Last month Leaf’s Cloud Services team headed up to Chicago for the AWS Summit. Amazon Web Services holds these free summits in many cities around the world. They are a great opportunity for beginners and experienced users alike to network and learn more about the platform. They even provide the chance to take certification exams (which reminded us that we need to keep our Solutions Architect certifications up to date!).
This year it was clear that microservices are taking over. The longest lines were for sessions detailing how to run microservices on Docker or on how to implement them with Serverless techniques using AWS Lambda. The concept of breaking larger applications into smaller services is not new, but with the public descriptions of Service Oriented Architectures like those of AWS and Netflix, it is widely used. We're particularly interested in the organizational benefits of assigning small teams to building and supporting tightly-scoped, loosely coupled services.
An event like this is also a good opportunity to check in with services that have existed for a long time to stay current on new features. A good example of these are AWS Storage Gateway and Elastic Filesystem which have both seen further development since their initial launch. A service that impressed us thoroughly is Aurora: Amazon's enterprise-grade MySQL-compatible database engine. It shows how effectively AWS can squeeze out performance and reliability improvements when they are in control of the whole infrastructure stack. Several of our clients use Aurora, and it is good to see that this will pay dividends as we inherit regular improvements from Amazon's continued development.
Another thing that struck us was the theme of Adrian Cockcroft’s keynote: public cloud providers have moved beyond allowing you to do the same things you did in your datacenter and are now providing capabilities that would be nearly impossible without massive investments in capital and talent. Take this example: CSPAN is annotating all of its video coverage of US politics by sampling frames and running them through Amazon Rekognition to detect the faces of politicians.
It’s obvious that cloud computing has moved beyond the startups. All major enterprises are making use of some form of cloud services and many are “all in”. The uncertainty and fear of moving workloads from your own bespoke data center to a cloud provider is a throwback to the last decade. How are we so sure? Consider this: McDonalds’ global Point of Sale system runs entirely on Amazon Web Services.