AWS Re:Invent 2021 – reCap

AWS re:Invent 2021 came to an end a month ago. And today Jimmy Dahlqvist, Head of AWS Technologies at Sigma Technology Digital & Cloud Solutions, shares his impressions and insights extracted from the event. You might have read the previous post about expectations for the 2021 conference (if not, click here to read). Did it turn out as he expected? Were there any interesting releases and trends? Let’s explore that together.

Releases and trends

Let’s jump into the more technical part. What were the most interesting releases and trends for 2021?

Sustainability

The major trend 2021 was the focus on sustainability and energy efficiency, there were several releases on this topic, and many of the keynotes had a clear focus on this topic. When it comes to sustainability we should never forget:

“The greenest energy is the energy that you don’t use.” – Peter Desantis

The AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar

The AWS Well-Architected Framework got a new 6th pillar around sustainability. It focuses on how to implement your cloud workloads to reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency. The shared responsibility model also applies to sustainability. AWS is responsible for the sustainability OF the cloud while you, as a customer, are responsible for the sustainability IN the cloud.

AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool

A new tool is coming soon. It will help you monitor your workload’s carbon footprint. It also projects your path to 100% renewable energy while AWS invests in green energy.

Graviton 3

Graviton 3 is the latest member of the ARM-based Graviton family. Graviton can help you meet your sustainability goals since Graviton3-based instances use up to 60% less energy for the same performance than comparable EC2 instances.

Serverless & Data Analytics

As part of the sustainability trend, there were several serverless releases. Since sharing resources can help you meet sustainability goals, serverless becomes a fundamental technique to master. With serverless computing, storage, databases, analytics, AWS can utilize the underlying hardware in a more optimized way, leading to your carbon footprint going down.

MSK(Managed Streaming for Kafka) Serverless

This release enables the use of Amazon MSK without needing to manage and scale cluster capacity. It will allow you to use Apache Kafka in an on-demand way that will scale compute and storage capacity automatically for you.

Kinesis Data Streams On-Demand

No more shard provisioning, no more need to know the amount of data that flows through your streams. With Kinesis on-demand, the stream will automatically scale capacity up and down. But you need to remember that it comes with a cost. The on-demand version of Kinesis is much more expensive, so if you know your need and don’t have a variable workload, the on-demand version is not for you.

Amazon Redshift Serverless

A serverless data warehouse? This is an exciting take on the traditional data warehouse. Redshift Serverless will automatically scale and provision the resources needed, and you only pay for what you use. But as for Kinesis on-demand, it’s mostly for variable and sporadic workloads.

Amazon EMR Serverless

One more serverless release in the data & analytics area. This release enables data scientists to run big-data analytics without configuring, managing, and scaling clusters. As a result, you can quickly get all the power and benefits from EMR without hiring experts to plan and manage your clusters.

AWS Lambda Event filtering

Filter messages from SQS, Kinesis, DynamoDB streams before reaching your Lambda function. Instead of writing code in the Lambda function to check if the messages are of interest, this filtering occurs before the function invocation. This will eliminate unnecessary invocations of your Lambda Functions.

Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) DLQ Redrive

Finally, an improved experience for SQS Dead Letter Queues. With this release, you inspect the messages, remediate the problem, and then send messages in the DLQ back to the original queue without manual effort. Before this release, you had to create special tooling to move the messages back.

Amazon S3 Event notifications with Amazon EventBridge

Finally!! I have been waiting for this release for so long. Before, you had to rely on CloudTrail to get events about S3 object creation into EventBridge. This created a delay that made it impossible to use in most event-driven systems. Now you get the events directly into EventBridge as you got them into SQS, SNS, and Lambda. It enables great decoupling in an event-driven system that relies on data in S3.

No Code & Low Code

The trend around no-code and low-code services continues. So we got a couple of new releases.

Amplify Studio

The new Amplify Studio is a visual development environment that lets builders quickly build and deploy web and mobile applications. In addition, you can promptly build backend services with minimal coding and without a dedicated backend team. 

Amazon SageMaker Canvas

A new point and click interface lets business analysts quickly create Machine Learning models to generate predictions without any ML experience. There is no need to write any code to predict customer churn. Important to remember is that SageMaker Canvas comes with a big price tag.

Community & Builders

Several interesting releases targeted the community and all of the builders out there. It was also really nice to see AWS DevTool Hero Matt Coulter receive the “Go Build Award” from Werner Vogel himself.

CDK v2 and Construct Hub

The Infrastructure as Code tool, AWS CDK, was released in version 2 with several improvements over the first version. Clear instructions on how to migrate have already been published as well. With the CDK release came the release of Construct Hub and an open-source collection of CDK libraries, one place to locate them all. At this moment, there are already over 800 CDK libraries available, both from companies such as Hashicorp and from the community itself.

re:Post

This is a new community-driven Q&A that is supposed to replace the traditional AWS forums. It will allow builders, both customers, and AWS employees, to ask and answer questions. It comes with a reputation/knowledge score to gain points for certifications and correct answers. Sounds familiar..?

 

Thoughts about AWS re:Invent 2021

Health Safety 

I was really impressed by how well AWS handled the COVID situation. I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe anywhere in the conference area. The vaccination and mask requirements really made me feel safe. But, together with the other health measures in place, like dedicated eating areas, it worked out really well. Also, all attendees showed each other great respect and tried to keep as much distance as possible. The reduced number of people was very much welcome. It almost felt like the first re:Invent I attended with a smaller walkable campus, open spaces, and no queues to everything.

Very well handled by everyone! 

The 10th anniversary

2021 was the 10th anniversary of the conference. I expected it to be a huge celebration, and my feeling is, however, that AWS held back. Sure, there was some nice limited 10-year swag. It mostly felt like a walk down memory lane with video clips from previous years and Top-10 lists on different topics.

I can’t say that I’m disappointed, but I think I expected more.

The new CEO

Adam Selipsky took the stage instead of Andy Jassy, so did he make it his own? Some changes felt like an attempt. Andy had been talking about “builders” over the years; Adam didn’t do that. Instead, he talked about pioneers who have led the change in many areas. Persons like Florence Nightingale, The Lady with the lamp led to the shift in hospital hygiene. The keynote by Adam had the normal AWS polish over it, and like all keynote speakers at re:Invent he delivered a good keynote.

Final words

Re:Invent 2021 was an evolution more than a revolution. Most releases were evolving existing services and not any revolutionary new services.

I found that it was an enjoyable experience. The reduced number of attendees and campus contributed to that. I prefer this smaller size over the huge conference it turned into the last couple of years. Navigating campus and sessions were better, there were no long queues, and you didn’t have to show up an hour beforehand to a walkup session. I hope that AWS evaluates 2021 and learns from it. It doesn’t have to be huge. For me, re:Invent 2021 was about meeting my friends in the community. I missed talking to all of the fantastic people in person.

Now let the planning for 2022 start, it’s just a year away!

 

See you all in Vegas 2022!!