re:invent rewind 2021

Justin Campbell CTO@junkshon


re:invent 2021 was held last week. As usual, there were 100s of individual announcements. After going through the different service offerings and updates, a few of the items caught my eye.

AWS Mainframe Modernisation (Preview)

Mainframes are still a big part of the I.T landscape; the promise of removing them has been ongoing for decades. At junkshon we have developed several modernisation programmes for mainframe workloads.


This new offering now provides a potential solution for migrating mainframe workloads to the cloud with a fully managed service, including code analysis, refactoring tools, and a scalable runtime. All of this can be consumed in either an OnDemand service or a committed-based purchase option, bringing additional cost savings.

It is an exciting partnership between AWS and Microfocus. Running COBOL applications on modern technology has long been something that Microfocus has offered. The packaging of this software with AWS capabilities should provide a compelling value proposition for companies that don't know what to do with their mainframe workloads.

We see this potentially being of value when a customer is performing a mass migration using the AWS MAP2.0 programme and has a mainframe workload that also needs addressing to create the most beneficial business case proposition.


Amazon SageMaker Canvas

We are always interested in Machine Learning services at junkshon, and our software platform depends on ML to help improve our customer experience and outputs. Sage Maker Canvas is a no-code platform with a visual point-and-click interface that allows business analysts and other citizen ML developers to build training data from many different data sources. Once the data has been constructed, it is possible to train models with the added benefit of AutoML functionality best algorithm/model for your data.


We can see some exciting use-cases for this service that would put the power of ML directly in the hands of users. At junkshon, we will certainly review Canvas to understand what it offers and how we can integrate it with our platform services.



AWS Database Migration Service Fleet Advisor (Preview)

Moving your database workloads to the cloud still offers substantial benefits; the journey to get these workloads to the cloud has always been a challenge. Many customers we talk to see their databases quite rightly as the crown jewels; they have historically been the workhorse for many companies providing OLTP and OLAP services.

As part of the existing AWS Database Migration Service, AWS announced DMS Fleet Advisor, this new feature allows you to analyse all your database servers quickly. Collecting schema, object information, and usage metrics across all the databases you own can quickly help you plan your database migration.


The benefit of using a tool that has been developed to assess large numbers of database instances is that it will remove manual investigation.

In addition, with the rich API layer and SDK, it is possible to build pipelines using your favourite programming languages to extend the automation experience.

At junkshon, we see a great need to migrate and modernise database workloads, be that moving away from legacy database platforms or removing technical because of unsupported database engines. We are looking forward to using DMS and Fleet Advisor to feed our cloud adoption planning tools.


AWS Migration Hub Refactor Spaces (Preview)

We have long held a view at junkshon that cloud adoption is not a big bang process. We actively support our customers to think about it as a series of minimal viable migration waves.

AWS Migration Hub Refactor Spaces allows for incremental refactoring of services and routing traffic between different accounts. You manage the complexity by providing an application proxy that models the strangler pattern to let you transparently add new services to an external endpoint keeping it consistent for customers and other consuming applications.

This is an interesting move by AWS, in our view. They have built toolchains to improve the developer experience. Still, this service could be helpful to reduce the complexity for the operational teams and potentially avoid the need to construct large programme teams to move application modernisation activity along and manage complex interdependencies between the different project teams.


AWS Offline Tape Migration using AWS Snowball Edge

Management of tape archives has been a constant headache in the I.T world; we have lost count at junkshon the number of customers with substantial tape archives for different regulatory reasons. Customers need to manage a mountain of tape and the wide range of tape devices to read those tapes.


The introduction of AWS offline tape migration for Snowball Edge offers a new solution to remove the dependency on physical tape and reduce the need to manage expensive tape storage solutions.

This new service provides the capacity to migrate 80TB per device. These tape-based data can be stored in S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval or S3 Glacier Deep Archive, and tapes can be accessed from within the AWS cloud or from your on-premises facilities.


