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Top 5 takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2018

While AWS re:Invent 2018 is still fresh in our minds, let’s take a look at some of the most significant and exciting AWS announcements made. Here are our top five takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2018.

Number 5: AWS DeepRacer

To be honest, when I first saw DeepRacer I wasn’t paying full attention to the keynote.  After previous years’ announcements of Amazon Snowball and Snowmobile, I thought this might be the next version of how AWS is going to be moving data around. Instead we have an awesome little car that will give people exposure to programming and machine learning in a fun and interesting way. I know people at 2nd Watch are hoping to form a team so that we can compete at the AWS races. Anything that can get people to learn more about machine learning is a good thing as so many problems could be solved elegantly with machine learning solutions.

Number 4: Amazon Managed Blockchain and Amazon Quantum Ledger Database

Amazon has finally plunged directly into the Blockchain world that seems to get so much media attention these days.  Built upon the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), Amazon Managed Blockchain will give you the ability to integrate with the Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. QLDB will allow you to store information in a way so that transactions can never be lost or modified.  For instance, rather than storing security access in a log file or a database you can store transactions in the QLDB.  This will make it easy to guarantee integrity of the security access for audit purposes.

Number 3: RDS on VMWare

Having worked with many companies that are concerned about moving into the cloud, RDS on VMWare could be a great first step on their journey to the cloud. Rather than taking the full plunge into the cloud, companies will be able to utilize RDS instances in their existing VMWare environments.  Since databases are such a critical piece of infrastructure, much of the initial testing can be done on-premises.  You can set up RDS on VMWare in your dev environment alongside your current dev databases and begin testing without ever needing to touch things in AWS.  Then, once you’re ready to move the rest of your infrastructure to the cloud, you’ll have one less critical change you’ll have to make.

Number 2: AWS Outposts

EC2 instances in your datacenter – and not just EC2 instances, but pretty much anything that uses EC2 under the hood (RDS, EMR, Sagemaker, etc.) – will be able to run out of your datacenter.  The details are a little scant, but it sounds as though AWS is going to send you rack mount servers with some amount of storage built into them.  You’ll rack them, power them, plug them into your network and be good to go.  From a network perspective, it sounds like these instances will be able to show up as a VPC but also be able to connect directly into your private network. For users that aren’t ready to migrate to the cloud for whatever reason, Outposts could be the perfect way to start extending into AWS.

Number 1: AWS Transit Gateway

AWS Transit Gateway is a game changer for companies with many VPCs, VPNs, and eventually Direct Connect connections.  At 2nd Watch we help companies design their cloud infrastructure as simply and elegantly as possible. When it comes to interconnecting VPC’s, the old ways were always very painful and manually intensive.  With Transit Gateways you’ll have one place to go to manage all of your VPC interconnectivity.  The Transit Gateway will act as a hub and ensure that your data can be routed safely and securely. This will make managing all of your AWS interconnectivity much easier!

-Philip Seibel, Managing Cloud Consultant

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AWS re:Invent 2018: Product Reviews & Takeaways

Interesting Takeaways

AWS re:Invent always has new product launches. The “new toys” are usually the ones that catch the most coverage, but there are a few things we feel are quite interesting coming out of re:Invent 2018 and decided they’d fit in their own section. Some are new products or additions to old products and some are based on the conversations or sessions heard around the event. Read on for our take on things!

AWS Marketplace for Containers

Announced at the Global Partner Summit keynote, the AWS Marketplace for Containers is the next logical step in the Marketplace ecosystem. Vendors will now be able to offer container solutions for their products, just as they do with AWS EC2 AMIs. The big takeaway here is just how important containerization is and how much of a growth we see in the implementation of containerized products and serverless architectures in general. Along with the big announcements around AWS Lambda, this just solidifies the push in the industry to adopt serverless models for their applications.

