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AWS re:Invent 2018: Closing Loops and Opening Minds: How to Take Control of Systems, Big and Small – ARC337

November 27th, 2018 No comments

Colm MacCarthaigh – Sr Principal Engineer, EC2 Networking, AWS

20181127_013554604_iOSOne of the undeniable aspects of AWS is its scale. We can think of this scale from two perspectives. From a customer perspective, AWS offers so many services in so many regions that you can build some amazing global applications at scale on top of the AWS cloud. The other perspective is from the AWS side as a huge cloud operator at scale. The AWS cloud shouldn’t be seen just as a (long) list of separate services tied together but should rather be looked at from the bottom up as a massive distributed system. I sometimes explain the AWS cloud as a distributed operating system to help people understand how tightly bound the services are on a common scalable platform. The AWS “OS” has many thing like networking, storage, compute and security services, just like Windows, Linux or Mac does but massively more distributed. AWS CTO, Werner Vogels, is one of the world’s distributed systems experts. The AWS cloud is a system designed for scale.

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AWS re:Invent 2018: Supercharge VMware Cloud on AWS Environments with Native AWS Services – CMP360

November 26th, 2018 No comments

Andy Reedy, Aarthi Raju and Wen Yu from AWS

Being a long time VMware customer, I’m very interested in what VMware Cloud on AWS (VMConAWS) could offer. Its early days and I’m not sure what customer take-up has been so far but there is certainly industry buzz, attention and interested customers. Its VMware’s current big push to be seen as a cloud company. One of the criticisms levelled at VMConAWS is that its just a glorified colo, moving your current virtualisation layer from an on-prem or existing colo to another colo, this time hosted by AWS. AWS, however, isn’t just another colo!

One of the obvious big benefits with hosting your VMware workloads is being close to the rest of what AWS offers. This could be the hook to help you decide to use the service as VMConAWS comes with built-in integration with native AWS services. Are these integrations just a way to get you to use more AWS when you’re a VMware customer and in time shrink your VMware investments as you take advantage of more AWS native services? Time will tell but the integrations with native AWS services could be very useful if you’re wanting to migrate and host your VMware workloads in a new “colo”.

Overview

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AWS re:Invent 2018: Serverless Retail Technologies at Scale Workshop – RET302

November 26th, 2018 No comments

Mike Mackay, Toby Knight, Bastien Leblanc, Imran Dawood, Mike Morain, Andrew Kane, Samuel Waymouth, Lee Packham, all from Amazon and Charles Wilkinson Architecture Head from River Island

This was a retail focused workshop which although not in my normal sphere of interest piqued my interest as its a great example of designing technology for massive, seasonal scale. There’s a difference between designing a system for continuous scale and one for rapid change scale. Black Friday has just happened so the reasons are fresh in our minds. Cost is obviously a factor, you don’t want to be paying for your peak system needs when they’re not being used.

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Part of the consideration is being able to satisfy all transactions going through the system when its sale time. Parts of the system are being flooded with sale related requests, yet the non impacted parts of the system must not be squeezed. You can’t let the rest of your IT fall over because just ‘re doing a sale

The workshop used AWS Lambda, Amazon SNS, Amazon SQS, and Amazon API Gateway with existing non-microservices backend systems to divert traffic from the core critical infrastructure using Amazon CloudFront and AWS Lambda@Edge.

You can also play along at home with the instructions https://docs.lee.fishing

Set up

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AWS re:Invent 2018: The Day 0 Buzz and Midnight Madness

November 26th, 2018 No comments

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I arrived in Las Vegas from London via LAX yesterday, so a long time sitting in a plane. Thanksgiving weekend is actually a good weekend to travel as its quieter than normal. I caught up with none other than This Week in AWS host, Corey Quinn. I then stretched the legs and saw a show to stay up and adjust the body clock.

I slept reasonably well for being 8 hours out of sync, did a run to resync and clear the head then more than cancelled out any good will with a breakfast buffet, Vegas style! Lovely!


Registration

Registration was pretty simple, it was different from last year as its only at The Venetian and Aria hotels so you couldn’t register at a smaller venue. You can however register at the airport on arrivals at baggage reclaim which is a nice addition, if you’re arriving from today. Lot of people expected obviously and it looks like so far the Amazon People Queuing System (PQS) is working at scale. Registration allowed you to get a hoodie which is actually pretty comfortable and doesn’t scream “IT clothing” too much!

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Managed to also bump into Eric Wright, Gregg Robertson and Chris Porter so re:Invent is also starting with a good community social vibe!

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AWS re:Invent 2017: The Show Review

December 19th, 2017 No comments
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AWS re:Invent 2017: The Day 4 Buzz

December 1st, 2017 No comments

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Breakfast

I headed to the Venetian to watch the keynote remotely. Have to mention the breakfast at the Grand Luxe Cafe which was Churros French Toast!

I certainly wasn’t expecting this, it was excellent!

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Werner Vogels Keynote

2017-11-30 08.55.23AWS CTO Werner Vogels wanted to use the keynote not for a slew of announcements but rather to revisit the original AWS keynote with “21st century architecture re:Imagined” and set out what the architecture should be for the next few years.

I’m not going to go through the whole keynote as this is covered elsewhere but some things that I found interesting.

Human Interfaces

He talked about the importance of data and the interfaces to it. They will become more human rather than machine like voice with Alexa. Voice unlocks digital systems for everyone.

