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Day 2 at the AWS re:Invent – what we learned

Andreas Wittig

“No server is easier to manage than no server,” says Werner Vogels in his keynote at this year’s AWS re:Invent, where new instance types, IoT cloud and containerized and serverless computing was announced.

Every year AWS runs a big conference with 19,000 attendees in Las Vegas to announce new services and to educate people in more than 270 sessions about how to use AWS. As usual there was a keynote on Wednesday focusing on enterprise topics and a second keynote on Thursday focusing on the more innovative services.

re:Invent day 1 – the highlights

I want to highlight the most interesting three service announcements that could have a big impact from the second keynote on Thursday, hosted by Werner Vogels, CTO of AWS.

Virtual computing: EC2

During the keynote Werner Vogels announced new instance types. So far a t2.micro instance with 1 GiB memory and 1 virtual CPU was the smallest and cheapest EC2 instance type available. The new t2.nano instance type is even smaller providing 512 MB memory and 1 virtual CPU.

On the other side a new instance family called x1 was announced. This instance family will provide virtual servers with up to 2 TB memory powered by the new Intel Xeon E7 processors. The expanded portfolio will make it easier to find an EC2 instance type for every workload.

Containerized computing: ECS

Docker has become very popular during the last two years. AWS announced a new service to make it easier to manage a fleet of Docker containers on EC2 instances a year ago: ECS (EC2 Container Service). This year AWS announced a few interesting new features for ECS. The EC2 Container Registry (ECR) offers a fully managed registry for Docker containers.

This new service will make it easier to deploy microservices on ECS and is an alternative to private repositories on Docker Hub. On top of that AWS announced a new feature that allows you to launch containers evenly distributed among different availability zones to be able to build fault tolerant systems more easily.

Serverless computing: AWS Lambda

As Werner Vogels said during the keynote: “No server is easier to manage than no server.” AWS launched a service called Lambda at re:Invent in 2014. Developers are able to execute small functions with the help of AWS Lambda without the need of a virtual server or container.

A few new features for AWS Lambda were announced this year. First of all it is now possible to trigger Lambda functions with the help of a schedule as known from UNIX cronjobs. The maximum execution duration per request of a Lambda function will be increased from 1 minute to 5 minutes. And it will be possible to execute a Lambda function in a private network on AWS, called VPC.AWS_IoT


AWS was focusing heavily on IoT during the keynote. A lot of use cases and customers were shown. The message is clear: AWS is or is trying to become the place to store and evaluate data from any kind of IoT devices and services.

To be able to achieve that AWS is offering a managed cloud platform called AWS IoT. Important part of this platform is a MQTT broker that allows to collect data from IoT devices over the Internet easily.


Michael and Andreas Wittig with Amazon Web Services in Action

More improvement than innovation

AWS focused heavily on improving existing technologies and services. Improvements were made to the three computing services: EC2, ECS and Lambda. The focus seems to be on consolidating and improving existing services instead of complete new services this year. With one exception: AWS seems to be focusing heavily on the coming IoT market.

Learn more about Amazon Web Services

Are you interested in learning more about Amazon Web Services? Andreas and I have written a book called Amazon Web Services in Action, published by Manning. The book is written for developers and DevOps engineers who are moving traditionally deployed distributed applications to the AWS platform. No experience with AWS is required.

Andreas Wittig
Andreas Wittig, together with Michael Wittig, runs a consultancy focused on AWS and web development. Together, they migrated the complete IT infrastructure of the first Bank in Germany to AWS. They have expertise in distributed system development and architecture, with experience in algorithmic trading and real-time analytics. They are proponents of the DevOps model.

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