your feedback in the comments!

About the Authors

Ram Vittal is a machine learning solutions architect at AWS. He has over 20+ years of experience architecting and building distributed, hybrid and cloud applications. He is passionate about building secure and scalable AI/ML and Big Data solutions to help enterprise customers with their cloud adoption and optimization journey to improve their business outcomes. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis, photography, and action movies.

Jonathan Nguyen is a Shared Delivery Team Senior Security Consultant at AWS. His background is in AWS Security with a focus on Threat Detection and Incident Response. Today, he helps enterprise customers develop a comprehensive AWS Security strategy, deploy security solutions at scale, and train customers on AWS Security best practices.

Chris Childers is a Cloud Infrastructure Architect in Professional Services at AWS. He works with AWS customers to design and automate their cloud infrastructure and improve their adoption of DevOps culture and processes.



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Secure Amazon SageMaker Studio presigned URLs Part 1: Foundational infrastructure

You can access Amazon SageMaker Studio notebooks from the Amazon SageMaker console via AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) authenticated federation from your identity provider (IdP), such as Okta. When a Studio user opens the notebook link, Studio validates the federated user’s IAM policy to authorize access, and generates and resolves the presigned URL for…

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You can access Amazon SageMaker Studio notebooks from the Amazon SageMaker console via AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) authenticated federation from your identity provider (IdP), such as Okta. When a Studio user opens the notebook link, Studio validates the federated user’s IAM policy to authorize access, and generates and resolves the presigned URL for the user. Because the SageMaker console runs on an internet domain, this generated presigned URL is visible in the browser session. This presents an undesired threat vector for exfiltration and gaining access to customer data when proper access controls are not enforced.

Studio supports a few methods for enforcing access controls against presigned URL data exfiltration:

  • Client IP validation using the IAM policy condition aws:sourceIp
  • Client VPC validation using the IAM condition aws:sourceVpc
  • Client VPC endpoint validation using the IAM policy condition aws:sourceVpce

When you access Studio notebooks from the SageMaker console, the only available option is to use client IP validation with the IAM policy condition aws:sourceIp. However, you can use browser traffic routing products such as Zscaler to ensure scale and compliance for your workforce internet access. These traffic routing products generate their own source IP, whose IP range is not controlled by the enterprise customer. This makes it impossible for these enterprise customers to use the aws:sourceIp condition.

To use client VPC endpoint validation using the IAM policy condition aws:sourceVpce, the creation of a presigned URL needs to originate in the same customer VPC where Studio is deployed, and resolution of the presigned URL needs to happen via a Studio VPC endpoint on the customer VPC. This resolution of the presigned URL during access time for corporate network users can be accomplished using DNS forwarding rules (both in Zscaler and corporate DNS) and then into the customer VPC endpoint using an AWS Route 53 inbound resolver.

In this part, we discuss the overarching architecture for securing studio pre-signed url and demonstrate how to set up the foundational infrastructure to create and launch a Studio presigned URL through your VPC endpoint over a private network without traversing the internet. This serves as the foundational layer for preventing data exfiltration by external bad actors gaining access to Studio pre-signed URL and unauthorized or spoofed corporate user access within a corporate environment.

Solution overview

The following diagram illustrates over-arching solution architecture.

The process includes the following steps:

