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AWS re:Invent 2021 – read about the best bits

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Mark McCann and Mike O’Reilly chat to Dave Anderson about AWS re:Invent 2021. Find out their take on Matt Coulter’s speech as part of Werner Vogels keynote, how Serverless and CDK is becoming part of the mainstream as well as the announcement on CDK Patterns Version 2. Sustainability has been the hot ticket item at AWS re:Invent 2021 – you saw that prediction here first! AWS have announced their Carbon Calculator. And sustainability is now another pillar in the Well Architected framework. There was more news on AWS Amplify and great dialogue on the Data Driven Enterprise as well as the Goldman Sachs Financial Cloud for Data. Some of the new pieces were incremental and the team were spotting how machine learning is being integrated in many of the developer tools.

Dave talking to Mark and Mike, Live from Vegas

Dave Anderson  

It’s been a really busy week as usual. It’s good to be back in person at an event. I’m sitting here in one of the area’s. It’s a smaller events this year. It is usually 60,000 but I think it is 20,000 this year. And people are being very good about wearing masks. I’m sitting down at a table with a glass of water here, so I am okay. But everyone’s wearing masks. And we’re being disciplined about sanitization and social distance.  I think the place we have to start is with Matt Coulter and his keynote with Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, this morning, which was absolutely incredible. What did you think of that?

Matt Coulter receiving the Now Go Build from Werner Vogel at AWS re:Invent 2021 by The Serverless Edge
Matt Coulter receiving the Now Go Build from Werner Vogel at AWS re:Invent 2021

Mark McCann  

It was awesome. Matt did a fantastic job. I think he brought a lot of energy and brought the journey to life that all three of us have played a part in. He nailed it. I am so proud of everything he has accomplished there. And I think it’s just recognition for the massive part he played in CDK Patterns and getting the ‘Now Go Build’ award was just the icing on the cake. I think it’s great recognition for what we already knew. But it’s good for the world to see.

Mike O’Reilly  

I just came away from watching it thinking it was put together so well. I completely agree. Matt blew the doors off it. I was texting him to say congrats. Hopefully he has a good day ahead of him after that. I’m sure it’s a weight off his shoulders.  His message was phenomenal and I am super proud.

Mark McCann  

I think the messaging will really cut through for a lot of big companies/enterprises who are trying to transform,  It’s not about migration anymore. It’s about transformation. And that story helps give people a narrative that it’s possible, you can do it and even for big old enterprises, it’s achievable.

Dave Anderson  

I was with Matt about 10 minutes ago. We were talking at the Serverless and Containers Zone. There was a dance off between SAM and CDK. Matt is on Cloud Nine. He completely nailed which is really good to see.  There is definitely a narrative with moving away from migration, which is consistent with what we’ve been saying on The Serverless Edge. Once you get to the Cloud, what happens? How do you transform your organisation and how do you tigten up your engineering standards.  The Liberty Mutual example is just perfect. He knocked it out of the park and I am super proud of him. I was on the front row cheering him on but he couldn’t see me.

Mike O’Reilly  

That’s interesting in terms of that narrative.  I’m noticing, more than last year, that Serverless is being talked about by a lot of the bigger organisations.  We’ve seen City mentioned and Capital One mentioned which are both large financial institutions.  There’s a bunch of talks that I need to get through, but there’s definitely a trend where it’s being embraced by big companies, and it’s making it out there, which is great.

Mark McCann  

And not just Serverless.  I think CDK really cut through as well. I have seen the comments about ‘1500 lines down to 14 lines’ and you’ve abstracted away at that stuff. I think that’s where well architected counterbalances that.  It’s okay to abstract away at this stuff.  It’s okay to hide it and cognitively lower that burden.  But you got to counteract that with the well architected framework to make sure that the teams and developers understand the resources that are being deployed. CDK has really exploded through a lot of the talks. And the materials I’ve been reviewing all morning have CDK at the heart, which is great to see.

Dave Anderson  

They announced CDK version 2 as well. So it’s ramping up the whole time. And they also announced the Sustainability Pillar that has been added to Well Architected. of Eenadu architectus. From talking to Adrian Cockcroft, he’s doing a fantastic adding Sustainability into the AWS narrative. So it was really good to see Werner Vogel’s talk with that today and to find out about the carbon cost tool as well.

Mark McCann  

 The carbon calculator.

