AWS Summit Sydney 2016 - no Lambda for you!


Last week saw Sydney’s turn for the AWS Summit roadshow. With the Sydney Exhibition & Conference Centre still being rebuilt, it was back out to the Hordern Pavilion for a second year but unlike last year the weather was clear and the Summit was spread over two days - much more room, much more comfortable.

The Summit tries to be something for everyone. One statistic mentioned in the first day keynote was that in the survey sent to Summit registrees, 45% had deployed production workloads in AWS. In the bubble I am in - working with AWS services every day, speaking at AWS meetups, following AWS blogs, speaking to other AWS architects - it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of companies out there just starting their cloud migrations (not ‘journeys’ - please, no more ‘cloud journeys’).

There was an expectation that Sydney availability for the two key AWS serverless components - API Gateway and Lambda - would be the main keynote announcement on Wednesday, with either immediate availability or at least a very near launch date. After all, Lambda has been available in other regions for over a year now.

No Lambda

And sure enough it was the big news of the day - but not in a good way. The reaction to the announcement that Lambda would be available ‘in the next few months’ did not set the crowd on fire. There weren’t any boos, but it felt pretty close to that. Beware of angry nerds! I’ve been keen on pushing out serverless architectures since boarding the bandwagon at re:Invent 2015 and we had a project designed and ready to go - the Lambda components will now have to be replaced with NodeJS on EC2 as a stopgap.

AWS do need to be careful that they don’t start to get a reputation for vapourware - or at least slow deployments. Lambda has rolled out slowly globally, and it’s looking like EFS won’t make it to release anywhere in 2016 despite being announced over a year ago (at the San Francisco Summit in April 2015).

The lack of Lambda was highlighted again in the best session I attended on day one, on Lambda and serverless architectures. The session was hosted by Ajay Nair (the AWS PM for Lambda) and included a customer story from Sam Kroonenburg from A Cloud Guru, the AWS video training people I’ve mentioned here before, who run their entire platform serverless. Some great stats were shared by Sam included them having 50k+ users and that they can supply a course - videos, tests, comments etc - for just $0.12 each. There was an apologetic ‘coming soon - sorry’ for Lambda in Sydney from Ajay. He did look genuinely disappointed - hopefully it is close.

Lambda was a big part of the second day keynote demo too, with Glenn Gore saying that his IoT/Echo demo (Echo (Alexa) Skills are Lambda backed) was not too latency crippled despite being hosted in the US.

Outside of the Lambda disappointment there were a decent mix of sessions for all levels - plenty of 101 and 201 ‘start here’ guides, along with more meaty 301 and 401 tracks for the old hands, including Evan Crawford (AWS) and Michael Fuller from Atlassian presenting an updated version of their cost control session, with some interesting ideas on rightsizing EC2 instances.

In between sessions there were plenty of vendor booths to check out on the Expo floor - you can see the full list of sponsors here but these ones stood out for me:

SignalFx were one of the many many many sponsors in the monitoring space - but are differentiating themselves by concentrating more on the infrastructure side instead of the application side. Think Nagios or Icinga, not New Relic.

Speaking of them, of course New Relic and Datadog were both there - Datadog’s event correlation is cool (overlay a feed from your CI/CD pipeline over your metrics - oh look, memory usage went up after that release went live..). I would be surprised if New Relic didn’t release something similar very soon, but if I were choosing between the two right now I think Datadog would just edge it.

Rackspace and Bulletproof were both keen to manage your cloud for you. I know people working at both and know both companies do an excellent job, if you’re happy to pay the surcharge. Maybe its cheaper than running your own Ops department?

Cloudability, CloudCheckr and CloudMGR all want to help with your cloud cost and security needs. CloudMGR have an interesting product that basically builds on top of CloudCheckr - CloudCheckr reports, CloudMGR can fix reported issues - buy RIs, close security groups etc.

Dome9 recently launched an IAM protection product to complement their security group protection product. Both apply rules on top of the base AWS product, to enhance and further secure them - e.g. the security group product checks and reverts unauthorised security group changes. Both products could do with clearer naming.

ExtraHop injects itself into your AWS infrastructure for agentless monitoring at the network level.

The vendor hall was also a great place to catch up with ex-colleagues, meet up with regular contacts (good again to see Darrell and Gary from PolarSeven, and Chris from GorillaStack - best 3 out of 5 in the banana throwing game?), meet people IRL that I knew only from LinkedIn, Twitter or Slack (hi Andre and Adam from CMD Solutions), and talk to others in the cloud industry.

With the certification lounge serving decent coffee and the opportunities to network with fellow cloud nerds - this was the best Summit yet - bring on re:Invent 2016.