AWS re:Invent 2019: Keynote Recap – Thursday

AWS re:Invent kicked off Day 4 with its third and final keynote speech, delivered by Amazon.com’s CTO, Dr. Werner Vogels. 2nd Watch was up early with the birds and excited to hear about the architectural investments AWS is making this year.

The name of the game of this keynote was micro. From Nitro to Fargate to use cases at Vanguard, AWS had microservices up on its moodboard because it allows for more efficient services, greater customization, and speedier deployments.

Vogels began the keynote on Nitro System, AWS’ innovative virtualization platform that will be supporting core services. Hypervisors are integral to the cloud and offer multiple functionalities – protecting hardware, virtualizing storage and CPU, etc. Vogels described them as “monolithic,” which translates to fewer customization options. Inspired by microservices, Nitro modularizes each of these functionalities and offloads them onto hardware and software. By breaking each of these capabilities apart, we can tailor each and build a more efficient and less costly platform for our AWS services. Nitro is at the heart of many of AWS’ newer initiatives, including Outposts, VMware, Bare Metal, and Live Updates.

Vogels also gifted us security nerds with good news – Nitro encrypts everything out of the box and passes on Domain 0 (aka Dom0). Dom0 is a critical functionality of Xen hypervisors and has special privileges allowing it to access hardware. This means that if someone can exploit Dom0, they have direct access to the hardware. In fact, Nitro prohibits admin access entirely.

Clare Liguori, Principal Software Engineer for AWS, took the stage next to reinforce re:Invent’s earlier announcement that Fargate will be supporting EKS. With a clever trivia game demonstration, Clare showed how Fargate allows for better capacity and efficiently isolates containers. She also spent time on Firecracker – a lightweight micro-VMs for containers and serverless applications. She even threw the repo on screen for us! https://github.com/firecracker-microvm/firecracker.

Next, Jeff Dowds, IT Executive from Vanguard, presented a compelling story of how Vanguard developed a Cloud Construction Team to adopt a serverless environment, quickly get a cloud initiative in practice, and reduce overall computing costs.

Reiterating the micro theme, Vogels came back on to discuss the theory behind their cell-based architecture, which enables evolvable architecture and reduces blast radius. Things fail all the time, and if it’s a cell rather than a monolith, it’s harder to bring down the whole architecture. Vogels then discussed Amazon Builder’s Library, which empowers users with write ups on how Amazon architects its own resources in AWS – truly a great resource for anyone building on AWS.

Next up, Sebastian de Halleax, COO of Saildrone, presented how they use AWS to innovate in new ways on the unexplored territory of oceans (wow!). Their Ocean Surveyor is mapping the sea floor and sending data in realtime using AWS. They’ll use this innovation to see how the sea affects humans and vice versa. It’s pretty great to see how AWS is leveraged to solve real world issues outside of the IT realm.

Next up was Dr. Martin Hofmann, Group CIO of Volkswagen AG, which is leveraging AWS Autonomous Factories to innovate their supply chain management. Vogels noted how most equipment is old and outdated at manufacturing plants.  Autonomous Factories – used at AWS warehouse and at Volkswagen – envision automating not only manufacturing but repairing of machines. Think Wall-E!

Vogels coined this automation Industry 4.0. As Stefana Muller live-tweeted this morning on 2nd Watch’s feed “This. Is. The. Future… Now.”

Great closeout to a great re:Invent!

-Victoria Geronimo, Product Manager, Security & Compliance

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AWS re:Invent 2019: Keynote Recap – Wednesday

Day 3 of AWS re:Invent 2019 began with the Global Partner Summit Keynote. As a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) since 2012, we at 2nd Watch were excited to see this in between Andy Jassy’s and Dr.Vogels’ keynotes – it gave us some time to absorb the previous day’s announcements and hopefully helped highlight what is happening within the APN ecosystem to more of the conference attendees.

The Keynote was delivered by Doug Yeum, Head of AWS Worldwide Channels and Alliances.  He began with his background, which included prior experience starting and running a System Integrator (SI), joining AWS in 2014, working as general manager in Korea, and as Andy Jassy’s chief of staff.

Yeum gave some impressive numbers about the growth of APN, such as a 5x increase in the number of partners since 2014, and the fact that they are adding an average of 50 partners per day.  He then went in to three areas that AWS is investing in to ensure the success of its partners:

  • AWS Innovation: New AWS services lead to more opportunities to help clients realize value from them.
  • Geographic Expansion: More regions bring AWS services closer to AWS users and their customers.
  • Enterprise Migration: Enterprise applications like SAP tend to use consultants to help them migrate to the cloud.