Dave Anderson  

You can take an account ID, and say my workloads and my account are this region, so what’s the carbon cost?  You can effectively compare and contrast.  lt’s possible to have an almost carbon neutral workload. If you have a service heavy workload, in a good regionlike Ireland, you could have a really low carbon cost. And I think that companies have started to see that. And there’s other regions where the code would be dirty because they are using a lot of coal. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

Mark McCann  

There’s lots of great announcements around sustainability, green zones, offsetting their stuff, and renewables across the Amazon sort of ecosystem, which is great to see. It’s not a green wash. It’s a holistic approach. The tool is only one element. The sustainability pillar that came out for well architected is a great white paper that wraps it up in a very mature way. And ome of the high level stuff, I’ve read from skimming through it is very good. It’s got legs. This will hopefully drive a lot of good practice. 

There’s a lot of smart people behind it.  I haven’t got a chance to look at it yet. But it’s not just a green wash. It’s a sea change in how we write software. 

Mike O’Reilly  

They’ve been clearly taking their time with it. They’ve been trying to get it right. It will be good to sift through it, post re:Invent.

Mark McCann  

You need to understand your impact, establish sustainability goals, maximise utilisation, use managed services, anticipate and adopt new, more efficient hardware and software and reduce the downstream impact of your cloud workloads. There’s a load of principles you can get behind. It’s very similar to the severless first mindset approach that we’ve been articulating. If you’ve embraced serverless first, you’re already a long way down the road.

Dave Anderson  

You’re halfway there. I like the way Werner phrased the shared responsibility model that AWS have had since Day 1. Sustainability of the cloud is their job. Sustainability in the cloud is your job as the customer. So I thought that was a nice split. And if you go managed services, than you’re going well. Speaking of which, I thought Ali Spittle was good on the Amplify Studio stuff. We have been looking forthat for a while. It just looked brilliant. I can’t wait to play with that.

Mike O’Reilly  

The examples that she went through in that talk look pretty good. When you think about the integration capability that Amplify has to tie UI or UX components to downstream services and be able to create those mobile desktop apps, than that’s phenomenal. I’ve been kicking around Infigma in my own time, because it is pretty good tool. And the fact that they’re integrating that is a huge win.  So that will be a cool one to play around with. 

Mark McCann  

It’s a game changer. It’s low code, but it’s developer first and developer friendly. What it generates and what it creates for you is very developer centric. It’s not just your magic, hand waving abstraction layers, it actually has integrations and within each one of their extensions as well. You can go from your designer, through your developer through the back end, in a holistic, comprehensive fashion and back again. So again, the integration with CDK that they announced as well are phenomenal. You can see the whole ecosystem just coming together beautifully.

Dave Anderson  

When you sit and map it out it’s fascinating. And that thing about primitives, they are creating building blocks and putting them together, so they’re creating advanced capability. You can always deconstruct it to see what’s inside. But why would you, you know, so it’s fascinating.

Mike O’Reilly  

I’d like to kind of go and play around with it because I think if I can wrap my head around taking the Amplify product in rapid experimentation mode, to extract that into CDK constructs, and break it up and scale out across multiple teams, I think that’ll be a really interesting exercise. And I think that’s certainly where I’ll be trying to kick the tires on it.

Mark McCann  

I think with the extensions and the CDK interactions, that’s exactly what they’re aiming for. It’s a game changer. And it lowers the barrier to developers and teams and companies wanting to do that rapid product delivery, from design all the way through.

Dave Anderson  

I like a lot of the data. Swami Sivasubramanian in the Keynote (he’s the leader of ML) had a good dialogue on data, how you manage the data, and the data driven enterprise. And that’s very much part of transformation. What do you measure in this?I’ve been in a few conversations where people are going to transform, but they don’t know what to? I’m trying to coach people through that and help them set goals.

Mark McCann  

I’ve been watching a couple of talks this morning from the Enterprise Strategists. And Data Driven Enterprises is a key term.  We talk a lot about observability, having observability of your entire org and getting real insights into what’s going on. That’s what a data driven enterprise means. They’re broken that up into four buckets: culture, your organisation, the mechanisms (there are processes that you will want to run) and how do you actually execute. It’s very in line with what we’re talking about in the upcoming book and the Value Flywheel. It’s gone from stop living in the data lake and hoping for the best to focusing on your real needs – Wardley mapping style – and making sure that the data can actually meet those needs, and you can drive your enterprise to meet those needs, appropriately. It’s a very mature stance that they are taking by being more data driven. With all the managed services that are available now  and with the announcements around Quicksight you’ll get more horsepower behind it. It’s all there. You know, it’s just a matter of using it in the right fashion, and focusing on those needs of your org and bringing data to bare to really help you improve. Lots of good stuff and loads more to get into over the next number of days and weeks.

