AWS re:Invent 2018: The biggest announcements, innovations, and takeaways

 In AWS, Cloud, IT News/Events, News

Another year, another Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent in the books, and once again it lived up to expectations.

AWS uses this annual event to make many notable service announcements, which I’ll discuss in a bit. But first, my favorite re:Invent announcement wasn’t about a new service … it was that SHI achieved premier partner status with AWS! This achievement puts SHI in the TOP tier of consulting partners for AWS.

Notably, SHI also was named CloudHealth’s North America Partner of the Year for the second year in a row.

But now back to our regularly scheduled re:Invent programming.

If you’ve never been, the event is HUGE. Estimated attendance has reached north of 45,000. Aside from product announcements, re:Invent features workshops, boot camps, and presentations from AWS, partners, and customers. It’s a great learning experience and offers you the chance to connect with peers and colleagues. The opportunity to meet with partners and customers all in one place is invaluable.

Given the continuing growth in the cloud/hybrid space, I wasn’t surprised by how popular the event was. And if our Q3 revenue announcement is any indication, this is only the beginning.

Announcements that stood out from re:Invent 2018

On the partner frontAWS’s new IoT Service Delivery Designations really excite me as an evangelist for edge and IoT. This will help customers identify partners with specific IoT capabilities that have been endorsed by AWS. The announcement about the container competency also piqued my interest. As I’ve blogged about in the past, containers represent a great opportunity for cloud portability. I’m eager to pursue this competency to show that SHI’s Cloud and Innovative Solutions (CIS) team is ready to help our customers transform their applications.

On the products front — The Outposts and Managed Blockchain announcements stood out to me. Outposts should help further AWS’s position in the edge space by providing native AWS services, infrastructure, and operating models to its customers’ locations. They can be data centers, including colo spaces, or edge locations. The Managed Blockchain announcement provides a service to users based on well-known frameworks of Hyperledger Fabric and Etherium within the AWS cloud. Blockchain has so many more applications beyond cryptocurrencies. It is probably best known for its use in supply chain, healthcare, and ERP systems.

Other thoughts on re:Invent

I asked other CIS team members to share what they thought was remarkable about the event. Here are some of their opinions:

Tony Vinayak, Senior Director Professional Services: “Among the flurry of announcements made, the one that heralds a stance-shift for AWS is Outposts. In the past, AWS has been faulted for being all-in on public cloud while mostly shunning private/hybrid cloud when recommending architectures. However, the market has spoken with VMware Cloud on AWS emerging as a cogent option for enterprises looking for a seamless conduit between on-prem investments and the newer cloud-native IaaS and PaaS initiatives. Why choose one when both could coexist harmoniously? Microsoft has been quite clear in its hybrid cloud strategy too, with Azure Stack.”

Marc Cantelmo, Director of Innovative Solutions:The new products announced at AWS re:Invent this year range from hardware to artificial intelligence and pretty much everything in between. The enhanced AWS networking announcement will have the most direct impact for our clients. Using the increased available bandwidth in conjunction with AWS Transit Gateway and AWS Global Accelerator will be game-changing. These features provide increased application performance, better security, and new opportunities in the cloud. Harnessing the internal AWS network, the cloud builders can offer new and exciting ways for teams to consume AWS. Adding support for DNS resolution over Inter-Region VPC Peering changes the dynamic for developing robust and durable solutions. Overall, the networking changes have taken the bread and butter staples of the cloud and repackaged them so our engineers can build a new feast of opportunities.”

William Kerr, Senior Developer: It was great to see AWS lowering storage costs yet again with Glacier Deep Archive. SageMaker Neo’s ability to compile models for target systems should really simplify running inference on various hardware. I really like the direction Amazon is heading with specialized database solutions like Amazon Timestream, and can’t wait to see more!”

Carl Ramkarran, Principal Consultant:The sheer volume of Amazon services (more than 140!) covered by this year’s re:Invent announcements says a lot about AWS’s commitment to continued investment into the customer community. Here are the innovations that stood out to me.

Storage

  • Similar to Amazons EFS, which supports the NFS protocol, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server supports the Windows SMB protocol. Customers that run workloads on Windows now have a native shared file system. If you need a file system for High Performance Computing cluster, then FSx supports Lustre. I see this as a great use case for higher education institutions looking to build their own research clusters.
  • Deep Archive, the new storage tier for Glacier, is AWS’s lowest cloud storage, cheaper than tape at $0.00099/GB/mo. This may mark the end of tape as we know it. We have many ISVs taking advantage of S3 storage, but now we have a price point of $1 per TB per month.

Security

  • AWS introduced a fully managed service making it easier to build and manage the complexities of blockchain. This will accelerate experimentation and further adoption of this open and decentralized digital ledger system in supply chains and more.
  • AWS Control Tower was built to automate the setup of a baseline environment, or landing zone, that is a secure, well-architected, multi-account AWS environment. Customers can now accelerate a purpose-built platform in the cloud leveraging all the best blueprints a Landing Zone has to offer.
  • AWS Security Hub provides a comprehensive view of your high-priority security alerts and compliance status across AWS accounts, improving management of your AWS accounts and increasing your security posture across your entire AWS footprint.

Data center

  • Azure Stack beware, Outposts is here. The ability to have your own “region” in your data center brings capabilities found in AWS to on-prem environments. There’s still more to see, but this evolution is huge. AWS claims it’s a fully managed, maintained, and supported infrastructure for your data center. It comes in two variants: 1) VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts, which allows you to use the same VMware control plane and APIs you use to run your infrastructure, and 2) AWS native variant of AWS Outposts, which allows you to use the same exact APIs and control plane you use to run in the AWS cloud but on premises.
  • VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2 is a collection of host-resident probes, drivers, and agents that allow the vSphere system to optimize and manage workloads running on EC2 environments, either in Amazon’s EC2 public cloud or on premises on Amazon’s Outposts hybrid cloud solution.
  • SHI has been delivering Well-Architected reviews to our customers for some time. As you can imagine, AWS does not have enough time and resources to help customers conduct these reviews. Now, the AWS Well-Architected Tool is available for you to do this review yourself. This tool has a place but doesn’t replace the real-world knowledge, expertise, envisioning, and insight an AWS cloud veteran can bring to the table.

All in all, re:Invent 2018 lived up to the billing.

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the recorded video streams or view through AWS Innovate.  Also consider checking out local event recaps through AWS user groups (like we have in Tampa) or look out for other meetups that will offer additional opportunities to interact with your peers.

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