The Cloud re:Invented by Amazon Web Services

By Alice Pearce on 17 Nov 2015

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is now the fastest growing Multi-Billion Dollar Enterprise IT company in the world, and each year they host re:Invent, a truly awe-inspiring conference of scale only paralleled by their cloud. With over 19,000 attendees, and a further 38,000 attending virtually, there’s clearly phenomenal interest in AWS. And, when you realise they are now 10 times larger than their next 14 competitors combined, growing 78% year on year, you’d be a fool not to be paying attention.

AWS re:Invent

As a business we have been offering cloud management for more than seven years, both on our own infrastructure, as well as on providers such as Amazon Web Services, so re:Invent was a fantastic opportunity for us to attend product launches, partner events, training seminars, as well as network with other businesses that are a part of the AWS ecosystem. It was also a fantastic opportunity for our team to unwind, enjoying some of the world’s greatest entertainment venues, as re:Invent is hosted in Las Vegas – one of the few destinations capable of hosting such a large conference.

But our staff weren’t distracted by roulette wheels or show girls – instead their attentions were arrested by a host of new feature and product launches. The most interesting was perhaps Snowball, a petabyte-scale storage device that solves the problem of large scale data transfer. Snowball uses secure appliances to transfer large amounts of data, automatically encrypted, in and out of AWS. It’s shipped to businesses with a kindle-esque e-Ink label for easy return directions, and two of these working in parallel can transfer 100TB in a week – a task that would historically have taken 100 days.

AWS Snowball

We’re getting involved with more and more projects involving migrating clients from on-premise and data centre based installations into the AWS cloud. For these larger, traditional businesses, security is extremely important and at re:Invent, there were two major security product launches.

Amazon Inspector is an automated security assessment service that finds security or compliance issues when deploying applications on AWS. Inspector assesses your network, VMs, OS and application configurations and runs these against a library of common security standards and vulnerabilities. The output is a detailed report of potential vulnerabilities.

The second security launch is AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), which provides an additional layer of protection from application-layer attacks. WAF looks at every inbound request, compares these requests to a set of rules and then makes a determination to drop or allow it to continue. AWS provides a set of the most common rules but you can also apply your own.

The scale of AWS was also clearly on display, The statistics on geological surveying, banking and healthcare data and analytics open a fascinating window on some of the amazing things businesses are up to in the cloud, not to mention the scale of their undertakings. For example, the Phillips Health Suite application on AWS, streams the vitals of 19m patients from around the world, with analysis such as diagnostic comparisons running across 15 Petabytes of data. Their data storage is expanding at the rate of one petabyte per month.

Similar analytics and graphing tools are also available on another re:Invent launch, Quicksight. This service automates the analysis and visualisation of information for businesses at what AWS claims to be one tenth of the cost of traditional approaches, not to mention the speed benefits.

At the other end of the scale, AWS has introduced the t2.nano instance size, which allows customers with low processing power requirements to select and pay for an instance closer to their general requirements but of course still with bursting capabilities.

We’re now looking forward to re:Invent 2016 and in the meantime would be happy to discuss any queries about about the AWS cloud – or Azure or other alternatives, as of course one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

You can catch up with the conference presentations here: