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New services, cloud disruption top AWS news in 2015

Cloud customers keep their ears to the ground to keep up with new AWS information, particularly when it comes to service issues. These five news stories were most popular on SearchAWS in 2015.

The swell of developers, cloud administrators, analysts and media at the annual AWS re:Invent conference was a...

testament to the cloud provider's status in the technology realm. AWS adopters, or those interested in its services, want to stay up to date on AWS news to keep their competitive edge or better inform their IT departments.

The SearchAWS news department provided readers with stories about new products, areas where AWS still needed to improve and case studies of companies using AWS in a variety of ways. These five AWS news stories were the most popular on the site in 2015.

5. Amazon API Gateway edges out competitors

Microservices applications spiked in popularity over the past year, and services that help create those applications saw increases in use. When used with AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway helps automate microservices.

The newly launched service did not go above and beyond some existing API gateways, falling short in both price and functionality compared to third-party and open source competitors. Despite the knocks, Amazon API Gateway is gaining steam among AWS shops and would-be customers, as its functionality with AWS Lambda is an enticing feature.

4. AWS Elasticsearch untangles EC2 integration knots

Some open source cloud tools will gain such a large following among IT professionals that AWS has to take notice -- and action.

When Elasticsearch, a search engine as a service provider, reached more than 10 million downloads since 2012, AWS prepared the launch of Amazon Elasticsearch Service. Released in October, Amazon Elasticsearch Service can remove the complicated guesswork behind trying to establish ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana) clusters on Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Developers need to also devote some attention to data storage management when dealing with ELK clusters, another element discussed as a feature of a new AWS-managed service.

AWS was still perfecting the product late in 2015, leaving some customers wary; other AWS customers have found its bedrock functionality useful in their operations.

3. What's down the road for Amazon Elastic File System?

Just before the official launch of Amazon Elastic File System, which is available in preview in the U.S.-West region, AWS officials answered questions and discussed features of the service. The event essentially depicted a roadmap for Amazon Elastic File System, and developers were eager to use the service to integrate with and deploy EC2 instances.

Many of those developers eager to tinker with Amazon EFS were generally accepting of AWS' gradual product rollouts. Few AWS products are released across all regions with a full slate of functionality, and that seems to be just fine with the cloud provider's customer base.

2. Tale of the tape: Azure Machine Learning measures up against AWS

Amazon and Microsoft have sparred on instance pricing over the last few years. The constant pricing back-and-forth is the clearest indication of the companies' magnitude in the cloud services industry. But sometimes one provider can get a jump on the other, launching a new product or service that knocks its opponent to the canvas.

Machine learning, which allows businesses to evaluate end-user data with complex algorithms and implement predictive applications, was a wish-list item for analysts and IT pros working with business analytics. Microsoft was quick to the draw, unveiling Azure Machine Learning before AWS announced its own machine learning product.

The Azure user interface for the product was a draw for customers from the start, leaving some AWS users mulling at least a partial move to Azure. By beating AWS to the punch with a quality product, Azure scored a decisive win, albeit one quickly countered by the release of Amazon Machine Learning.

1. Cloud disruption raises eyebrows

It might be due to legitimate concern -- or a form of rubbernecking -- but a pair of issues in the course of one September week caught the attention of AWS customers and SearchAWS readers alike.

The first reported cloud disruption occurred outside of business hours, but the second had a greater effect, completely halting the creation of EC2 instances during the business week. Not all users were slowed by the cloud disruption, but those who weren't considered the trend distressing. Some IT professionals requested a root cause analysis, which AWS did not immediately provide. Amazon did address the service issue in a blog post, partially explaining the cause of the disruption and saying it had taken several steps to avoid future occurrences.

Whether or not the answer was satisfactory, AWS was back up to speed within the week. But customers were left pondering their disaster recovery strategies.

Next Steps

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What do you feel was the most important AWS news item in 2015?
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I'm surprised that the revenue announcements weren't at the top of the list or even in the Top 5. Most people seemed surprised at the growth rates and operating margins. 
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