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Using Docker Containers to Move Your Internal IT Orgs Forward

Many people are looking to take advantage of containers to isolate their workloads on a single system. Unlike traditional hypervisor-based virtualization, which utilizes the same operating system and packages, Containers allow you to segment off multiple applications with their own set of processes on the same instance.

Let’s walk through some grievances that many of us have faced at one time or another in our IT organizations:

Say, for example, your development team is setting up a web application. They want to set up a traditional 3 tier system with an app, database, and web servers. They notice there is a lot of support in the open source community for their app when it is run on Ubuntu Trusty (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS) and later. They’ve developed the app in their local sandbox with an Ubuntu image they downloaded, however, their company is a RedHat shop.

Now, depending on the type of environment you’re in, chances are you’ll have to wait for the admins to provision an environment for you. This often entails (but is not limited to) spinning up an instance, reviewing the most stable version of the OS, creating a new hardened AMI, adding it to Packer, figuring out which configs to manage, and refactoring provisioning scripts to utilize aptitude and Ubuntu’s directory structure (e.g Debian has over 50K packages to choose from and manage). In addition to that, the most stable version of Ubuntu is missing some newer packages that you’ve tested in your sandbox that need to be pulled from source or another repository. At this point, the developers are procuring configuration runbooks to support the app while the admin gets up to speed with the OS (not significant but time-consuming nonetheless).

You can see my point here. A significant amount of overhead has been introduced, and it’s stagnating development. And think about the poor sysadmins. They have other environments that they need to secure, networking spaces to manage, operations to improve, and existing production stacks they have to monitor and support while getting bogged down supporting this app that is still in the very early stages of development. This could mean that mission-critical apps are potentially losing visibility and application modernization is stagnating. Nobody wins in this scenario.

Now let us revisit the same scenario with containers:

I was able to run my Jenkins build server and an NGINX web proxy, both running on a hardened CentOS7 AMI provided by the Systems Engineers with docker installed.  From there I executed a docker pull  command pointed at our local repository and deployed two docker images with Debian as the underlying OS.

$ docker pull my.docker-repo.com:4443/jenkins
$ docker pull my.docker-repo.com:4443/nginx

CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES

$ docker ps

7478020aef37 my.docker-repo.com:4443/jenkins/jenkins:lts   “/sbin/tini — /us …”  16 minutes ago   Up 16 minutes ago  8080/tcp, 0.0.0.0:80->80/tcp, 50000/tcp jenkins

d68e3b96071e my.docker-repo.com:4443/nginx/nginx:lts “nginx -g ‘daemon of…” 16 minutes ago Up 16 minutes 0.0.0.0:80->80/tcp, 0.0.0.0:443->443/tcp nginx

$ sudo systemctl status jenkins-docker

jenkins-docker.service – Jenkins
Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/jenkins-docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
Active: active (running) since Thu 2018-11-08 17:38:06 UTC; 18min ago
Process: 2006 ExecStop=/usr/local/bin/jenkins-docker stop (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)

The processes above were executed on the actual instance. Note how I’m able to execute a cat of the OS release file from within the container

sudo docker exec d68e3b96071e cat /etc/os-release
PRETTY_NAME=”Debian GNU/Linux 9 (stretch)”
NAME=”Debian GNU/Linux”
VERSION_ID=”9″
VERSION=”9 (stretch)”
ID=debian
HOME_URL=”https://www.debian.org/
SUPPORT_URL=”https://www.debian.org/support
BUG_REPORT_URL=”https://bugs.debian.org/

I was able to do so because Docker containers do not have their own kernel, but rather share the kernel of the underlying host via linux system calls (e.g setuid, stat, umount, ls) like any other application. These system calls (or syscalls for short) are standard across kernels, and Docker supports version 3.10 and higher. In the event older syscalls are deprecated and replaced with new ones, you can update the kernel of the underlying host, which can be done independently of an OS upgrade. As far as containers go, the binaries and aptitude management tools are the same as if you installed Ubuntu on an EC2 instance (or VM).

Q: But I’m running a windows environment. Those OS’s don’t have a kernel. 

Yes, developers may want to remove cost overhead associated with Windows licenses by exploring running their apps on Linux OS. Others may simply want to modernize their .NET applications by testing out the latest versions on Containers. Docker allows you to run Linux VM’s on Windows 10 and Server 2016. As docker was written to initially execute on Linux distributions, in order to take advantage of multitenant hosting, you will have to run Hyper-V containers, which provision a thin VM on top of your hosts. You can then manage your mixed environment of Windows and Linux hosts via the –isolate option. More information can be found in the Microsoft and Docker documentation.

