Good morning!

Welcome to issue number 68 of Last Week in AWS.

Last week saw the NYC AWS Summit. More about the announcements are in the sections below, but I want to note that Werner was interrupted at the start of his keynote by what appeared to be a very confused protestor ranting about products Amazon retail sold. Werner handled it impressively; being shouted down by a protestor in front of a 10,000 person audience has got to be rattling.

I have a lot of respect for people who protest for causes they believe in– but this wasn’t the venue to argue about Amazon retail’s practices. If you’re going to show up at AWS specific events and yell at AWS for their misbehaviors, make sure you call them out for what really matters– their stubborn refusal to acknowledge that “AMI” rhymes with “cherry pie.”This issue is sponsored by Cloudcraft. If you’re anything like me, your artistic abilities aren’t up to task, and you’ve got better things to do than scream and cry at Visio. Cloudcraft does the heavy lifting– a dynamic realtime view of your AWS resources, along with the connections between them. For example, the account that powers this newsletter looks like this (I’ll write a blog post explaining it one of these days):

If you’ve got painful architectural diagramming issues, give Cloudcraft a try.


The inaugural REdeploy conference (exploring the intersections of resilient technology, organizations, and people) is coming to San Francisco this August. Last Week in AWS is proud to be a media sponsor. Coupon code LASTWEEK will get you 10% off of any ticket.

I’ll be at DevOps Days Indianapolis today and tomorrow. If you happen to be in the greater (or lesser) Indianapolis area, drop by and say hello.

I’ll be at ServerlessConf next week– Sunday I’m emceeing the Hackathon, and the rest of the event will see me helping coordinate the Sponsor stage. Sconf15offSHARE gets you a 15% discount on all tickets if you want to attend. This is not to be missed if you’ll be in San Francisco.

And lastly, this Saturday brings to a close the ten day long “Festival of Quinns” between my wife’s birthday and mine as I celebrate lurching ever-closer to 40.This week’s issue is also sponsored by DigitalOcean. Do you enjoy webinars? Of course you don’t, they’re generally terrible because they’re thinly veiled product pitches about things that don’t apply to you. Their upcoming webinar series on Kubernetes is a radical departure from that– the term “DigitalOcean” doesn’t appear in the webinar descriptions at all, and they’re being given by someone who isn’t a DigitalOcean employee. I’m particularly looking forward to their session on CI/CD tooling for Kubernetes, since that entire space is currently a dumpster fire of sadness and regret right now. Thanks once again to DigitalOcean for their continuing support of this newsletter.

Community Contributions

Cloudonaut discusses the concept and implementation of a dead man’s switch with CloudWatch.

If you’ve ever spilled peanut butter in your chocolate, you might understand the weird apprehension I’ve got at this guide for using CloudFormation game with Visual Studio Code.

I got a bit of criticism from the community last week for linking to someone’s complaint about ALBs not validating certificates on the backend. I’ll take the slings and arrows, since the original poster got a response from one of the most penetratingly intelligent engineers I’ve ever been in a room with explaining why, while it’s on the roadmap, it’s a non-issue from a security perspective. Colm MacCárthaigh demonstrates why the title “Senior Principal Engineer” isn’t the kind of title your startup should be giving to new graduates.

I wrote a blog post highlighting a peculiar factoid buried in a release announcement last week.

Apparently there are 113 AWS instance types as of a few days ago. Some of us fly into a rage trying to calculate Reserved Instance purchases for all of them, others map out /proc/cpuinfo and CPU topology for all of them. I seem to recall that for some instance classes the CPU features weren’t guaranteed, but I may be misremembering that. Can anyone hit reply and clarify?

Hot on the heels of last week’s Snowball Edge announcement, someone apparently stole $600k of drives out from inside of a bunch of them. Who does something like that?! If you want to be taken seriously, hijack a Snowmobile and take your rightful place in the Halls of Valhalla, Cloud Snark Division.

Last week on “Screaming in the Cloud” I got to speak with Liz Fong-Jones, a Staff Site Reliability Engineer at GCP. The week before that I got to chat with Serverless Superhero Forrest Brazeal about serverless concepts. This week’s is going to be a bit different– it comes out Wednesday.

This week’s pair of S3 Bucket Negligence Awards goes to election robodialer Robocent, and some random band of cybercriminals.

There’s something to be said for Amazon’s power when the mere rumor of AWS making its own switches for sale results in Cisco’s CEO calling Andy Jassy to triple check that their lunch isn’t about to get eaten.

Choice Cuts From the AWS Blog

Amazon RDS Performance Insights on RDS for PostgreSQL – “Yes, Aurora’s PostgreSQL implementation is something of a second class citizen, but certainly not third class!”

Amazon Polly Now Supports Input Character Limit of 100K and Stores Output Files in S3 – Wait. Polly spits out audio files. …where was it storing them before now, base64 encoded TXT records in Route53?

Amazon S3 Announces Increased Request Rate Performance – As I mentioned in the blog post I linked above, the most interesting part of this announcement is in the second paragraph.

Amazon Redshift announces free upgrade for DC1 Reserved Instances to DC2 – This is borderline unprecedented– “we’ll upgrade your existing RIs to the family above them” is the kind of statement that usually ends with “…because the water level is rising FAST, and those things aren’t going to be accessible for more than about twenty more minutes.”

Announcing Bring Your Own IP for Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Preview) – If you’ve got an IP address you’ve grown attached to, give it a good home in an AWS region near you.

Announcing the New AWS Free Tier Widget on the AWS Billing Dashboard – That’s right, you can collect your own Tier Widget! No home is complete without one, and for a limited time only it’s absolutely free. This is probably the weirdest sponsorship I’ve ever done…

AWS Systems Manager Automation Conditional Branching for Step Failure – Amazon has doubled down on machine learning to the point where a Markov chain generator apparently wrote this headline.

Coming soon – Amazon Transcribe to Identify Speakers Based on Channels – For those of us with podcasts, the ability to do transcription in an automated fashion is compelling. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

New SBE1 Amazon EC2 instances for AWS Snowball Edge – For the first time you can run EC2 instances outside of an EC2 region. This is a huge development. More to come on this in the coming weeks once my Snowball Edge arrives.

Amazon EC2 Instance Update – Faster Processors and More Memory | AWS News Blog – Three new instance families have been pre-announced– Z1d, R5, and R5d. These offer high per-core performance, memory optimization, and memory optimization with high throughput NVMe disks respectively. All three also take up the mantle of “you pre-announced C5 instances, where the hell are they” jokes that expired when C5 instances were released.

Amazon SageMaker Adds Batch Transform Feature and Pipe Input Mode for TensorFlow Containers | AWS News Blog – An in-depth exploration of SageMaker’s new features, leaving us one remaining question: “What the HECK are you talking about?!”

Accept a BAA with AWS for all accounts in your organization – If you just lit up at this headline, you probably work at least tangentially with healthcare data. Here at Twitter for Pets, we scoff at your serious-people business model, as we have no use for this incredibly handy feature that just rolled out for large organizations.


If the idea of banging on a door so someone opens it before the wolves outside at you alive appeals to you, enjoy the well named let me in— a web application that adds your current IP to an AWS security group.

I never fully grasped step functions until I walked through this very well commented Serverless configuration file. Suddenly everything “clicked.”

Integrating Okta with AWS? Good for you! Try this open source project if you want help shaving the yak.

…and that’s what happened Last Week in AWS.

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