The Blog

AWS New York Summit: What Did We Learn?

Calendar Icon 07.16.2019
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This week saw the AWS New York Summit. 

It was a small taste of re:Invent; there were “only” 12,000 attendees (re:Invent is expected to attract over 50,000 this year), there was “only” one keynote (re:Invent features no fewer than three), and it lasted for “only” one day (re:Invent lasts a week and then some for most of us; it’s the cloud’s terrible version of Chanukah). 

Now, before I dive into the litany of service releases, I want to talk a bit about the beginning of Werner Vogels’ keynote. 

For those who didn’t see it, the keynote was interrupted several times by protestors decrying AWS’s contracts with ICE, America’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement department. These issues are nuanced, and difficult to grapple with. I make it a point to not get political in public— and I maintain that position now—because I fundamentally believe that “don’t separate children from their parents and place them in detention camps” is not a political issue, but rather one of humanity. 

Werner’s statement was this: “We can have a conversation about this, but let me finish talking first.” 

Okay, that’s a fair ask. The keynote is over, so now let’s have that conversation.

That aside, the keynote was rife with service announcements, and also allowed many of us a clean sweep of our Werner Keynote Bingo Cards. He wore his “Encrypt Everything” shirt, he had a slide that said, “In the future, the only code you write will be business logic (presumably in some dialect of JavaScript),” and—in a bit of a wildcard move—he was rocking a remarkably stylish beard. 

Touching on all of the major AWS service areas, his announcements had a little bit for everyone. Here are some highlights in no particular order.

1. Cloud Development Kit

Let’s start with something for the developers. Cloud Development Kit, aka CDK, aka “Making CloudFormation Slightly Less Terrible but in TypeScript,” left preview and went generally available. This is big news for folks who don’t have infrastructure experience directly but want to be able to summon cloud resources in their applications. I’m eager to see what this unlocks for developers.

2. CloudWatch Anomaly Detection

What else? The strangely unmentioned-on-stage CloudWatch Anomaly Detection was launched into preview. This service watches for deviation from baseline in CloudWatch metrics and then alarms as a result. It sounds kinda boring when you put it that way. So they use “machine learning” to help differentiate it from previous metric math offerings.

3. AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code

The AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code also went GA, and I’m embarrassed to say how much I like this. I adore using Microsoft’s VS Code; it’s arguably one of the best things Microsoft has released in the past decade, and that’s a very long list. I’m looking forward to seeing how well this tool integrates into my workflow. Given that I opt out of using SAM in favor of things that make sense such as Serverless Framework, I’m not overly optimistic. But we’ll see if I’m proven wrong.

4. AWS Fluent Bit

AWS also launched AWS Fluent Bit, which sounds like an incredibly awkward name to have to say in full. Think of this like a log router that helps you hurl container logs to all kinds of different places you might conceivably want to store them and also Redshift. You decide where things land, but it does still unfortunately follow the sidecar pattern—so you’ll be running a spare container to host the Fluent Bit router. Still, it’s handy if you need it.

5. Amazon EventBridge

No particular order, but I saved the best for last.

The big star of the release show was Amazon EventBridge, which despite sounding like the best way to cross the strip to change hotels at re:Invent, is an event bus that lets you integrate various SaaS applications into AWS’s event-driven architectures. Suddenly things like PagerDuty can invoke events without having to set up custom API Gateway processing to invoke a Lambda. 

This is nuanced, and while I’d write up a fuller dive into the system, I’d like to instead point you to Trek10’s Jared Short; his EventBridge writeup is fantastic, and beats anything I’d come up with. That said, EventBridge is generally available but largely useless until CloudFormation wakes up and supports it.

6. Customer stories galore

The customer stories were great as well. 

Steve Randich, EVP and CIO of FINRA, took the stage to talk about how AWS has helped them scale around a huge degree of data analytics. Andy Fang, CTO of DoorDash, spoke about how AWS has supported their rapid expansion over the past few years. I was fortunate to speak with both of them on theCUBE. =

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to chat with Justin Fox of NuData Security’s work with SageMaker. Justin, if you’re out there, I’d love to chat with you on Screaming in the Cloud!

To sum, the New York AWS Summit, like the Santa Clara summit earlier in the year, both deviate from “here’s the same keynote” and enter a realm where exciting services get released on stage—without the relentless flood of releases that we all stagger through each year at re:Invent.

In other words, if you want to experience an AWS keynote but Las Vegas makes your skin crawl, consider attending a regional summit. 

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