There was so much to take away from AWS re:Invent last week. In my opinion, having attended a lot of industry events over the past ten or so years, this years re:Invent has left the industry with a lot to think about it! AWS vigorously defended their position as the number one Public Cloud destination (in their eyes) while trying to lay a path for future growth by expanding into the true enterprise space. Also, with the announcement of Outposts set a path to try and dominate the hybrid world with an on-premises offering.
Instead of writing down my extended thoughts it’s more consumable to hear Rick Vanover and myself talk about the event from a Veeam perspective in the short embedded video below. I’ve also embedded a video with David Hill and Sebastian Straub covering things from an N2WS perspective, as well as talk about the N2WS related announcements at re:Invent 2018.
I wrote this sitting in the Qantas Lounge in Melbourne waiting for the last leg back to Perth after spending the week in Las Vegas at AWS re:Invent 2018. I had fifteen hours on the LAX to MEL leg and before that flight took off, I struck up a conversation (something I never usually do on flights) with a guy in the seat next to me. He noticed my 2017 AWS re:Invent jumper (which is 100x better than the 2018 version) and asked me if had attended re:Invent.
It ended up that he worked for a San Francisco based company that wrote middleware integration for Salesforce. After a little bit of small talk, we got into some deep technical discussions about the announcements and around what we did in our day to day roles. Though I shouldn’t have been surprised, just as I had never heard of his company, he had never heard of Veeam…ironically he was from Russia and now working in Melbourne.
The fact he hadn’t heard of Veeam in its self wasn’t the most surprising part…it was the fact that he claimed to be a DevOps engineer. But had never touched any piece of VMware software or virtualisation infrastructure. His day to day was exclusively working with AWS web technologies. He wasn’t young…maybe early 40s…this to me seemed strange in itself.
He worked exclusively around APIs using AWS API Gateway, CloudFormations and other technologies but also used Nginx for reverse proxy purposes. That got me thinking that the web application developers of today are far far different to those that I used to work with in the early 2000’s and 2010’s. I come from the world of LAMP and .NET applications platforms…I stopped working on web and hosting technologies around the time Nginx was becoming popular.
I can still hold a conversion (and we did have a great exchange around how he DevOp’ed his applications) around the base frameworks of applications and components that go into making a web application work…but they are very very different from the web applications I used to architect and support on Windows and Linux.
All In on AWS!
The other interesting thing from the conversation was that his Technical Director commands the exclusive use of AWS services. Nothing outside of the service catalog on the AWS Console. That to me was amazing in itself. I started to talk to him about automation and orchestration tools and I mentioned that i’d been using Terraform of late…he had never used it himself. He asked me about it and in this case I was the one telling him how it worked! That at least made me feel somewhat not totally dated and past it!
My takeaway from the conversation plus what I experienced at re:Invent was that there is a strong, established sector of the IT industry that AWS has created, nurtured and is now helping to flourish. This isn’t a change or die message…this is simply my own realisation that the times have changed and as a technologist in the the industry I owe it to myself to make sure I am aware of how AWS has shifted web and application development from what I (and from my assumption the majority of those reading this post) perceive to be mainstream.
That said, just like the fact that a hybrid approach to infrastructure has solidified as the accepted hosting model for applications, so to the fact that in the application world there will still be a combination of the old and new. The biggest difference is that more than ever…these worlds are colliding…and that is something that shouldn’t be ignored!
This week, myself and David Hill presented at AWS re:Invent 2018 around what at Veeam is offering by way of providing data protection and availability for native AWS workloads, VMware Cloud on AWS workloads and how we are leveraging AWS technologies to offer new features in the upcoming Update 4 release of Backup & Replication 9.5.
For those that where not at AWS re:Invent this week or for those who could not attend the session on Wednesday, the video recording has been posted on the offical AWS YouTube page.
