Wish You Were Here

AWS Summit NYC 2016

Getting ready for the keynote

This years AWS Summit in NYC was another energy filled event, with CTOs from Lyft and Comcast joining Werner Vogels on stage for the event’s keynote speech. I highly recommend the event to anyone in the technology space as an event that will give you both a pulse of the thinking and expertise around cloud and transformational technology, and also the opportunity to do a number of deep-dives into specific AWS technology with subject matter experts.

In listening to Vogels describe his vision for the cloud, there were several key themes that kept resurfacing:

First, make sure that you’re approaching the cloud from a “lean” perspective. Anything that doesn’t benefit your customer is waste. For instance, if the IT you provide for a customer isn’t a competitive difference, let AWS handle those things, and you can focus on providing business value. You can see this force at play in other industries such as the auto industry, manufacturing, and telecommunications, which have relied on vertical integration and specialization in order to maximize profitability.

There was also a heavy focus on experimentation, speed, and agility. In order to get your product into the hands of you customers more quickly, and therefore generating profits, Vogels described the ability to rapidly prototype and test using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to create develoment and testing VPCs. In particular, the cloud’s elastic capabilities and platforms allows us to test at whatever fidelity we desire.

In the keynote Vogels also talked about the importance of simplicity in systems, the importance of automation of that simplicity into more complex, reliable systems. That idea is described clearly with Gall’s Law:

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked.”

With the heavy focus on DevOps methods, Agile/Lean strategies, it’s clear that AWS wants us to begin using simple, repeatable building blocks to move to the cloud. This makes a lot of sense to me. Let’s consider the pieces that we already have:

Cloud Native + Well Architected + Predictable Routes to the Cloud

The focus above were repeated across a number of subjects, which if examined in the aggregate, shows a shift in Amazon’s focus from the highly technical, early adopter firms that have populated earlier summits and conferences, to much larger engineering powerhouses and enterprises that are starting to invest heavily in public cloud infrastructure. At a broad strokes, we can see particular focus being put on the following areas:

Big Data & Analytics
Public Sector

I also attended a number of the workshops, which reflected a focus on the major themes above. I found workshops which blended the major themes described in the keynote into a deliverable set of technology to be the most compelling. These were some of the workshop themes that I found most interesting:

  1. Workshops that focused on leveraging AWS platforms effectively
  2. Serverless function creation with AWS Lambda
  3. Maximizing infrastructure cost savings with ECS and Containers
  4. Security-focused Digital Transformations with a DevOps and Cloud-focused mindset

All in, it was an incredibly exciting event filled with a ton of talented, interesting people and topics. I’ll outline the major announcements below as well, and I encourage you to read up on all of the new capabilities. I’ve ordered them in descending order of my own personal interests, since there’s a boatload of news!

Feel free to ping me on Twitter if you have any thoughts or want to discuss: https://twitter.com/Jesse_White/.

AWS Application Load Balancer
Today we are launching a new Application Load Balancer option for ELB. This option runs at Layer 7 and supports a number of advanced features. The original option (now called a Classic Load Balancer) is still available to you and continues to offer Layer 4 and Layer 7 functionality.
Bring Your Own Keys with AWS Key Management Service
I am happy to announce that you can now bring your own keys to KMS. This allows you to protect extremely sensitive workloads and to maintain a secure copy of the keys outside of AWS. This new feature allows you to import keys from any key management and HSM (Hardware Security Module) solution that supports the RSA PKCS #1 standard, and use them with AWS services and your own applications.
IPv6 Support for Amazon S3
Amazon S3 buckets are now accessible via IPv6 addresses via new “dual-stack” endpoints

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) Update — Snapshot Price Reduction & More PIOPS/GiB

AWS Transit VPC

Amazon Kinesis Analytics — Process Streaming Data in Real Time with SQL

Usage Plans for Amazon API Gateway

AWS Snowball Update — Job Management API & S3 Adapter

Thanks for reading.