AWS re:Invent 2015 – Andy Jassy Keynote

New AWS services and features announcements

During the first official keynote of AWS re:Invent 2015, lead by Andy Jassy, seven new services have been announced:

  • Amazon QuickSight: a business intelligence service designed to help anyone get real value from their data by reducing the complexity of traditional BI tools.
  • Amazon Kinesis Firehose: a service that lets you easily load data into AWS services like S3 and Redshift from any streaming data source. Firehose includes automatic scaling, concatenation, automatic, and encryption.
  • Amazon Snowball: a hardware storage device for simplified secure data transfer. Ship 50TB in parallel with easily managed logistics.
  • AWS Database Migration Service: easily migrate production databases to AWS with minimal downtime. The service offers continuous data replication for databases of any size and includes real-time monitoring (it costs just a few dollars and you can set it up in ten minutes).
  • AWS Schema Conversion Tool: migrate between database engines reliably and easily with automatic schema and data transformation, including database functions.
  • Amazon Inspector: an automated security assessment service that finds security and compliance issues, to help you identify and remediate compliance issues before they cause problems.
  • AWS Config Rules (preview): set up automatically triggered compliance rules for resource configurations.

Why are builders passionate about the Cloud?

Andy explored the main reason why people love the Cloud: the possibility to be free and have control over your own destiny. Let’s recap together which kind of freedom he was referring to:

Freedom to build, unfettered

The agility given by quick provisioning and the vast infrastructure functionalities offered by AWS, together with the availability of deeper features for each one of the Amazon services, give every developer (or builder, as Andy calls them) the possibility to build without any infrastructural constraint.

Freedom to get real value from your data

Storage, big data workloads, streaming data, predictive analytics, and data warehouse capability are already offered by AWS as individual services. But in order to analyze your data and get real insights about your business, you typically need expensive and complicated BI tools, which are often handled and used only by data analysts.

In that context, Amazon QuickSight is great news. It’s an easy-to-use Business Intelligence service that allows you to build, visualize and share business insights from your own data source, faster and cheaper than any traditional BI tool.

Freedom to easily move your data into the cloud

By using Direct Upload, Direct Connect, and Import/Export, you can already move your big data into AWS, and Kinesis has solved many of your streaming problems. But AWS wanted to simplify the process of loading your streaming data into the Cloud. Thus, with Amazon Kinesis Firehose, you can now stream into AWS from any source, with automatic scaling, data concatenation, automatic compression, and optional encryption (via KMS).

Sometimes, though, your big data requirements are beyond the capacity of your network and the physical and logistical demands of using Import/Export might still be too complicated. For that, Amazon Snowball will provide you a simplified secure data transfer at a petabyte scale (up to 50TB shipped in parallel for each bag), with a guaranteed strong chain of custody, automatic conversion of legacy file systems to Object Storage (S3) and much easier logistics.

Freedom from bad (database) relationships

Old-world databases are very expensive, proprietary, generate lock-in, and come with punitive licensing.

That’s why people have been moving to open-source databases such as MySQL or Postgres, although it’s usually harder to obtain the same kind of enterprise-grade performance. AWS recently introduced Aurora, which is the fastest growing service in the ecosystem (even more than Redshift), and now a new RDS-based database management system is available: MariaDB.

Besides the ability to choose, handling migrations can be the biggest problem with database management, for which only expensive and complex tools are currently available on the market. This is why Amazon announced their AWS Database Migration Service today, which allows you to easily migrate your production DB to AWS, with minimal downtime. The service offers continuous data replication during the migration for databases of any size, including real-time monitoring and a simple ten minute set up the process. As part of this new service, the AWS Schema Conversion Tool will solve any migration involving more than one database engine, letting you migrate between different DB engines reliably and easily.

Freedom to Migrate

Andy described the typical enterprise path to the cloud: starting with new applications and moving on to whole websites, analytics and mobile, and mission-critical components and whole database migrations. This process usually involves intermediate transitioning, by means of hybrid Cloud infrastructures.

Freedom to secure your cake and eat it too

Here the point is being secure while moving fast. With the recently announced AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) and the functionalities offered by AWS Config, including config history and change notifications, you can make sure your changes don’t break your security policies. Furthermore, AWS Config Rules will help you set up and automatically trigger compliance rules (i.e. rule = “All EBS Volumes should be encrypted”, action = “Encrypt Volumes”). This new functionality comes with reports and both pre-built and custom rules.

But how do you identify and remediate compliance issues early? Amazon Inspector will perform automated checks for you. In fact, you can think of it as an automated security assessment service that finds security and compliance issues on your AWS infrastructure.

Freedom to say yes (to new ideas)

Too often, decision-makers don’t feel they have the freedom to say yes and end up slowing useful innovation. From this point of view, with the Cloud providing the infrastructure and logic that drives digital transformation, you gain the freedom to say yes and embrace it.

Keynote Guests

Andy Jassy introduced a few interesting guests, each one either presenting a new service of presenting a partner’s story. Here is a quick recap:

Rob Alexander – CIO of Capital One – described the importance of their partnership with AWS as an innovative technology company. Since mobile banking is exploding (as much as twice as fast as the web itself, and growing fast!), Rob confidently thinks that “Mobile is the new Wallet” and offered a quick introduction to Capital One’s new mobile banking app – deployed on AWS.

Matt Wood – product strategist at AWS – presented a demo of Amazon QuickSight, describing the three main factors driving the design of this new BI tool. Matt introduced what they call SPICE – (the Super-fast Parallel In-memory Computation Engine), which, data compression and queries compiled to machine code, makes QuickSight seriously fast.

Bill Vass – VP Technology at AWS – illustrated how Amazon Snowball can help large AWS customers with enterprise requirements move a huge amount of data to the Cloud. Bill showed us a real Snowball bag: it is just 45 pounds and is rain, dust, and tamper resistant. Your data will be driven to AWS, converted from legacy FS, uploaded into S3 and encrypted. Of course, Snowball can be reused so that you don’t have to buy or handle physical media and is connected directly to your physical network via a 100G network connection.

Finally, General Electric, Accenture, MLBAM, and Stripe described the benefits of their deep relationship with AWS.

Coming up

This is only the first of two scheduled keynotes at AWS re:Invent 2015 in Las Vegas, besides the 280 sessions organized within the next two days. More news and updated about those soon.

Written by

Alex Casalboni

Alex is a Software Engineer with a great passion for music and web technologies. He's experienced in web development and software design, with a particular focus on frontend and UX.

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