Key takeaways from AWS re:invent 2017

AWS re:Invent, arguably the biggest and most important event in the cloud computing calendar, has just wrapped up for 2017. The event, which was held in Las Vegas for over 40,000 people brought together customers, partners and Amazon employees for 5 days of keynotes, workshops and networking. AWS has gone back to its roots to strengthen the API and developer tools of its cloud platform. During the event, the company emphasised developer productivity through new APIs, integrated tools, and a new browser-based IDE. But if your ticket to the event got lost in the post, don’t fret, we’ve pulled together the top six key announcements that got our cloud senses tingling!

1. Amazon EKS (Kubernetes)

In the last three years, Kubernetes has become the de facto industry standard for container orchestration, a major industry hot topic, and an important consideration in the running of microservices architectures. While it’s always been possible to run Kubernetes on AWS, previously it required customers to manually configure, manage and scale their own Kubernetes clusters. Once configured it would then need to be patched and upgraded as ongoing maintenance tasks. Thankfully, EKS will now make this much easier, with Amazon taking care of the Kubernetes master cluster as a service; keeping it available, patched and appropriately scaled. EKS automatically deploys clusters across multiple availability zones. It can also handle version upgrades and detect unhealthy masters.

2. AWS Fargate

Alongside EKS, CEO Andy Jassy announced another new container service: AWS Fargate which we reckon is much more of a game-changer. Fargate will make it easier than ever to manage containers at scale. There will no longer be a need to provision and manage underlying clusters of instances to run your containers. Much like Elastic Beanstalk, with Fargate it’s now just a case of uploading your container image, specifying the resource requirements and Fargate will provision and launch the containers without you having to worry about the management of underlying EC2 instances.

3. Inter-Region VPC Peering

Connecting AWS Regions and resources within those regions would previously require the configuration of gateways, VPN connections and in some cases physical hardware. Inter-Region VPC Peering now allows peering relationships to be established between Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) across different AWS regions. Services such as EC2 instances, RDS and Lambda can communicate across regions using private IP addressing without the need to provision the previously required infrastructure, making it easier than ever to build resilient and globally accessible applications.

4. Amazon GuardDuty

Compared to last year’s event, there was a notable increase in security presence. Only last year, the story being told was somewhat disjointed, but now there seems to be a common theme of helping customers use cloud applications securely and teaching organisations how to deploy cloud security. In the spotlight this year was the announcement of Amazon GuardDuty. It’s a threat detection system that continuously monitors activity in your AWS accounts via VPC Flow Logs, CloudTrail logs and DNS logs. It then uses a combination of threat intelligence feeds and machine learning to detect potential threats. There’s no overhead on customers infrastructure, and no need for agents as GuardDuty operates on AWS infrastructure. GuardDuty can be integrated with Lambda so that when a threat is detected you can automatically remediate the issue.

Overall, we found the innovation we previously experienced with cloud adoption is becoming the norm with better security in place. Next year certainly promises to be an interesting time for security.

5. S3 and Glacier Select

Up until now, it has only ever been possible to retrieve objects in S3 storage as whole entities. So if you wanted to retrieve just 100MB of data from a 5GB object you would have to retrieve the whole 5GB object. With S3 Select you can now pull out just the data you need from the object using SQL expressions. This has the potential to rapidly improve performance of applications running on s3, Amazon estimate by as much as 400% in some cases. The same functionality has been extended to Glacier where you get all the same benefits at the reduced cost of using cold storage.

6. Machine Leaning and AI

With AI and ML set to dominate the technical landscape in 2018, it was perhaps less surprising to see AWS launching a raft of new Machine Learning and AI services at the event. Amongst the highlights were:

  • Amazon Rekognition Video will add the ability to detect and recognise faces in live video streams to the existing Rekognition service.
  • Amazon SageMaker is a new fully-managed service that makes the design and deployment of machine learning models more accessible to developers and data scientists. It provides a hosted environment to work with your data and common machine learning algorithms that can be used and customised as needed.
  • Amazon Translate will use machine leaning and deep learning modules to translate large volumes of text into multilingual user experiences, allowing users to access resources in their preferred language.

All in all, if any message dominated the event it was the promise that 2018 is going to be an exciting year for AWS customers. The continuous innovation we previously experienced with cloud adoption has become the norm, while increased security measures ensures the cloud is more robust than ever before. For organisations that are still sat on the fence about whether to adopt and migrate, 2018 will be the year they finally have the confidence to take the plunge.

Additional product releases and announcements made at AWS re:invent 2017 can be found on the AWS news blog. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about ANS’ capabilities in AWS, click here.

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