We had some audio issues at the start which made for some interesting banter between David and myself…but once we got into it we talked about the following:
The N2WS 2.4 Release
Veeam VTL and AWS Storage Gateway
Update 4 Cloud Tier
Update 4 Cloud Mobility
Data Protection for VMware Cloud on AWS
I wanted to highlight the Cloud Tier section where I give an overview and quick deepdive into the smarts behind the new repository feature coming in Update 4. The live demo of me using our Patented Instant VM Recovery feature to bring up a VM with data residing in Amazon S3 is a great example of the power of this upcoming feature. Not only does it allow storage efficiencies locally but offloading old data to Object Storage for long term retention, but is also is intelligent enough to recover quickly and efficiently with its Intelligent Block Recovery.
AWS re:Invent 2018 is happening next week and for the first time Veeam is at the event in a big way! Last year, we effectively tested the waters with a small booth, no main session and without the usual event presence that you would expect of Veeam at an VMworld or Microsoft Ignite. This year is a little different and we will be there as Diamond Sponsors of the event and with a lot to share in regards to how Veeam is leveraging AWS technologies to enhance our availability messaging.
We bolstered our native AWS capabilities earlier this year with the acquisition of N2SW who already where a leader in the protection of AWS workloads and with the upcoming release of Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 4 we will be further enhancing our ability to not only backup AWS workloads, but also leverage AWS technologies such as S3 to facilitate a change in mindset as to what it is to have a local backup repository. We will also be talking about migration into AWS and also how we are the best data protection choice for VMware Cloud on AWS.
At the event we will have a breakout session which myself and David Hill will be presenting. This will be on Wednesday at 5:30pm in the Aria Casino and we are looking forward to deep diving into what’s coming in Update 4 as well as showing off what’s coming in the next release of N2WS as we start to jointly develop solutions between the two companies.
In terms of the technologies and solutions that we will be diving into and showing off via some live demos…we will be looking at:
The N2WS 2.4 Release
Veeam VTL and AWS Storage Gateway
Update 4 Cloud Tier
Update 4 Cloud Mobility
Data Protection for VMware Cloud on AWS
I will also be giving a Booth Presentation at the Cloudcheckr booth, Tuesday at 10am which will effectively be a slimmed down version of the main session happening on the Wednesday.
Booth and Show Floor:
As mentioned, this year we will have significant presence on the show floor with two areas to come and see Veeam technologies as well as chat to us about how we are protecting and leveraging AWS and AWS workloads. On the main show floor we will be at booth #1011 which is well positioned next to the GitHub booth and we will also have a second location at the Mirage called the Data Protection Lounge which will be a place to relax, enjoy a snack and engage in technical discussions with our experts…including myself!
This year we are jointly sponsoring a location for the re:Invent Pub Crawl which is happening on Tuesday night. Details are below
Pub Crawl – Veeam | N2WS and VMware
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 27, 6pm – 8pm
Location: Mercato della Pescheria – The Venetian Shoppes
I’m looking forward to the event and being more than a spectator this year I’m expecting big things from it. Make sure you come visit us at our booth or at the lounge to check out what has been brewing from Veeam and N2WS R&D over the past twelve months…and also don’t forget to attend the session on Wednesday afternoon. I’m excited about some of the new features we will release as part of Update 4…and this session is a chance to see them working and get an understanding as to what they will be delivering.
If you would like to schedule a meeting with myself or any other member of the Veeam Product Strategy team attending, please reach out.
Given this was my first AWS re:invent I didn’t know what to expect from the keynotes and while Wednesday’s keynote focused on new release announcements, Thursday’s keynote with Werner Vogels was more geared towards thought leadership on where in AWS want’s to take the industry that it has enabled over the next two to five years. He titled this, 21st Century Architecture and talked around and how AWS don’t go about the building of their platforms by themselves in an isolated environment…they take feedback from clients which allows them to radically change the way they build their systems.
The goal is for them to design very nimble and fast tools from which their customers can decide exactly how to use them. The sheer number of new tools and services i’ve seen AWS release since I first used them back in 2011 is actually quiet daunting. As someone who is not a developer but has come from a hosting and virtualization background I sometimes look at AWS as offering complex simplicity. In fact I wrote about that very thing in this post from 2015. In that post I was a little cynical of AWS and while I still don’t have the opinion that AWS is the be all and end all of all things cloud, I have come around to understanding the way they go about things…..
