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Serverless, AI lead re:Invent 2017 expert predictions

As IT professionals around the world prepare to attend AWS re:Invent, our expert contributors predict news from the conference, where they expect AI and serverless to dominate.

Re:Invent 2017 marks the sixth year of the annual AWS conference, and users can expect big-time news. Product and feature releases are expected from the event's two keynote speeches, as AWS continues its expansion beyond the cloud and into other enterprise ventures.

Last year, AWS unveiled a host of new products and services, including Snowmobile, Blox, Greengrass and Glue, that fit a variety of storage, security, compute and networking needs.

What lies ahead for this year's show? SearchAWS asked its experts to share their insights and predictions on what news will come out of re:Invent 2017. Here's what they said.

Chris Moyer

chris moyer

I expect to see a lot more this year on serverless technologies than we've ever seen in the past, including more details on blue-green deployment or traffic-shifting capabilities for Lambda. I also expect a bit more on AWS Serverless Application Model, SAM Local and some of the new Application Load Balancer features. And I wouldn't be surprised if Tim Allen Wagner, general manager of AWS Lambda, does a keynote of some sort, as he's been doing a lot of serverless talks lately.

I also expect a few new details on Amazon API Gateway and Lambda, which are big contributors to the serverless space. Machine learning will be a big topic, and it's always a hot-button issue. I was quite surprised to hear that Amazon is collaborating with Microsoft on a new AI modeling language called Gluon.

David Linthicum

David Linthicum

There will be two themes at re:Invent 2017. The first theme will be AI-related with more deep learning and machine learning. I suspect that AWS will have some innovative angles on both concepts, including building upon existing services. The new services will likely focus on the use of massive amounts of data and the ability to find patterns in that data. AWS will highlight these new capabilities by listing many business use cases.

The second theme of this year's AWS conference will be serverless. AWS will unveil new serverless services by building upon Lambda's success. I expect an expansion of programming languages and links with other AWS tools, including the aforementioned AI services.

Brian Tarbox

Brian Tarbox

AWS continues to expand its offerings. No other cloud provider can come close to AWS in terms of breadth of offerings. However, there are areas in which AWS' lead is being challenged. I would expect AWS to continue addressing the areas where Google -- and, to a lesser degree, Azure -- are making inroads. AWS' shift to per-second billing is a great way to please customers trying to cut costs. I wouldn't be surprised if it follows up on this by matching Google's sustained usage discount on Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances.

Containerization is another area to watch. AWS unveiled a greater involvement with Kubernetes in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and I would expect major news -- possibly even full Kubernetes support and the subsequent implications for EC2 Container Service (ECS) -- in that space at re:Invent 2017.

Alexa's expanding family of devices will continue to be a major focus of Amazon's retail side, and I expect some additional software development kit support for the devices -- perhaps native support for more languages in addition to Node, Python and Java virtual machine languages. But AWS has to address the problem of how to monetize and promote Alexa skills. The Alexa developer community is largely working for street cred and hoping for the ever-elusive mention of their skill in an Amazon promotional email. If AWS doesn't solve this problem, many developers could be tempted to write skills for competing home automation platforms.

Mike Pfeiffer

Mike Pfeiffer

I think AWS will reveal some significant updates and capabilities within its AI line of services at re:Invent 2017. I expect to see enhancements that will enable developers to innovate further to help build voice-enabled applications and chatbots.

I also believe we'll see several enhancements within AWS Lambda, as serverless becomes so pervasive. I wouldn't be surprised to see additional languages added to Lambda, such as Go and Ruby, and perhaps some improvements in the developer tooling that will help with serverless app dev and deployment.

Ofir Nachmani

Ofir Nachmani

AWS could forge strategic partnerships with more telecommunications companies and build upon its recent combination with Nokia. AWS' motive is to hold the enterprise IT food chain. That means networking into customer data centers, releasing more up-the-stack products, such as Lambda, and introducing more enterprise migration options with a hybrid cloud focus could be possible.

