Amazon Web Services Unveils Latest Cloud Features At re:Invent

Amazon Web Services introduced at re:Invent on Wednesday several new features intended to enable developers and solution providers to build complete solutions for enterprises migrating critical workloads to its industry-leading cloud.

Andy Jassy, SVP of Amazon's cloud business, boasted at the start of Wednesday's keynote that the world's largest public cloud now has more than one million active users from "every imaginable business segment and of every imaginable company size."

More than 13,500 attendees came to Las Vegas from 63 countries to participate in the 3rd annual re:Invent conference.

[ Related: AWS re:Invent Kicks Off With Amazon Pledging Greater Support For Partners]

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Jassy updated Amazon partners and customers on the growth of the Amazon cloud across the enterprise, public and academic sectors, with many large customers choosing to go "all-in" to AWS with their IT infrastructure. As the customer base grows, and independent software vendors build more applications on-top of the platform for distribution through the AWS marketplace, Amazon is continually beefing up the features it offers partners, developers and end users, Jassy said. He added that the number of unique services available through AWS will surpass the 500 mark sometime in the coming months.

AWS ticked up closer to that mark when it revealed Wednesday several new features, starting with a database engine called Amazon Aurora that officially went into preview the same day.

Aurora, in the works for three years, offers a commercial-grade database engine that is both fully MySQL compatible and offers five times the performance of typical MySQL implementations, Jassy told attendees.

Anurag Gupta, Aurora general manager, said "it's a project we've been working on now for a number of years in secrecy."

The new engine for the Amazon Relational Database Service is secure and scalable, Gupta said, and is priced at one-tenth the cost of some of the industry's leading commercial database solutions.

Advances in performance and pricing were made possible by shifting from an outdated, mainframe mindset and starting to envision databases in terms of service-oriented architecture, Gupta said.

"We think it's going to be a game changer," Gupta said.

AWS executives, thought leaders and channel partners have been emphasizing a commitment to positioning AWS as a platform that development teams can employ to accelerate the software development cycle. In line with that vision, Jassy revealed three new application lifecycle management services.

The first is a free product born from looking inward, Jassy said.

Amazon's engineers are fond of an internal tool they call Apollo. Built on the Apollo technology, Amazon made available on Wednesday AWS CodeDeploy, a fully managed, high-scale code deployment service that facilitates rolling updates, deployment health tracking, and stop and rollback support, Jassy told attendees.

Amazon also plans to release in 2015 two more software-lifecycle-management services based on in-house tools, both intended to help companies achieve successful application deployments.

AWS CodePipeline will facilitate continuous integration and deployment, and AWS CodeCommit will offer a managed code repository in the cloud, integrating with popular orchestration tools like Ansible, Puppet, Chef and Salt.

NEXT: Enhanced Security Management

Jassy said security and compliance until recently were considered blocks to cloud adoption, but they now are often the reasons customers cite for migrating to the cloud. To make the AWS cloud even more secure, compliant and governable, he revealed three additional new services.

It all starts with encryption, he said.

AWS Key Management Service will simplify that process with one-click encryption, centralized key management and compliance, and automatic key rotation. The free service also became generally available Wednesday.

Amazon also released in preview mode AWS Config, a service that gives customers greater visibility into their AWS resources. Config not only is a resource dependency and automation service, but it also allows customers to better understand relationships and dependencies between all those resources and track their configuration changes.

Finally, Jassy said customers have been requesting from Amazon a service catalog for some time. They'll get their wish next year with the launch of AWS Service Catalog, which will allow enterprise administrators to create portfolios of products, unique configurations and standardized methods for deploying applications to AWS.

John Landy, CTO of Datapipe, an AWS Premier Partner, told CRN the new service offerings will help his company craft better and more-affordable solutions for their customers.

"With this rapid pace of innovation, it becomes even more important for enterprises to work with partners who are deeply embedded with AWS and have superior technical knowledge of the service offerings. This is especially important when considering that most environments are built as hybrid IT architectures, which combine networking and service from traditional data centers with the power of the AWS cloud platform," Landy said.

Of the new features announced, Datapipe engineers are most interested in the Aurora database engine and AWS Key Management, Landy said.

Datapipe designs, builds and administers their clients' database environments, and Aurora will enable the solution provider to offer superior performance and scalability to MySQL users, he said.

And the Key Management Service will give AWS users more options to protect their data and meet compliance requirements at all levels of their architecture, he said.

Landy said he was also intrigued with Jassy's discussion of the production patterns of large enterprises, which "maps to what Datapipe is seeing from their client base."

That discussion of how big businesses were using AWS to meet business goals, speed development processes, offer better products to customers and reduce costs was buttressed by testimonials from representatives of Major League Baseball, Intuit and Johnson & Johnson.

"Enterprises are now running production workloads on the public cloud and the wide variety of global hybrid deployments is compelling," Landy said.