  1. A corporate user authenticates via their IdP, connects to their corporate portal, and opens the Studio link from the corporate portal.
  2. The corporate portal application makes a private API call using an API Gateway VPC endpoint to create a presigned URL.
  3. The API Gateway VPC endpoint “create presigned URL” call is forwarded to the Route 53 inbound resolver on the customer VPC as configured in the corporate DNS.
  4. The VPC DNS resolver resolves it to the API Gateway VPC endpoint IP. Optionally, it looks up a private hosted zone record if it exists.
  5. The API Gateway VPC endpoint routes the request via the Amazon private network to the “create presigned URL API” running in the API Gateway service account.
  6. API Gateway invokes the create-pre-signedURL private API and proxies the request to the create-pre-signedURL Lambda function.
  7. The create-pre-signedURL Lambda call is invoked via the Lambda VPC endpoint.
  8. The create-pre-signedURL function runs in the service account, retrieves authenticated user context (user ID, Region, and so on), looks up a mapping table to identify the SageMaker domain and user profile identifier, makes a sagemaker createpre-signedDomainURL API call, and generates a presigned URL. The Lambda service role has the source VPC endpoint conditions defined for the SageMaker API and Studio.
  9. The generated presigned URL is resolved over the Studio VPC endpoint.
  10. Studio validates that the presigned URL is being accessed via the customer’s VPC endpoint defined in the policy, and returns the result.
  11. The Studio notebook is returned to the user’s browser session over the corporate network without traversing the internet.

The following sections walk you through how to implement this architecture to resolve Studio presigned URLs from a corporate network using VPC endpoints. We demonstrate a complete implementation by showing the following steps:

  1. Set up the foundational architecture.
  2. Configure the corporate app server to access a SageMaker presigned URL via a VPC endpoint.
  3. Set up and launch Studio from the corporate network.

Set up the foundational architecture

In the post Access an Amazon SageMaker Studio notebook from a corporate network, we demonstrated how to resolve a presigned URL domain name for a Studio notebook from a corporate network without traversing the internet. You can follow the instructions in that post to set up the foundational architecture, and then return to this post and proceed to the next step.

Configure the corporate app server to access a SageMaker presigned URL via a VPC endpoint

To enable accessing Studio from your internet browser, we set up an on-premises app server on Windows Server on the on-premises VPC public subnet. However, the DNS queries for accessing Studio are routed through the corporate (private) network. Complete the following steps to configure routing Studio traffic through the corporate network:

  1. Connect to your on-premises Windows app server.

  2. Choose Get Password then browse and upload your private key to decrypt your password.
  3. Use an RDP client and connect to the Windows Server using your credentials.
    Resolving Studio DNS from the Windows Server command prompt results in using public DNS servers, as shown in the following screenshot.
    Now we update Windows Server to use the on-premises DNS server that we set up earlier.
  4. Navigate to Control Panel, Network and Internet, and choose Network Connections.
  5. Right-click Ethernet and choose the Properties tab.
  6. Update Windows Server to use the on-premises DNS server.
  7. Now you update your preferred DNS server with your DNS server IP.
  8. Navigate to VPC and Route Tables and choose your STUDIO-ONPREM-PUBLIC-RT route table.
  9. Add a route to 10.16.0.0/16 with the target as the peering connection that we created during the foundational architecture setup.

Set up and launch Studio from your corporate network

To set up and launch Studio, complete the following steps:

  1. Download Chrome and launch the browser on this Windows instance.
    You may need to turn off Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration to allow file downloads and then enable file downloads.
  2. In your local device Chrome browser, navigate to the SageMaker console and open the Chrome developer tools Network tab.
  3. Launch the Studio app and observe the Network tab for the authtokenparameter value, which includes the generated presigned URL along with the remote server address that the URL is routed to for resolution.In this example, the remote address 100.21.12.108 is one of the public DNS server addresses to resolve the SageMaker DNS domain name d-h4cy01pxticj.studio.us-west-2.sagemaker.aws.
  4. Repeat these steps from the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Windows instance that you configured as part of the foundational architecture.

We can observe that the remote address is not the public DNS IP, instead it’s the Studio VPC endpoint 10.16.42.74.

Conclusion

In this post, we demonstrated how to resolve a Studio presigned URL from a corporate network using Amazon private VPC endpoints without exposing the presigned URL resolution to the internet. This further secures your enterprise security posture for accessing Studio from a corporate network for building highly secure machine learning workloads on SageMaker. In part 2 of this series, we further extend this solution to demonstrate how to build a private API for accessing Studio with aws:sourceVPCE IAM policy validation and token authentication. Try out this solution and leave your feedback in the comments!

