As cloud migrations toward AWS accelerate throughout Canada,
here are 3 Key takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2023
The ‘AWS re:Invent’ annual event is the Super Bowl of all things Amazon Web Services(AWS) for the global cloud-computing community. This year, the event took place in Las Vegas, November 27 – December 1. The five-day learning event featured key announcements, various training and certification opportunities, in addition to over 2,000 technical sessions.
André Girard, Director of Cofomo’s AWS Centre of Excellence, accompanied by Yvon Turcotte, Director of Consulting, AWS Cloud Solutions Architecture, attended as many sessions as they could jam into their working hours.
Breaking with tradition about “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, André and Yvon have shared their learnings with our 50+ AWS experts at Cofomo and wanted to pass on their three key takeaways to our readers as we enter the new year.
1. Serverless AWS services — an opportunity for organizations to save time, costs and make the best use of their IT team
When a service from AWS goes serverless, it means your IT team benefits from a considerable time saving as they no longer need to manage or scale the physical or virtual machines on which they build and run their applications. Instead, AWS takes on these tasks, simply provisioning the computing resources you need, and you pay as you go.
“This is excellent news for our customers using AWS,” said André Girard. “They’ll be able to focus their IT team on delivering more value to their organisation, freeing them from a lot of routine and low-value tasks that are typically part of application development.”
Among the new serverless services announced in the last year, including those announced at re:Invent, you’ll find:
• Amazon Redshift Serverless
• Amazon OpenSearch Serverless
• Amazon Aurora Limitless Database
• Amazon EMR Serverless (Apache Spark, Apache Hive)
• MSK Serverless (Managed Kafka)
2. New Generative AI assistant – Amazon Q – will help improve customer service and productivity
While generative AI has been discreetly present within AWS last year, the introduction of Amazon Q, a Gen AI assistant, made a ‘big splash’ and is expected to make a huge impact in improving productivity for organisations using AWS infrastructure.
Leveraging over 40+ connectors to popular business apps, Amazon Q focuses on understanding your business data, information, systems, and the ecosystem of partners your company works with.
As a result, marketing, sales & customer success teams, and project and program managers can use natural language to ask nuanced questions and get tailored results based on the knowledge Amazon Q was trained on.
Designed to be secure and private, the new Gen AI application of AWS customizes interactions based on your role and permissions.
Amazon Bedrock was also a hot topic. Released in the fall, it enables companies to build and customize their own generative AI models.
Through a unified API, Bedrock makes available the high-performing foundation models (FMs) of leading AI startups and Amazon itself. As a serverless experience, this fully managed service makes it easy, fast, and secure to build agents that execute tasks using your enterprise systems and data sources.
So, depending on your use case, you can build AI models that…
• Support customer service (e.g., chatbots)
• Enhance employee productivity (e.g., information queries)
• Improve operations (e.g., anomaly extraction)
3. Paying extra attention to cost control
How can companies better control the cost of their computing? FinOps (financial operations, for short) is the answer.
FinOps entails both a mindset in your company culture and a way of operating a business to maximize the value of cloud operations. For example, Capital One, a U.S. bank holding company, discussed how they deliberately shifted to a ‘cost-first’ culture. The change of culture was such a success that employees always ask, “What does it cost? How can we reduce the cost?”
Dr. Werner Vogels, a vice president and CTO at Amazon, focused his highly attended keynote address on presenting the best practices for designing resilient and cost-aware architectures. His famous ‘seven (7) laws’ for building these architectures can be found at The Frugal Architect.
As an appetizer, here are snippets from three of the laws for designing resilient and cost-aware architectures:
• Law 4 – Unobserved systems lead to unknown costs
“…lack of visibility enables wasteful habits.”
• Law 5 – Cost aware architectures implement cost controls
“Well-designed systems allow you to take action on opportunities for improvement.”
• Law 6 – Cost optimization is incremental
“The pursuit of cost efficiency is an ongoing journey.”
“For anyone considering implementing cloud computing,” said Girard, “this website is a goldmine. Implementing the seven laws will have a solid impact on reducing costs and optimizing the use of the cloud — a big win for efficiency.”
Cloud infrastructure, a requirement for innovation and cost control
“Although a wide range of businesses have recognized the Return On Investment (ROI) they achieved leveraging AWS cloud infrastructure and services, many companies in Quebec,” said Girard, “are still trying to grasp what cloud computing is. They are just starting to see how it is crucial to elevate their capacity to innovate, remain competitive, offer a better customer experience, and reduce their costs moving forward.”
Today, a team of more than 50 (and growing) dedicated AWS experts at Cofomo help companies with everything AWS, from cloud computing maturity studies, server and application migrations, and customer operations support to the implementation of effective cost controls (FinOps).
“AWS re:Invent 2023 made us more excited about the benefits AWS can bring our customers,” said Girard. “As we often say at Cofomo, the complexity of cloud computing is not the technical aspect, it’s the human part, when it comes to changing mindset.”
P.S.: Shortly after re:Invent, AWS announced the opening of a data centre in Calgary — their second one in Canada — and can now offer full redundancy. Customers looking to enhance their peace of mind about disaster recovery or reduced latency in their western data operations now have a full-featured AWS data centre at their disposal.