AWS re:Invent delivers tools for developers, operational teams

 In AWS, Cloud, IT News/Events, News

On the second day of keynotes at the fifth annual AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, took the stage to reveal a set of new tools for technical teams to improve operational excellence and the velocity of software development. Overall, the new tools and services were well received, and some even elicited whoops and applause from the crowd.

Here’s a brief look at the news coming out of re:Invent today.


  • AWS for OpsWorks for Chef Automate gets you out of the business of managing Chef and into the business of using Chef to manage your infrastructure.
  • AWS EC2 Systems Manager offers patch management, package management, and other capabilities to help you manage the underlying software on your EC2 instances and virtual machines (VMs) or servers in your on-premises environment.
  • AWS CodeBuild is a managed service that acts as a complement to Code Commit, Pipeline, and Deploy to help automate the build and test of applications.
  • AWS X-Ray is a management and monitoring framework for complex distributed applications, including those using a microservices architecture. The ability to see exactly what’s going on in these complicated platforms and drill into failure or performance bottlenecks is a home run.
  • The new AWS Personal Health Dashboard provides better visibility into your AWS environment and enables teams to write and attach Lambda functions to the dashboard to automate responses. This opens the door for you to run a lean team that automates everything and improves operational excellence.

Data is king

Data was another major theme this week, with Amazon releasing several new data management and analytics tools. The first, AWS Athena, is a new tool for running SQL queries on unstructured data in S3. This gives you a quick and easy capability to query a data lake, for instance.

Amazon also launched AWS Glue, a fully managed data catalog and ETL service that catalogs, transforms, and prepares your data for the next stage of work. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we can use it to unlock the value of data we’re already collecting.

As Vogels said in his keynote, “It is the quality of the data that you have that will be the differentiator between companies.” But, he pointed out, we’re still in a world where 80 percent of the work in analytics really isn’t analytics– it’s in the prep work you do, so you can do the analytics.

Old problems, new opportunities

AWS Batch may not be the sexiest tool, but it addresses a real problem — the old school, long-running jobs that are critical to the business. Batch leverages spot fleets and other resources to automate these jobs, and eliminates the drudgery of managing them. If it can do this in a cost effective way, it could be very helpful.

Amazon also announced this week new support for software containers on the AWS platform. Task Placement Engine will extend ECS in some interesting ways, particularly when combined with Blox, a set of open source tools for building schedulers and other container management tools. It’s an interesting change for a company that was not a major contributor to open source in the past.

Finally, Lambda, Amazon’s serverless platform, has gotten a lot of attention at this year’s conference. One development that’s near and dear to my heart is the addition of C# support — a language used by many enterprise developers in the Microsoft world. Other new capabilities include Lambda@Edge, which enables developers to run Lambda at CloudFront locations, bringing the computer closer to the user, and AWS Step Functions, which is equipped with visual tools to build much more complex multistep processes.

Overall, I’m excited about the new tools and services coming out of re:Invent and I’m eager to put them into play. If you’re interested in joining my team and testing out this cool technology with me, I’ll be at re:Play tonight. Make sure you say hello!

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