AWS re:Invent 2018 Recap

Author: Jeremy Nees, Chief Product & Technology Officer – The Instillery

AWS re:Invent never fails to impress, and 2018 was no different. A ton of product announcements, new features, and a general sense of direction as to where some of the best and brightest in the tech industry see our futures heading.

That always means there is a lot to take in, which is why I’m going to try to summarise it in a couple of different categories.

Key Themes

There were two prevailing themes, that came through more consistently than any others

Things are getting easier… I think.

While there was no shortage of new stuff to think about, a large number of announcements were about making it easier to consume cloud, and easier to achieve business outcomes. Some of the key highlights include:

  1. AWS Transit Gateway – we have done a lot of work for customers over the last year on transit VPCs, allowing sharing of connectivity into and out of cloud. It is time-consuming and as most vendors firewalls were not built to run in cloud in an HA pair (i.e. want multicast), it means complexity. AWS Transit Gateway looks to provide the outcome, but in a simplified fashion
  2. AWS Well-Architected Tool – The AWS Well-Architected framework provides best practise architecture standards. Reviewing an environment against these standards is again time-consuming, and typically becomes a point in time exercise. With the Well-Architected tool, it will allow reviews to become quicker and easier, and more importantly, frequent.
  3. S3 Intelligent Tiering – S3 already allows you to set policies to move data between service tiers, however that has been relatively rudimentary. Intelligent tiering instead monitors use patterns to tier. This simplifies the cost-effective consumption of multiple S3 tiers.
  4. AWS Lake Formation – We have all the tools to build data lakes on AWS already, but what makes this new service great, is that it makes it much quicker and much easier. This includes the importing of data and how it is labelled, through to storing and querying it. It is now conceivable to build a data lake in a couple of short sprints which is really useful for idea validation without a big upfront investment.
  5. Container Marketplace – Think the uptake of containers in enterprise has been slow? I’d agree, but with last year’s announcement of Fargate (fully managed container service) and this years announcement of the Container Marketplace, the next year may see more deployment of containerised solutions in corporates than all those before.
  6. Machine Learning – I won’t list all the announcements around ML, because there were so many. AWS has released application services powered by ML such as Personalize, Forecast and Textract allowing you to use ML-based services with no ML experience required. The AWS Marketplace will now have an ML category with over 150+ packages, providing pre-built models and allowing them to be traded. Then there is DeepRacer, a 1/18th scale autonomous vehicle was launched to encourage learning around reinforcement training. All of these are about making it easier to put ML in the hands of businesses, without the same level of upfront investment.

Hybrid cloud – no longer a swear word

It has taken a while to get to this point but here we are. AWS Outpost offers AWS hardware and services on premise. This comes in two initial offerings, an AWS native service, and a VMware on AWS service. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise after Microsoft released Azure Stack, and Google announced GKE on premise. If anything I thought Google would be the purest that held out the longest. AWS has also tinkered recently with running a small number of services on Snowball, and with their RDS on VMware service.

The big validation here is all about the market. To be fair this took us (The Instillery) some time to get on board with as a born in the cloud provider. However, similar to the public cloud providers, we also saw the demand in a number of customer engagements and ultimately believed it was important enough to match with supply. After expanding our capabilities with multi-cloud and SD-WAN, we wanted to ensure we had the depth to support hybrid cloud, which was one of the key benefits in the merger with Vo2. Simply put, not all workloads are well suited to migrate to public cloud immediately, or ever. You will get more return in moving services that can truly take advantage of public cloud-native services, or abstract data into public cloud for similar purposes.

There is still quite some water to go under the bridge with what AWS Outpost will look like. For example, is there a capex option? Can you choose to sweat the assets? What services will ultimately end up being supported? What is the management model? As these questions are answered, it will quickly determine where Outpost will deliver the most value.

The Winners!

A couple of shoutouts to finish this up with a few highlights from re:Invent ‘18.

Best Session

This has to go to Dome9 – the session was a great rundown on why the network perimeter is only a portion of your overall cloud security perimeter. This should be obvious given you don’t control the transit path for traffic from some services but somehow is often missed. With some really tangible examples, Dome9 drove this home. The runner-up would be the session on the new architecture sitting behind Lambda. Some rather eloquent applications computer science and logic.

Best Party

Nope, it wasn’t re:Play, and in fact is too close to call between Sumo Logic and the AWS Public Sector party! Yes….the public sector party. While the Sumo Logic party had a demonstration between 3 professional sumo wrestlers, weighing up to 600lbs, the public sector party was not what we expected – must be a lot of steam to blow off. How very rock’n’roll. How very Vegas. Too close to call… you decide:

Best Dirty Diner

It was always going to be the Peppermill. You can gain weight just looking at the food. A classic Vegas diner experience. The first challenge is to get through dinner. The second challenge is the banana split to finish…which feeds about four.

Best Vendor

I’m gonna throw this one to Druva, purely because I got to catch up with David Gildea. David founded Cloud Ranger, which was acquired by Druva earlier this year. David is one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet and told us a bit about his story of building Cloud Ranger, including that he had to even sell his furniture. Very humble guy, but damn that takes some guts!

Best Announcement

DeepRacer was my favourite. Not only was it a cool concept, but damn, there is a lot of work that has gone into building an actual 1/18th scale autonomous vehicle. Very, very impressive and a great way of democratising what would otherwise be inaccessible technology.

The End

It seems fitting to have an end. As those who have travelled to Vegas will know, it is quite a place, but getting home after a Vegas trip, is something else! Especially when you’ve been in transit for 28hrs.

If you want to know anything more about re:Invent or the topics covered above, let us know on Linkedin or fill in your details below and we will be in touch.

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