Flux7 CTO Ali Hussain Analyzes AWS ReInvent 2017 News (re:invent 2018)

By Flux7 Labs
December 31, 2017

Flux7 CTO Reviews reInvent News: Aurora Database, DynamoDB, ECS for Kubernetes

It’s been reported that this year’s AWS reInvent drew over 43,000 people to Las Vegas for a week of learning, networking and to hear about the new features and products AWS would undoubtedly unveil at the show. In his presentation, Werner Vogels noted that AWS has announced 3,951 new products and/or features in the five years since the first AWS re:invent. In keeping with this tradition, AWS introduced dozens of new products and features over the course of several keynotes at this year’s AWS re:invent. And, in keeping with our own burgeoning tradition, we’ve asked Ali Hussain, Flux7 co-founder and CTO, to weigh in again on this year’s announcements, helping to assess which will have the most impact to enterprise organizations.

Q: There were several announcements across three days of keynotes. What stood out to you most and what implications do you think they’ll have for enterprises like Flux7 customers?

A: The biggest win for enterprises among this year’s AWS announcements is Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS). Given its strong capabilities, Kubernetes has become a tool of choice for container management. To that point, I recently read a SDxCentral survey on container and cloud orchestration where they found that 64% of people are using Kubernetes. Of this, Andy Jassy noted that 63% of Kubernetes is run on AWS.

This popularity is undoubtedly encouraging organizations like AWS to announce their Kubernetes support. And, we’re sure that enterprise organizations will be happy to see it. EKS brings Kubernetes maturity to AWS, while eradicating the complexity users previously had to manage — such as managing scaling, monitoring, and availability of Kubernetes assets — when using Kubernetes in AWS.

EKS is a managed service that will let operators run Kubernetes on AWS without the need to install and operate their own Kubernetes clusters. EKS will automatically deploy across Availability Zones and will auto patch and auto upgrade (with control as to when). In addition, EKS will be integrated with all ECS capabilities. All told, AWS is right to be excited about EKS, now giving users two managed containers to choose from.

Given the importance of containers to enterprise DevOps, it’s no surprise that Flux7 customers are already calling to ask what the future with EKS will look like. While there are many choices for container orchestration, Kubernetes had been a top contender for customers — especially among those who prefer a vendor-agnostic solution. Finding the best-fit scheduler is one of our top five recommendations for container-based microservices deployments in AWS. With even easier setup and maintenance, EKS is a natural choice for Flux7 DevOps customers.

It’s also worth noting that AWS announced AWS Fargate which they say will help manage containers at the task level. AWS Fargate will help users focus on containers and applications, rather than servers or clusters as AWS Fargate will manage the scaling, provisioning and infrastructure needs for HA containers. Said another way, with AWS Fargate, admins will no longer have to provision, configure, and scale clusters of virtual machines to run containers. AWS Fargate is integrated with both ECS and EKS and will be available next year.

Q: What else stood out to you?

A: Andy Jassy spent quite a bit of time talking about databases and data lakes for good reason. Data is increasingly becoming the lifeblood of organizations, and there were several AWS updates in this area that are noteworthy.

Specifically, we often work with Amazon Aurora database and we like it a lot for its superior performance, greater scalability, and the ability to restart without losing cache. Today Aurora database can scale out up to 15 read replicas (note that AWS recently announced a feature that will does this automatically) so that when a read fails, it fails over in less than a second. However, up till now, this functionality was limited to read replicas. With the introduction of Aurora Multi-Master, writes are now as seamless as reads, with the ability to scale out across multiple AZs, allowing apps to  transparently tolerate failures (even for an entire AZ), in milliseconds. This is excellent fault tolerance that will be warmly welcomed by enterprises — especially those whose customer satisfaction depend on the availability and reliability of workloads that interface with Aurora. 

As an AWS Service Delivery Partner status for Amazon Aurora, we work with many enterprises who depend on Aurora. Specifically, Rent-A-Center was looking to migrate its e-Commerce Platform in AWS. The goal was to build a resilient, high-performance, scalable, and cost effective solution in AWS. Flux7 recommended the use of Aurora and today, Aurora serves as the main backend database at RAC and as such, it needs to scale to both a large amount of data and traffic. Aurora not only is able to handle the desired scale, it is able to do so without any changes to the application because of its MySQL compatibility. Because the database is part of an ecommerce solution and will be storing financial transactions, Aurora was chosen as the platform of choice for its high availability and data durability characteristics. With this announcement, Rent-A-Center will now benefit from Aurora Multi-Master’s greater fault tolerance. 

As for Aurora Serverless, there are obvious reasons why serverless is important — cost savings being the most obvious example. We think that it’ll be comparable to Amazon Athena and Amazon RedShift Spectrum, giving AWS users yet another service option for their database needs.

Q: What about the DynamoDB news?

A: Today a multi-region application deployment is difficult because of the need to synchronize the data. And that’s why DynamoDB Global Tables will be a game changer for enterprises, most especially for cloud native applications. AWS is simplifying the most difficult part of making an application multi-region by making the data globally available. For enterprise customers, AWS has brought the same quality of customer experience, with low latency and disaster resistance across regions.This is a real boon.

Q: AWS Security is always top of mind for Flux7. With that in mind, what are your thoughts on the announcement of Amazon GuardDuty?

A: Amazon GuardDuty is certainly important, giving organizations a more holistic view of security in the cloud. As a managed service, Amazon GuardDuty monitors and detects malicious or unauthorized behavior across an organization’s AWS infrastructure. In our experience, at the root of most security issues is misconfiguration, which GuardDuty will flag for operators. Importantly, it also trolls for signs of unusual activity that could be caused by attackers.

This summer we shared with you our Enterprise DevOps Framework (EDF) in which inspectors, like Amazon GuardDuty, play a critical role in ensuring system security. Inspectors are an important set of tools in the EDF as they help assure operational, security, and regulatory requirements. More security and monitoring without added overhead is always welcome in a multi-layer approach that keeps enterprises secure and compliant; Amazon GuardDuty is a powerful new inspection tool.

Q: Any parting thoughts?

A: Andy Jassy said in conclusion that we are going through the biggest digital transformation of our lifetimes with the transformation to the cloud. Just like AWS, we’ve had multiple conversations with enterprises over the years who are in different stages with their digital transformation, AWS migration, and technology strategy in support of their business objectives. With 1,300 different technology advancements announced this year alone, it’s more important now than ever that enterprises find a savvy partner with the skills and knowledge to help them skate to the puck, as Andy put it, and get wholly involved in transformation that drives new business opportunities with the cloud.  

At Flux7, our business model is steeped in helping businesses assess, plan for, design and implement IT transformation that drives business success. We teach our clients how to fish, setting them up for long-term success.  As testament to that, this is the fourth year in a row that Flux7 or its customers have been featured at AWS re:invent and we look forward to many more.

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