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Recap: AWS Summit (April 2017)

RECAP: AWS Summit (April 2017)


AWS held the San Francisco edition of their mid-year event at the Moscone Center with more than 7500 people joining to hear the keynote from CTO Werner Vogels, a fireside chat from CEO Andy Jassy, and participate in more than 50 breakout sessions and workshops.

AWS numbers are impressive including a run rate of more than $14Bn which makes it a huge business sustaining a 47% annual growth rate and ongoing avalanche of new products and services (more than 1000 introduced in the last year). Most of the announcements confirmed early or general availability of new services previewed at AWS re:Invent last November with the keynote arranged around a theme of “superpowers” AWS provide their users including:

  • Supersonic Speed – AWS codestar is a developer environment providing pre-built templates saving the time to create an environment with tools to support building a pipeline for continuous development through to deployment. Interesting was the extension of compute options to include elastic GPU and even FPGA accelerators for applications like video encoding
  • Invisibility – ECS hides much of the complexity of deploying and managing huge numbers of containers underlying micro-services architectures. Lambda extends this concept to serverless compute where applications are automatically given whatever resources they need without having to manage scale up/down of virtual servers.  Other enhancements included the DAX accelerator for Dynamo DB so developer don’t need to implement and manage cache for high read applications.
  • Flight – Aurora claims more than 23000 users with an extensive set of services to help migrate from proprietary SQL database to Amazon’s cloud based system compatible with MySQL and Postgres
  • X-ray Vision – from Amazons set of tools for nonSQL database with EMR, Redshift and announcing Redshift Spectrum with capability to massively accelerate complex queries across multiple system
  • Precognition – from Amazons advanced Machine Learning capabilities able to be consumed directly by experts or exposed as pre-built services for image recognition, voice recognition and synthesis
  • and Immortality – with the promise that AWS provides their customers the flexibility to adapt to changing environments by freeing them from being stuck with old technologies and enabling experimentation and rapid evolution

Andy Jassy’s (CEO AWS) fireside chat reinforced the messages from the keynote including answering a question on lock-in – which is a common consideration when building dependency on AWS’ (or other cloud vendor) advanced service offerings. AWS’ response is that they implement open standards and provide services to support both migration into and out of their cloud; businesses often choose to take the benefits from adoption of advanced capabilities rather than be constrained as lowest common denominator; there is volume advantage; and it frees up effort from working with multiple vendors to focus on building value in the application.  The implication is there is a degree of lock in from using all the functionality offered by AWS, so a business decision that the benefits outweigh the risk. Hybrid cloud is used by many companies as they migrate, but few now plan to build their own private cloud competing with the huge investment and pace of innovation of public cloud

Andy also spoke about the culture at AWS – customer orientation, willingness to be pioneers and long term orientation as well as some of the quirks that embody this – insistence on a 6 page narrative rather than a power point to review proposals for projects (so the focus is on content rather than presentation); working backwards from press release and FAQ to product definition (to force thinking about what it means for customers up front); fostering challenge and debate, then commitment to execution (seeking the truth); and being ready to change position on issues rather than fight the inevitable (with the example of Amazon allowing 3rd party seller in their store, even though these compete with their own supply chain).

The breakout and workshops were technical (all the ones I attended included code fragments or scripts as examples). It was interesting to see AWS’ approach to IoT maturing with real world experience and the extended AWS toolset to manage software lifecycle in the AWS cloud – with partner products on the show floor bridging the gaps to have a consistent toolchain for a hybrid environment.

About the Author:


David Stevenson is Head of Strategy at SOPRIS Technologies building solutions for Service Providers and Enterprise as Network, Cloud and Data Center converge around NFV and SDN.  Previously David led Motive (an Austin startup) growing it from a $50M at acquisition by Alcatel-Lucent to over $200M software business in Customer Experience Service Assurance, Device Management and Analytics with a global customer base.


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