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January 2017

AWS re:Invent Andy Jassy Keynote – IT Application Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO, Andy Jassy re:Invent keynote was a mixture of new and updated core IT compute functions and the announcement of several new IT services that can be used to create new customer experiences. In my previous post I reviewed the core IT compute function announcements here. I believe this year AWS's focus has matured from a pure IT infrastructure (compute, network, storage) service provider to now provide easily consumed application infrastructure services that will accelerate the development new classes of applications focused on improving customer experiences.

AWS is on pace to release 1,000 new services and functions in 2016. Andy noted that on average an AWS user has three new services or function available to them each day. The pace of AWS innovation is impressive. This year AWS has begun introducing more application services that will change how customers interact with businesses.


AppCycleOver the past few years we have seen an explosion in the amount of digital data that is generated, and stored by applications. Many of the same businesses have struggled using this data to improve efficiency, and improve customer experience. Big Data analytics has required specialized skill sets and complex new tools that are needed to analyze the new data. AWS introduced a set of new data analytics services to make it easier for most businesses to analyze large volumes and variety of data quickly. These services simplify modern data analytics by eliminating the need for complex tool setup, and operations.

In 2015, AWS launched a standard relational database service, Aurora. The Aurora service has become the fastest growing AWS service. Andy reported 14,000 databases have been migrated from commercial (SQLServer, Oracle) relational databases to Aurora. This year PostgreSQL compatibility was added in addition to MySQL support.

Unstructured data (files) is the fastest growing data type for enterprise IT. Most customer invoices, manufacturing manifests, and transaction logs are stored as unstructured file data. AWS customers typically store their unstructured data in the Simple Storage Service (S3). A new service, Athena enabling standard SQL queries to analyze data stored on S3. Traditionally, analyzing unstructured data required migration to a specialized file system such as HDFS, and the setup of complex, and specialized analytics software. With the Athena service no setup is required to analyze data stored on S3. This will enable businesses to easily analyze large structured and unstructured data with familiar tools (SQL). This will allow business to create new data based efficiency and customer experiences faster and more cost effectively.

Image Processing

As more customer experiences move online, it is critical to apply image analysis application capability. Currently image analysis requires new machine learning tools and specialized artificial intelligence expertise. AWS announced the availability of their new Rekognition service that makes it easier to add image analysis to your applications. The service is leveraging the learning's from the analysis of billions of Amazon prime photos. This service will allow businesses too quickly and cost effectively analyze images to identify familiar customer faces and sentiment. Immediate actions can be taken based on customer preferences to improve their experience . 

Voice Processing

With the introduction of voice assistant technology, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home it has become clear customers prefer to communicate with businesses via voice rather than just a screen and keyboard. The problem is integrating voice communication into applications has required new, and complex artificial learning tools, infrastructure, and skill sets. AWS announced the availability of their voice to text service, Amazon Lex and their text to voice service, Polly. These fully managed services leverage the complex deep learning functionalities of automatic speech recognition (ASR), and natural language understanding (NLU) algorithms leveraging the massive amount of data and infrastructure supporting the Amazon Alexa products. These services will allow businesses to create a new category of speech integrated applications quickly and cost effectively. These services will accelerate the development of new customer engagement and experiences. Capital One demonstrated their use of the Lex and Polly services to create new customer engagement here.

IoT Processing

Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day. It is a huge challenge and opportunity to take full advantage of all the new data generated by these connected devices. New custom software must be developed to collect, filter, aggregate, analyze, act on, and ultimately push the data to the cloud for deeper analytics. Much of the new custom software is not run on the same limitless compute and storage capacity of the cloud. IoT software development has required specialized tools and technologies. AWS announced the Greengrass service that is designed to extend the AWS Lambda programming tool set and technology to small, simple, field-based devices. This service will simplify and accelerate new IoT software development by providing common programming tools (AWS Lambda) and technology for software running at the device, field, and cloud. Businesses collecting, acting, and analyzing data from millions and billions of devices will create new competitive advantages in product production and service efficiency. More information on AWS Greengrass is available here.

