AWS Update

At the end of April I went to the AWS Summit at ExCeL London, partly to keep up with the competition but largely because the attendees are a different crowd to those you get at your average IBM conference. I managed to miss most of the keynote, partly by design (no early start and an off-peak ticket) and partly due to someone driving in to a level-crossing in Southampton! Having watched the video subsequently, I don’t think I missed a great deal. The only announcements from Amazon that peaked my interest was the arrival of Amazon WorkSpaces in Ireland and the availability of the Twitter stream in Amazon Kinesis.

As in common with the rest of the day, it was the customer slots that were the most interesting. For example, SwiftKey talked about their use of Hadoop on AWS to crunch Wikipedia in other languages to build a starter set for their language models, through to CloudFront as the CDN for serving the final models up to their customers.

I had an interesting chat over lunch with someone who was actually an IBM customer and then wandered the expo watching demos by some of the likely suspects in the cloud deployment, management and monitoring space (Chef, Splunk, DataDog, …).

After lunch the breakout sessions began with six parallel tracks this year. I went to Deployment Done Right first, covering Elastic Beanstalk, OpsWorks and CloudFormation. The only new news for me was an aside that Beanstalk nows supports Docker. It seems like pretty lame support for containerisation though as you appear to get an EC2 instance per image. The accompanying presentation from was most notable for the long list of open source software in use (Nginx, PHP, Magento, Varnish, Redis, Memcached, Elasticsearch, Jenkins, Capistrano, Capify EC2, Boto, …).

Next up was Dynamic Content Acceleration covering the CloudFront CDN and Route 53 DNS with the aim of knocking a second off your response times. The customer this time was which is an interesting site in its own right, providing the capability to turn websites in to structured data (for free).

For the last session of the day I picked Scaling on AWS for the First 10 Million Users which did not, as you might expect, spend a lot of time on auto-scaling, but covered all aspect of application architecture that would contribute to scaling. The customer was the mobile taxi app firm Hailo who are pursuing a micro-services architecture. They are using containerisation (they didn’t specify which) and are apparently writing their own controller to manage the distribution of those containers across EC2 instances to balance workload.

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