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

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November 2019 Highlights From AWS - Onica

As November comes to a close, AWS is ramping up new service announcements ahead of AWS re:invent 2019. Here is a curated list of this month’s announcements that should be at the top of the list for enterprise users who are looking to drive cloud adoption in their organizations. Savings Plans for Amazon EC2 spend reduction, AWS Data Exchange for third-party data sets, an important feature update for AWS CloudFormation, and AWS CloudTrail Insights all make the list. Let’s dive in!

Savings Plans

Savings Plans are a new Amazon EC2 compute consumption model that enterprise users should be exploring immediately for cost reduction. Most enterprise users will be familiar with the idea of reserved instances (RI’s). For those that aren’t, AWS allows you to commit to a level of usage in a specific instance family and type for a one or three year term in exchange for discounts on instance costs for that family and type. RI’s proved to be a valuable cost savings mechanism but also came with the management overhead of ensuring that you have the correct coverage for your estate, at the correct instance family and type.

Savings Plans extend this idea of reduced Amazon EC2 pricing for long term commitment, but in a much more flexible way. There are two models that allow for savings in Savings Plans. One stays married to the instance type and one does not. Let’s take a look.

Compute Savings Plans
Compute Savings Plans provide the highest level of flexibility with cost savings up to 66%. According to AWS, “The plans automatically apply to any Amazon EC2 instance regardless of region, instance family, operating system, or tenancy, including those that are part of Amazon EMR, Amazon ECS, or Amazon EKS clusters, or launched by AWS Fargate.” In short, make your usage commitment, then you can move compute around regions, services, instance family, O.S., etc. You get to do your thing and savings are realized without constraint.

Amazon EC2 Instance Savings Plans
Offering the highest level of potential savings at up to 72%, Amazon EC2 Instance Savings Plans apply to instance families within a region, more like standard RI’s of old. According to AWS, “Just like with RIs, your savings plan covers usage of different sizes of the same instance type (such as a c5.4xlarge or c5.large) throughout a region.” For enterprise users who are able to pinpoint the instance family within a region, there are even greater savings available than offered with Compute Savings Plan.

This particular consumption model is pretty simple and easy to understand. Enterprises of all shapes and sizes can begin taking advantage of AWS Savings Plans for long running workloads. AWS Cost Explorer will guide you through choosing and purchasing a Savings Plan. For those who can’t pinpoint target instance families, take a look at Compute Savings Plan. For those who can pinpoint target instance families, such as those who currently have RI’s in place, take a look at Amazon EC2 Instance Savings Plan.

To learn more, click here: Savings Plans.

AWS Data Exchange

AWS Data Exchange is a segment of AWS Marketplace dedicated to data products and third-party data sets on AWS. Reuters, Foursquare, TransUnion, Change Healthcare, Virtusa, Pitney Bowes, TP ICAP, Vortexa, IMDb, Epsilon, Enigma, TruFactor, ADP, Dun & Bradstreet, Compagnie Financière Tradition, Verisk, Crux Informatics, TSX Inc., Acxiom, Rearc, and others are all qualified data producers for AWS Data Exchange. Data products on AWS Data Exchange cover a wide range of industries such as financial services, healthcare, life sciences, geospatial, consumer, media & entertainment, and more.

Enterprise users can browse the pricing, subscription, and availability of data products in the AWS Marketplace using AWS Data Exchange in the console. Customers can even request that data providers provide data subscriptions to them at no cost. Once you are subscribed, you can use Data Exchange API or the console to load data into Amazon S3 in your account from the subscription. This allows for the use of AWS Data Exchange to facilitate the consumption of all third-party data by your data lakes, machine learning models, and other resources in AWS using a single API. Data consumers are notified of data updates by the producers via Amazon CloudWatch Events. This allows the data consumer to procure the newly curated data updates for inclusion in tasks that are leveraging an AWS Data Exchange data set.

If your organization is a data producer, you can benefit from AWS Data Exchange by leveraging it as a single delivery platform in AWS for your data without the need to build and maintain infrastructure for data storage, delivery, billing, and entitling. There are gates for subscription approval for those who must maintain strict lines of compliance for data consumption, and the sharing of sensitive personal data (PII & PHI) that is not already publicly available is also restricted. AWS Data Exchange also provides qualified data providers with daily, weekly, and monthly reports detailing subscription activity, and handles associated billing, payment collection, and secure delivery of data to subscribers.

To learn more, click here: AWS Data Exchange.

Import Existing Resources into AWS CloudFormation

Another important update that should be on the radar of enterprise users is the ability of AWS CloudFormation to import resources that it did not create. This has been the holy grail of AWS native IaC for many years and AWS has heard you! In addition to importing resources that weren’t created with AWS CloudFormation, you can also modify what resources are grouped together during an AWS CloudFormation update. This allows for refactoring and renaming of existing AWS CloudFormation resources.

To get started, check out the documentation here.

AWS CloudTrail Insights

What if there was a way to analyze a baseline ‘normal’ for AWS CloudTrail activity in your account and alert and log deeper anything that deviates from that baseline? Enter AWS CloudTrail Insights.

For a quick refresher on what AWS CloudTrail provides as a service, click here. In short, it records all API calls made to AWS in your account. Since AWS is a large collection of API’s, it basically reports on all user actions such as the creation and termination of resources and much more. AWS CloudTrail Insights is designed to “automatically analyze management events from your AWS CloudTrail trails to establish a baseline for normal behavior, and then raise issues by generating Insights events when it detects unusual patterns.” Anomalous events are raised through dashboards in the AWS CloudTrail console, Amazon CloudWatch events, and are sent to Amazon S3. You can also configure them to be sent to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, which allows for the integration with existing IEM platforms.

To get started, it’s as simple as enabling AWS CloudTrail Insights. To learn how, check out the documentation here.

Headed to AWS re:Invent this year? Check out our re:Invent pro tips and come experience the magic of AI with our hands-on, interactive lab in the Quad at ARIA. Limited spots available, register now!

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