AWS Marketplace – Private Marketplace

The AWS Marketplace has added the Private Marketplace to its feature set. You can now have your own marketplace that’s shared across your AWS Organizations. This is neat and all, but I think what’s even more interesting is what it hints at in the background. It seems to me that in order to have a well established marketplace at all, your organization is going to need to be journeying on that DevOps trail: smaller teams who own and deploy focused applications (in this case, internally). I think it shows that a good deployment pipeline is really the best way to handle a project, regardless if it’s for external customers or internal customers.

Firecracker

This looks really cool. Firecracker is a virtualization tool that is built specifically for microVMs and function-based services (like Lambda or Fargate). It runs on bare metal… wait, what? I thought we’re trying to move AWAY from our own hosted servers?! That’s true, and I’ll be honest, I don’t think many of our customers will be utilizing it. However, consider all the new IoT products and features that were announced at the conference and you’ll see there’s still a lot of bare metal, both in use AND in development! I don’t think Firecracker is meant solely for large server farm type setups, but quite possibly for items in the IoT space. The serverless / microservice architecture is a strong one, and this allows that to happen in the IoT space. I’m currently working on installing it onto my kids’ minecraft micro computer. Do I smell another blog post?

Andy Jassy Says What?

In the fireside chat with Andy Jassy in the partner keynote, there were several things I found interesting, albeit not surprising (moving away from Oracle DB), but there was one that stood out above the rest:

I hear enterprises, all the time, wanting help thinking about how they can innovate at a faster clip. And, you know, it’s funny, a lot of the enterprise EBC’s I get to be involved in… I’d say roughly half the content of those are enterprises asking me about our offering and how we think about our business and what we have planned in the future, but a good chunk of every one of those conversations are enterprises trying to learn how we move quickly and how we invent quickly, and I think that enterprises realize that in this day and age if you are not reinventing fast and iterating quickly on behalf of your customers, it’s really difficult to be competitive. And so I think they want help from you in how to invent faster. Now, part of that is being able to operate on top of the cloud and operate on top of a platform like AWS that has so many services that you can stitch together however you see fit. Some of it also is, how do people think about DevOps? How do people think about organizing their teams? You know… what are the right constraints that you have but that still allow people to move quickly.

He said DevOps! So larger companies that are looking to change don’t just want fancy tools and fancy technology, but they also need help getting better at affecting change. That’s absolutely outside the wheelhouse of AWS, but I think it’s very interesting that he specifically called that out, and called it out during the partner keynote. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these announcements, contact us.

-Lars Cromley, Director of Engineering

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AWS re:Invent Breakout Session – Proven Methodologies for Accelerating Cloud Journey

With a week full of sessions, bootcamps and extra-curriculars at AWS re:Invent 2018, you might not have had time to make it to our breakout session. Watch “Proven Methodologies for Accelerating Your Cloud Journey” on-demand now to see what you missed.

Learn how to accelerate your journey to the cloud while implementing a cloud-first strategy without sacrificing the controls and standards required in a large, publicly-traded enterprise.  Benefit from insights developed from working with some of the most recognized brands in the world. Discover how these household names leverage automation, CI / CD, and a modular approach to workload design to ensure consistent application of their security and governance requirements. Learn which approaches to use when transforming workloads to cloud native technologies, including serverless and containers.  With this approach, business users can finally receive properly governed resources without delaying or disrupting their need for agility, flexibility and cloud scale.

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AWS re:Invent 2018: Keynote and Daily Recap – Thursday

While the weather in Vegas turned cold and rainy yesterday, the enthusiasm for the conference remained bright.

Summit Keynote

Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO, with the help of his Amazon Alexa, started the day off walking us through his journey from his worst day at AWS to his best.

His worst involved an on-prem database that couldn’t scale to meet their needs.  This lead to the creation of Aurora, the fastest growing service in AWS since its release.  Leave it to AWS to solve a database problem by building a better database from the ground up.  This led to purpose built DBs such as RDS, DynomoDB, Elasticache and Neptune.