All of this growth is driving partner diversification and collaboration.  Yeum gave numerous examples of next-generation service providers, specialized SIs, Value-Added Resellers (VARs), and management consultants that have emerged recently to help clients navigate ever more complex challenges.  Many partners are also combining forces to deliver more complete solutions that they could not offer on their own.  Yeum stated that he believed Digital Transformation is the biggest opportunity still out there.

Next up was Stewart Fry, VP of Enterprise IT for BP.  He spoke about BP’s cloud journey, which started in 2013, and the various partners who helped them along the way – from their digital foundation, to SAP migrations, to modernizing their application stack.  BP continues to accelerate their cloud transformation, announcing that they were going “all-in” in Europe and moving an additional 900 applications.  Fry closed with  the announcement that AWS will purchase renewable power from BP for AWS datacenters in Europe.

Back on stage, Yeum dove in to three areas from the previous day’s announcements where AWS technical innovation and AWS partners were continuing to enable new benefits for customers; Containers, Machine Learning, and AWS Connect.  Christopher Cerruto, VP of Global Architecture and Analytics at Avis, took the stage to discuss ways that AWS services such as SageMaker, EMR, and Redshift were enabling completely new capabilities and efficiencies across their fleet of vehicles, and of course, to talk about the partners that helped them get there.

The next topic was startups.  After discussing the many ways that AWS already supports startups today, Yeum announced the new APN Global Startup Program, with prescriptive benefits, an accelerated path to meeting APN requirements, and other tailored resources and support for startups that meet the qualifications.

Dave McCann, VP of AWS Marketplace, followed, talking about how Marketplace is transforming the software supply chain and some changes in the Marketplace to better support partners and enable customers.  Highlights included the announcement of Seller Private Offers, the Discovery API, VPC Ingress for Partners, and Data Exchange.

Andy Jassy sat down with Yeum for their fireside chat, which lasted nearly 30 minutes (and kicked off with a mention of 2nd Watch just a few minutes in!).  The wide-ranging interview covered subjects such as leadership (which is all about prioritization, according to Jassy), partner experience (which Jassy likened to asking a doctor, “How many times have you done this surgery before?”), and how partners can get the most value from re:Invent (talk to others, ask questions, learn everything you can from the sessions).

Yeum made some more announcements about matching customers with partners who have experience and competency in the right areas – the AWS Service Ready Program and the AWS Retail Competency.

Sandy Carter was the last guest to speak at the keynote, and she gave an update on what is happening in the Public Sector.  Highlights included the Authority to Operate program, the Partner Transformation Program, and the new AWS Public Safety/Disaster Response Competency. Yeum wrapped up the keynote by reiterating AWS’s commitment to partner success, acknowledging partners as a key part of AWS’ growth, and that AWS wanted to partner for the long term.

There was a lot for partners to be excited about during today’s presentation.  2nd Watch is looking forward to helping customers get even more value from AWS in 2020!

– Evan Lucchesi Leon, Director, Cloud Advocacy

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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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What we learned from Werner Vogels’s 2016 re:Invent Keynote Presentation

It’s all about The Transformation

At this morning’s AWS re:Invent keynote, AWS shared quite a mountain of information, and a toolbox of new services, all based around helping companies change their businesses and the way they look at technology.  Transformation was the keyword for this presentation, and it was apparent in the tools and tone taken throughout the whole two and a half hours.  The focus was on providing the tools to the “Transformers” (Highlighted by Vogel’s Autobot T-shirt), and enabling them to do amazing things for their customers. Vogel’s keynote was less about infrastructure, more about the software and how to get it into the hands of your customers, and how the toolbox that AWS continues to expand can help.  It’s not entirely about AWS though… it starts with their customers.

AWS: To Be the Most Customer Centric IT Company on Earth

There’s a large drive from all the teams at AWS to focus on the needs of their customers (that’s you by the way).  In fact, this couldn’t be more evident than with their new offering called AWS Blox, an open source scheduler for ECS that’ll be co-developed with the community.  This can also be seen in their 5 customer centric objectives:

  1. Protect the customers at all times.
  2. Listen closely to customers and act.
  3. Give customers choice.
  4. Work backwards from the customer.
  5. Help customers transform.

This led nicely into Jeff Lawson’s (CEO / Chairman – Twilio) presentation which revolved around software development.  The two things to take away from this were a couple of quotes: 1. “Building software is a mindset, not a skillset,” which speaks immeasurably to the idea of the enveloping purpose of software in the first place.  Software drives products to customers.  And 2. “Companies that win are companies that ship software.”

