Announcements at a Glance: The Highlights from AWS in February 2019

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Onica’s Announcements At A Glance series analyzes the latest AWS news and announcements, simplifying, and explaining the significance for AWS consumers.

February was another great month in the AWS universe, with no shortage of innovative announcements and service updates. We’ve taken a look at all the February news from AWS and curated a few that are of particular interest to enterprises looking to drive innovation in the cloud. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all announcements, but rather, more of a list of “Best Announcements for Enterprises.” From running step functions locally, to a new storage class for Amazon EFS, Private Link support for AWS Fargate, and Amazon Athena Workgroups, let’s dive in!

AWS Step Functions

AWS announced the launch of AWS Step Functions local. This brings the power of step functions in the cloud to your local environment, delivered via either a JAR package or a Docker image. All of the AWS Step Functions local dependencies are built in to the Docker image, allowing you to get up and running with low friction to stitch together serverless workflows. You can also use the Docker image for inclusion in local containerized build for seamless integration of step functions into local testing workflows.

The Docker image runs on MacOS, Linux, Windows, as well as other platforms that support JAVA or Docker. With no state transition or data transfer costs associated with AWS Step Functions Local, the cost is pretty easy to swallow as well! For more information about this new downloadable version of AWS Step Functions, click here.

Amazon Elastic File System  – Infrequent Access Storage Class

Amazon S3 is a powerful object storage platform that allows you to apply life cycle policies to objects stored there, and these policies allow you to move data from the most expensive standard tier storage class through several classes with descending cost all the way to cold storage in Amazon Glacier. Now, the Amazon Elastic File System Service (EFS) has been updated to allow the same sort of functionality for files in Amazon EFS.

The real cost savings is for those who have files over 128 KB in size that have not been modified in 30 days or more. On these sort of files in Amazon EFS, the new Infrequent Access Storage Class represents an 85% savings. You can enable lifecycle management in the Amazon EFS console with one click. This will automatically cost optimize storage classes in Amazon EFS for you by moving eligible items to the Infrequent Access Storage Class automatically. It’s also totally transparent to current processes with no code or operational changes needed to implement.

AWS is constantly listening to customer feedback to implement these sorts of features. This one will no doubt be a winner for enterprises who have large data sets in Amazon EFS that aren’t accessed frequently, but still need to be above cold storage. One-click implementation? No change to code or process? An 85% cost reduction? Yes, please!

You can learn more about Amazon EFS here.

AWS Fargate Private Link

AWS Fargate is a compute engine for Amazon ECS that allows you to run containers without having to manage servers or clusters. It allows you to launch tasks and services, focusing only on the container and related configuration, while the container instances that host your containers are managed for you.

To date, if you needed to make a call from AWS  Fargate to internal AWS services such as Amazon S3 or Amazon DynamoDB, those requests would have been calling an AWS SSL public endpoint and required at minimum egress only internet access attached to your VPC. With Private Link support for AWS Fargate, those requests from AWS Fargate to those internal AWS services can now stay within the AWS backend network without traversing the open internet. This includes calls to Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR). With Private Link endpoints for Amazon ECR, AWS Fargate can now even pull container images from Amazon ECR without a call to the public internet.

This is good news for creators of microservice architectures that need to be truly segmented away from the public internet while running in AWS Fargate. Private Link endpoints are very easy to create. You can learn more about Private Link support for AWS Fargate by clicking here.

Amazon Athena Workgroups

Amazon Athena is a powerful service that allows you to run SQL queries on data in Amazon S3. But what if you have multiple teams that need access to different sets of data? What about multiple applications that need to run separate queries? What about cost segmentation? Enter Amazon Athena Workgroups. Amazon Athena workgroups behave as a resource, allowing you to apply resource level permission policies that are used for limiting and scoping access to a particular workgroup. Workgroups are also logically segmented so that members of one workgroup do not have access or visibility to queries running in a different workgroup.

You can mandate workgroup settings across a workgroup universally. Data usage controls allow you to enforce cost controls for all queries running in the group. You also can aggregate workgroup query-related metrics in Amazon CloudWatch, giving access to trigger AWS Lambda, SNS, etc., expanding greatly the utility and control of Amazon Athena for your enterprise. By default, all queries run in the default workgroup. No changes are necessary if you do not need the segmentation. It’s not hard to get started with Athena Workgroups. You can learn more at the AWS documentation found here.

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