AWS re:Invent: AWS Tools Up Wider ‘Productised’ Cloud Services

With the arrival of the annual AWS re:Invent conference, it's worth looking at the products, updates and contemplating what age of cloud we are in.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a lot of products. Okay, it has almost no physical products apart from its Graviton processor line and its data centres (and let’s not talk about books), it is most known for its deeply virtualised cloud services, obviously. But either way, AWS has a lot of tools in its shed.

What that reality means when the annual AWS re:Invent conference comes around is a slew of product launch and update alerts. Given the ‘quiet period’ that we have all experienced over the last two years, the company used its first post-lockdown ‘in real life’ (IRL) event to table somewhere over 50 product announcements.

Newly appointed CEO Adam Selipsky has apparently tasked his teams with making sure AWS re:Invent 2021 was a product-fest. The ex-Tableau Software chief has led AWS since March this year and was in Las Vegas this December to explain how and where the elasticity in AWS EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and its wider product ecosystem now manifests itself.

Productisation and Optimisation

As something of a spoiler alert, almost all the news at AWS re:Invent 2021 gravitates around the fact that AWS is working hard to productise its services into an ever-increasing number of specialist delivery options. With total cloud instance options now standing at 475 in the complete portfolio, AWS will sell you a cloud for processing, a cloud for storage, a cloud for transactional data throughput and so on.

Now that AWS has its own line of chips with Graviton, which this year saw the Graviton3 advancement come forward, AWS will also sell enterprises a cloud that is based upon a specific processor price-performance point, with options to use data centre services running on its microprocessor partners (predominantly Intel and AMD, although some NVIDIA accelerators are also used) as well.

In the chip area specifically, the company offers AWS Graviton Ready to helps AWS customers discover Graviton-supported software solutions including operating systems and platform services, security, monitoring and observability, data and analytics, and DevOps.

AWS Targets Horizontal Use Cases

But back to this horizontal market product alignment, AWS is now offering cloud services that tweaked, turned and tuned for defined industry verticals. Selipsky is on the record already saying that in the immediate or near future his firm will target horizontal use cases such as the call centre. All of this will happen while AWS also works to deliver vertically – and what that means are complete solutions for specific industries that we can imagine will include healthcare, manufacturing and the other usual suspects.

Staying with the verticals then, AWS has now come forward with AWS IoT FleetWise. This is a new cloud service that promises to make it easier and more cost-effective for automotive manufacturers to collect, transform and transfer vehicle data to the cloud in what amounts to near real time.

Once the data is in the cloud, automotive manufacturers can use it for tasks like remotely diagnosing issues in individual vehicles, analysing vehicle fleet health to help prevent potential warranty claims and recalls… and collecting sensor data for training machine learning (ML) models that improve autonomous driving and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

The Popularisation of Low-Code Programming

Looking at some of the wider tooling AWS is forging for cloud, it seems clear that the company is determined to a) follow deeper industry trends such as the popularisation of low-code programming and b) drive the advanced algorithmic narrative that we see pushing so much of how artificial intelligence (AI) and ML are now altering increasingly digital workflows in business.

To that exact point then, AWS has announced the general availability of Amazon SageMaker Canvas, a new visual, no code capability that allows business analysts to build ML models and generate predictions without writing code or requiring ML expertise. AWS developer advocate Alex Casalboni says this service has an intuitive user interface that lets users browse and access disparate data sources in the cloud or on-premises.

Casalboni explains: “SageMaker Canvas leverages the same technology as Amazon SageMaker to automatically clean and combine your data, create hundreds of models under the hood, select the best performing one, and generate new individual or batch predictions.”

Other announcements included Amazon DevOps Guru for RDS, a new capability for Amazon DevOps Guru. It allows developers to detect, diagnose and resolve performance and operational issues in the Amazon Aurora relational database service.

The company notes: “During last year’s re:Invent, we announced DevOps Guru, a service that uses ML to automatically detect and alert customers of application issues, including database problems. Now developers will have enough information to determine the exact cause for a database performance issue. This launch will save developers and engineers many hours of work.”

Finally (and we have only touched on the total product haul), AWS announced three new serverless options for its suite of analytics services for analysing data at any scale without having to configure, scale or manage the underlying infrastructure.

What Age of Cloud Are We in?

If we broke the secret and offered the spoiler alert at the start, then we can’t really summarise and tell you that cloud is being more heavily packaged, productised and optimised for different use cases, industries and corporate preferences.

What we can say is that cloud may have reached a seminal moment i.e., AWS is hell bent on making more of its cloud compendium than Microsoft is doing with Azure or Google is doing with its eponymously named platform.

This might be the second age of cloud, if the first age was the post-millennial growing pains we went through locking down flaky first-era security services during the time when we still had to be told that hybrid was the future.

On the other hand, it could be the third age of cloud as we now see a far more granular and fine-tuned selection of cloud instances and services proliferate across the cloudscape. Cloud is still a nascent thing for so many enterprise applications and AWS still has to reach carbon-neutral status (a goal it thinks it could hit somewhere between 2025 and 2030), so there is a lot more to come.

The forecast ahead is cloudy, but in a silver-lined shiny kind of way.

Check out the previous feature – ‘Amazon Cloud’s Key Role in Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emissions’ – here.

Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater is a technology journalist with three decades of press experience. Primarily he works as a news analysis writer dedicated to a software application development ‘beat’; but, in a fluid media world, he is also an analyst, technology evangelist and content consultant. As the previously narrow discipline of programming now extends across a wider transept of the enterprise IT landscape, his own editorial purview has also broadened. He has spent much of the last 10 years also focusing on open source, data analytics and intelligence, cloud computing, mobile devices and data management.
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