Highlights from AWS re:Invent 2020 Keynote – Dr Werner Vogel

Feb 8, 2021
Zach Brown

With 2021 well underway, I think it’s time to revisit Dr Werner Vogel’s AWS re:Invent 2020 Keynote.

Dr Vogel walked us around Sugar City, a factory-turned-event-space outside his home town of Amsterdam, telling us stories about the factory from its heyday and linking them to stories from AWS customers, clients and partners. One big takeaway for me was the theme around preparing for your teams, workloads, and environments without a plan for what you’re preparing for, which doesn’t seem that special given how AWS is so deep into innovation. But for me, it was a reminder to be a student of the things around me in a way that lets me ebb and flow, as circumstances change around me, and to keep flexibility at the forefront of my own personal growth.

AWS Cloud9 – ready out of the box

That being said, many of the announcements, both new services or updates to existing ones, were focused around giving their customers the ability to set themselves up in a similar way. AWS Cloud9 is ready out of the box with multiple mainstream languages and tools, such as Python and JavaScript, reducing the time a user will take to be fully in work mode. Cloud9 is, as its name suggests, a cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE). It allows you to work easily from anywhere, without losing progress on your projects, as well as sharing your work seamlessly with your team. Cloud9 is thus ideal for work-from-home teams (thanks 2020) or for the many educational institutions already using the platform.

New AWSCloudShell – a free browser-based shell

In the same vein as Cloud9 is the newly-announced AWSCloudShell. This browser-based shell is also pre-loaded with many common tools, such as Git integration, and is pre-configured with your console credentials, saving time up front. CloudShell is usable at no additional cost, allows the user to run scripts from the AWS CLI, and is ready to accept any range of other development and production tools your team might need or prefer to work with. The freedom to have a browser-based shell, that comes ready with the tools you are used to using, takes another step into the freedom your team will thrive in as they work where they are comfortable and capable.

Thorough testing with AWS Fault Injection Simulator

Testing fault tolerance and fallout damage is a big deal in many industries. AWS Fault Injection Simulator (AWS FIS) is our solution to testing thoroughly our environments in the cloud. AWS FIS is a fully-managed, chaos engineering service. It allows your team to run complex templates to test real-world scenarios that put stress on your environment in any number of ways, like latency issues or database errors, with just a few clicks. FIS has controls and guardrails that let your teams run tests in production, like auto rollbacks, shining a light on weaknesses that no one saw due to a lack of scale or real-world traffic.

Monitoring services for open-source projects

Last on my list are Amazon Managed Service for Grafana and Prometheus, two monitoring services for open-source projects. They offload a large portion of the work and integrate into your AWS environment, increasing the ease with which you can monitor and work with your applications. For Grafana, I like to visualize CloudWatch with the ability to analyze, monitor, and alarm on my system’s metrics, logs, and traces. Amazon Managed Service for Grafana takes the operational management of Grafana and auto-scales compute and database needs, based on the demand of your environment, while also handling security patches and updates. Amazon Managed Service for Prometheus (AMP) similarly makes the monitoring of your applications simpler, but is specific to the Prometheus project from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, an open-source monitoring and alert solution designed for container environments. Using PromQL, the Prometheus query language, to monitor your workloads is easy with AMP as it automatically scales all parts of your operational metrics. AMP is integrated with Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), Elastic Container Service (ECS), AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry, and AWS security services, enabling fast and secure access to your data wherever you are storing it

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