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AWS month in review: Amazon Lightsail, Lambda updates

AWS made one of its simplest services more functional in a month that saw the cloud vendor bogged down in all sorts of complex subjects.

An update to Amazon Lightsail now lets users incorporate managed relational databases with the virtual private server offering, which bundles set amounts of storage, compute and data transfers. These database servers also come in fixed sizes that can be quickly deployed.

AWS folded some of the technology that underlies RDS into Amazon Lightsail so users can create a database in one availability zone (AZ), or replicate it to a second AZ for high availability. The feature can only deploy MySQL databases currently, though AWS said it plans to add PostgreSQL support soon.

Managed databases were the biggest request from Amazon Lightsail users, according to AWS. The service competes with DigitalOcean and Linode, and users should expect more integrations with AWS’ vast array of services, said Rhett Dillingham, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

Lambda love

Two Lambda items stood out among other October product updates.

AWS tripled the maximum time a function can run per execution, to a cap of 15 minutes, which opened a debate about how to use the service. Some users called it a welcome move but said AWS should extend the window even further to accommodate more workloads. Others raised concerns about runaway costs, and argued that any function that must run that long should be broken down into smaller microservices.

Also, AWS finally added an SLA to Lambda, nearly four years after it debuted at re:Invent 2014. The SLA guarantees a monthly uptime of 99.95%, with a reimbursement in the form of service credits if AWS fails to meet that target.

In other news…

Amazon appears to be the latest cloud vendor embroiled in internal controversy over its use of AI, as employees have protested an apparent pitch to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to use Amazon Rekognition to record and identify individuals.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense’s JEDI cloud contract continues to be a contentious subject, which is no surprise, given the feds’ plan to fork over as much as $10 billion to the winning bidder. IBM this month joined Oracle to protest of the scope of the deal, and several lawmakers have called for investigations.

Speaking of Oracle, the company’s CTO and founder Larry Ellison took his annual whack at AWS as part of his OpenWorld keynote, where he likened the use of an AWS database service to a fatal car crash. The two companies’ executives have traded barbs for years as they fight over the lucrative database market, but a leaked AWS memo that same week as OpenWorld shed new light on the companies’ complicated relationship behind the scenes.

Amazon suffered a major embarrassment earlier this year when its ecommerce site stalled on its Prime Day sales event. The outage didn’t impact other AWS users, but since Amazon.com is AWS’ biggest customer, it raised some eyebrows about the company’s claims of infinite scale. Little was said publicly at the time, but it may have involved some features that were lost in a migration from Oracle to Amazon Aurora, which couldn’t provide the same level of reliability. AWS CTO Werner Vogels vehemently denied the story, calling it “silly and misleading.”

Amazon reportedly is in the midst of a massive internal migration off Oracle, with a scheduled completion in 2020. Naturally, Ellison told investors on a recent earnings call that its rival won’t be able  to quit Oracle so easily. If past is prelude, expect AWS CEO Andy Jassy to take his own shots at Oracle on stage at re:Invent 2018 in a few weeks.

Also on the report-refuting front, the Bloomberg story that claimed Apple, AWS and others detected malicious Chinese hardware in their data centers continues to be a headscratcher. Jassy echoed Apple CEO Tim Cook in a call for Bloomberg to retract the story. For its part, Bloomberg has stood by its reporting, though it hasn’t provided additional details in the face of staunch pushback from the named tech vendors.

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