These new AWS services will allow businesses to collect, and analyze the data about their consumers faster and more deeply to better anticipate needs. Integrating image and voice processing will create new more intimate customer experiences. AWS is leading the way making these technologies readily available which will accelerate the development of new application categories in 2017. A recording of Andy Jassy's complete keynote address is available here.

AWS re:Invent Andy Jassy Keynote - Core IT Compute Features

FstestgrowthITAmazon Web Services (AWS) CEO, Andy Jassy re:Invent keynote was a mixture of his view on enterprise IT and many new services announcements. AWS is now a $13-billion-dollar business, growing at 55% year over year. Andy reported that AWS is now the fastest growing large enterprise IT company in the world. The next four fastest growing enterprise IT companies are using AWS as their primary cloud provider. AWS used this re:Invent conference to announce their readiness for supporting enterprise IT and software as a service workloads in addition to their success with supporting startup businesses. AWS is now services more than 1 million active non-Amazon customers and delivering 300 million hours of EC2 services monthly. AWS has commoditized most of the common IT infrastructure services as robust, easily accessible cloud services. In this post I will recap the the announcements of new and enhanced core enterprise IT compute features. In my next post I will recap how AWS is pivoting from low cost IT infrastructure provider to providing value added business IT services.

The first new capability announcements were a group of new EC2 instance types mostly taking advantage of Moore’s law. The enhanced instance type announcements were:

  • T2 –New instance types: T2.xlarge & T2.2xlarge – 2x memory – for more in memory processing workloads
  • R4 – memory intensive workloads – 2x everything
    • Storage Capacity Instance
    • Speed using DDR4 memory
    • L3 cache capacity
    • vCPU’s
  • I3 – replaces I2 instance type for I/O intensive workloads
    • 9x – 9x IOPS
    • 2x memory capacity
    • 3x storage capacity using NVM to replace SSD media
    • 2x vCPU’s
  • C5 – replaces c4 instance type for compute intensive workloads like AI, transcoding.
    • Featuring Skylake CPU’s
    • 2x CPU capacity
    • 2x CPU speed – move from Haswell to Skylake Intel CPU’s
    • 3x storage capacity moving to NVM from SSD media
    • 4x more memory

In addition, two new instances were announced introducing the availability of GPU’s to machine learning and artificial intelligence processing, and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) for offloading repetitive processing tasks.

  • New P1 Instance – Instance including everything need to leverage GPU. Full and share GPU (spot market) available
  • New F1 Instance type – Instance including everything needed to develop FPGA acceleration. FPGA Market Place ready to go at launch

The AWS EC2 catalogue is broad enough to meet the majority of enterprise workload types. Each of these instances can be launched in a few minutes. AWS has also recognized a class of use cases such as simple web, application, or basic Linux servers is needed. For these use cases an instance type with a minimum of features including basic storage, networking and operating system is needed. For this use case AWS announced the launch of their Lightsail service. With a few menus driven clicks you can now launch a functioning virtual private server (VPS). The current VPS service does not offer an easy upgrade path to any of the other EC2 instances like the Lightsail offering.

compute service portfolio is broad enough to service most enterprise IT workloads. One of the major challenges enterprise IT has always dealt with is optimizing, and reducing the cost of operating their existing applications. Most of applications created in the past decade run on VMware virtual servers and migrating those workloads to AWS has been disruptive and complex. AWS and VMware have announced a new partnership which will enable VMware workloads to run on dedicated bare metal EC2 instances by mid 2017. This will allow enterprise IT to take advantage of AWS scale and cost advantages while not having to modify their existing applications or operational procedures. 

During this part of his his keynote Andy Jassy is clearly making the case that enterprise IT should be fully embracing AWS as it’s primary cloud provider. Andy’s argument is many startups that threaten to disrupt established businesses today and the software as a service (SAAS) provider’s such as Workday and Salesforce that enterprises on today are already relying on AWS cloud services so you need too as well.