About the Authors

Ram Vittal is a machine learning solutions architect at AWS. He has over 20+ years of experience architecting and building distributed, hybrid and cloud applications. He is passionate about building secure and scalable AI/ML and Big Data solutions to help enterprise customers with their cloud adoption and optimization journey to improve their business outcomes. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis and photography.

Neelam Koshiya is an enterprise solution architect at AWS. Her current focus is to help enterprise customers with their cloud adoption journey for strategic business outcomes. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and being outdoors.



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Use a custom image to bring your own development environment to RStudio on Amazon SageMaker

RStudio on Amazon SageMaker is the industry’s first fully managed RStudio Workbench in cloud. You can quickly launch the familiar RStudio integrated development environment (IDE), and dial up and down the underlying compute resources without interrupting your work, making it easy to build machine learning (ML) and analytics solutions in R at scale. RStudio on…

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RStudio on Amazon SageMaker is the industry’s first fully managed RStudio Workbench in cloud. You can quickly launch the familiar RStudio integrated development environment (IDE), and dial up and down the underlying compute resources without interrupting your work, making it easy to build machine learning (ML) and analytics solutions in R at scale. RStudio on SageMaker already comes with a built-in image preconfigured with R programming and data science tools; however, you often need to customize your IDE environment. Starting today, you can bring your own custom image with packages and tools of your choice, and make them available to all the users of RStudio on SageMaker in a few clicks.

Bringing your own custom image has several benefits. You can standardize and simplify the getting started experience for data scientists and developers by providing a starter image, preconfigure the drivers required for connecting to data stores, or pre-install specialized data science software for your business domain. Furthermore, organizations that have previously hosted their own RStudio Workbench may have existing containerized environments that they want to continue to use in RStudio on SageMaker.

In this post, we share step-by-step instructions to create a custom image and bring it to RStudio on SageMaker using the AWS Management Console or AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI). You can get your first custom IDE environment up and running in few simple steps. For more information on the content discussed in this post, refer to Bring your own RStudio image.

Solution overview

When a data scientist starts a new session in RStudio on SageMaker, a new on-demand ML compute instance is provisioned and a container image that defines the runtime environment (operating system, libraries, R versions, and so on) is run on the ML instance. You can provide your data scientists multiple choices for the runtime environment by creating custom container images and making them available on the RStudio Workbench launcher, as shown in the following screenshot.

The following diagram describes the process to bring your custom image. First you build a custom container image from a Dockerfile and push it to a repository in Amazon Elastic Container Registry (Amazon ECR). Next, you create a SageMaker image that points to the container image in Amazon ECR, and attach that image to your SageMaker domain. This makes the custom image available for launching a new session in RStudio.

Prerequisites

To implement this solution, you must have the following prerequisites:

We provide more details on each in this section.

RStudio on SageMaker domain

If you have an existing SageMaker domain with RStudio enabled prior to April 7, 2022, you must delete and recreate the RStudioServerPro app under the user profile name domain-shared to get the latest updates for bring your own custom image capability. The AWS CLI commands are as follows. Note that this action interrupts RStudio users on SageMaker.

aws sagemaker delete-app –domain-id –app-type RStudioServerPro –app-name default –user-profile-name domain-shared aws sagemaker create-app –domain-id –app-type RStudioServerPro –app-name default –user-profile-name domain-shared

If this is your first time using RStudio on SageMaker, follow the step-by-step setup process described in Get started with RStudio on Amazon SageMaker, or run the following AWS CloudFormation template to set up your first RStudio on SageMaker domain. If you already have a working RStudio on SageMaker domain, you can skip this step.

The following RStudio on SageMaker CloudFormation template requires an RStudio license approved through AWS License Manager. For more about licensing, refer to RStudio license. Also note that only one SageMaker domain is permitted per AWS Region, so you’ll need to use an AWS account and Region that doesn’t have an existing domain.