How can we help you be a Transformer?

There are a plethora of modern day processes revolving around Agile practices, which involve feature deployment speed to your customers.  The big, main point here is that Amazon really wants to take as much of the waste off of their customers’ shoulders as possible and manage it for them.  This is one of the fundamental principals in lean manufacturing and Agile development processes. Cut waste, so your people can concentrate on what’s important to your customer –  Providing stellar products and features.

To that end, AWS already provides everything you’ll need as far as infrastructure is concerned.  Need a thousand instances for a load ?  Spin them up, run your , then tear them down, and only pay for that hour you had them up.  That’s the bread and butter.  Where AWS is moving now is to help that development pipeline and to provide the tools to do it.

First and foremost, they’ve updated their Well Architected Framework (along with all the underlying documentation) to include a 5th pillar:

  1. Security
  2. Reliability
  3. Performance Efficiency
  4. Cost Optimization
  5. Operational Excellence (This is where Automation and CI/CD pipelines come into play.)

Transforming Operational Excellence

Automation is the name of the game here.  The existing tools have gotten some updates, and there are some new ones to add to your armory as well.

AWS CloudFormation has seen a ton of updates this past year including role-based stack creation, failure recovery, resource schemas and last but by far not least, yaml support!  Configuration management (in the form of Chef) has gotten a BIG boost in their new AWS Opsworks For Chef Automate, a fully managed chef server.  Oh, and managing system level patching and resource configuration?  They’ve got that covered as well with the Amazon EC2 Systems Manager.  The Biggest changes come to help your CI/CD pipeline.  The new AWS CodeBuild will build and your projects and fills out the pipeline toolset (between CodeCommit and CodeDeploy).  What about insight into your application?  The fantastic looking X-Ray will allow insight into your applications on a very deep level, with a smart looking UI to boot.  Another nice looking UI of a tool to handle managing events from your infrastructure is AWS Personal Health Dashboard.  This tool will help you manage responses to your events, and can be tied into Lambda for automation.

Security is number one with AWS, so it’s no surprise that they’re offering two new tools to help protect against the common DDOS attack.  The first, AWS Shield will help protect against some of the more common DDOS attack vectors.  The best thing about it?  Everyone gets it FOR FREE!  You use AWS, you get AWS Shield.  That simple.  AWS Shield Advanced is for more complex attacks and is a paid service that you can opt in for if you feel the need.

Transforming your Data

Amazon’s cloud offering levels the playing field when it comes to resource procurement.  Small companies can now compete with the big ones since they draw from the same pool and have the same tools available to them (regardless of size).  So what’s your competitive differentiator?  Data.  That’s why another focus of this past year has been on Big Data.

AWS already has a lot going for it with data analytics, from ingestion tools like Kinesis and Snowball to processing with EMR, there just seemed to be one thing missing:  AWS Glue.  AWS Glue pulls together all the components of Modern Data Warehouses into a comprehensive architecture for data analytics.  From data ingestion to data quality, source data preservation to orchestration and job scheduling, it looks like AWS Glue will manage it all.  Also on the processing end, the new AWS Batch tool will manage batch processing at any scale.

Transforming your Application Architecture

Amazon now provides 3 different architectures and payment styles when it comes to application development (or deployment if you look at it that way) – Virtualization, which is already quite robust in their compute ecosystem; Containers, which have an ever maturing product in ECS; and Serverless, which is handled quite well through services like AWS Lambda.  Virtualization didn’t get a particular mention here, but Containerization did.  Blox was already mentioned above, but there was also a “coming soon” drop here as well.  Looks like we’ll be seeing some kind of task placement engine in the near future.

Next up were new offerings around Lambda.  The first, and one that will surely broaden the adoption of serverless architectures, is the inclusion of the C# language into the list of supported languages.  To cut back on possible latency issues, you can now run Lambda functions at CloudFront locations using the new AWS Lambda@Edge.  To help coordinate all the components of your distributed applications, you now have AWS Step Functions.  This tool will allow you to coordinate all your bits and pieces using a visual workflow.

There’s a lot of potential for transforming your business here.

Like always, AWS doesn’t force you to use any particular tool or service, but they have a lot of what you need to develop products and features the right way.  They’ve made some serious strides to pull as much of the wasted, non-customer centric work away from your teams, and give them back that time to push more value to your customers.  Amazon doesn’t yet approach the organizational / process side of the equation, so that will still fall to the customer.  Once you figure it out though, it looks like AWS is positioned, and will continue to position itself, to help you and your teams make that transformation a reality.

-Craig Monson, Sr Automation Architect

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