Conclusion:

IT teams need to be able to help drive the business forward. Newer technologies and security patches are procured on a daily basis. Developers need to be able to freely work on modernizing their code and applications. Concurrently, Operations needs to be able to support and enhance the pipelines and platforms that get the code out faster and securely. Leveraging Docker containers in conjunction with these pipelines further helps to ensure these are both occurring in parallel without the unnecessary overhead. This allows teams to work independently in the early stages of the development cycle and yet more collaboratively to get the releases out the door.

For help getting started leveraging your environment to take advantage of containerization, contact us.

-Sabine Blair, Systems Engineer & Cloud Consultant

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The Most Popular AWS Products of 2018

Big Data and Machine Learning Services Lead the Way

If you’ve been reading this blog, or otherwise following the enterprise tech market, you know that the worldwide cloud services market is strong. According to Gartner, the market is projected to grow by 17% in 2019, to over $206 billion.

Within that market, enterprise IT departments are embracing cloud infrastructure and related services like never before. They’re attracted to tools and technologies that enable innovation, cost savings, faster-time-to-market for new digital products and services, flexibility and productivity. They want to be able to scale their infrastructure up and down as the situation warrants, and they’re enamored with the idea of “digital transformation.”

In its short history, cloud infrastructure has never been more exciting. At 2nd Watch, we are fortunate to have a front-row seat to the show, with more than 400 enterprise workloads under management and over 200,000 instances in our managed public cloud. With 2018 now in our rearview mirror, we thought this a good time for a quick peek back at the most popular Amazon Web Services (AWS) products of the past year. We aggregated and anonymized our AWS customer data from 2018, and here’s what we found:

The top five AWS products of 2018 were: Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (used by 100% of 2nd Watch customers); AWS Data Transfer (100%); Amazon Simple Storage Service (100%); Amazon DynamoDB (100%) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (100%). Frankly, the top five list isn’t surprising. It is, however, indicative of legacy workloads and architectures being run by the enterprise.

Meanwhile, the fastest-growing AWS products of 2018 were: Amazon Athena (68% CAGR, as measured by dollars spent on this service with 2nd Watch in 2018 v. 2017); Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (53%); Amazon MQ (37%); AWS OpsWorks (23%); Amazon EC2 Container Service (21%); Amazon SageMaker (21%); AWS Certificate Manager (20%); and AWS Glue (16%).

The growth in data services like Athena and Glue, correlated with Sagemaker, is interesting. Typically, the hype isn’t supported by the data, but clearly, customers are moving forward with big data and machine learning strategies. These three services were also the fastest growing services in Q4 2018.

Looking ahead, I expect EKS to be huge this year, along with Sagemaker and serverless. Based on job postings and demand in the market, Kubernetes is the most requested skill set in the enterprise. For a look at the other AWS products and services that rounded out our list for 2018, download our infographic.

– Chris Garvey, EVP Product

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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 – Wednesday

Every year AWS re:Invent gets bigger and better. There are more people attending and even more who will participate remotely than any previous year. There are also more vendors showing the strength of the AWS ecosystem.

You realized why when Andy Jassy started his keynote session Wednesday morning.  The growth rate of AWS is phenomenal.  Adoption is up, revenues are up and AWS responds with customer-driven changes. Three years ago, there were less than 100 AWS services out here, and now, with yesterday’s announcements, there are more than 140. Jassy discussed a lot at the keynote, but the focus was on three major themes:

Storage/Database

The first theme was around Storage/Database with services such as Amazon FSx, which provides a platform for such things as FSx for Windows File Server. This is like Amazon EFS, but instead of supporting the NFS protocol it supports the SMB protocol. For those running workloads on Windows, you now have a shared filesystem. If you need a file system for High Performance Computing cluster, then FSx supports Lustre. I would look for more protocols and services in the future.

FSx was just the tip of the iceberg with new options DynamoDB Read/Write Capacity On Demand, another storage tier for Glacier called Deep Archive, a time-oriented database named Timestream, a fully managed ledger database – QLDB and even a Managed Blockchain service.  Read more about these from AWS:

Glacier Deep Archive
Amazon FSx for Windows File Servers
Amazon FSx for Lustre
DynamoDB Read/Write Capacity On Demand
Amazon Timestream
Amazon Quantum Ledger Database
Amazon Managed Blockchain

Security

The second theme was around Security.  It surprises no one that AWS is always expanding their offerings in this space.  They are fond of saying that security is Job One at AWS.  Two interesting announcements here were AWS Control Tower and AWS Security Hub. These will assist in many aspects of managing your AWS accounts and increasing your security posture across your entire AWS account footprint.

Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence

The final theme was around Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence. We see a lot of effort being put into AWS’ Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence solutions. This shows with the number of announcements this year. New Sagemaker offerings, Elastic Inference, and even their own specialized chip all point to a focus in this area.

