AWS Announcements at a Glance: The Highlights from AWS in April 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.

April in the AWS universe saw no shortage of new announcements from Amazon. The majority of these new announcements were by way of new features to existing services rather than the roll out of new services. We’ve sifted through the bevy of announcements and curated the list below of those that help enterprises go further and faster in their cloud journey. In this list we focus specifically on the announcements and enhancements surrounding Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (Amazon EKS), and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). Let’s dive in!

Amazon CloudWatch

If you are running production workloads in AWS, I truly hope you are familiar with Amazon CloudWatch. Amazon defines it as “a monitoring and management service built for developers, system operators, site reliability engineers (SRE), and IT managers.” April brought some key announcements and feature enhancements to the service that enterprises can benefit from immediately.

  1. Search Expressions
  • This new feature allows you to create a Dashboard in Amazon CloudWatch from a search expression. The value here is that new resources that are launched post dashboard creation will be automatically added to the Dashboard. Metric math is at the core, allowing you to combine “SUM” and “Search” to track for things like the count of failed health checks across all Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances in an account. It is really easy to get started with search expressions. Visit the metrics tab to get started, or visit the announcement found here.
  1. Resource Level Policies for Amazon CloudWatch Alarms
  • Policies in AWS are how an entity’s permissions are defined. Resource level policies are policies that can be attached to resources as opposed to identities. This extends the ability to specify who has access to the resource and what permissions they have with that access, defining it at the resource level rather than the identity level. With the ability to now apply resource policies to Amazon CloudWatch Alarms, you are able to define much more granular access to alarm creation and deletion. For example, you can add tags to Amazon CloudWatch alarms and create groups of alarms from the tags. Think alarms specific to a development environment and other alarms specific to a production environment. As a practical example, you can now specify at the alarm level that development users can’t delete production alarms and vice versa. Find out more about tagging Amazon CloudWatch Alarms and using resource level policies here.

Amazon EKS

There has been a lot of buzz around Kubernetes in the past few years in the cloud universe. The announcement of a managed Kubernetes service on AWS was met with excitement by the industry. Some key enhancements were announced in April for Amazon EKS.

  1. Windows Container Support Public Preview
  • For those wanting to experiment with Windows Containers on Amazon EKS, April was your month! Starting with Kubernetes version 1.11, the developer preview of Windows for Amazon EKS lets you get to testing! Check it out here.
  1.  Amazon EC2 A1 Instances for Amazon EKS in Public Preview
  • Managed Kubernetes on ARM? Yes, please. Potentially significant cost savings can be achieved for workloads such as web servers, caching fleets, and others that can run on ARM. Developer preview is now available for Amazon EKS using Amazon EC2 A1 Instances. Learn more here.
  1. Kubernetes Control Plane Logs to Amazon CloudWatch
  • Kubernetes control plane log data historically wasn’t accessible to audit changes or monitoring activity for Amazon EKS clusters. This April update allows you to send Amazon EKS control plane logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs. A welcome feature for all Amazon EKS clusters admins and security teams. Find out more here.
  1.  CSI Drivers for Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS) and Amazon FSx for Lustre
  • They are open-source alpha, but promise to make managed file systems services much more seamless to use with Kubernetes on either Amazon EC2 or Amazon EKS. This feature allows you to write a K8’s storage class and PersistentVolumeClaim, then reference the claim from the pods that use it rather than manually provisioning the file systems. Find all the goodness here.

Amazon RDS

A long time favorite of engineers and admins alike, the Amazon Relational Database Service saw many updates in April that make it even more desirable for enterprises.

  1.  Per Second Billing
  • Prices are still listed as per hour, but are billing at the per second increments with a 10 minute minimum charge at creation, restoration, or start. Welcome news for transient workloads. Learn more here.
  1.  Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL Now Supports Data Import from Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)
  • PostgreSQL versions 11.1 and above now support a new aws_s3 extension that can be used to perform import operations from Amazon S3 for any data format that is supported by the PostgreSQL Copy command. More info here.
  1.   Amazon Aurora and Amazon RDS Enable Faster Migration from MySQL 5.7
  • If you’re looking to move MySQL 5.5, 5.6, or 5.7 to Amazon Aurora, AWS just made it easier! You can copy the database backups to Amazon S3 and restore to Amazon Aurora for a much faster, more seamless experience. To get started, check out the announcement here.
  1.  PostgreSQL Supports Multi Major Version Upgrades to PostgreSQL 11
  • Historically, major version upgrades could only be done to one higher major version. This update allows you to upgrade from 9.4, 9.5, or 9.6 directly to 11. Version 9.3 can be moved to 9.5 or 9.6 directly. You can find the documentation here.
  1.  New Storage and Host Metrics for Amazon RDS Enhanced Monitoring
  • Enhanced Monitoring now reports physical storage device metrics and secondary instance host metrics. For a complete list of available metrics and more information on how to use this feature, see Enhanced Monitoring documentation. You can view the announcement here.
  1.  Amazon RDS for Oracle Increases Maximum Storage Size and I/O Performance
  • Since early April you can create Amazon RDS for Oracle instances with up to 64 TiB of storage and provisioned I/O performance of up to 80,000 IOPS. Existing deployments can also be scaled up with zero downtime. This increase allows you to consolidate database shards into a single database instance, which will simplify your database management. Learn more about it here.

This one has been a bit different since we’ve taken the time to list important updates to some core AWS services used by enterprises everywhere. If you know someone who is a System Administrator, Amazon RDS or Amazon EKS Administrator, or a security professionals, please forward them this consolidated list of April announcements. They will thank you!

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