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Bare-metal instances augment AWS' IaaS options

Infrastructure was AWS’ focus in May, as the cloud provider made good on several of its promises with features that provide more diverse compute options — including some that directly challenge two of its biggest foes.

Customers in five regions can now use EC2 bare-metal instances, which enable access to the memory and processor that runs those instances. Released into preview at re:Invent last year, these EC2 bare-metal instances compete against similar offerings and services from Oracle and IBM. While only available for the I3 storage-optimized instance family, these bare-metal instances can fit a variety of use cases, such as workloads restricted by licenses or lack of support for virtualized instances, and they provide a higher degree of hardware control than previously available.

In addition to several new AWS IaaS features geared toward EC2 instance management, AWS also this month added NVMe storage for its C5 instance family. These instances boost I/O to local storage to help developers take advantage of all available compute capacity. While only available for the C5 family right now, AWS said it plans to introduce NVMe storage to more instances in the coming months.

AWS presses play on Lambda IoT service

AWS’ latest IoT service attempts to make its platform literally push-button simple.

As its name suggests, AWS IoT 1-Click simplifies Lambda triggers to manage simple devices, and perform actions such as send alerts or flag items for inspection.

AWS IoT 1-Click currently supports only two push-button triggers: AWS IoT Enterprise Button (formerly the AWS IoT Button) and the AT&T LTE-M Button, which connect over Wi-Fi and AT&T’s cellular network, respectively. These devices come with their own certificates to protect communication to and from the cloud, and they encrypt outbound data via TLS. In the future, however, AWS plans to support various types of push-button devices, asset trackers, card readers and sensors.

An alien database option

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, perhaps graph databases can be from Neptune.

Released into general availability in late May across four regions, Amazon Neptune enables developers to build and maintain high-performance graph databases that can scale to store billions of relationships between connected datasets. AWS posits Neptune as the ideal database option for modern applications, which increasingly require large amounts of unstructured data storage and high performance with low latency across the globe. Neptune supports the Property Graph and W3C RDF graph models and their query languages Apache TinkerPop Gremlin and RDF/SPARQL.

Throughout its preview, Amazon said customers used Neptune to build interactive applications that include social networks, fraud detection systems and recommendation engines.

Cracking down on domain abuse

Global AWS customers that want to evade censorship in certain countries were dealt a blow earlier this month, as the cloud provider followed in Google’s footsteps and switched off domain fronting for its CloudFront service. This process enables apps to conceal their network traffic through a cloud CDN, which changes the domain name after it establishes a connection — though it is also a popular means for hackers and attackers to obfuscate their malware’s origin.

The cloud providers’ decisions come after the Russian government in April attempted to block instant messenger app Telegram, which had moved to AWS infrastructure. In doing so, Russia also blocked millions of Amazon and Google IP addresses, including many legitimate web services and companies.

Amazon’s decision to protect against domain fronting follows in line with its terms of service, and  AWS said it already polices such violations. At the same time, this crackdown aims to roll more protections directly into the CloudFront service and API.

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