  1. Choose Launch Stack.
    Launch stack button
    The link takes you to the us-east-1 Region, but you can change to your preferred Region.
  2. In the Specify template section, choose Next.
  3. In the Specify stack details section, for Stack name, enter a name.
  4. For Parameters, enter a SageMaker user profile name.
  5. Choose Next.
  6. In the Configure stack options section, choose Next.
  7. In the Review section, select I acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources and choose Next.
  8. When the stack status changes to CREATE_COMPLETE, go to the Control Panel on the SageMaker console to find the domain and the new user.

IAM policies to interact with Amazon ECR

To interact with your private Amazon ECR repositories, you need the following IAM permissions in the IAM user or role you’ll use to build and push Docker images:

{ “Version”:”2012-10-17″, “Statement”:[ { “Sid”: “VisualEditor0”, “Effect”:”Allow”, “Action”:[ “ecr:CreateRepository”, “ecr:BatchGetImage”, “ecr:CompleteLayerUpload”, “ecr:DescribeImages”, “ecr:DescribeRepositories”, “ecr:UploadLayerPart”, “ecr:ListImages”, “ecr:InitiateLayerUpload”, “ecr:BatchCheckLayerAvailability”, “ecr:PutImage” ], “Resource”: “*” } ] }

To initially build from a public Amazon ECR image as shown in this post, you need to attach the AWS-managed AmazonElasticContainerRegistryPublicReadOnly policy to your IAM user or role as well.

To build a Docker container image, you can use either a local Docker client or the SageMaker Docker Build CLI tool from a terminal within RStudio on SageMaker. For the latter, follow the prerequisites in Using the Amazon SageMaker Studio Image Build CLI to build container images from your Studio notebooks to set up the IAM permissions and CLI tool.

AWS CLI versions

There are minimum version requirements for the AWS CLI tool to run the commands mentioned in this post. Make sure to upgrade AWS CLI on your terminal of choice:

  • AWS CLI v1 >= 1.23.6
  • AWS CLI v2 >= 2.6.2

Prepare a Dockerfile

You can customize your runtime environment in RStudio in a Dockerfile. Because the customization depends on your use case and requirements, we show you the essentials and the most common customizations in this example. You can download the full sample Dockerfile.

Install RStudio Workbench session components

The most important software to install in your custom container image is RStudio Workbench. We download from the public S3 bucket hosted by RStudio PBC. There are many version releases and OS distributions for use. The version of the installation needs to be compatible with the RStudio Workbench version used in RStudio on SageMaker, which is 1.4.1717-3 at the time of writing. The OS (argument OS in the following snippet) needs to match the base OS used in the container image. In our sample Dockerfile, the base image we use is Amazon Linux 2 from an AWS-managed public Amazon ECR repository. The compatible RStudio Workbench OS is centos7.

FROM public.ecr.aws/amazonlinux/amazonlinux … ARG RSW_VERSION=1.4.1717-3 ARG RSW_NAME=rstudio-workbench-rhel ARG OS=centos7 ARG RSW_DOWNLOAD_URL=https://s3.amazonaws.com/rstudio-ide-build/server/${OS}/x86_64 RUN RSW_VERSION_URL=`echo -n “${RSW_VERSION}” | sed ‘s/+/-/g’` && curl -o rstudio-workbench.rpm ${RSW_DOWNLOAD_URL}/${RSW_NAME}-${RSW_VERSION_URL}-x86_64.rpm && yum install -y rstudio-workbench.rpm

You can find all the OS release options with the following command:

aws s3 ls s3://rstudio-ide-build/server/

Install R (and versions of R)

The runtime for your custom RStudio container image needs at least one version of R. We can first install a version of R and make it the default R by creating soft links to /usr/local/bin/:

# Install main R version ARG R_VERSION=4.1.3 RUN curl -O https://cdn.rstudio.com/r/centos-7/pkgs/R-${R_VERSION}-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum install -y R-${R_VERSION}-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum clean all && rm -rf R-${R_VERSION}-1-1.x86_64.rpm RUN ln -s /opt/R/${R_VERSION}/bin/R /usr/local/bin/R && ln -s /opt/R/${R_VERSION}/bin/Rscript /usr/local/bin/Rscript

Data scientists often need multiple versions of R so that they can easily switch between projects and code base. RStudio on SageMaker supports easy switching between R versions, as shown in the following screenshot.

