Why AWS re:Invent 2013 Mattered

The Luminal team headed to Las Vegas last week to attend the second Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference. As we're actively developing on AWS, we were eager to learn about new AWS services offerings, explore the AWS ecosystem of developers, Independent Solution Vendors (ISV) and Systems Integrators (SI), and connect with AWS staff to learn more about how we can build smarter and faster.

The level of energy and excitement at re:Invent was something none of us had experienced at a software conference before. There are likely many reasons for this, but we primarily attribute it to the fact that AWS has established itself as the undisputed frontrunner in cloud with significant momentum among developers and ISVs. Attempts by competitors to change the subject with bus advertisements and scantily clad cowgirls backfired spectacularly.

AWS offers more than the ability to scale applications quickly and without big, up-front investments in infrastructure. More importantly, AWS provides a platform for fast experimentation and innovation. This was evident everywhere you looked - from the demo floor to the breakout sessions. AWS's focus on providing useful services and tools for developers to build quickly has clearly paid off. The AWS ecosystem is thriving, and all its energy and enthusiasm made this such a fun event (Deadmau5 didn't hurt either).

From SQS to ELB and many in between, we heavily leverage AWS's growing list of tools and services. If we weren't developing on AWS we'd be devoting significant development time rolling many of our own tools.

There were more announcements than we can cover here, so we'll focus on the three new services that we're most excited about at Luminal.

AppStream is AWS' application and game streaming service. It allows developers to deliver high performance graphical apps to any supported device. We've been wondering which toolkits we would use for the ambitious visualization tools we're working on, and AppStream has changed the landscape significantly. We look forward to experimenting with it.

CloudTrail is a new service for logging all AWS API calls. This is primarily targeted at addressing the strict audit requirements of many enterprises. Usually, auditing systems require setting up servers, databases and other provisioned resources to use and operate. As with so many other services on AWS, CloudTrail is a pay-as-you-go service and has extremely low O&M overhead. Your audit logs are dropped into S3 on a periodic basis and you can process from there.

Kinesis is a new service for real-time processing of streaming data. High availability stream processing isn't easy and usually is expensive to get right. For non-developers, this kind of service offering can be confusing, but for those of us who have built high bandwidth, high-availability streaming applications, it's great to have this out of a box.

We could see that AWS is serious about the enterprise. The ubiquitous availability of AWS professional services to answer questions about the new offerings and provide specific architectural guidance clearly illustrated this. We'd be remiss not to throw a shout out to Nic Branker, Mitch Garnaat, Nathan McCourtney, Rick Sears, and Bjorn Swift, who took the time to understand our use cases and offer concrete suggestions on how we can get the most out of the new services.

We're already looking forward to AWS re:Invent 2014, where we'll be in attendance, this time with a booth and a solution of our own.

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