Treating the machine as Human:
I wanted to take some time to comment on Vogels thoughts on voice and speech recognition. The premise was that all past and current interactions with computers has been driven my the machinery…screen, keyboard, mouse and fingers are all common however up to this point it could be argued that it’s not the way in which we naturally interact with other people. Because of the fact this interaction is driven by the machine we know how to not only interact with machines, but also manipulate the inputs so we get what we want as efficiently as possible.
If I look at the example of SIRI or Alexa today…when I try to ask them to answer me based on a query I have I know to fashion the question in such a way that will allow the technology to respond…this works most of the time because I know how to structure to questions to get the right answer. I treat the machine as a machine! If I look at how my kids interact with the same devices their way of asking questions is not crafted as if they where talking to a computer…for them they ask Alexa a question as if she was real. They treat the machine as a person.
This is where Vogels started talking about his vision for interfaces of the future to by more human centric all based around advances in neural network technology which allow for near realtime responses which will drive the future of interfaces to these digital systems. The first step in that is going to be voice and Amazon has looked to lead the way in which home users interact with Amazon.com with Alexa. With the release of Alexa for Business this will look to extend beyond the home.
For IT pros there is a future in voice interfaces that allow you to not only get feedback on current status of systems, but also (like in many SciFi movies of the last 30 to 40 years) allow us to command functions and dictate through voice interfaces the configuration, setup and management of core systems. This is already happening today with a few project that I’ve seen using Alex to interact with VMware vCenter, or like the video below showing Alex interacting with a Veeam API to get the status of backups.
There are negatives to voice interfaces with the potential to commit voice triggered mistakes high, however as these systems become more human centric voice should allow us to have a normal and more natural way of interacting with systems…at that point we may stop being able to manipulate the machine because the interaction will become natural. AWS is trying to lead the way with products like Alexa but almost every leading computer software company is toying with voice and AI which means we are quickly nearing an inflection point from which we will see an acceleration of the technology which will lead to it become a viable alternative to today’s more commonly used interfaces.
Today is the first day offical day of AWS re:Invent 2017 and things are kicking off with the global partner summit. Today also is my first day of AWS re:Invent and I am looking forward to experiencing a different type of big IT conference with all previous experiences being at VMworld or the old Microsoft Tech Eds. Just buy looking at the agenda, schedule and content catalog I can already tell re:Invent is a very very different type of IT conference.
As you may or may not know I started this blog as Hosting is Life! and the first half of my career was spent around hosting applications and web services…in that I gravitated towards looking at AWS solutions to help compliment the hosting platforms I looked after and I was actively using a few AWS services in 2011 and 2012 and attended a couple of AWS courses. After joining Zettagrid my use of AWS decreased and it wasn’t until Veeam announced supportability for AWS storage as part of our v10 announcements that I decided to get back into the swing of things.
Subsequently we announced Veeam Availability for AWS which leverages EBS snapshots to perform agentless backups of AWS instances and more recently we where announced as a launch partner for VMware Cloud on AWS data availability solutions. For me, the fact that VMware have jumped into bed with AWS has obviously raised AWS’s profile in the VMware community and it’s certainly being seen as the cool thing to know (or claim to know) within the ecosystem.
Veeam isn’t the only backup vendor looking to leverage what AWS has to offer by way of extending availability into the hyper-scale cloud and every leading vendor is rushing to claim features that offload backups to AWS cloud storage as well as offering services to protect native AWS workloads…as with IT Pros this is also the in thing!
Apart from backup and availability, my sessions are focused on storage, compute, scalability and scale as well as some sessions on home automation with Alexa and alike. This years re:Invent is 100% a learning experience and I am looking forward to attending a lot of sessions and taking a lot of notes. I might even come out taking the whole serverless thing a little more seriously!
Moving away from the tech the AWS world is one that I am currently removed from…unlike the VMware ecosystem and VMworld I wouldn’t know 95% of the people delivering sessions and I certainly don’t know much about the AWS community. While I can’t fix that by just being here this week, I can certainly use this week as a launching pad to get myself more entrenched with the technology, the ecosystem and the community.
Looking forward to the week and please reach out if you are around.