His best day, not surprisingly, is the day they moved their largest data warehouse off Oracle to Redshift.

AWS’ scalable and reliable infrastructure were the main themes of these stories.  This laid the groundwork for the new announcements centering around serverless.  Vogels wants to free customers from having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.  His favorite keynote was when he announced Lambda in 2014.

New Announcements

Vogels stated that 95% of AWS features are built based on customer feedback, which lead to the following new announcements:

Amazon Redshift concurrency scaling: An improvement on the existing product that provides consistently fast responses to queries even when there are thousands of concurrent users and queries.  This is available for preview today.  You can sign up on the Redshift page.

AWS Toolkits for popular IDEs:  New toolkits for PyCharm, IntelliJ (Preview), and Visual Studio Code (Preview).

Lambda now supports Ruby:  You can now develop your AWS Lambda function code using Ruby.

Lambda Runtime API:  Allows you to bring your own language to Lambda.  No more language limitations.

Lambda Layers:  Provides the ability to store and version commonly-used code for easier reuse. Partners are already providing layers you can use.

Nested Applications Using Serverless Application Repository:  This allows you to compose an application from reusable building blocks. New architectures are a set of nested serverless applications.

Step Functions service integrations:  This allows you to connect to AWS services without having to write customer code. Currently this supports eight AWS services; Batch, ECS, Fargate, Glue, DynamoDB, SNS, SQS, and SageMaker.

ALB Support for Lambda:  Users can now have stateful HTTP access serverless applications.  This could allow applications that are server-based to be moved to Lambda functions without affecting the end user.

Amazon Managed Streaming for Kafka:  Kafka is an open-sourced data streaming tool and can be hard to manage and set-up.  AWS wants to take over this burden for you by providing a managed service.

AWS Well-Architected tool: Well-Architected reviews have been around for some time, and I have conducted a few myself. As you can imagine, AWS and its partners don’t have enough resources to help customers conduct these reviews.  Starting today, the automated tools are available for you do this this review yourself.

Sessions and Events

Yesterday was another full day of sessions, including some covering the new announcements from Jassy and Vogels.  As my colleague stated yesterday, if you missed a session, you can stream it on-demand later on the AWS re:Invent YouTube channel.

The night wound up with not-to-be-missed AWS re:PLAY with music by Skrillex.

Yesterday was also the final day of the Expo, and we at 2nd Watch hope you got a chance to stop by our booth to say hi.  Over the week, we had the pleasure of talking to cloud consumers from all over the world.  Regardless of location and industry, we all enjoyed solving technical challenges with AWS services.

Hope everyone had a great time and safe travels!

Larry Cusick – Solutions Architect

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AWS re:Invent 2018: Keynote Recap – Wednesday

Andy Jassy, AWS CEO, delivered Wednesday’s AWS re:Invent keynote with an emphasis on platform differentiation, relative to competitors.  In summary, he noted that AWS financials continue to have unpresented growth with a $27B revenue run-rate; 46% YoY growth or $2.1B in absolute revenue, and a 52% market-share or 4x more than the next closest competitor.  Staying with the differentiation theme, Jassy noted re:Invent 2018 is the largest attended technical conference with approximately 53,000 attendees and 2,100 technical sessions; the largest public cloud customer footprint, specifically, largest number of cloud-native startups and ISVs, and enterprise customers across all market segments; the largest partner ecosystem, where 2nd Watch was a noteworthy mention.

