The global pandemic may have forced AWS to take its annual re:Invent conference digital this year, but that didn’t stop the company from announcing numerous product launches, feature releases, and service updates.
Here are seven from the conference’s first week that we think will prove to be extremely beneficial.
1. Well-Architected Framework SaaS Lens
AWS released two additional lenses to its Well-Architected Framework, an AWS service that enables customers or AWS partners to review and improve their cloud-based architectures and better understand the business impact of their design decisions.
The first, the Foundational Technical Review (FTR) Lens, allows Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to self-assess their workloads before applying for the actual review. But it’s the SaaS Lens that we’re most excited about.
Available from the Well-Architected Tool console, it features 14 focused questions across the Well-Architected Framework’s five pillars to help developers take a critical view of the architectures and environments for their SaaS products. Each question has a list of best practices, and each best practice includes a list of improvement plans to help guide implementation.
2. Amazon QuickSight Q
AWS also announced the launch of Amazon QuickSight Q, an important addition to its portfolio of business intelligence (BI) services. Using machine learning and natural language processing, QuickSight Q enables users to search databases by asking simple questions. Answers are returned in seconds in the form of numbers and graphs.
The tool offers auto-complete suggestions, spell check, and acronym and synonym matching, so users don’t have to worry about typos or remember the exact business terms in the data. It comes pre-trained on data from various domains and industries, so it is optimized to understand complex business language. It also continuously improves over time by learning from user interactions.
3. Babelfish for Aurora PostgreSQL
Another exciting development announced at re:invent is Babelfish. The new translation layer for Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL enables PostgreSQL to understand database requests — the command and the protocol — from applications written for Microsoft SQL Server.
It offers a less time-consuming, less resource-intensive way for migrating from legacy SQL Server databases to Aurora PostgreSQL. There’s no need to change libraries, database schema, or SQL statements, switch database drivers, or re-write application queries.
Babelfish is a built-in Aurora capability, so there’s no additional cost. It can be enabled on an Amazon Aurora cluster with a just few clicks in the RDS management console. The open-source, PostgreSQL-compatible service is fully managed and ACID-compliant.
4. Larger, Faster EBS io2 Volumes
There’s good news for customers working with I/O-hungry and latency-sensitive applications. AWS opened up a preview of io2 Block Express volumes that deliver higher performance for SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and Apache Cassandra workloads, and for mission-critical transaction processing applications.
The larger, faster volumes provide up to 256K IOPS and 4000 MBps of throughput and a maximum volume size of 64 TiB — all with sub-millisecond, low-variance I/O latency. Twice as much storage can be provisioned than before. The increased volume size and higher throughput eliminates the need to stripe multiple EBS volumes together, reducing complexity and management overhead.
During the preview, AWS is also adding support for its multi-attach, elastic volumes and fast snapshot restore features. It’s also building a new I/O fencing feature that allows for attaching the same volume to multiple instances while ensuring consistent access and protecting shared data.
5. S3 Intelligent-Tiering Archive Access Tiers
Although announced ahead of re:invent, AWS added two archive access tiers to its S3 Intelligent-Tiering system that will automatically archive objects that are infrequently accessed. The optimizations reduce the amount of manual work needed for archiving archive objects with unpredictable access patterns and that may not be accessed for months.
Archive Access delivers the same performance as the S3 Glacier storage class. Deep Archive Access works the same as the S3 Glacier Deep Archive storage class. Once one or both tiers are activated, S3 Intelligent-Tiering will automatically move objects that haven’t been accessed for 90 days to the Archive Access tier. After 180 days without being accessed, the objects will be moved to the Deep Archive Access tier.
Objects in the Archive Access tier can be retrieved in three to five hours and within 12 hours when they’re in the Deep Archive Access tier. Users can pay for faster retrieval by selecting expedited retrieval in the console.
6. EC2 R5b Instances
Among the five new Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances AWS announced at re:invent are the memory-optimized R5b instances enhanced for Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS).
With 60 Gbps of bandwidth and 260,000 IOPS, the new R5b instances increase instance-to-EBS performance by three times compared to same-sized R5 instances. The result: significantly increased performance for large database workloads that process large data sets in memory.
In addition, the R5b instances support EBS io2 Block Express volumes (in preview). This enables customers to have a single 99.999% durable EBS volume with up to 256,000 IOPS and 4,000 MB/second of throughput to further consolidate storage-intensive workloads.
R5b instances are also supported by Amazon RDS for Oracle and Amazon RDS for SQL Server, simplifying the migration path for running commercial database applications on AWS.
7. AWS License Manager Managed Entitlements
Thanks to managed entitlements, a new feature of AWS License Manager, it’s now possible to use a single, central account to distribute licenses across AWS Organizations, quickly automate software deployments, and track licenses.
Customers can use managed entitlements to manage more than 8,000 listings available for purchase from more than 1600 vendors in the AWS Marketplace. The new license management feature also eliminates the need for ISVs to maintain their own licensing systems and conduct costly audits.
There’s Much More
These are just a few of the highlights of the first week of re:Invent 2020. There are many more developments coming from the entire conference that are going to play significant roles in how organizations approach business challenges, innovate, and stay on top of changing industry and customer needs.
If you’re interested in learning more, including how Opti9 how can help you take advantage of what’s new from AWS, give us a call. As an AWS Partner, we stay at the forefront of AWS services and best practices. We can put them to work for you.
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