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

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Sep 2019 Highlights From AWS - Image

September has been a busy month in the AWS ecosystem! This time of year never ceases to disappoint in the realm of innovation announcements from AWS. In this blog, we’ve curated a list of items from the September announcements that should be on the radar of any enterprise seeking to drive efficiency and effectiveness in the cloud. We’ll take a look at the newly announced Amazon CloudWatch Container Insights for Amazon ECS, Amazon Quantum Ledger Database in general availability, the release of NoSQL Workbench for Amazon DynamoDB, the ability to add metadata to Amazon VPC Flow Logs for more granular logging, and Network Load Balancers, which are catching up with Application Load Balancers to support multiple TLS certificates on a single load balancer using Server Name Identification (SNI).

Amazon CloudWatch Container Insights for Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS)

This one makes the list because of its level of utility alone! Configuring custom monitoring of services and tasks within the Amazon ECS ecosystem has been possible for some time. But the ability to monitor, alarm, and troubleshoot has been made a much simpler conversation with the launch of the Amazon CloudWatch Container Insights fully managed service. This service aggregates and summarizes Amazon ECS metrics and logs in dashboard form for ‘at a glance’ insight into:

  • CPU and memory utilization
  • Task and service counts
  • Read/write storage
  • Network Rx/Tx
  • Container instance counts for clusters, services, and tasks  and more

Not only does this provide a much easier, more holistic view into Amazon ECS workloads in dashboard form, but it also enables you to integrate with Amazon CloudWatch Logs Insights for dynamic querying of Amazon ECS container application and performance logs. It also makes the integration of Amazon CloudWatch alarm notification much more intuitive offering a wider variety of alarm points with clearer visibility. There is now no need to design and deploy custom configurations that are more complicated to be able to gain these insights from Amazon ECS. Best of all, the service is also available for insight into Amazon EKS, the AWS managed Kubernetes offering.

To get started with Amazon CloudWatch Container Insights for Amazon ECS/Amazon EKS, check out the walk through here.

Amazon Quantum Ledger Database is Generally Available

Announced in preview at re:Invent 2018, Amazon Quantum Ledger Database is now generally available in five AWS regions. QLDB maintains a system of record, or authoritative data source for stored data by maintaining a complete, immutable history of all committed changes that are strung together cryptographically. These changes cannot then be deleted, updated, or altered in any way. You can query the historical data using PartiQL SQL queries. There is also an API that allows you to confirm the accuracy of the history cryptographically.

So, who would use such a database? This is perfect for enterprise financial institutions from HR and Payroll, to investment banking. It is also useful for non-financial institutions that have a need to maintain the verifiable integrity and history of stored data. QLDB is a serverless offering, so there is no need to provision servers or configure and defend operating systems. You simply create a ledger, define your tables, and QLDB will scale with your application demand. To get started, check out the walk through here.

NoSQL Workbench Preview for Amazon DynamoDB

MySQL Workbench has long been a staple of SQL users and administrators for insights into relational SQL databases. The launch of Amazon DynamoDB brought the power of NoSQL to AWS in managed service form, but many users were still looking for a way to have insights into the tables that were created as part of their Amazon DynamoDB service usage in a local client that was more akin to what they were used to with MySQL Workbench. AWS has heard your cry!

September brought the announcement of preview of NoSQL Workbench for Amazon DynamoDB. The goal for NoSQL Workbench is to simplify query development and testing for Amazon DynamoDB operations in a free, client-side application that is available for both Windows and Mac OS. This will help developers design data models with the help of a graphical user interface to visualize data, which is particularly useful when data access patterns are still unknown, as in the case of application development. This tool allows for developing data models from scratch, or the import and modification of existing data models. To check it out, download NoSQL Workbench here.

Sometimes, it really is the simple things that matter most.

Metadata for Amazon VPC Flow Logs

September brought with it the announcement of the ability to add meta-data to flow logs, providing a much more convenient and thorough view into network activity in your VPC at a glance within the log itself. Of particular note is the ability to now add instance-id to the logs with this feature. No more having to memorize which IP was associated with which machine! A full list of additional meta-data that can be included in addition to the existing fields can be found here.

Network Load Balancers Now Support Multiple TLS Certificates via SNI

This one has been available on Application Load Balancers since late 2017. The addition of this feature to Network Load Balancers will no doubt be of use to most enterprises who are looking for the performance gains that come with layer 4 load balancing. With SNI support you can associate multiple certificates with a listener, allowing each secure application behind a load balancer to use its own certificate. The service is even smart enough to choose which certificate to use if a hostname matches multiple client certificates using a smart certificate selection algorithm. SNI is also integrated with AWS Certificate Manager and IAM. Groundbreaking innovation? Not really. Extremely helpful for those driving value in cloud at the enterprise level? Absolutely. You can learn more here.

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