The keynote’s principle is what Jassy referred to as “The 5 Sentiments of What Builders Want.” Builders being the extensive AWS user community.  The sentiments were cleverly revealed in musical covers by the AWS Band, giving Jassy the premise to disclose related new product announcements:

  1. I Want It All – Queen

Jassy highlights that builders want uncompromised access to the AWS Cloud with appropriate tools to get them there fast and easy.  New Data Transfer and Storage Services differentiators that facilitate AWS adoption.  Notable product announcements included:

  • AWS DataSync – automate movement of data between on-premises storage and Amazon S3 or Amazon EFS
  • AWS SecureFTP – fully-managed SFTP service for Amazon S3
  • Amazon S3 Batch Operations (Preview) – manage billions of objects stored in Amazon S3, with a single API request or a few clicks in the S3 Management Console
  • Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering – Amazon S3 storage class designed for customers who want to optimize storage costs automatically using ML Auto-Tiering
  • Glacier Deep Archive (Jan 2019) – durable object storage for long-term data retention and digital preservation, less than .10 of $0.01/GB/month
  • AWS EFS-Infrequent Access – saves up to 85% over EFS, cost-optimized for files that are accessed less frequently
  • Amazon FSx for Windows Server – fully-managed, with full support for the SMB protocol and Windows NTFS, Active Directory (AD) integration, and Distributed File System (DFS); PCI, HIPAA, and ISO Compliance built-in
  • AWS File System for Lustre – fully managed file system that is optimized for compute-intensive workloads; PCI, HIPAA, and ISO Compliance built-in
  1. I’ve Been Waiting – Matthew Sweet

Jassy focuses on new AWS Services that allow builders an easier path for the use and adoption of the AWS Cloud Platform, with a focus on automation and compliance.  Notable product announcements included:

  • AWS Control Tower – automates the setup of a baseline environment, or landing zone, that is a secure, well-architected multi-account AWS environment
  • AWS Security Hub – gives you a comprehensive view of your high-priority security alerts and compliance status across AWS accounts
  • AWS Lake Formation – set up a secure data lake in days, not weeks
  1. Blackbird – The Beetles

Freedom is the theme here.  With new data patterns, AWS is giving builders the freedom to deprecate legacy database constraints and give them the access to choose “the right tool (DB) for the right job (workload).”  Notable product announcements included:

  • Amazon DynamoDB On-Demand – on-demand is a flexible new capacity mode for DynamoDB
    • Amazon Timestream – purpose-built time series database service for collecting, storing, and processing time-series data (IOT Sensors, Telemetry, etc)
    • Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) – blockchain use cases, your application’s complete change history is immutable – it cannot be altered or deleted using cryptography
    • AWS Managed Blockchain – fully managed service that allows you to set up and manage a scalable blockchain network
  1. Satisfy Me – Elvis Presley

All about AWS delivering on customer feedback and satisfying the need to enhance the AI and ML services’ user experience with real-world application scenarios.  With the launch of AWS Deep Racer (see below), AWS enables a fun, quick, and easy application of ML in the real world. Notable product announcements included:

  • AWS Inferentia – a ML inference chip, custom designed by AWS to deliver high throughput, low latency inference performance at an extremely low cost
  • Amazon Elastic Inference – allows you to attach just the right amount of GPU-powered acceleration to any Amazon EC2 and Amazon SageMaker instance
  • Amazon SageMaker Ground Truth – helps you build highly-accurate training datasets for ML quickly
  • Amazon Marketplace for ML – ML models and algorithms for Amazon SageMaker
  • Amazon SageMaker Reinforcement Learning (RL) – SageMaker built-in, fully-managed reinforcement learning algorithms
  • AWS Deep Racer and Deep Racer League – the fastest way to get rolling with ML, a 1/18th scale race car which gives you an interesting and fun way to get started with reinforcement learning (RL)
  • Amazon Textrac – intelligent OCR++, uses ML to instantly “read” virtually any type of document to accurately extract text and data
  • Amazon Personalize – ML service that makes it easy for developers to create individualized recommendations for customers using their applications
  • Amazon Forecast – fully managed service that uses ML to deliver highly accurate forecasts
  1. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash

Extending the AWS Cloud Platform ecosystem to facilitate and entice adoption with new Hybrid Cloud services.  Expanding the partnership with VMWare to bring AWS Services on-prem.