RStudio on SageMaker automatically scans and discovers versions of R in the following directories:

/usr/lib/R /usr/lib64/R /usr/local/lib/R /usr/local/lib64/R /opt/local/lib/R /opt/local/lib64/R /opt/R/* /opt/local/R/*

We can install more versions in the container image, as shown in the following snippet. They will be installed in /opt/R/.

RUN curl -O https://cdn.rstudio.com/r/centos-7/pkgs/R-4.0.5-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum install -y R-4.0.5-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum clean all && rm -rf R-4.0.5-1-1.x86_64.rpm RUN curl -O https://cdn.rstudio.com/r/centos-7/pkgs/R-3.6.3-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum install -y R-3.6.3-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum clean all && rm -rf R-3.6.3-1-1.x86_64.rpm RUN curl -O https://cdn.rstudio.com/r/centos-7/pkgs/R-3.5.3-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum install -y R-3.5.3-1-1.x86_64.rpm && yum clean all && rm -rf R-3.5.3-1-1.x86_64.rpm

Install RStudio Professional Drivers

Data scientists often need to access data from sources such as Amazon Athena and Amazon Redshift within RStudio on SageMaker. You can do so using RStudio Professional Drivers and RStudio Connections. Make sure you install the relevant libraries and drivers as shown in the following snippet:

# Install RStudio Professional Drivers —————————————-# RUN yum update -y && yum install -y unixODBC unixODBC-devel && yum clean all ARG DRIVERS_VERSION=2021.10.0-1 RUN curl -O https://drivers.rstudio.org/7C152C12/installer/rstudio-drivers-${DRIVERS_VERSION}.el7.x86_64.rpm && yum install -y rstudio-drivers-${DRIVERS_VERSION}.el7.x86_64.rpm && yum clean all && rm -f rstudio-drivers-${DRIVERS_VERSION}.el7.x86_64.rpm && cp /opt/rstudio-drivers/odbcinst.ini.sample /etc/odbcinst.ini RUN /opt/R/${R_VERSION}/bin/R -e ‘install.packages(“odbc”, repos=”https://packagemanager.rstudio.com/cran/__linux__/centos7/latest”)’

Install custom libraries

You can also install additional R and Python libraries so that data scientists don’t need to install them on the fly:

RUN /opt/R/${R_VERSION}/bin/R -e “install.packages(c(‘reticulate’, ‘readr’, ‘curl’, ‘ggplot2’, ‘dplyr’, ‘stringr’, ‘fable’, ‘tsibble’, ‘dplyr’, ‘feasts’, ‘remotes’, ‘urca’, ‘sodium’, ‘plumber’, ‘jsonlite’), repos=’https://packagemanager.rstudio.com/cran/__linux__/centos7/latest’)” RUN /opt/python/${PYTHON_VERSION}/bin/pip install –upgrade ‘boto3>1.0<2.0' 'awscli>1.0<2.0' 'sagemaker[local]<3' 'sagemaker-studio-image-build' 'numpy'

When you’ve finished your customization in a Dockerfile, it’s time to build a container image and push it to Amazon ECR.

Build and push to Amazon ECR

You can build a container image from the Dockerfile from a terminal where the Docker engine is installed, such as your local terminal or AWS Cloud9. If you’re building it from a terminal within RStudio on SageMaker, you can use SageMaker Studio Image Build. We demonstrate the steps for both approaches.

In a local terminal where the Docker engine is present, you can run the following commands from where the Dockerfile is. You can use the sample script create-and-update-image.sh.

