September was a low-key month for AWS, even though it rolled out more than 70 updates to its platform.
AWS advancements in September were a lot of the standard fodder: services expanded to additional regions, deeper integration between tools and a handful of security certifications. All of this is potentially welcome to the respective target audiences.
Still, the updates weren’t completely mundane. There were some serious nods to AWS hybrid cloud architectures along with some intriguing moves aimed at developers.
Let’s start with the enterprise-focused tools that get data to AWS’ cloud. AWS Storage Gateway, a service that connects on-premises and cloud-based data, added a hardware appliance that a company can install in its own data center or remote office. The service addresses storage needs for a range of hybrid cloud architectures – backup, archiving, disaster recovery, migrations and links to AWS analytics tools. This appliance opens Storage Gateway to non-virtualized environments, and comes on a pre-loaded Dell EMC PowerEdge server at a cost of $12,250.
AWS has emphasized database migrations in recent years to lure corporate clients to its public cloud, either through lift-and-shift approaches or transitions to its native, managed services. That continued in September, as Database Migration Service added DynamoDB as a destination for Cassandra databases and Server Migration Service upped the size of data volumes it can handle from 4TB to 16TB.
Speaking of databases, Amazon Aurora continues to get a lot of attention. A month after its serverless flavor became generally available, users now can start and stop Aurora database clusters, a feature geared toward test and development. Another Aurora feature, a Parallel Query tool, opens the managed service to some analytical queries.This could limit the need for a data warehouse service, but there are lingering concerns that AWS has spent too much time on interesting new features and not enough time on core functionality.
Developer tools raise eyebrows
Two other AWS updates in September may pique developers’ interest, or leave them scratching their heads.
CloudFormation Macros processes templates in the same way the Serverless Application Model (SAM) prescribes rules and defines infrastructure as code, but Macros enables custom transformations handled by Lambda functions within a user’s account.
And for Microsoft shops, AWS Lambda now supports .NET developers that want to manage or automate scripts through support for PowerShell Core 6.0. We’ll have more on these features in the coming months, but for now, at least one group of users is a bit confused with the Macros feature and thinks they’ll stick with Terraform instead.
Updates to security, partnerships
On the security front, admins can now use YubiKey security keys for multi-factor authentication. Network Load Balancers and AWS PrivateLink support AWS VPN, which means an enterprise has more options to build an AWS hybrid cloud architecture where on-prem workloads can privately access AWS services.
AWS also expanded its partnership with Salesforce, with tighter integration of services for companies that rely on both providers. And yes, you can use Lambda functions to move trigger actions between the two environments. The two cloud giants have worked together for years, including the $400 million deal Salesforce signed in 2016 to use AWS services.
And stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a Wall Street analyst called for Amazon to split its retail and AWS businesses. As always, the hope is to avoid regulation, boost the value for shareholders and insulate them against the potential struggles of one of the business units.
Amazon executives haven’t responded to the critique, but last winter AWS CEO Andy Jassy said there’s no need to spin off his company. He brushed off the “optics of the financial statements” and said there’s real value in having internal customers that aren’t afraid to share their feedback.