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Cloud Month in Review – April 2016

Amazon Web Services has continued to raise the bar for its services and every month there’s something new to see.

Storage and DB

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AWS has made the most number of updates this month on its storage and database services.

For one, AWS Storage Gateway Capacity has been upgraded considerably. Gateway VTL’s max capacity for virtual tapes in a single VTL is now at 1 full Petabyte, seven times that of its previous 150TB max storage. On the other hand, Gateway-stored volumes now have a max storage capacity of 512 Terabytes, more than 1.5 times the original.

Still on Storage Gateway, the service now supports EMC Networker 8.x with Gateway Virtual Tape Library (VTL). This means you can back up your data to either AWS S3 or Glacier through Gateway VTL with Networker.

ElastiCache for Redis has similarly been upgraded: you can now scale up to a larger node while keeping your stored data intact. You may even update your engine by selecting a new Redis engine in Management Console.

AWS has also strengthened peripheral services around data storage. For instance, Amazon Aurora has gained better failover control. You get up to 15 read replicas that you can assign priorities so you can dictate which replica gets priority during a failover.

AWS has also launched its own database migration service. This allows users to easily and efficiently transfer data from any on-premise SQL, MySQL, Oracle and MariaDB database to AWS, with no downtime.

Speaking of MariaDB, the popular database has gained additional coverage from AWS. MariaDB for Relational Database has been included in the AWS Service Level Agreement. This means that MariaDB instances are covered by the 99.95% uptime guarantee and will provide service credit in case of failure.

CloudFormation

The AWS CloudFormation service makes it easy for you to provision EC2 instances to other AWS services. AWS has announced last month that GameLift, a new service that lets you deploy, scale, and manage multiplayer games, has been included in the list of services supported by CloudFormation. As such you can provision an entire fleet of EC2 instances as servers for GameLift.

Apart from GameLift, CloudFormation now also supports several other services: Network Address Translation (NAT) Gateway, Amazon EC2 Container Registry, Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) and Amazon Elasticsearch Service (ES).

Security and Monitoring

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Security is the lifeblood of AWS, hence the regular updates to monitoring and security features.

For instance, AWS announced that users may now reference security groups of their choice in a peered Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). This makes the configuration process easier, as security group membership controls traffic between peers instead of CIDR ranges.

In terms of monitoring, AWS has enhanced CodeCommit, a cloud source control service, to send you trigger notifications that send messages to an SNS topic. This way you can be notified during code pushes, branch/tag creation and deletion.

To help with automated monitoring, AWS has opened a config rules repository in Github. These rules let you ensure that the resources listed in AWS Config all follow your specified guidelines.

To make it simpler to view and understand your monitoring data, AWS has partnered up with Datadog, an online monitoring program that lets you analyze historical trends and visualize live data from your stack. You send your monitoring data to CloudWatch, and from there send it to Datadog where it will be visualized on the dashboard.

SDKs

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SDKs are lean for the month of April, but AWS did release a couple of crucial updates.

The first is an encryption SDK  to make it easier for developers to create encryption for their applications. It provides a library that implements low-level details through the cryptographic provider in the developer environment, as well as an interface that lets the developer choose how their keys are to be protected.

The second welcome bit of news is a dev preview of the AWS C++ SDK. This latest version boasts of comprehensive AWS service coverage, better CMake support, improved multi-threading stability to Curl interface on Unix and Linux, Visual Studio 2015 support, El Capitan OSX support, and API documentation.

Success Stories

The month won’t be complete without some awesome ideas brought to life with the technology of the AWS cloud.

At its onset, hospitality services giant AirBnB needed quick and flexible resources and infrastructure without slowing down their operations. AWS quickly provided these, with EC2 giving the company the necessary compute services and AWS S3 serving as data storage. Soon nearly all AirBnB compute tasks and internal processes were transferred to AWS.

 

Through AWS Lambda, which allows you to automatically take certain actions given certain triggers, AWS given rise to a new concept: serverless architecture. Serverless architecture puts for the idea of a system where you upload, run and maintain your code without having to worry about with maintaining server infrastructure.

Sounds specious, but it is entirely doable as shown in the video below.

Keep up with AWS news at our PolarSeven blog, and while you’re at it, check out how we can make AWS work for enterprises big and small.

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