George Lawton

George Lawton

AWS will unveil some news at re:Invent 2017 that makes it easier to migrate workloads into private data centers. This will likely start with Lambda functions but could include services and tools to migrate EC2 instances and containers to private infrastructure as well. These first efforts are likely to be relatively simple and exploratory, but they will open the gateway for more sophisticated architectures down the line.

It will be tentative, because, in some ways, it could cannibalize some of AWS' existing business and make it easier for companies to offload some AWS profit centers -- like connection costs -- to other cloud providers. But, in the long run, it will put AWS in a better position to compete against VMware- and OpenStack-based alternatives that ease migration between cloud services and private infrastructure.

Kurt Marko

Kurt Marko

AWS will continue its enterprise focus with services that ease legacy workload migration between environments. VMware Cloud is an important part of AWS' enterprise strategy, but it's a VMware-managed service. Although VMware Cloud users can already hook into native Amazon services, I expect AWS to tighten the integration and allow the two networks to communicate, possibly through a new gateway service that ties the VMware environment to an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.

I also expect big news in developer services, particularly containers and serverless functions. Kubernetes workloads can migrate easily between cloud environments, so it's possible -- but perhaps unlikely -- that AWS will follow in Azure's footsteps and provide managed Kubernetes clusters as part of ECS. Either way, AWS must address the growing momentum of Kubernetes and find a way to corral Kubernetes users in the AWS ecosystem with unique add-ons that make it difficult to leave. Similarly, it will be interesting if we get any AWS Blox updates or if it will die in peace.

Finally, look for additions to the Lambda lineup, again following Azure's lead -- thanks to Event Grid -- with a service broker that aggregates events in a registry to reuse event triggers and metadata.

Next Steps

Service gaffes and new partners dominate AWS news

Lambda growth spearheads serverless efforts

AWS adds automation, integration options

This was last published in November 2017

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What news do you expect from this year's AWS conference?
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1) AI language translation service
2) AI video service (aka Amazon go, Prime Video Xray tech)
3) GPU database
4) Snowball Edge upgrade
5) Drone tech
6) Blockchain service
7) Price cuts
8) Self driving car training platform?
9) Lots of Lambda stuff
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Check out the AWS re:Invent predictions from Cloud Assessments:


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Predictions from Cloud Assessments:

A big announcement in artificial intelligence

AI on AWS has grown quite a bit in the last year, with services like Polly, Lex, and Rekognition making it easier than ever to get started using artificial intelligence. Companies like NVIDIA and Tesla are investing heavily in this technology, and it’s no secret why. Artificial intelligence has massive implications for security, and even some world leaders are beginning to speak on its importance. This year’s re:Invent is sure to hold plenty of surprises, but don’t be shocked if a new AI service is announced.

New compute services

EC2 is arguably the most versatile, useful service AWS has to offer. However, it’s been around since 2008, and compute resources have changed a lot since then. AWS recently per-second EC2 and EBS billing, to take effect October 2nd. This was unusual for them–normally new services are available to use right away. With this announcement coming just a few months ahead of re:Invent, it’s quite possible AWS is preparing us for something even bigger in the realm of compute services. With such a huge potential impact, it’s likely that AWS timed this announcement to get us to start thinking differently about compute at a fundamental level. This could very well mean a new compute service altogether.

Kubernetes on AWS

When we think of compute resources in this way–able to be spun up and down at a moment’s notice–we often think of containers. A few weeks ago, AWS joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as a platinum member. What’s interesting about this partnership is that the CNCF is the home of Kubernetes, an incredibly popular container orchestration platform. AWS already offers ECS (Elastic Container Service), but many of the container workloads running on the AWS platform use Kubernetes. When you put the pieces together, all signs point to a new service that will allow a more natural workflow for running Kubernetes natively on AWS.

Serverless will keep growing

Lambda has grown up a lot since its release in 2014. And as the serverless revolution continues, we can expect to see AWS offer more and more functionality in this area. One area where serverless systems thrive, machine learning, is growing at an incredible rate. Text and speech recognition are becoming commonplace (Alexa, for example), so it only makes sense for AWS to capitalize on this trend.

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