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Re:Invent keynote speeches unlock big Twitter reaction

At AWS re:Invent this year, announcements included new capabilities for existing products, as well as management tools and a new storage appliance -- setting social media abuzz.

The biggest attractions at Amazon Web Services' annual cloud conference were neither the blackjack tables nor the buffets. AWS users flock to re:Invent for a variety of reasons, and one main reason is to hear what the cloud provider's leadership will announce in its re:Invent keynote speeches.

This year's AWS re:Invent keynote spotlighted new capabilities for Amazon Kinesis, a variety of cloud migration tools, security and compliance, the Internet of Things, containers, mobile app development, new instances and AWS Lambda.

The AWS audience devoured the news and speculated almost immediately on the possibilities. Using the hashtag "#reInvent," hordes of cloud computing professionals took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the most recent string of services.

AWS Database Migration Service stirred up buzz from several Twitter users, who saw AWS' first re:Invent keynote of the week as a challenge to several traditional enterprise vendors. AWS claims the tool is quick to set up, and the announcement also included AWS Schema Conversion Tool and MariaDB to further ease database transitions to the cloud.

AWS added support for MariaDB -- an SQL database growing in popularity -- that admins can run from the AWS Management Console, command-line interface, Relational Database Service API or a CloudFormation template.

Several tweeters speculated that the announcements from AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy came as a direct shot at legacy technology and software makers, including Oracle.

For the most skeptical and data-intensive cloud migrators, AWS unveiled a new petabyte-scale tool to help integrate data with the cloud. AWS Snowball is a physical storage device similar in size to a desktop computer that Amazon ships to customers. IT teams can then plug it in and transfer up to 100 TB of data to the appliance. This method could be useful for companies in remote areas with poor bandwidth or huge amounts of data that would take days to transfer to the cloud. Snowball also comes with a built-in Amazon Kindle that doubles as a UPS shipping label. The Snowball is durable -- as AWS was proud to demonstrate -- but its physical quirks made for some snarky comments.

Amazon Kinesis Firehose introduces a fully managed service for streaming data. AWS customers can collect data from sensors and other sources, removing the need for developers to build applications to handle that data. Instead, enterprises can use Kinesis Firehose as a service to implement data from the Internet of Things or elsewhere.

Kinesis Firehouse has some intriguing capabilities, allowing users to batch, compress and encrypt data to reduce the amount of storage needed. Data can be encrypted using an AWS Key Management Service (KMS) after it is delivered to an Amazon Simple Storage Service bucket.

The cloud administrator crowd got a tool to rave about, as Amazon unveiled AWS Config Rules. With the tool, rules can be placed on specific resources to make sure all resources are secure and being used efficiently. Each custom rule is established as an AWS Lambda function, which makes the necessary calls to other AWS APIs to keep resources in check. The product could help prevent unauthorized cloud use and sprawl.

Amazon rolled right into another security announcement after Config Rules, revealing Amazon Inspector. The product holds a metaphorical magnifying glass to applications, assessing weaknesses in security settings according to best practices. Inspector provides a detailed report and proper steps to alleviate vulnerabilities.

As expected, containerization was a big topic of conversation. AWS unveiled several new levels of functionality for Docker containers within Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS). The Amazon EC2 Container Registry (ECR) manages containers to allow developers to store, manage and deploy Docker images as needed.

Further easing container usage in AWS, the cloud provider released AZ-Aware Scheduler, Docker integration with Compose to help define multi-container apps in AWS and a new ECS command-line interface. The container evolution pleased several members of the Twitter universe.

Serverless computing is seeing a big charge of its own, and Amazon obliged customers looking for greater functionality within AWS Lambda. Lambda announcements included new VPC support, longer-running functions and custom retry logic. But the largest positive reaction came when AWS CTO and VP Werner Vogels announced support for the Python programming language.

Not all attendees see the rapid evolution of AWS' products and services as a treat. While AWS reiterated its desire to evolve as quickly as possible, some AWS users and third-party tool vendors expressed concern -- tongue-in-cheek or otherwise -- about how AWS' rapid expansion often makes those smaller third-party tool companies obsolete.

Next Steps

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Guide to AWS re:Invent 2015, Amazon's annual cloud conference

This was last published in October 2015

Essential Guide

AWS re:Invent 2015: A guide to Amazon's sold-out event

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What is your reaction to AWS' new product announcements?
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it's still early in the year, but we should expect to see AWS making big announcements in 2016 around: 
- new data-center locations 
- more advanced services for data and IoT (built on top of existing services, as solutions) 
- continued push to convince Enterprises that AWS is "Enterprise Ready"
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Hi Brian,

I'm just curious, how more much convincing do you think enterprises need that AWS can fit their needs? It seems like a constant push of theirs, so I just don't know if the cloud-wary enterprises are scared off by the scale of such a move or the budgetary implications. Has AWS done its part to be convincing enough?

FWIW, I agree on all fronts. Adding data centers seems like a priority, and the pressure is on for AWS to add to its IoT services.
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I don't see any mention of Snowball having encryption capability. How do you protect the data while it's being sent to Amazon?
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Snowball does indeed have 256-bit encryption, among other security measures. This piece explains a bit more about the Snowball appliance: http://searchaws.techtarget.com/news/4500278557/AWS-Snowball-slings-hunks-of-data-back-to-your-data-center
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So when can we expect the FBI to demand a back door? :)
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