AWS re:Invent – Key Takeaways

Dec 7, 2016
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Adapter and public cloud expert Mark Stancombe-Duhm visited Las Vegas to attend AWS re:Invent 2016 – he’s compiled his key learnings from the event in this blog post.

Re:Invent – Even More Ways To Learn

This year’s event was bigger than ever before, taking place across 3 venues, with just under 35,000 delegates. There were nearly 700 keynotes, technical and breakout sessions and live streams, hundreds of exhibitors within re:Invent Central (including our new Datapipe colleagues). 29 new or improved services were announced and 52 buffalo wings consumed by the winner of the Tatonka challenge!

What did AWS announce?

Well in line with previous years, a number of announcements were made leading up to re:Invent, setting the groundwork for the major ones that were to come. These were split between the 2 keynote talks presented by Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, on Wednesday and Werner Vogels, CTO and Vice President of, on Thursday.

Day 1 (Wednesday)

The first day had more of an infrastructure based feel to it with Andy Jassy talking about superpowers while announcing multiple improvements and enhancements to Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance types, including a new F1 instance family and Elastic Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) for EC2. This was followed by a number of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) services, including Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly and Amazon Rekognition, the anticipated Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL Compatibility and Amazon Athena for running SQL queries directly against S3 bucket contents.

The day was finished off with announcements focussed on targeting hybrid workloads, including AWS Greengrass, AWS Snowball Edge and a discussion on the recent VMware on AWS Cloud enhancements, before the keynote closed with the introduction of AWS Snowmobile via an articulated lorry entering the venue!

Day 2 (Thursday)

The second day was more developer focussed with Werner Vogels concentratingon the message of transformation, while announcing the introduction of a slew of new automation tooling including AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate, AWS CodeBuild, AWS Step Functions, C# in AWS Lambda, AWS Batch, Amazon Pinpoint, AWS Glue and the introduction of the AWS open sourced Blox projects for container creation and management. These announcements were the followed by the introduction of services to assist with the security, monitoring and running of environments, including Amazon EC2 Systems Manager, AWS X-Ray, AWS Personal Health Dashboard and AWS Shield. To top off the keynote and compete with the AWS Snowmobile announcement, Werner finished up by announcing that Martin Garrix (the number 1 ranked DJ in the world) would be DJ’ing at the re:Play party in the evening!

Looking back at my initial wishlist it was great to see quite a few of the items ‘ticked off’, such as support for additional languages and long running processes in AWS Lambda. Hearing that the AWS Product teams all have a 2-year roadmap of features and requests, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more items confirmed shortly, and like Pinnochio I fully believe my remaining wishes will be granted at some point.

My favourite announcement

This has to be a tie between AWS Glue and AWS Step Functions, as I can already see a number of potential uses for these services. As described in my wishlist, it would have been great to have seen improvements to CloudFormation to allow it to assume existing resources, but hopefully this will appear at some point in the future as part of the products existing roadmap.

Overall the announcements made during both keynotes and the preceding Global Partner Summit, saw AWS add a number of key building blocks in both the application and infrastructure spaces, that will allow users to continue to build, shape and innovate within their own solutions. Based on this it feels like businesses will start to move from a natural stance of ‘why should I go AWS?’ to one of ‘why shouldn’t I go AWS?’. This is more than backed up by the large institutions, such as Finra, Trainline and the Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy, who demonstrated their case studies during the keynote.

Forward view

In the next 12 months, I’m looking forward to the AWS platform continuing to evolve, particularly in relation to the new services announced at re:Invent 2016 and can’t wait to see what re:Invent 2017 might bring to the DevOps toolbox.

Mark Stancombe-Duhm
Hyperscaler Practice Lead

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