IMAGE_NAME=r-4.1.3-rstudio-1.4.1717-3 # the name for SageMaker Image REPO=rstudio-custom # ECR repository name TAG=$IMAGE_NAME # login to your Amazon ECR aws ecr get-login-password | docker login –username AWS –password-stdin ${ACCOUNT_ID}.dkr.ecr.${REGION}.amazonaws.com # create a repo aws ecr create-repository –repository-name ${REPO} # build a docker image and push it to the repo docker build . -t ${REPO}:${TAG} -t ${ACCOUNT_ID}.dkr.ecr.${REGION}.amazonaws.com/${REPO}:${TAG} docker push ${ACCOUNT_ID}.dkr.ecr.${REGION}.amazonaws.com/${REPO}:${TAG}

In a terminal on RStudio on SageMaker, run the following commands:

pip install sagemaker-studio-image-build sm-docker build . –repository ${REPO}:${IMAGE_NAME}

After these commands, you have a repository and a Docker container image in Amazon ECR for our next step, in which we attach the container image for use in RStudio on SageMaker. Note the image URI in Amazon ECR .dkr.ecr..amazonaws.com/: for later use.

Update RStudio on SageMaker through the console

RStudio on SageMaker allows runtime customization through the use of a custom SageMaker image. A SageMaker image is a holder for a set of SageMaker image versions. Each image version represents a container image that is compatible with RStudio on SageMaker and stored in an Amazon ECR repository. To make a custom SageMaker image available to all RStudio users within a domain, you can attach the image to the domain following the steps in this section.

  1. On the SageMaker console, navigate to the Custom SageMaker Studio images attached to domain page, and choose Attach image.
  2. Select New image, and enter your Amazon ECR image URI.
  3. Choose Next.
  4. In the Image properties section, provide an Image name (required), Image display name (optional), Description (optional), IAM role, and tags.
    The image display name, if provided, is shown in the session launcher in RStudio on SageMaker. If the Image display name field is left empty, the image name is shown in RStudio on SageMaker instead.
  5. Leave EFS mount path and Advanced configuration (User ID and Group ID) as default because RStudio on SageMaker manages the configuration for us.
  6. In the Image type section, select RStudio image.
  7. Choose Submit.

You can now see a new entry in the list. It’s worth noting that, with the introduction of the support of custom RStudio images, you can see a new Usage type column in the table to denote whether an image is an RStudio image or an Amazon SageMaker Studio image.

It may take up to 5–10 minutes for the custom images to be available in the session launcher UI. You can then launch a new R session in RStudio on SageMaker with your custom images.

Over time, you may want to retire old and outdated images. To remove the custom images from the list of custom images in RStudio, select the images in the list and choose Detach.

Choose Detach again to confirm.

Update RStudio on SageMaker via the AWS CLI

The following sections describe the steps to create a SageMaker image and attach it for use in RStudio on SageMaker on the SageMaker console and using the AWS CLI. You can use the sample script create-and-update-image.sh.

Create the SageMaker image and image version

The first step is to create a SageMaker image from the custom container image in Amazon ECR by running the following two commands:

ROLE_ARN= DISPLAY_NAME=RSession-r-4.1.3-rstudio-1.4.1717-3 aws sagemaker create-image –image-name ${IMAGE_NAME} –display-name ${DISPLAY_NAME} –role-arn ${ROLE_ARN} aws sagemaker create-image-version –image-name ${IMAGE_NAME} –base-image “${ACCOUNT_ID}.dkr.ecr.${REGION}.amazonaws.com/${REPO}:${TAG}”

Note that the custom image displayed in the session launcher in RStudio on SageMaker is determined by the input of –display-name. If the optional display name is not provided, the input of –image-name is used instead. Also note that the IAM role allows SageMaker to attach an Amazon ECR image to RStudio on SageMaker.