Dave Anderson  

I have had so many conversations this week. I am definitely seeing this rise of Wardley mapping. And that idea of mapping your stack and getting rid of the stuff that you don’t need and getting lasered in on your on your differentiator, your value proposition. So you can see that again and again. That dialogue stands up. I thought the Goldman Sachs announcement was really interesting. They have the financial cloud  with Goldman Sachs. It’s an industry vertical. They are a lead adopter of Cloud, creating a capability and bringing that back and sending it back out again through AWS as a product. So that was a really interesting pattern. And I can see that being repeated.

Mark McCann  

It’s the Goldman Sachs Financial Cloud for Data.

Dave Anderson  

So they are exposing all our data for everyone else.

Mark McCann  

It’s back to your point there. Don’t do undifferentiated heavy lifting. For the likes of Goldman and all big financial verticals, the more interactions are integrated with AWS the better. Let AWS take care of operational excellence, resiliency, scale and the globalisation. So Goldman can focus on doing what truly differentiates and focus on their historical financial data and insights and do all the analysis.

Mike O’Reilly  

Build on those higher order systems.

Dave Anderson  

If you’re a lower system then good luck to you. There were a lot of conversations on Serverless. It’s not a niche thing anymore. It has become  part of the main dialogue. 

Mark McCann  

There were lots of great announcements about serverless capabilities: their database offerings, the data offerings and machine learning stuff.  There’s an evolution of getting a managed service out, and then evolving it to be a serverless managed service over time.

Mike O’Reilly  

The serverless security stuff that I’m seeing in there is pretty good. There’s another announcement I thought was really good this week: the Cloudwatch run. That’ll be one to play around with to arm serverless apps with good instrumentation.

Mark McCann  

We’ve all been in the scenarios where we wanted to use some capability, but you have to do contract negotiation, or you have to do licencing. Having it all holistically within AWS means that a developer can experiment and play with these things without any sort of hindrance or any impediments to the feedback loop. So again, having more of these capabilities in the AWS ecosystem just speeds up developer velocity and allows you to experiment that much more rapidly. The run stuff is a big one. Because we’ve all played with some of those analytics tools. And they’re challenging sometimes, right? 

Dave Anderson  

If you’ve got three or four of them in the company, it’s a disaster. 

Mike O’Reilly  

And if you can keep that configuration where your workload and just shift with it, I think that’s phenomenally good. 

Dave Anderson  

It’s been a super interesting event. There’s definitely lots of energy,  A huge amount AWS re:Invent 2021customers, 100,000 or something are involved.  A lot of announcements are incremental. So there’s not many game changer, new announcements. Everything is incrementally building up the stack. You can almost predict the changes, which isn’t a bad thing because it’s consistent. There’s a path being laid out, or Pathfinders as they describe it.

Mark McCann  

You’re seeing a lot of machine learning being integrated in the developer tools. The DevOps Guru is expanding for RDS. And you’ve seen that with GitHub co-pilot as well. It was using machine learning and using intelligence to guide the developer experience and make it more rapid. You can see you over time that the Amplify experience is incorporating machine learning as well. As these parameters get wired together, the machine learning stuff will accelerate even more and guide you along well architected best practice paths.

Dave Anderson  

So that’s the craic. It’s been a crazy week as ever. People think it’s good fun, but you’re meeting someone six o’clock in the morning, and then you’re still meeting people at 11 o’clock at night. So you’re talking about Cloud for 15 hours.

Mark McCann  

How’s your feet? How’s the steps, 30,000 a day? Or what are you doing?

Dave Anderson  

As of lunchtime I have done 10,000 steps, so it’s just constantly walking. My feet are wrecked, but it’s good, fun. I will stick a couple of links in the show notes, to show some of the talks. I think there’s a few topics that we’ll need to deep dive into in the future. Huge amount of content there. A lot of it will get posted online and you just watch it for free.  We’ll try and help people navigate that because there’s an awful lot of talks. And have a look at the blog as well at TheServerlessEdge.com.  And also on Twitter @ServerlessEdge. So thanks very much. Thanks, everyone. Bye everyone.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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