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AWS re:Invent 2016 attendees react to host of new services

AWS rolled out nearly two dozen new services at AWS re:Invent 2016, and conference attendees were quick to react to all things cloud during the keynote addresses.

The annual AWS re:Invent conference grows each year, and roughly 32,000 attendees ventured into Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent 2016 for keynote addresses, breakout sessions, certification exams and networking events.

The public cloud provider held up its end of the bargain, rolling out more than a dozen new services and even more features for enterprise development teams. New AWS tools address artificial intelligence, data analytics, event-driven computing and security -- and some were designed specifically to gain an edge on software competitors in the market, such as Amazon Lightsail targeting DigitalOcean and additional database functionality intending to entice Oracle users.

With so many developers, architects, administrators, analysts and other IT professionals descending on AWS re:Invent 2016, opinions varied on AWS slate of service announcements. This is a sampling of reactions to AWS re:Invent 2016 news on Twitter, chronicling some of the more interesting viewpoints from attendees.

The sheer volume of AWS upgrades wowed many attendees. While AWS dealt with the occasional live-streaming malfunction, the event and its corresponding releases were largely well received.

AWS expanded its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance options, adding two new families of instances with another planned for release in 2017. The company released the R4 instance family, which is an upgrade over the R3 family for memory-intensive applications, and the I3 family, which improves on I2 instances for high I/O performance and high IOPS. The cloud provider also released two new instance sizes for its T2 family and said it plans to unveil an I3 family in Q1 of 2017.

AWS also touted additions at both ends of its instance spectrum. Amazon Lightsail reportedly enables enterprises to deploy virtual private servers in just a few steps. On the other side of the coin, AWS' new F1 instance family includes customizable field programmable gate arrays, allowing developers to tune chips to their specific -- and changing -- application needs.

Developers can also assign Elastic GPUs to EC2 instances -- instead of letting the size of the instance determine the number of GPUs. Fitting the GPU to a workload size can reduce costs for customers who need less processing power and can improve performance for those who need it.

The cloud provider identified -- and is trying to fill -- technology gaps other software vendors have left. AWS CodeBuild adds to Amazon's array of DevOps tools, giving developers a platform to compile code and run tests. Startups that want to make in-roads into hosted build services now face a challenge with Amazon's heavy footprints in that space.

AWS continued its feud with Oracle, taking some less-than-subtle digs at the database provider while also touting Amazon Aurora as the fastest growing service in AWS history. It also announced support for PostgreSQL. Each new AWS tool has the potential to trample on the efforts of large and small competitors, including those in the AWS Partner Network.

The IBM Watson supercomputer introduced the public to an artificial intelligence (AI) interface; and AI products have grown in the consumer market since. Two years ago, Amazon released the first of its popular Echo devices, which run on the Alexa voice interaction engine. Now AWS offers customers the same types of AI capabilities.

The Amazon Rekognition image analysis service, Amazon Polly text-to-speech tool, and Amazon LEX speech recognition and language understanding engine give the cloud provider legs in the AI market and open up new levels of functionality for developers working in AWS.

The cloud provider targeted enterprises in its AWS re:Invent 2016 keynote speeches, seeking further levels of adoption. Last year, the cloud provider debuted AWS Import/Export Snowball, a physical appliance that allows businesses to ship data to and from the cloud. Following its popularity and company's continued struggles to move large amounts of data into the public cloud, AWS released Snowball Edge.

The device operates in the same fashion as the original Snowball, but it adds compute capabilities in offline or low-connectivity locations. And AWS Snowmobile was the proverbial elephant -- or, rather, Mack truck -- in the room. AWS made a show of unveiling Snowmobile, driving one of the 45-foot long trucks onto the stage to cap CEO Andy Jassy's keynote speech. AWS customers can summon a Snowmobile -- and the AWS personnel that accompany it -- to move as much as an exabyte of data to the cloud, all with heavy layers of internal and external security.

AWS CTO Werner Vogels unveiled several new AWS Lambda features and services during his keynote. Lambda@Edge allows developers to write code for advanced processing of HTTP requests in CloudFront distributions; new support for C# drew applause from developers on hand at AWS re:Invent 2016.

But many of the releases from the first keynote address included support for Lambda or otherwise expanded the serverless service's cloud capabilities. AWS Greengrass, for example, allows internet of things devices to communicate with each other -- even offline. Developers can use the same Lambda models locally as they do in the cloud.

AWS also took steps to give customer baseline levels of security. Its new AWS Shield service, which includes levels for Everyone and Advanced, provides automatic protection for web apps and additional protection against sophisticated attacks, respectively.

The new AWS Personal Health Dashboard gives an AWS customer an individual view of what services are running, which can further help detect performance issues and vulnerabilities.

Next Steps

Developer tool expansion a hit at re:Invent

AWS expands OpsWorks, invests in Chef

New data transport, machine learning options grow user base

This was last published in December 2016

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