AWS Re:Invent 2019 new product round-up: What CIOs need to know

In this guest post, Ivaylo Vrabchev, head of professional services at IT services management company, HeleCloud, shares his round-up of the most eye-catching announcements from this year’s AWS Re:Invent user and developer conference. 

More than 65,000 attendees trekked out to Las Vegas in early December for the eighth annual AWS Re:Invent user and developer conference in Las Vegas.

AWS CEO, Andy Jassy joked during his opening Re:Invent keynote that he would need every minute of the allotted three hours to ensure he covered all the new announcements the cloud giant had planned. And he wasn’t wrong, with the keynote highlighting some exciting new services and interesting customer trends from the likes of financial services company, Goldman Sachs and life sciences firm, Cerner.

However, the first big announcement of the show occurred the day before, with AWS confirming its first major move into the quantum computing space, with the arrival of AWS Braket.

The offering allows customers to design their own quantum algorithms from scratch or choose from a set of pre-built algorithms. This will enable, it is claimed, businesses to manage compute resources and establish low-latency connections to the quantum hardware that gives customers the opportunity to explore, evaluate and build expertise for the future.

Gravitating towards Graviton at AWS Re:Invent

Back to the Andy Jassy keynote, and the first announcement of the day saw AWS build on last year’s AWS Graviton 1 with the announcement of a new set of M6g, R6g, C6g instances for EC2 that are powered by ARM-based AWS Graviton 2 processors. The chips promise to provide the same level of performance for much lower costs in tasks like handling user requests in applications, analysing user data, or monitoring performance.

Most significantly the AWS Graviton 2 marks a major leap in performance and capabilities over AWS Graviton 1, providing up to 40% better price performance.

The show also saw AWS continue to break out of the centralised service delivery approach and target improved application latency. A great example of this was the emergence of AWS Local Zones that extend regions into wider geographic areas for lower latency, as well as AWS Wavelength that enables developers to build applications that deliver single-digit millisecond latencies to mobile devices and end-users.

Even more machine learning

Machine Learning (ML) continues to be a key area of focus for AWS, with a slew of announcements on this topic during the keynote, including a new ML web-based IDE, a model monitor for quality, an experiments framework, and a deep learning library for Java. It is clear that ML is penetrating the high level of the application stack and getting closer to the business, with services ranging from CodeGuru for code review automation to Amazon Fraud Detector, that uses ML for fraud detection.

Through Amazon Fraud Detector customers can create a fraud detection model that leverages ML without the customer needing any technical understanding of ML. To generalise, with a number of additional announcements of services that leverage ML under the hood, AWS is clearly moving in the direction of empowering the wider services base with ML, no longer keeping the ML portfolio confined to technology-centric use cases. This will certainly be welcome by businesses, who despite the access to ML tools, have struggled to make sense of many of them in their own business contexts.

In a room full of developers it was no surprise that Amazon CodeGuru received such applause. Amazon CodeGuru helps businesses proactively improve code quality and application performance with intelligent recommendations by leveraging ML. Code Guru helps customers identify and fix code issues such as resource leaks, potential concurrency race conditions and wasted CPU cycles.

An expanding networking portfolio

A major new addition to the cloud giant’s networking portfolio emerged in the form of AWS Transit Gateway, which now supports the ability to establish peering connections; a feature that will benefit organisations with hybrid and multi-region multi-VPC architecture.

The ability to peer Transit Gateways between different AWS Regions enables customers to build global networks spanning multiple geographic and jurisdiction areas. Traffic using inter-region Transit Gateway peering always uses the AWS global network, and user traffic never traverses the public internet, thereby remaining secure with predictable network performance. Inter-region Transit Gateway peering encrypts inter-region traffic with no single point of failure.

The AWS Transit Gateway Network Manager simplifies the monitoring of global networks providing a global view of the entire organisational network. The service is already integrated with products from AWS partners such as Cisco, Aruba, Silver Peak, and Aviatrix that have provisioned their software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) devices to connect with Transit Gateway Network Manager seamlessly in only a few clicks.

Such integration allows AWS customers to visualise their global network by means of a topology diagram or a geographical map.

Identity and Access Management

AWS are always looking for improvements as well as new services and features that could help their customers further improve their security posture in the cloud, and – in line with that – came the arrival of AWS IAM Access Analyzer.

This allows security teams to set policies to ensure only intended individuals can access resources. AWS Access Analyzer simplifies granular control to specific resources and how they can be accessed across the entire Cloud environment.

An IT pro’s summary

The HeleCloud team and I had a fantastic time at Re:Invent. The vast array of sessions that were on offer, coupled with the workshops available, meant it was a fantastic opportunity to learn and get hands on with AWS services and its community. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how these services are adopted and implemented into businesses throughout the next 12 months.

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