This post was co-written by Marius Cealera, Senior Partner Solutions Architect at AWS, Zdenko Estok, Cloud Architect at Accenture and Sakar Selimcan, Cloud Architect at Accenture.
Machine learning (ML) is a high-stakes business priority, with companies spending $306 billion on ML applications in the past 3 years. According to Accenture, companies that scale ML across a business can achieve nearly triple the return on their investments. But too many companies aren’t achieving the value they expected. Scaling ML effectively for the long term requires the professionalization of the industry and the democratization of ML literacy across the enterprise. This requires more accessible ML training, speaking to a larger number of people with diverse backgrounds.
This post shows how companies can introduce hundreds of employees to ML concepts by easily running AWS DeepRacer events at scale.
Run AWS DeepRacer events at scale
AWS DeepRacer is a simple and fun way to get started with reinforcement learning (RL), an ML technique where an agent, such as a physical or virtual AWS DeepRacer vehicle, discovers the optimal actions to take in a given environment. You can get started with RL quickly with hands-on tutorials that guide you through the basics of training RL models and testing them in an exciting, autonomous car racing experience.
“We found the user-friendly nature of DeepRacer allowed our enablement sessions to reach parts of our organizations that are usually less inclined to participate in AI/ML events,” says Zdenko Estok, a Cloud Architect at Accenture. “Our post-event statistics indicate that up to 75% of all participants to DeepRacer events are new to AI/ML and 50% are new to AWS.”
Until recently, organizations hosting private AWS DeepRacer events had to create and assign AWS accounts to every event participant. This often meant securing and monitoring usage across hundreds or even thousands of AWS accounts. The setup and participant onboarding was cumbersome and time-consuming, often limiting the size of the event. With AWS DeepRacer multi-user account management, event organizers can provide hundreds of participants access to AWS DeepRacer using a single AWS account, simplifying event management and improving the participant experience.
Build a solution around AWS DeepRacer multi-user account management
You can use AWS DeepRacer multi-user account management to set usage quotas on training hours, monitor spending on training and storage, enable and disable training, and view and manage models for every event participant. In addition, when combined with an enterprise identity provider (IdP), AWS DeepRacer multi-user account management provides a quick and frictionless onboarding experience for event participants. The following diagram explains what such a setup looks like.
The solution assumes access to an AWS account.
To set up your account with AWS DeepRacer admin permissions for multi-user, follow the steps in Set up your account with AWS DeepRacer admin permissions for multi-user to attach the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) AWS DeepRacer Administrator policy, AWSDeepRacerAccountAdminAccess, to the user, group, or role used to administer the event. Next, navigate to the AWS DeepRacer console and activate multi-user account mode.
By activating multi-user account mode, you enable participants to train models on the AWS DeepRacer console, with all training and storage charges billed to the administrator’s AWS account. By default, a sponsoring account in multi-user mode is limited to 100 concurrent training jobs, 100 concurrent evaluation jobs, 1,000 cars, and 50 private leaderboards, shared among all sponsored profiles. You can increase these limits by contacting Customer Service.
This setup also relies on using an enterprise IdP with AWS IAM Identity Center (Successor to AWS Single Sign-On) enabled. For information on setting up IAM Identity Center with an IdP, see Enable IAM Identity Center and Connect to your external identity provider. Note that different IdPs may require slightly different setup steps. Consult your IdP’s documentation for more details.
The solution depicted here works as follows:
Event participants are directed to a dedicated event portal. This can be a simple webpage where participants can enter their enterprise email address in a basic HTML form and choose Register. Registered participants can use this portal to access the AWS DeepRacer console. You can further personalize this page to gather additional user data (such as the user’s DeepRacer AWS profile or their level of AI and ML knowledge) or to add event marketing and training materials.
The event portal registration form calls a customer API endpoint that stores email addresses in Amazon DynamoDB through AWS AppSync. For more information, refer to Attaching a Data Source for a sample CloudFormation template on setting up AWS AppSync with DynamoDB and calling the API from a browser client.
For every new registration, an Amazon DynamoDB Streams event triggers an AWS Lambda function that calls the IdP’s API (in this case, the Azure Active Directory API) to add the participant’s identity in a dedicated event group that was previously set up with IAM Identity Center. The IAM Identity Center permission set controls the level of access racers have in the AWS account. At a minimum, this permission set should include the AWSDeepRacerDefaultMultiUserAccess managed policy. For more information, refer to Permission sets and AWS DeepRacer managed policies.
If the IdP call is successful, the same Lambda function sends an email notification using Amazon Pinpoint, informing the participant the registration was successful and providing the AWS Management Console access URL generated in IAM Identity Center. For more information, refer to Send email by using the Amazon Pinpoint API.
When racers choose this link, they’re asked to authenticate with their enterprise credentials, unless their current browser session is already authenticated. After authentication, racers are redirected to the AWS DeepRacer console where they can start training AWS DeepRacer models and submit them to virtual races.
Event administrators use the AWS DeepRacer console to create and manage races. Race URLs can be shared with the racers through a Lambda-generated email, either as part as the initial registration flow or as a separate notification. Event administrators can monitor and limit usage directly on the AWS DeepRacer console, including estimated spending and training model hours. Administrators can also pause racer sponsorship and delete models.
Finally, administrators can disable multi-user account mode after the event ends and remove participant access to the AWS account either by removing the users from IAM Identity Center or by disabling the setup in the external IdP.
AWS DeepRacer events are a great way to raise interest and increase ML knowledge across all pillars and levels of an organization. This post explains how you can couple AWS DeepRacer multi-user account mode with IAM Identity Center and an enterprise IdP to run AWS DeepRacer events at scale with minimum administrative effort, while ensuring a great participant experience.
The solution presented in this post was developed and used by Accenture to run the world’s largest private AWS DeepRacer event in 2021, with more than 2,000 racers. By working with the Accenture AWS Business Group (AABG), a strategic collaboration by Accenture and AWS, you can learn from the cultures, resources, technical expertise, and industry knowledge of two leading innovators, helping you accelerate the pace of innovation to deliver disruptive products and services. Connect with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org to engage with a network of specialists steeped in industry knowledge and skilled in strategic AWS services in areas ranging from big data to cloud native to ML.
About the authors
Marius Cealera is a senior partner solutions architect at AWS. He works closely with the Accenture AWS Business Group (AABG) to develop and implement innovative cloud solutions. When not working, he enjoys being with his family, biking and trekking in and around Luxembourg.
Zdenko Estok works as a cloud architect and DevOps engineer at Accenture. He works with AABG to develop and implement innovative cloud solutions, and specializes in Infrastructure as Code and Cloud Security. Zdenko likes to bike to the office and enjoys pleasant walks in nature.
Selimcan “Can” Sakar is a cloud first developer and solution architect at Accenture Germany with focus on emerging technologies such as AI/ML, IoT, and Blockchain. Can suffers from Gear Acquisition Syndrome (aka G.A.S.) and likes to pursuit new instruments, bikes and sim-racing equipment in his free time.