After spending the week at AWS re:Invent, it is clear to me that AWS is not afraid to depart from it’s IaaS beginnings and is truly becoming a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of innovation.
In many ways, AWS has remained true to its origins: giving developers control. New services and products are aimed squarely at giving developers what they need to maximise their potential for innovation and minimise time-to-value.
Werner Vogels, AWS CTO, explained the logic behind this: “I truly hated the relationship with vendors. I felt they were in charge and I was never in charge, it was so counter to the culture we had at Amazon.”
So there’s plenty here to give developers what they want. AWS LightSail makes it as simple as possible to provision infrastructure, simply choose an application and AWS will provision the infrastructure, including configuration and dependencies, to get you up and running. AWS X-Ray is a fully-managed service to analyse and debug distributed applications in production that will provide a visual way to trace and debug issues. And, in total, seven new instance types were unveiled alongside unit testing and debugging services, as well as a ‘personal’ health dashboard.
The company clearly aims to make it as easy as possible to get started on AWS.
But there’s another angle emerging. Alongside delivering for the developer community, there’s huge amounts here for the enterprise customer.
So what do Amazon’s new services mean for, say, a CIO who’s just stepped into the at a major bank? Or at a high-growth retail organisation?
I think what we’ve seen at re:Invent is that the expanded suite of services that was revealed assist the enterprise at every technical phase of a transition to a DevOps-style approach to IT.
Part of this year’s re:Invent play is about giving enterprises control at scale, regardless of where they are in their transformation process.
AWS can now help you at every stage of the digital transformation journey, from automation, through infrastructure as code, to containerisation and, ultimately, serverless - where you’re only worrying about your code and nothing else.
So let’s take a broad look at the enterprise digital transformation journey, and where AWS can help.
For enterprises that are just getting started with the cloud, automation and configuration management is the first step. And at re:Invent, AWS announced OpsWorks, a complete hosted Chef solution, enabling automation of application installation, configuration, state-management and compliance enforcement across an entire estate of infrastructure through the AWS console.
In combination with AWS’s other services (some new, some old) CodePipeline, CodeCommit, CodeBuild and CodeDeploy, an end-to-end Continuous Integration/Delivery pipeline can now be set up and integrated into AWS.
The next major stage on the road to digital transformation is to virtualise your infrastructure. AWS have released new features for their CloudFormation service, which allows your to deploy templated infrastructure-as-code into the cloud to increase the speed of deployment and improve resource utilisation.
Organisations further along will be looking to deploy microservices in containers that are orchestrated and scheduled so as to maximise resource utilisation and enable rapid deployment.
To support this, AWS announced Step Functions, which provides a graphical interface for managing the creation and management of workflows that make up an application hosted in Amazon’s cloud. This makes it easy to coordinate the components of distributed applications and microservices.
New features were also announced for Amazon’s EC2 Container Service, including AWS Blox. This is a collection of open source projects that will help developers to build schedulers and to integrate third-party schedulers on top of ECS. These new services and features enable enterprises to deploy and manage containers effectively and securely.
The current holy grail of high-velocity IT is serverless. At this stage of digital transformation, you can run code as and when it is required, without worrying about dependencies or infrastructural overheads.
AWS are clearly taking this seriously as they announced new features for their API Gateway and Lambda services. The new Lambda@Edge feature allows you to run code at global AWS edge locations without provisioning or managing servers, responding to end users at the lowest network latency. This is perfect for global enterprises looking to provide a high-quality end service to users around the world, with no hassle.
Lambda serves as the glue that connects and holds multiple AWS services together. If AWS offers the services, Lambda can link them together and trigger events in a cost-efficient way. This means that enterprises
Lastly, enterprise security and compliance are major issues across the entire transformation process,
AWS CloudTrail and CloudWatch have been given new features and have become cheaper, respectively, giving enterprises a boost to their monitoring capabilities in the cloud. And the newly-announced AWS Shield protects enterprises from DDoS attacks as standard.
I think AWS’s new Snowmobile service sums up the situation nicely: AWS will do anything to help you thrive in the cloud, including delivering an enormous snow-white, water- and tamper-proof lorry to your doorstep to help you move preposterous quantities of data directly to their data centres.
A leader in innovation
Businesses often need a technology company to be a leader. To be a company that can not only show them the way, but that be the first to enter unexplored territory themselves. In the past this has been IBM, Microsoft, HP - companies that have defined their generation.
For the enterprise, AWS is stepping up to play the role of leader in the cloud computing space. With its support for all stages of digital transformation, they are purposefully laying down a path for enterprises to follow to a place where, if they want, they can get everything they need to make their IT faster and better from a single source.