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AWS should address these user challenges at re:Invent 2018

SearchAWS contributors say Amazon's cloud platform still has shortcomings around data regulation, ops and integrations. They offer some ways AWS could solve these problems at re:Invent this year.

AWS continues to add to its portfolio of services, but that rapid pace of expansion can result in gaps for customers.

Users will scour the dozens of updates expected to emerge from AWS re:Invent 2018 for tools that can address their biggest cloud development and operations headaches.

We asked our SearchAWS contributors to discuss their pain points with AWS, or those they've heard from users, and to share their suggestions for improvements. Here's what they had to say.

Chris Moyer, technology vice president

Chris Moyer

Perhaps the biggest issue right now is CodeBuild's Lambda integration. Basically, the recommended way to deploy Lambda updates is to use CodeBuild with AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM) to deploy directly in the build or post-build stages. That's not really using CodeBuild to its full extent, and it feels a little clumsy.

Also, API Gateway integrations seem to come up more frequently. Canary deployments were a big topic when they were unveiled in both API Gateway and Lambda, but we haven't heard too much about them since. It seems like a lot of tools -- including SAM -- recommend setting up separate Lambda functions and API Gateways, rather than building a true microservices approach to Lambda functions that connect under a single API Gateway with separate versions. There's a lot of power with Lambda aliases and versions, so I'm surprised there aren't more best practices around API Gateway for serverless microservices.

But my biggest pain point is around CloudFormation, which feels clunky and like one of those HTML code builders.

In other words, I have dozens of API Gateways, random Amazon S3 bucket names and hundreds of Lambda functions -- many of which have the same code base -- that largely do the same thing. AWS has to develop a better way than an entirely separate "stack" for each individual environment, version and update you want to roll out.

Mike Pfeiffer, IT architect

Mike Pfeiffer

At re:Invent 2018, I'd like to see AWS follow Google and Microsoft and create its own cloud shell for browser-based access to AWS Command Line Interface (CLI).

AWS currently provides the Systems Manager Run Command feature, along with the recently released Session Manager, but these services invoke commands on existing EC2 instances. For ad hoc administration, it'd be useful to have the ability to run AWS CLI in a browser window, regardless of what device I am on.

George Lawton, IT writer

George Lawton

Amazon continues to expand its ecosystem and tools for Alexa and Greengrass as -class entry points for voice and IoT interfaces, akin to what Google and Apple have done for mobile. This includes offerings, such as a low-cost chipset to embed Alexa into devices like ovens and refrigerators and Alexa for Business.

However, Amazon lags behind Google and Apple when it comes to individual control of personal data. This is going to be critical, particularly in markets like the EU, which enacted GDPR regulations that dramatically expand the definitions of protected data and increase fines for noncompliance.

Hopefully, Amazon at re:Invent 2018 will reveal a centralized and personal data dashboard akin to the Google Dashboard. This will make it easier to trust Alexa and third-party devices built on AWS Greengrass. It will also make it easier to troubleshoot and rectify trust issues if, for example, a family's private conversation was accidentally recorded by Alexa and messaged to a friend.

David Linthicum, cloud analyst

David Linthicum

I would love to see more ops tools at AWS re:Invent 2018. Most cloud implementations are multi-cloud, which can be quite complex and require tools that can abstract that complexity from the ops team. These types of features are critical to cloud adoption, and AWS should recognize its importance and follow suit with new or expanded services to meet this demand.

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