Amazon Elastic Inference
AWS Inferentia
Amazon SageMaker Ground Truth
AWS Marketplace for machine learning
Amazon SageMaker RL
AWS DeepRacer

Amazon Textract
Amazon Personalize
Amazon Forecast

And we can’t forget the cool toy of the show – DeepRacer. Like Amazon DeepLens from last year, this “toy” car will help you explore machine learning. It has sensors and compute onboard, so you can teach it how to drive. There’s even a DeepRacer League, where you can compete for a trophy at AWS re:Invent 2019!

Outposts

Although not one of the three main themes, and not available until 2019, AWS Outposts was another exciting feature yesterday. Want to run your own “region” in your datacenter? Take a look at this. It is fully-managed, maintained and supported infrastructure for your datacenter. It comes in two variants – 1) VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts, which allows you to use the same VMware control plane and APIs you use to run your infrastructure and, 2) AWS native variant of AWS Outposts allows you to use the same exact APIs and control plane you use to run in the AWS cloud, but on-premises.

If you can’t come to the cloud, it can come to you.

Sessions and Events

There are more sessions than ever at this year’s re:Invent, and the conference agenda is full of interesting and useful events and demos. It’s always great to know that, even if you missed a session, you can stream it on-demand later on the AWS re:Invent YouTube channel. And we can’t forget the expo hall, which has been very heavily-trafficked. If you haven’t yet, stop by and see 2nd Watch in booth 2440. We’re giving away one more of those awesome Amazon DeepLens cameras we mentioned earlier in this post. This year’s re:Invent shows that AWS is bigger and better than ever!

David Nettles – 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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AWS re:Invent 2018: Global Partner Summit Keynote Recap

AWS re:Invent 2018 kicked off with the Global Partner Summit Keynote this morning, where many interesting data points about the growth of the global partner ecosystem were shared by Terry Wise, along with a vision of the future from Andy Jassy.

This was the 7th Global partner summit, and given the incredible range of solutions created by AWS partners and the growth of AWS, the summit is now 10 times larger than at its inception, and the partner ecosystem is 30 times larger!  AWS has grown 46% since 2017, thousands of new customers have been gained, and this momentum has been driven, to a large degree, by AWS -partners like 2nd Watch.

Strategic partnerships are also key to AWS’ business scale.  New AWS instance types with up 12TB of memory are available to support SAP HANA, and AWS is now the #1 location to run SAP, even over on-premises!  The VMware Cloud on AWS offering now has the support of over 200 partners, and customer success stories about the ease of migration are racking up.  Also, worldwide share of hosting Windows workloads are growing, and AWS hosts 57%, compared to 30% and 11% on Azure and other solutions, respectively.

During this session there was a focus on the AWS marketplace, which has greatly expanded in its role to help connect partners to clients.  AWS noted that there are now 950K subscriptions to partner solutions. There have also been 100 new software vendors this year and 300 new product listings. In addition, there is the new AWS Solution space, which features solutions built for featured use cases by AWS Competency Partners like 2nd Watch.

Both Terry Wise and Andy Jassy gave insights into the areas where partners will be critical to success and adoption of AWS in the future.  Some of the highlights included:

  • AI and ML: Over the next 5 years adoption and integration of these services is set to rapidly expand.
  • Serverless: The basic unit of compute is getting smaller, with container services like ECS and EKS growing quickly, as well as management of containers with Fargate expanding.  There is also adoption of event driven serverless solutions.  This microservice architecture uses smaller components for better performance and lower cost.  Also, AWS expanded the AWS Competency Program to include Container Competency for ECS and ECS for Kubernetes designations.
  • AWS Connect: Call center services are seeing fast adoption, and the service is enabling a great reduction in call volume.
  • Data management: Clients need help with getting data into the cloud, including a proper landing zone with a secure multi account environment.  This is a daunting task that clients get paralyzed with and/or don’t implement solutions with guard rails or security services.  Partners can help implement data lakes to transform the data and take advantage of the analytics and machine learning capabilities in AWS.
  • AWS SaaS Factory: The AWS SaaS Factory program provides a broad range of business and technical enablement resources for building, migrating, and optimizing software-as-a-service (SaaS) on AWS.   This allows a secure solution for multi-tenant architectures.
  • AR, VR, IoT: These emerging technologies are maturing and ripe for third parties to develop solutions and will soon become mainstream.

Despite these advanced services, the consensus is that the industry is currently into the meat of public cloud adoption.  Businesses need help with migration solutions, including portfolio assessment and mass migration.  This is expected to expand as the economy grows.

The key takeaway is that partners innovate on behalf of the client and create long term relationships that help clients take advantage of the fast pace of AWS service enhancements.  To see how 2nd Watch can do this for you, contact us.

-Eric Deehr – Cloud Solutions Architect

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