Create an AppImageConfig

In addition to a SageMaker image, which captures the image URI from Amazon ECR, an app image configuration (AppImageConfig) is required for use in a SageMaker domain. We simplify the configuration for an RSessionApp image so we can just create a placeholder configuration with the following command:

IMAGE_CONFIG_NAME=r-4-1-3-rstudio-1-4-1717-3 aws sagemaker create-app-image-config –app-image-config-name ${IMAGE_CONFIG_NAME}

Attach to a SageMaker domain

With the SageMaker image and the app image configuration created, we’re ready to attach the custom container image to the SageMaker domain. To make a custom SageMaker image available to all RStudio users within a domain, you attach the image to the domain as a default user setting. All existing users and any new users will be able to use the custom image.

For better readability, we place the following configuration into the JSON file default-user-settings.json:

“DefaultUserSettings”: { “RSessionAppSettings”: { “CustomImages”: [ { “ImageName”: “r-4.1.3-rstudio-2022”, “AppImageConfigName”: “r-4-1-3-rstudio-2022” }, { “ImageName”: “r-4.1.3-rstudio-1.4.1717-3”, “AppImageConfigName”: “r-4-1-3-rstudio-1-4-1717-3” } ] } } }

In this file, we can specify the image and AppImageConfig name pairs in a list in DefaultUserSettings.RSessionAppSettings.CustomImages. This preceding snippet assumes two custom images are being created.

Then run the following command to update the SageMaker domain:

aws sagemaker update-domain –domain-id –cli-input-json file://default-user-settings.json

After you update the domaim, it may take up to 5–10 minutes for the custom images to be available in the session launcher UI. You can then launch a new R session in RStudio on SageMaker with your custom images.

Detach images from a SageMaker domain

You can detach images simply by removing the ImageName and AppImageConfigName pairs from default-user-settings.json and updating the domain.

For example, updating the domain with the following default-user-settings.json removes r-4.1.3-rstudio-2022 from the R session launching UI and leaves r-4.1.3-rstudio-1.4.1717-3 as the only custom image available to all users in a domain:

{ “DefaultUserSettings”: { “RSessionAppSettings”: { “CustomImages”: [ { “ImageName”: “r-4.1.3-rstudio-1.4.1717-3”, “AppImageConfigName”: “r-4-1-3-rstudio-1-4-1717-3” } ] } } }

Clean up

To safely remove images and resources in the SageMaker domain, complete the following steps in Clean up image resources.

To safely remove the RStudio on SageMaker and the SageMaker domain, complete the following steps in Delete an Amazon SageMaker Domain to delete any RSessionGateway app, user profile and the domain.

To safely remove images and repositories in Amazon ECR, complete the following steps in Deleting an image.

Finally, to delete the CloudFormation template:

  1. On the AWS CloudFormation console, choose Stacks.
  2. Select the stack you deployed for this solution.
  3. Choose Delete.

Conclusion

RStudio on SageMaker makes it simple for data scientists to build ML and analytic solutions in R at scale, and for administrators to manage a robust data science environment for their developers. Data scientists want to customize the environment so that they can use the right libraries for the right job and achieve the desired reproducibility for each ML project. Administrators need to standardize the data science environment for regulatory and security reasons. You can now create custom container images that meet your organizational requirements and allow data scientists to use them in RStudio on SageMaker.

We encourage you to try it out. Happy developing!

About the Authors

Michael Hsieh is a Senior AI/ML Specialist Solutions Architect. He works with customers to advance their ML journey with a combination of AWS ML offerings and his ML domain knowledge. As a Seattle transplant, he loves exploring the great Mother Nature the city has to offer, such as the hiking trails, scenery kayaking in the SLU, and the sunset at Shilshole Bay.

Declan Kelly is a Software Engineer on the Amazon SageMaker Studio team. He has been working on Amazon SageMaker Studio since its launch at AWS re:Invent 2019. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking and climbing.

Sean MorganSean Morgan is an AI/ML Solutions Architect at AWS. He has experience in the semiconductor and academic research fields, and uses his experience to help customers reach their goals on AWS. In his free time, Sean is an active open-source contributor and maintainer, and is the special interest group lead for TensorFlow Add-ons.



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