AWS Connect 2019 Ship Great Things 

AWS Connect Cape Town is quickly becoming an event to look forward to on the Cape Town technology conference calendar. Previous iterations offered a broad range of insights and opinions from Amazon’s evangelists and selected clients.  


This year’s edition was no different. 


It delivered on all fronts with its on-point client case studies and diverse streams offering both deep and broad dives across Amazon’s technology service offering. 


AWS has been steadily increasing their technology offering and the addition of talks covering service offerings linked to blockchain technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence were heavily featured. Any future-focused technologist would be wise to pay attention to the emergence of these technologies, their continued development and future ubiquity. 


A wide range of organizations was included as part of the client case studies this year and it was interesting to see how technology challenges are big solved on the AWS platform. There was something to inspire everyone, with a wide spectrum of organizations present from start-ups, that haven’t launched, to century-old, intercontinental financial services companies. 


Bumblebee had several technology professionals present at the conference with a wide range of different interests. I opted to stick to the stream which focused on a wide set of topics linked to improving the overall quality of the software delivered.  


What was made clear during the talks was the ability for AWS to support the development and delivery of world-class technology solutions. I particularly enjoyed the talk around improving the delivery, resilience and maintainability of your applications by using the Twelve-factor app methodology on AWS. The Twelve-factor app is a methodology for building modern, scalable, maintainable applications that were created by Heroku co-founder, Adam Wiggins, in 2011. 


Without going into all twelve factors, the need to explicitly declare dependencies, in your tool of choice, down to the patch level instead of at a minor level, to ensure the highest level of stability resonated with me. This improves the consistency in your team’s development environment and is an absolute necessity if you intend to containerise your solution. The default specificity in Node.js’s NPM, for example, is too permissive and can lead to significant inconsistencies between the packages that are retrieved. 


Aerobotics, who featured at last year’s event, also made a return this year to demonstrate the work they are doing in advancing the agritech space. Agriculture materially contributes both to South Africa’s GDP and employment capacity. The ability to improve the agricultural yield can only have a positive impact on both measures. Aerobotics have been using machine learning to improve the crop yield by developing sophisticated models for the early detection of crops that may be at risk. These models are rapidly trained and executed on AWS infrastructure in price-optimised environments.  


Overall, AWS is making emerging technologies accessible to organizations at all ends of the spectrum. In my view,  Amazon’s offering remains the incumbent in the cloud computing space and anyone looking to implement comprehensive DevOps would be remiss if they did not evaluate what AWS has to offer. 


Author: Baadier Sydow – Digital Lead Bumblebee Consulting 

AWS Summit 2019 Hot Topic

Once we were able to get in (traffic, parking and registration were somewhat chaotic!) we could settle down to enjoy the various presentations on offer. Since several Bumblebee’s were there, our different interests took us to different streams. The benefit of that is you now hear about a wider variety of talks than just one person could give.  


I listened to the keynote talk, some of the so-called ‘Hot Topic’ talks and a few other sessions related to optimisation and tool choice. Here are my takeaways from the Summit:  

  1. AWS really have a full-featured set of tools available to teams focused on delivering reliable applications and solutions  
  2. The delivery point could be cloud-based (but needn’t be)  
  3. It is feasible to set up and operate a fully automated delivery pipeline that will also scale in capacity according to demand  
  4. One must not view AWS as just a set of servers that are not on-premise  
  5. If this is your view, you’re missing out on some major benefits of the AWS environment (such as the scalability, the robustness, the redundancy)  
  6. Your view of the required architecture will not give you the best solution  
  7. Your approach to optimising a solution must be different from what you would do with an application on a physical server  


Because of the total environment that AWS offers, the end-user does not need to worry about things like duplicate servers, best use of the capacity of a physical machine, failover and so many other non-functional areas. This means that an end-user can really focus on their business,and making that the best it can be. This also means that the end-user can build on an architecture that provides the best outcome and services for the application and its users, rather than where and how the application is deployed on physical machines  


Viewing a solution as access to a set of required services also means that scaling up and down is very easy, and optimising the delivery can be treated like a linear programming solution to a problem with multiple variables (or dimensions). The end result is that one pays just for the resources used, and one does not have to provision physical hardware that may not be fully utilised.  


It is also possible to select one’s analysis tools based on the kind of output one needs as well as the rapidity and frequency of updates. Thus, if one needs a weekly view of a dataset, the tools used would be different from those used to provide a view that is always no more than 5 minutes old. Again, the optimisation process is more granular than just “how much memory, how much CPU, how much storage?”. The end result again is one pays just for what is used at any point.  


What I hope is becoming clearer is that our approach to solution delivery can change because of the cloud and its toolset. More importantly, our approach should change so that our clients gain the most benefit from the cloud.  

I think these are issues that we will be revisiting frequently in the near future.  


Author: Bruce Logan – Principal Consultant Bumblebee Consulting