AWS Announcements at a Glance: The Highlights from AWS in January 2020

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Highlights from AWS Jan 2020

This year is off to an exciting start with all of the new AWS announcements! This blog is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all January announcements, but rather a curation of a few announcements we feel could benefit the enterprise thought leaders working to drive cloud adoption and efficiency within their organizations. Some are helpful, some are vital, and some are interesting. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at AWS Systems Manager Change Calendar, Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) announcements, AWS Backup announcements, and a 50% price reduction for Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) clusters!

AWS Systems Manager Change Calendar

AWS Systems Manager launched in late 2017 and provides system administrators a cloud native way to view operational data from a variety of AWS services and automate operational tasks against those services, all from a unified user interface. Resources can be grouped logically by application, application layer, or by environment such as production or QA. API activity, resource configuration changes, related notifications, operational alerts, software inventory, and patch compliance status are all things that can be viewed and acted on via resource groups within AWS Systems Manager.

One thing that would make AWS Systems Manager more useful and help to drive adoption for enterprise users would be the ability to not only automate operational tasks, but to calendar those tasks with a date and time range for execution. Even better still, what if you could calendar a date and time range where no changes should be made to the system? This is exactly the functionality that AWS announced in January with the addition of AWS Systems Manager Change Calendar.

In AWS Systems Manager Change Calendar, when you create a Change Calendar entry, you are creating a Systems Manager document of the type ChangeCalendar. The iCalendar 2.0 formatted information for the event becomes part of this document. After the calendar event is created, you can view your calendars in the AWS console. AWS Systems Manager displays your calendar entry in the Change Calendar list. You can also get information about your calendar events programmatically using the GetCalendarState API or get-calendar-state AWS CLI command. You can retrieve present, past, and future state conditions of the calendar events. This is useful to have resources like Lambda functions that make operational changes to the environment check the calendar programmatically before they take action to make sure the window of opportunity is open based on the date/time range it retrieves.

To learn more about Change Calendar, visit the AWS Systems Manager product page, Change Calendar blog and documentation.

Amazon EFS Announcements


Amazon EFS now supports AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) for Network File System (NFS) clients. The ability to control NFS client permissions with IAM policies greatly simplifies the management of NFS access at scale. It also provides the ability to manage access using the same methods you use today for access management for other AWS resources. Anything that lightens the load of and fosters more confidence in access control processes should make the list of any enterprise user seeking to drive AWS adoption in their organization.

Check out the blog, the documentation, or log in to the Amazon EFS console for information on how to get started.

Amazon EFS Single File Restore

One notable announcement that increases the utility of Amazon EFS for administrators is the ability to restore a single file from Amazon EFS. Previously, you would have to wait for the entire file system to restore a single file contained within. From the Amazon EFS vault within AWS Backup, in addition to “Full Restore” you’ll see “Item-Level Restore” for single file restore capability. Choose your restore location and restore role as usual and you’re off! Pricing is a fixed fee based on the number of bytes you restore. Accidental deletion of a single file? No problem. A single file becomes corrupted? No sweat. With Amazon EFS Single File Restore, recovering these individual files just got easier.

To see console screenshots and to learn more about CLI level access, check out this blog.

AWS Backup Announcements

Cross-Region Backups

AWS Backup is a wonderful service announced last year that allows you to backup Amazon EBS volumes, Amazon RDS databases, Amazon DynamoDB tables, as well as Amazon EFS file systems. It is a fully managed, centralized backup service that is protecting petabytes of data in AWS. In January, AWS announced the ability to back up to a secondary region from within the AWS Backup service, allowing for a fully managed, cross-region backup service in AWS. Copy to a secondary region either on-demand when you need it or automatically, as part of a backup plan. This makes the service particularly useful to enterprises that have internal or compliance framework requirements that place a geographical separation requirement on a copy of backup data. Now you can meet those requirements natively within the AWS Backup service. Administrators can use the AWS console, CLI, or AWS SDKs to initiate the copy.

To see console screenshots and to learn more about CLI level access, check out this blog.

Full Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Backup

Prior to January’s launch of full Amazon EC2 backup for the AWS Backup service, it was only the Amazon EBS volumes that got handled via AWS Backup. This announcement now means that you can use the AWS Backup service to back up the entire Amazon EC2 instance, not just the volumes. All parameters get backed up from the instance excluding user data scripts and Amazon Elastic Inference accelerators. The Amazon EBS volumes are still protected, but they get attached to an AMI containing the instance level parameters such as instance type, VPC, security group, IAM role, etc. Restoration of the instance can be accomplished with the console, CLI, or API, with edits to the original available in the restore process. It just keeps getting easier!

To see console screenshots and to learn more about CLI level access, check out this blog.

Amazon EKS Price Reduction

Amazon announced a 50% price reduction for Amazon EKS to $0.10 an hour for every Amazon EKS cluster that you run. You can view the whole announcement here. With the adoption of Amazon EKS in the enterprise in recent years, this is welcome news to readers of this blog!

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