Alexa for Business was announced which will allow you to join conference calls easily and know where you are and who you are to automatically join a call. I wonder how this will all work in open plan offices. Werner says we need to start thinking about voice as an interface with a conversation rather than just a webpage output to interact with back end systems.

He then talked about the three different “planes”, Admin, Control and Data. I like the addition of the Admin plan which I haven’t seen before.

  • He listed some architecture guidelines
  • Stop guessing capacity needs
  • Test systems in production
  • Automate to make architectural experimentation
  • Drive your architecture using data
  • Improve through Game Days

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AWS re:Invent 2017: What’s New in Serverless – SRV305

December 1st, 2017 No comments

Tim Wagner the AWS Serverless GM and Jeet Kaul from FICO

This session was about new things in serverless.

Tim reiterated how mazing Lambda is coming, its even inside a camera which was announced in the keynote as well as the top memory size being doubled to 3Gb which also doubled the CPU power.

2017-11-30 15.18.52Magic!

There was a mini magic show which was apparently a nod to something they did last year.

The idea is to show disappearing servers, as there are more and more serverless offerings, this means more and more disappearing servers.

Serverless Application Repository.

It’s worth looking at the recently announces Serverless Application Repository, its a marketplace of serverless functions published by AWS and others.

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AWS re:Invent 2017: Become a Serverless Black Belt: Optimizing Your Serverless Applications – SRV401

December 1st, 2017 No comments

Ajay Nair from AWS and Peter Sbarski from A Cloud Guru

Another session on architectural best practices and a bunch of handy little things to help you out. It was advanced so no overviews required about “what is serverless”.

Multiple Points to Optimise

For normal optimisation with traditional application stacks you actually pack things together but for serverless you do the opposite, as its generally better and more scalable if things are spread out.

There are three components to look at, the interface via API Gateway or Alexa, the compute with Lambda and the data with S3, DynamoDB etc.

The main goal is to try and reduce latency which doesn’t just take time but also costs you more. The more functions you are stringing together the more latency issues will bug you.

The Lean Function

Anatomy of a function = the function + language runtime + functional container + compute substrate

When function invokes it:

  1. downloads your code
  2. starts new container
  3. bootstraps the runtime
  4. starts the code.

Everything before start code is cold start. AWS optimises stages 1 and 2 (and have had 80% improvement in latency for some scenarios) and your job is to optimise 3 and 4.

Try to make your logic as concise as possible:

  • efficient / single purpose code
  • avoid fat / monolithic functions
  • control the dependencies in the package
  • optimise for your language

You can also see the start times in X-Ray.

2017-11-30 13.52.26 2017-11-30 13.53.03

For Java avoid using the whole SDK aws-java-sdk directly, rather use the subcomponent aws-java-sdk-s3 or aws-java-sdk-dynamodb.

This reduces your dependency size

Ephemeral Environment

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AWS re:Invent 2017: The Day 3 Buzz

November 30th, 2017 No comments

2017-11-29 07.09.04

Andy Jassy’s Keynote

2017-11-29 08.00.51An early wake up to get to the keynote in time with the hordes. Common sense would say to rather watch the stream from the comfort of somewhere else but I wanted to get a sense of the vibe and how the inevitable kool-aid gushing felt “live” as it was delivered.

I’m not going to live blog the keynote, way too much for that and it will be covered extensively elsewhere particularly by Scott Lowe: AWS re:Invent 2017 Keynote with Andy Jassy

Andy Jassy had a fun way to go through some of the themes by having a house band on stage playing 5 songs The words were on the BIG screen and he used song lyrics to explain how AWS “thinks”.

There were SO many announcements at some stages I actually felt a little overwhelmed, not from the number of announcements but more for the implications of what we’re seeing.

Wake Up Enterprise and smell the Cloud

We are seeing an incredible amount of service building by AWS itself to create some pretty impressive capabilities. I’d go far enough to say that if you’re thinking of installing or running any sort of platform yourself be it infrastructure, platform, database, analytics, containers…just don’t bother.

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AWS re:Invent 2017: How AWS Runs Our Weekly Operations Meetings – ENT346

November 29th, 2017 No comments

2017-11-29 14.29.54David Lubell and Kevin Miller from AWS

I was really looking forward to this session, as this is the very first time AWS has opened the kimono on how it actually runs its own operations.

I was there two hours in advance to guarantee a place, they only had a room for 60!

David started off by mentioning that AWS has had a weekly operational meeting which has now been running for more than 10 years. It runs for 2 hours every week. This looks at the  performance of services with the idea of nipping issues in the bud as well as being forward looking by identifying new best practices.

David wanted to share some lessons learned from what he termed “the trenches” with one of the largest services in the world.

In every meeting, leaders for every AWS service together with more than 100 engineers deep dive into their operations. The reason for having so many people is to have immediate ownership of things and be able to more quickly respond across the whole organisation.

David went through ways they’ve developed to run an effective meeting which is so large. It’s not just about the tech they’re looking at but also how you can run a meeting to look at this effectively, how can you feed back the metrics you can see to stop issues recurring. AWS understandably has a very high bar for operational performance.

In the meeting, they go through and share successes, look at organisation projects, review operational events, do service metrics reviews and other updates and announcements. It’s not just about metrics but is an ops information sharing forum which sends the right message that operations really matters. It helps to gather a community and tech best practices with an accountable audit mechanism. They try to avoid spending too much time on things specific to each team.

Each team has a standard set of metrics (responsiveness etc.) and also metrics for what’s special about the service. Customer service always important so they measure how long it takes an EC2 instance to get fully up and running for example as well as how long the console displays the updates.

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