AWS brings you DIY 5G in Adam Selipsky Keynote

It’s still dark outside, the coffee is flowing and the bed hair is unkempt. AWS re:Invent year is being beamed into my kitchen in NZ this year, and damn I miss not being able to get up to Vegas in person. Even more so once I see all the pomp and ceremony as the keynote gets underway. Next year it will be in person I hope...

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky kicked off the keynote by reminding us that AWS had been here for 15 years now, launching S3 in 2006, in an era when IT was still constrained by a supply chain that took months to get infrastructure resources into the hands of engineers and developers. 

So that’s the old, but I get up at this time for the new…

Adam set the scene for the announcements by talking about a “Constant pursuit of a better way” and the invention of the “layup” in basketball, contrasting with shooting while standing still. 

So the announcements:

  • First we had the obligatory chip and instance announcements to warm up
    • Graviton 3 is the third generation AWS designed ARM chip which improves price performance for certain workloads. This is available in the C7g EC2 instance
    • Trn1 powered by Tranium for ML model training. Can be used with Inf1 for inference. This lowers the cost of training and inference. 
  • Next up was the new Mainframe Modernisation capability which has been tested to cut migration time by 2/3rds. This includes the ability to automatically convert Cobol to Java. Pretty handy with the lack of Cobol developers. 
  • AWS Private 5G! What! AWS 5G allows you to deploy and manage your own private 5G mobile network. The promise is to set up and deploy in days easily at a lower cost. Tell AWS where you want to deploy your network and the capacity and they will ship you a mobile network and SIM cards. The network then auto configures. Operating in public spectrum, you don’t even need a spectrum license! AWS Private 5G comes with Pay-As-You-Go pricing. Now I assume you will need devices designed to operate on the public spectrum before you run out and buy one, but I’d also assume a number of manufacturers are already onboard. This is probably a really bad day to be a mobile carrier who is betting on monetising 5G for IoT devices in high density localised configurations. Yes there are some limitations with public spectrum, but on a farm or in a factory, this could be amazing. Plug it into Starlink for backhaul for remote locations?
  • Data announcements 
    • There are a number of updates to Lake Formation, which is an awesome service to tie together multiple underlying AWS data services to make setting up and running a data lake much easier. This includes new functionality to enable cell and row level security, and new capability to track changes in S3 data and automatically resolve conflicts.
    • Four new analytics services will be released - when I say new, these really are serverless options for existing services but mean you can use the services on demand and don’t need to deploy and manage your own clusters. This includes Redshift, EMR, MSK and Kinesis. 
  • AWS Sagemaker Canvas is a new service that allows business users with no ML experience to create ML predictions without writing any code using a simple point-and-click interface. The point is to enable the citizen analyst and empower business users to work with data in a more powerful way. This is similar to the approach Amazon took with Quicksight Q which is a visualization service that works with natural language i.e. “What were my highest selling products last month?”
  • IoT has been core theme through a number of the announcements with a couple of specific IoT services also announcements
    • AWS IoT Twinmaker makes it easy to create digital twins of real-world systems. This includes making it easier to connect to data sources, automatically building knowledge graphs and allowing you to create 3D visualisations and dashboards to visualise operations state,
    • AWS IoT FleetWise connects data from millions of vehicles to analyse it in the cloud. This enables diagnostics and improving safety features or self driving capabilities.

Ok so that 5G announcement is probably one of the most interesting announcements I’ve ever heard at re:Invent and it's exactly the reason I tune in. There has been a general trend towards democratising connectivity over the last decade as networks have moved from telco based MPLS to SD-WAN and Zero Trust Network Access which will work over any Internet connection. But this is the first time we’ve really seen it displace the carrier altogether! This has the potential to make deployments into private premises such as factories or farms. Now I really want one (I don’t need one, but this isn’t about rationality). Time will tell if this is something that will have broad adoption.

As always, that was an inspiring keynote, which demonstrates how we are still in our infancy with cloud adoption with plenty of businesses still thinking about hosting legacy systems and servers in public cloud, and therefore not yet unlocking the full value of cloud computing. AWS is for builders, as they say.