Cloudscape Podcast Episode 2 in review – A deeper dive into the latest in Amazon Web Services

Posted in: Technical Track

I recently joined Chris Presley for episode two of his new podcast, Cloudscape, to talk about what’s happening in the world of cloud-related matters. My focus was to share the most recent events surrounding Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Topics of discussion included at-rest encryption in Dynamo DB, AWS network bandwidth increases, M5 instances on AWS, and the latest Serverless announcement for AWS.

The implementation of at-rest Encryption

We spoke a little about how large enterprises such as Amazon have been adding encryption to many of their services, the most recent is DynamoDB, a common backend for mobile app providers.

With DynamoDB, when a new table is added, you can choose to enable encryption on local secondary indexes and global secondary indexes, all using Advanced Encryption Standards (AES) 256. It also uses a service default key stored in KMS, has very low overhead and is transparent so you don’t have to, from the application layer, manage any of it because it’s all going to be done for you on the back end.

A huge plus for DynamoDB is that there’s no charge. You pay for the calls to the Knowledge Management System (KMS) but you get the encryption at no extra charge.

Increased EC2 Network Bandwidth

Amazon increased the network bandwidth for EC2 instances using the Enhanced Network Adapter (ENA), in most cases up to 25Gb/s.

Instances need to be running the latest ENA-enabled AMI and they need to be modern instances to take advantage of this enhanced networking. Enhanced networking includes other benefits besides increased bandwidth including lower CPU utilization and lower latency connections.  These new instances and connectivity pair well with activities like machine learning, where you’ll need that bandwidth as you begin to scale your activities to multiple nodes.

You may have also heard that new hypervisor changes are in the pipeline in the form of Nitro which promises to further reduce virtualization overhead and improve performance.  Now is a great time to begin migrating to the latest instances and AMIs to take advantage of these great new features.

M5 instances on AWS

M5 instances are the rollout of a new type of virtualization hypervisor that Amazon is calling “Nitro.” I admit I had to dig into this, and what I found was amazing.

Brandon Greg, a performance engineer for Netflix, wrote an amazing blog post that details the history of virtualization and explains exactly why Nitro is a big deal. The gist is that Nitro is a departure from the Xen hypervisor and a step towards near-metal performance.  

Nitro improves the performance of network and storage I/O via SR-IOV and also introduces hardware virtualization support for interrupts. These enhancements of Nitro’s predecessor result in performance measurements that are oftentimes within 1% of the performance of bare-metal servers. Nice!

I’m excited to watch Nitro develop and become more broadly available. Nitro is currently available on C5 and M5 instances.

Serverless Announcement for AWS

Amazon introduced a new serverless application repository to help people discover new serverless solutions that are quick to implement.

I’ve talked about this previously, so be sure to check that post out for more details on my initial thoughts.

I’m generally excited for Serverless, but think the new application repository needs time to mature.  Eventually, I think it will be a great place to look for out-of-the-box solutions to common problems.

 

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This was a summary of the AWS topics we discussed during the podcast, Chris also welcomed John Laham (Google Cloud Platform), and Warner Chaves (Microsoft Azure) who also discussed topics related to their expertise.

To hear the full conversation, click here and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to be notified when a new episode has been released.

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