This year’s AWS re:Invent has come and gone. This year 45,000 people from around the world descended on Las Vegas for one week. Participants were treated to a myriad of breakout sessions, labs, certification exams, and parties (it is Vegas after all). For the first time re:Invent spanned multiple convention centers. The Sands Convention Center was the main center with the Mirage, Aria, and MGM acting as secondary centers.
This year a lot of new features and services were announced, everything from new developer services and an IDE, to the announcement of the completion of their backbone network connecting each region together. I have put together a list of new features that I though was interesting.
For a network engineer like myself the biggest announcement is the completion of the backbone network. Traditionally the data centers that make up a single region were networked together however each region were not connected. This allowed VPCs to peer with each other across the region but they could not peer with each other across multiple regions, until now. With the backbone network, inter-region VPC peering is now possible.
Other existing services have benefited from the backbone network. Before the backbone, replication was done via VPN tunnels over the internet. This limitation caused some customers to fail security compliance standards. Now database replication between regions is now done using the backbone, creating added security and more importantly satisfying compliance requirements.
S3 and Glacier Select
You can’t work in AWS without interfacing with the Simple Storage Solution service (S3) at some level. S3 and Glacier are object and archive storage respectively. When you read an object from either S3 or Glacier the entire object is downloaded. For large objects this could be costly, both in bandwidth and cost. With S3 and Glacier Select you can download a portion of an object from either service using a SQL query.
By using S3 Select to retrieve only the data needed by your application, you can achieve drastic performance increases – in many cases you can get as much as a 400% improvement. Many S3 users have life cycle policies designed to save on storage costs by moving their data into Glacier when they no longer need to access it on a regular basis. Most legacy archival solutions, like on premise tape libraries, have highly restricted data retrieval throughput and are unsuitable for rapid analytics or processing. If you want to make use of data stored on one of those tapes you might have to wait for weeks to get useful results. In contrast, cold data stored in Glacier can now be easily queried within minutes.
Cloud 9 is AWS’s brand new IDE for coding and scripting into any AWS service. While I’m not a developer, I still find this product fascinating because the longer you work with AWS the more likely you will have to script some process. So, whether you’re a full-fledged developer or just need to run the occasional script this product can help you.
The IDE is browser based and does not require any installations. The IDE is accessed from your account so when you need to reference an instance ID a drop-down list appears and auto fills into your script. You can test run your scripts or code before uploading it from the IDE and publish directly into lambda. All in all the next time I need to craft a script in AWS I will be using this tool.
AWS re:Invent was a week-long party for us technology nerds. I will defiantly be back next year, hopefully I will see you there. If you have any questions or need help with your AWS environment, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written By: Trevor Butler, LookingPoint Network Engineer - AWS Solutions Architect