  • RDS on VMware Cloud – deploy managed databases in on-premises VMware environments using the Amazon RDS
  • AWS Outpost – bring native AWS services, infrastructure, and operating models to virtually any data center, co-location space, or on-premises facility. Two flavors:
    • VMWare Cloud on AWS Outpost – VMWare Control Plane
    • Native AWS Outpost – AWS Control Plane and APIs
  • VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2 – a collection of host-resident probes, drivers and agents that allow the vSphere system to optimize and manage workloads running on EC2 environments, either in Amazon’s EC2 public cloud or on premise on Amazon’s Outposts hybrid cloud solution
  • Snowball Edge-Compute Optimized – includes a 10GBase-T network connection, 10/25Gb SFP28 and 40Gb QSFP+ copper and optical networking for fast data transfer to the device

It’s apparent AWS is listening and intent on continued enablement of the builder, sharing the tools and technologies that’s made them successful – specifically, their innovation of AI and ML use-cases to enable builders to do what they do best without limits.  We saw real-world application of AWS’ enablement from two brief customer presentations:

  • Guardian, CIO – Dean Del Vecchio: Cloud First Strategy – Secure & Compliance migrated over 200 applications to AWS, allowing them to reduce DC space by 80%. AWS gives Guardian unprecedented competitive advantage.
  • Formula1, Managing Director – Ross Brawne Obe: Using Amazon SageMaker with ML sensors and telemetry in race cars to enhance fan viewership engagement of Formula1 racing, as well HPC for new racecar designs.

Jassy closed with the well-versed FDR quote, “The Only Thing To Fear, Is Fear Itself!”  With AWS as market-leader, continuous innovation of the AWS Platform, and a rich Partner Competency and MSP ecosystem, builders small and large are empowered in their adoption and journey to the cloud.

For a full list of AWS re:Invent 2018 product announcements, visit https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2018/, or for help utilizing any of these products, contact us.

-Burt Giron, Solutions Architect

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AWS re:Invent 2018: Daily Recap – Tuesday

Day 2 at AWS re:Invent 2018 was busy with its breakout sessions, panels discussions, and training bootcamps. Amidst all of this were a slew of new services and service feature announcements for AWS.  Here’s a quick overview.

Private Marketplace:  Private Marketplace allows IT administrators to create a pre-approved, authorized list of marketplace offerings that meet corporate guidelines and standards. This controls which marketplace products can be deployed in your cloud environment. It integrates with AWS Organizations and can be customized to include your logo and corporate branding.

New Container Products in AWS Marketplace:  More than 180 container products are now available in the AWS Marketplace. These can be consumed straight from the ECS console.

AWS Developer Tools: These tools now provide better support for Continuous Delivery for AWS Fargate and Amazon ECS, allowing support blue/green deployments via AWS CodeDeploy.

AWS Elemental MediaConnect: A new, general availability services launched on Tuesday is AWS Elemental MediaConnect that provides a reliable, secure, flexible transport service for live video.

Broadcasters and content owners can now more easily transmit their content to destinations around the world.

Amazon CloudWatch Logs Insights:  A new analytics service for CloudWatch logs, you can now run queries on logs, create a dashboard for log-based metrics, and visualize timeseries data.

Amazon DynamoDB Support for Transactions: DynamoDB now supports ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) transactions allowing a new class of mission-critical workloads to run on DynamoDB.

Amazon Comprehend Medical: A natural language processing service for medical text makes it easier to use machine learning to extract relevant medical information from unstructured text.

Customized Translations for Amazon Translate: A new feature called Custom Terminology allows you to customize Amazon Translate to use your company or domain specific vocabulary.

Java-based Stream Processing for Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics: You can now use Java code to continuously transform and load your data.

Dashboard embedding and APIs for Amazon QuickSight: QuickSight dashboards can now be embedded in your applications.

With all these announcements yesterday, we can’t wait to see what today brings! If you haven’t yet, stop by and visit us in booth #2440 and enter to win an Amazon DeepLens.

-Vince Lo Faso, Solutions Architect

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