Findings from AWS re:Invent 2019, Part 1

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ML/AI was definitely the topic of Andy Jassy’s re:Invent Tuesday keynote. Another area of major investment was service proximity to customers and end-users. With that it was only natural there were also some new networking features to help building multi-region connectivity.

Machine Learning for the Masses

ML/AI received a lot of love in Tuesday announcements. If there is one thing to pick from the group, it would be SageMaker Autopilot:

“With this feature, Amazon SageMaker can use your tabular data and the target column you specify to automatically train and tune your model, while providing full visibility into the process. As the name suggests, you can use it on autopilot, deploying the model with the highest accuracy with one click in Amazon SageMaker Studio, or use it as a guide to decision making, enabling you to make tradeoffs, such as accuracy with latency or model size.”

Together with SageMaker Studio web-based IDE this is to democratize artesan work of data analytics. There were also 3 interesting real-world applications of ML announced (all in preview);

  • Amazon CodeGuru for automated code reviews and application performance recommendations.
  • Amazon Fraud Detector is managed service to identify fraudulent activities such as online payment fraud and the creation of fake accounts.
  • Amazon Detective is service to analyze, investigate and find root cause for potential security issues or suspicious activities based on analysis of logs from AWS resources.

As services these are all very easy to consume and can bring a lot of value in preventing costly mistakes from happening. These also follow the same pattern as SageMaker Autopilot, automating artesan work traditionally performed by skilled (but overloaded) individuals.

Getting Closer to Customer

Another theme in Tuesday's announcements was cloud services getting physically closer to customers. This is important when you must keep your data in certain country or need very low latencies.

AWS Local Zone is an extension of AWS region. It brings compute, storage and selected subset of AWS services closer to customer. The very first local zone was announced in Los Angeles but I would expect these to be popping up in many cities around the world that don’t yet have their own AWS region nearby.

If local zone is not close enough, then there is AWS Wavelength. This is yet another variation of (availability) zone. Wavelength has similar (but not the same?) subset of AWS services as Local Zone. Wavelength zones are co-located at 5G operators edges that helps in building ultra low latency services for mobile networks.

AWS Outpost is now in GA and support for EMR and container services like ECS, EKS and App Mesh was added to service mix of Outpost. Pricing starts from $225k 3-year-upfront or $7000/month for 3 year subsciption. I think many customers would want to wait and see how Local Zones are expanding before investing in on-prem hardware.


AWS has had a tradition of changing networking best-practices every year at re:Invent. This year it wasn’t quite as dramatic but there were very welcome feature announcements that go nicely with the idea of different flavours of local regions.

Transit Gateway inter-region peering allows you to build global WAN within AWS networks. This is great feature when building multi-region services or have your services spread across multiple regions because of differences in local service mix. That said, please notice inter-region peering is only available at certain regions at launch.

Transit Gateway Network Manager enables you centrally manage and monitor your global network, not only on AWS but also on-premises. As networking is getting much more complex this global view and management is going to be most welcome help. It will also help in shifting the balance of network management from on-premises towards public cloud.

Finally support for multicast traffic was one of the last remaining blockers for moving applications to VPC. With the announcement of Transit Gateway Multicast support even that is now possible. Fine print says multicast is not supported over direct connect, site-to-site VPN or peering connections.

Interested in reading more about Petri’s views and insights? Follow his blog CarriageReturn.Nl

Petri Pekkarinen
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