This week sees Amazon Web Services (AWS) hold its annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Yesterday saw a massive number of announcements which I covered in my wrap up post. (Disclosure: AWS is a Diversity Analysis client. I was not pre-briefed on any of the Re:Invent announcements.)
As I mentioned after the day one news, while these announcements are undoubtedly exciting for AWS customers, there is a significant stakeholder group that is less excited with the news. Contacts who are attending the show told me that there were some very glum faces in the expo hall after the keynote -- there are a large number of ecosystem players whose very business models were skewered on day one.
A long-term discussion point among AWS commentators is the very narrow path AWS walks between encouraging a vibrant ecosystem, and its own product development. AWS SVP Andy Jassy has always advised ecosystem partners to not build solutions anywhere near AWS' product roadmap. The problem with that advice is that AWS' roadmap not only changes regularly, but gets more and more complex as the company moves into a staggering array of different areas.
With that concern aired, it is time to look at what AWS announced on day two of Re:Invent.
AWS EC2 Container Registry
Containers generally, and Docker containers in particular, are the hot topic among forward-looking developers. This it is no surprise to see that AWS has rolled out a tool to ease container management. Last year AWS announced a container service with Docker support. A registry product is therefore a natural extension to the suite. “This makes it part of the development process,” Amazon CTO Werner Vogels explained. It enables developers to create and test images and place the images into registry when they are ready to launch, he said.
The container registry product is integrated with all the other AWS container services and the images themselves are stored in AWS' S3 storage platform. It should be noted that the launch follows AWS' public cloud competitor Google's launch of its own container registry product earlier this year. The fact that Google is also strongly pushing the open-source Kubernetes container management solution would suggest that more is yet to come from AWS in the container space. Alongside the registry product, AWS is launching a service scheduler that is designed to run containers across data centers in AWS’ multiple availability zones. Docker's Compose is also integrated into AWS.
MyPOV - Why wouldn't you? AWS has long been attractive to the most forward-looking of developers, the same demographic who are hot and heavy for containers. This is a case of AWS moving to where the puck looks to be heading.
Long rumored, AWS finally announced its platform focused on the Internet of Things (IoT). AWS IoT is a managed platform that is designed to let connected devices communicate between themselves and with various cloud applications. The platform will process and route data from IoT endpoints and is integrated with a host of other AWS services -- Lambda, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon S3, Amazon Machine Learning, and Amazon DynamoDB. The platform covers different parts of the IoT requirements including a device gateway, a rules-based engine, a device registry service and a new feature, Device Shadows, that lets users track data about devices which are offline and transit that data when said devices come back online.
AWS IoT offers a free tier of 250,000 free messages per month, for 12 months. Paid pricing starts thereafter.
MyPOV - AWS IoT includes technology from 2lemetry, a company making an IoT platform which was acquired by AWS earlier this year. It is also a natural response to move from other vendors such as Microsoft and Salesforce and to roll out IoT their own offerings.
AWS Mobile Hub
Designed as a tool to help mobile developers build the back-end process upon which their applications hinge, AWS Mobile Hub is based upon AWS Lambda, a product which was itself launched last year at re:Invent. Mobile Hub takes advantage of what AWS sees as a mobile development failing -- Vogels told the crowd that mobile developers often struggle with the less user-facing parts of development. “What we see often is that mobile developers are really good on the device,” he said. “They find that backend stuff really hard. So we asked ourselves: What can we do to make mobile development much simpler.”
Rather than having developers set up a myriad of different services, Mobile Hub allows both Android and iOS developers to chose and configure the services they need for their applications. All of those services will then be run by AWS on Lambda -- things like user logins, data storage, application analytics fall into the category of Mobile Hub components. Mobile Hub is free, with users simply having to pay for the downstream AWS services they use.
“The AWS Mobile Hub helps you at each stage of development: configuring, building, testing, and usage monitoring,” AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post on the new feature. “The console is feature-oriented; instead of picking individual services you select higher-level features comprised of combinations of one or more services, SDKs, and client code. What once took a day to properly choose and configure can now be done in 10 minutes or so.”
MyPOV - Recent years have seen much growth in the mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) space. This announcement sees AWS wrap up a bunch of disparate services to create its own MBaaS and, by extension, cast a shadow over a number of standalone MBaaS services such as Kinvey, KidoZen and Kony. Mobile Hub is an interesting continuation of Lambda in that it further abstracts any requirement for running or managing services. It is very much an on-demand, event-driven and automated mobile service.
Amazon Kinesis Analytics
Due next year, Kinesis analytics is designed to help users handle analysis of time series data in a fast moving construct. Amazon Kinesis Analystics, which works with the Kinesis Firehose service announced yesterday, is a natural offering to sit alongside AWS IoT. While the IoT platform handles the mechanics of IoT architectures, Kinesis Analytics handles the analysis of all of that streaming data.
MyPOV - The value here is in creating standalone solutions that build on each other. On its own, AWS IoT would be useful, as would Kinesis Analytics. Put the two together and you have a natural combination that covers the plumbing and higher level aspects of connected devices. Increasingly, AWS will be able to convince customers to commit solely to their platform based on the ease of using these disparate services.
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