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

During the season when it’s pumpkin spice everything, the announcements keep coming from AWS! In this blog, we’ve curated a list of items from the October announcements that should be on the radar of any business seeking to drive efficiency and effectiveness in the cloud. Machine Learning comes to Amazon CloudWatch as a managed service to help detect anomalies, AWS Direct Connect makes some billing updates that enterprise users may be able to benefit from, Windows nodes are now available for Amazon EKS, and interface endpoint support comes to Amazon Athena and Amazon EFS! Let’s take a look.

Amazon CloudWatch Anomaly Detection is now available in all commercial AWS regions

If you are using AWS in an enterprise, you have hopefully heard of Amazon CloudWatch. It’s simply a centralized service for observability of your environment. The AWS description is that Amazon CloudWatch “collects monitoring and operational data in the form of logs, metrics, and events, providing you with a unified view of AWS resources, applications, and services that run on AWS and on-premises servers.”

Amazon CloudWatch Anomaly Detection extends the functionality of Amazon CloudWatch by providing machine learning insights into anomalies that deviate from learned baselines. Amazon CloudWatch Anomaly Detection can be deployed to any metric in your account, to include custom metrics. It will learn the baseline behavior of that metric for your account and/or resource. You can then alarm on any deviations from that baseline as needed. It also allows for specifying data exclusion periods, anomaly sensitivity, and the daylight-saving time zone to help to fine tune the alarms to only those that are genuine anomalies. Another benefit is the ability to also visualize expected behavior on a metric graph.

There is a free tier for Amazon CloudWatch Anomaly Detection with a tiered pricing model beyond the free tier. For more information on pricing for this new feature, click here.

Getting started is pretty simple. You can create an alarm based on anomaly detection from the Amazon CloudWatch console under alarms in the navigation pane. You can also start with Metrics to overlay the metric’s expected values onto the graph as a band. You can also enable through the SDK’s, the command line interface, or with AWS CloudFormation templates.

Check out the Amazon CloudWatch Anomaly Detection documentation here.

AWS Direct Connect Announces Support for Granular Cost Allocation and Removal of Payer ID Restriction for Direct Connect Gateway Association.

October brought two minor tweaks to AWS Direct Connect billing, which could potentially have a big impact on the enterprise that is leveraging AWS Direct Connect connections. Let’s look at them both.

Support for Granular Cost Allocation

Prior to this feature, the data transfer out charges for AWS Direct Connect was allocated to the AWS account that owned the private and transit virtual interfaces. Granular Cost Allocation allows the assignment of data transfer out costs to the account that generated that request for data transfer. This is somewhat akin to the “requester pays” feature for Amazon S3.

Removal of Payer ID Restriction for AWS Direct Connect Gateway Association

The payer ID restriction for AWS Direct Connect gateway association has also been removed. What this means is that no longer do the AWS Direct Connect gateway and Virtual Private Cloud(s)/AWS Transit Gateway(s) have to be under the same payer ID. You can now associate Virtual Private Cloud(s)/AWS Transit Gateway(s) to an AWS Direct Connect gateway in any AWS account.

Neither of these are major functionality shifts by any stretch. But they make our list because of the potential impact they have for organizations that are leveraging AWS Direct Connect in a way that can benefit. The gains are potentially meaningful!

Learn more about the AWS Direct Connect announcement here.

Windows Nodes Supported by Amazon EKS

Since the birth of containers, the conversation around Windows workloads has been on the lips of those hoping to leverage containers for them. When Kubernetes came along, the conversation was renewed. But what users really wanted was the ability to leverage Linux and Windows workloads side by side in the same Kubernetes cluster, while leveraging a managed Kubernetes service to boot. October brought the announcement of Windows node support for Amazon EKS.

This means that users can now take advantage of the Amazon Managed Kubernetes service that runs the Kubernetes management infrastructure for you across multiple AWS availability zones to eliminate a single point of failure, while leveraging Windows and Linux workloads on the same cluster. To take advantage of the offering you must be running Kubernetes version 1.14 and above.

To learn more, you can check out the documentation here.

Amazon Athena now provides an interface VPC endpoint and Amazon EFS now supports AWS PrivateLink


VPC Endpoints

VPC Interface endpoints are a helpful way to ensure the most secure posture for data communicating from within your VPC to supported services. They allow for an endpoint to be attached to the VPC that resources within your VPC can use to communicate directly with the supported service without the need for the traffic to ever leave the AWS internal network. Prior to VPC endpoints, calls from within the VPC to other AWS services traversed the internet gateway and the open internet to hit the public endpoint for the service.

Amazon Athena

While VPC endpoints in general are not new, what is new with the October announcement is the availability of a new Amazon Athena interface endpoint. AWS’ description for Amazon Athena “is an interactive query service that makes it easy to analyze data in Amazon S3 using standard SQL. Athena is serverless, so there is no infrastructure to manage, and you pay only for the queries that you run.” Amazon Athena has surged in popularity in recent months because of its ease of use and full feature search abilities. The addition of the interface endpoint allows enterprise architects to create an endpoint for their VPCs that will ensure that requests to Amazon Athena that generate from within the VPC never have to leave the AWS internal network. It also will allow for Amazon Athena queries for VPCs without the need for an attached internet gateway for the VPC. VPC endpoints are easy to create! To learn more, click here.

To check out the announcement for Amazon Athena Interface Endpoints, click here.

Amazon EFS

Just like Amazon Athena, October brought the announcement of support for interface endpoints for VPCs for Amazon EFS using private link. Amazon EFS is a robust file system for Linux based workloads hosted as a managed service within AWS. Historically, calls to Amazon EFS would hit the public endpoint. This means that the data would travel the internet gateway for requests generated from within the VPC. With interface endpoints for Amazon EFS now available, these calls also will now not have to have an internet gateway attached to the VPC, or otherwise leave the AWS internal network.

Learn more about Amazon EFS and PrivateLink here.

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