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December 18, 2020

Industry News – AWS re:Invent Week Three Recap

Tom Monk

The last three weeks of AWS re:Invent have been packed with announcements on new products and innovations, from a number of serverless developments to advancements in machine learning to continued improvement of the underlying AWS cloud infrastructure (see our recaps of week one and week two). To close out this third and final week, Amazon VP and CTO Werner Vogel’s keynote addressed COVID-19 and how Amazon and its customers have adapted during these difficult times. Here are our takeaways from what he had to say:

Customer Innovation and Creativity

Vogel highlighted COVID’s impact – how it forced businesses everywhere to quickly pivot and respond to the changes brought on by the pandemic. He noted that Zoom, which uses AWS as its primary cloud platform, scaled by 6,000 servers a night during the pandemic’s early stages. Customers not only moved to AWS to gain flexibility and scalability, they also leveraged it to find new and creative ways to adapt. During the keynote, two of Amazon’s customers made brief presentations discussing ways they’ve used the cloud to adapt during COVID. Here’s a brief recap of their stories:

  • Ava – This company develops a wearable device that uses big data and ML to help women along their fertility journey. During COVID, Ava utilized its cloud architecture and adapted its app to monitor users for COVID-19 symptoms, tracking indicators like body temperature and heartrate.
  • Lego – During Lego’s presentation, the company discussed their decision to go serverless, a move aimed at handling irregular traffic and workloads. Going serverless has allowed Lego to take advantage of larger, more productive teams, automation, and even leverage a DevOps approach. This is a great example of the power of serverless computing to help companies cost-effectively auto-scale on demand and deliver the flexibility they need to quickly pivot and respond to changes in demand.

To learn more about serverless computing and how it can deliver the next level of business efficiency, read Navisite’s blog here.

Leveraging Remote Working Tools

While customers have adapted, so too has Amazon. With organizations moving to an entirely remote workforce, demand has grown for desktop-as-a-service solutions like Amazon WorkSpaces. Vogel highlighted two tools that are enabling development and operations to support remote employees:

  • AWS Cloud9 – More customers than ever before are using Cloud9, a remote desktop tool specifically designed for development. This tool enables customers to use multiple instances for multiple projects and facilitates collaborative working – key for remote workers during the COVID-19 era. Cloud9 runs in a browser to write code and develop cloud products enabling work on the go – anywhere, anytime.
  • AWS CloudShell – This is a new remote working tool just announced by AWS. CloudShell provides a Linux environment from your browser that inherits credentials directly from the console. It eliminates the need to spend extra effort managing credentials locally. CloudShell provides a common API and tools that are installed and pre-configured, as well as 1 GB of data in home directory.

A Proactive Approach

Vogel also discussed the need to take a more proactive approach to operations – and how AWS is allowing its customers to do just that. Being proactive is all about collecting the right kind of information and being able to know what to do with it. It’s the difference between monitoring and observability. Monitoring is reactive, it tells us when something is already broken. Observability, on the other hand, is proactive – it allows us to see an issue before it happens. This is where observability tools come into play, including two new Amazon services:

  • Amazon Managed Service for Grafana – This service provides users with interactive data visualizations that allow you to “analyze, monitor and alarm on metrics, logs and traces across multiple data sources.”
  • Amazon Managed Service for Prometheus – This Prometheus-compatible monitoring service enables “easy to monitor containerized applications at scale.” The service, “automatically scales the ingestion, storage and querying of operational metrics as workloads grow or shrink and is integrated with AWS security services to enable fast and secure access to data.”

In addition to the two managed services described above, AWS also unveiled new system manager features related to observability this week, including:

  • Application Manager – “A new capability in AWS Systems Manager to enable customers to manage their applications from a single console.”
  • Change Manager – “Simplifies the way you can request, approve, implement and report on operational changes to your application configuration and infrastructure on AWS and on-premises.”

Engineering Chaos: Preparing for the Unexpected

Finally, Vogel also touched upon the concept of preparing for the unexpected. The concept of chaos engineering is not new. In fact, AWS customer Netflix built its own product called Chaos Monkey to intentionally create chaos and test their operations in various scenarios. Now, Amazon has taken this concept and made it available to the masses in a new service. Let’s take a closer look:

  • AWS Fault Injection Simulator – Coming in 2021, the AWS Fault Injection Simulator has one purpose, to create chaos. The service can be deployed into workloads to cause chaos and answer the question – can you operate in that chaos without harming your business or processes? The service can be deployed in both test and production environments. It serves as a high-water mark to ensure your operations can run in the most severe situations, such as an unexpected, massive spike in usage or security attack. Instead of testing for what you know, it’s about testing for what you can’t know.

As 2020 has taught us, no amount of planning can protect us from the unexpected. To learn more about preparing for the unknown, check out Navisite’s eBook: Building a Roadmap for IT Success in a COVID World and Beyond.

To learn more about how Navisite can help you migrate and optimize your business on AWS, visit our AWS Managed Services page.

About Tom Monk

Tom is a Solution Architect specializing in migrating enterprise workloads to public cloud. Drawing on his years of experience in a variety of consulting roles as a Systems Integrator and on a strong technical background, Tom seeks to modernize and simplify traditional monolithic enterprise workloads and deliver value to Navisite's customers by helping them find the right cloud platform. Tom is an AWS certified Professional Solution Architect and the Well-Architected Lead at Navisite. He is based in London and holds a Computer Science degree from the University of Essex.

Peter Berry  
- December 11, 2020