Re-Inventing the Present Cloud

While Andy’s ( CEO,AWS) keynote focused on the new features and segments where AWS sees itself in the future in terms of Artificial Intelligence and Compute capabilities, Werner Vogels’ ( CTO, Amazon) keynote today highlighted adding arms to current AWS services to transform the core AWS principles

  • Servers ( EC2 )
  • Containers
  • Going Server-less ( Ability to run code anywhere with the help of Lambda)

 

The AWS journey of transforming its customers’ life in the last 10 years can be summarised in its following model

  • Listening to customers
  • Coming back with choices to build the infrastructure ( In terms of EC2, RDS, Lambda etc each having dynamic options )
  • Working backwards and integrating these solutions which customer’s have come up with the entire ecosystem ( e.g Netflix DevOps Solutions ).

 

And during this transformation journey the lines of software cycle have changed and no longer development and testing form the only pillars of the agility cycle rather now key elements such as Performance, Reliability, Security and Operational Excellence should be the front-runners of this well architected framework.

 

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And AWS has drilled down to improving the Operational Excellence element by breaking each of its capability/service into sections depending of its advent in product delivery cycle. And this entire segment is based on this modern day 12-factors behind software development The Twelve-Factor App.

Prepare :-

This sections talks about how to prepare well enough to build the right set of operational resources both infrastructure as well as for the deployment. In order to improve efficiency to this category AWS has brought the following innovations.

  • Cloud Formation :– CF templates are essential building blocks of new AWS infrastructure for primarily these reasons.
    • Ability to scale and build environments using Automated Workflows.
    • Power to change the environments at run-time with minimal impact to the running traffic.

While Cloud Formation has been an AWS service for years, the addition of the following capabilities make it  further simple to use and integrate with customer systems.

 

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Also with the launch of the following  AWS services, its easy to prepare for upcoming operational challenges.

  • Amazon EC2 System Manager :-
    • When operating at scale collecting software inventory, applying OS patches, creating system images, and configuring Windows and Linux operating systems can be a repeated task for the Operations team. With this new service the entire management of the EC2 cluster can be automated using one single solution.

 

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Operate :-

     This section talks about how do we operate these infrastructures with efficiency and make them resilient. The following are additions to this Operate Family.

  • AWS CodeBuild :-
    • This enables automation to compile developers’ code and then run unit tests on it. No longer AWS deployment models have to be dependent on Jenkins/other build systems. With already havingCodeCommit, CodePipeline, and CodeDeploy services, the end to end AWS capabilities look complete.
  • AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate:-
    • With this fully managed version of Chef with OpsWorks it becomes easier to speed up development, delivery and management of applications. Managing backup, availability and operating system security updates are other key features of this.

 

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Monitor and Respond:-

 

Although a part of operational category , would like to bracket monitoring into a different section since it involves post deployment activities on the hosted AWS infra.  The following is the current AWS monitoring features of AWS:-

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Now with the addition of these three new services AWS has changed the ballgame primarily for two main reasons :-

  • The power to differentiate wether its a code issue or infra bug.
  • The ability to nail down to a single resource and a time-period for a given item impacting a major customer issue.

 

Amazon X Ray :-

It allows the developers to analyse logs and find race conditions that may leave the  applications unstable. X-Ray is basically a tool designed to debug across lines of code that can run on the Amazon EC2 machines/containers etc.

Amazon Personal Health Dashboard:-

This is the feature which we all dev-ops guys have been looking for, a dashboard into the health of the  services in our own AWS account. No longer infrastructure that is running our applications is a mystery for the engineers, all the data is available at one single place.

Amazon Shield :-

Customers using Dyn last month had an impact on their operation due to a denial of service on some of their endpoints, so this piece which has been missing from the AWS armour till now will provide two all its customers two new features :-

  • An integrated DDOs protection service for normal DOS attacks.
  • An AWS Shield Advanced for more sophisticated attacks.

 

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Though Werner also highlighted about adding new capabilities to Server-less and data segments of the AWS core services adding 6 new AWS Services to this spectrum, wouldn’t categorise into the current Cloud Life-cycle at Intuit here since we are hardly at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using AWS at scale. Would cover those areas in a separate post to talk in depth.

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