AWS Graviton 3

Even though the world constantly talks about software, all that software has to run on something. It is often forgotten that whilst all the cloud providers produce great software to make our lives easier to build, deploy, and manage our services. Underpinning all that software provides the raw building blocks of processing power, network bandwidth, and storage capabilities.


With that in mind, the announcement of Graviton 3 is the newest generation of its Arm-based Graviton processors: the Graviton 3. AWS promises that the new chip will be 25 per cent faster than the last-generation chips. AWS also promises that the new chips will use 60 per cent less power.

These new chips will power the new EC2 C7g instances on the AWS cloud. These new instances will also be the first ones to use DDR5 memory, which is why the new instances will use less power. This new memory option will deliver 50 per cent higher bandwidth than the DDR4 memory in the last generation of Graviton chips.

At junkshon, we are looking forward to including these new processing options in our compute comparison application.

AWS Private 5G (Preview United States only)

We know that we live in an ultra-connected world; as we have become more connected, the richness of content has also increased with higher definition video and collaboration services. As businesses grow, they need to deliver that connected experience to employees and customers is becoming increasingly more important.


The announcement from AWS of their Private 5G managed service that helps enterprises set up and scale private 5G mobile networks in their facilities provides several interesting use-cases from manufacturing, retail, and potentially hospitality-based environments.

Cellular technology such as 4G/LTE and 5G augments existing networks with higher bandwidth, lower latency, and reliable long-range coverage to an increasing number of devices.

At release, this new service is only available as a Preview in the United States, and we will be keeping a close watch to see how it evolves.

AWS RDS Custom for SQL Server

We know that moving databases to the cloud can offer significant benefits, including removing the need to manage the underlying infrastructure and resilience options that can be turned on and off depending on your requirement.


Earlier this year, AWS launched RDS Customer for Oracle, a managed database service for applications that require customisation of the underlying operating system and database environment.


We see RDS Custom as an interesting service option that lets you access and customise your database server host, operating system, changing the database software settings to support third-party applications requiring privileged access.

This new service option will offer additional flexibility to migrate workloads to RDS that have been previously blocked due to custom configuration requirements.

AWS announced at re:invent the general availability of RDS Custom for SQL Server to support applications that have dependencies on specific configurations and third-party applications that require customisations in corporate, e-commerce, and content management systems, such as Microsoft SharePoint.

With RDS Custom for SQL Server, you can enable features that require elevated privileges like SQL Common Language Runtime (CLR), install specific drivers to enable heterogeneous linked servers, or have more than 100 databases per instance.

With AWS announcing RDS Custom SQL and the availability of RDS Custom for Oracle, it makes the on-ramp to a managed database service a little easier. It offers an additional solution to support your cloud migration/modernisation programme.

Sustainability Pillar for AWS Well-Architected Framework

AWS introduced a new Sustainability Pillar to help organisations learn, measure, and improve their workloads using environmental best practices for cloud computing.


The new pillar includes a shared responsibility model for cloud sustainability, where AWS is responsible for the sustainability of the cloud, and the Customer is responsible for sustainability in the cloud.


The exciting area with the introduction of this new pillar is the focus on Data design and usage, Software application design, Platform scaling choices, Data storage and Code efficiency. These areas are the Customer's responsibility, and this will bring a new set of skills requirements and learnings to help customers make their operations as efficient as possible.

AWS has defined several principles to support the new pillar, including but not limited to Understanding your impact, Establishing sustainability goals, Maximise utilisation and Reducing the downstream effects of your cloud services.

We are looking forward to exploring this new area of the Well-Architected Framework in more detail.

Conclusion

As usual, the list of announcements from AWS is long and extremely impressive. The one thing missing from many of these announcements and the industry, in general, is how you adopt these services without breaking your business or embarking on massive change programmes.


Solving the business change/cloud adoption programme challenge is something we are passionate about, and we will continue to build services and our software platform to support this evolution.

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