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November News Roundup: What’s new with AWS?

Haven’t had time to check through weeks of AWS announcements? Here’s all the top AWS news headlines from November 2022.

Jun 08, 2023 • 9 Minute Read

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  • Learning & Development
  • AWS

Hello Cloud Gurus! Wondering what’s changed with AWS this month, but haven’t found the time to check through weeks of headlines? Here’s everything you need to know to keep in the loop.

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Amazon MSK has new low-cost virtually unlimited storage tier

Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka (MSK) – say that five times fast! – now offers tiered storage that scales to be virtually unlimited. MSK is a fully managed service, which allows you to build and run applications that use Apache Kafka to process streaming data. It also allows you to create, update, and delete clusters, as well as produce and consume data using open-source versions of Apache Kafka.

With the announcement of this new tiered storage, you will now be able to store and process data, all while cutting costs by 50% or more over existing MSK storage options. It also provides a longer safety buffer that can handle unexpected processing delays or build new stream processing applications. This new storage option is enabled with a few clicks for new or existing clusters, and customers will pay for storage and data retrieval. 

Introducing the AWS Resource Explorer

re:Invent is fast approaching, and one of the themes that we’re predicting this year is that AWS will be releasing tools to help manage workloads across multiple regions and accounts. 

For those leveraging complex multi-region workloads, management can be a bit of a pain, and AWS is trying to ease that. A new tool, AWS Resource Explorer, lets you have one consolidated place to find what resources you have in an account, even if they are in a different region than the one you are currently using. Want to look up an EC2 instance across all regions by a specific tag? Yes, you can do that! Do you have an ID for a resource, but don’t know which region it’s in? It can deal with that problem too. 

You can search across all regions by various different types of metadata. You can even create a custom view of your resources, so you have a single place to go and see all resources that match the criteria you specify. Once you enable the service, you can even search directly in the search bar of the AWS console. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait to get access to this useful new tool, you can dive in today.

EC2 placement groups can be shared across AWS accounts

Sticking with the theme of AWS helping with multi-account and multi-region workflows, here’s another example!

Placement groups are a capability within EC2 that enable you to launch instances in the same availability zone, yet have them leverage a low latency and high throughput connection to each other. There are different types of groups depending on what your goals are for the group. No matter which option you choose, those instances need to be under the same AWS account… or at least that was the case until now.

Now, you can leverage the AWS Resource Access Manager to include instances from multiple accounts within a single placement group. This is generally available, so you can try it out in any of the AWS commercial regions today.

Amazon Time Sync now publicly available

Amazon Time Sync is now available over the internet as a public NTP service – at zero cost! Time Sync is a highly accurate and reliable time reference that uses a fleet of satellites to deliver the current time based on the Coordinated Universal Time or UTC global standard. This service also automatically smooths out leap seconds that are periodically added to UTC to cater for leap years, and which can be problematic for some applications.

Prior to this announcement, Time Sync was only available for EC2 instances. Now they are offering it as a publicly available NTP (or Network Time Protocol) service available to any server with internet access

Multiple MFA device support

IAM now supports the use of multiple multi-factor authentication (MFA) devices for root and IAM users. This means that you are allowed to configure more than one authentication device per user, up to a maximum of 8 per user, including both hardware and virtual MFA devices. 

The use of MFA is a security best practice for your root and IAM users, giving you an added layer of protection against unauthorized access; this new announcement gives customers some added flexibility. For example, imagine you have a single MFA device configured for your root account, and the device got lost or broken. By configuring multiple MFA devices, you can continue to access your account without any delays. 

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Retrieve Glacier data 10 times faster

You now can retrieve data from Glacier Flexible Retrieval and Glacier Deep Archive 10 times faster than before, at no extra cost. This increase in throughput applies to all standard and bulk retrievals, and Glacier can now support restore requests at a rate of 1000 transactions per second, per account, within an AWS Region. 

This is going to be great for applications that periodically need to restore data sets composed of many small objects, significantly reducing the time taken to complete the restore. 

Amazon EventBridge piles on new features

EventBridge is the serverless event bus service that can be used to receive and respond to events from a variety of sources, including lambda functions, API destinations, and even other event buses. The service is increasingly considered the keystone of any event-driven architecture hosted on AWS. Earlier this month, AWS announced the new EventBridge Scheduler, a managed interface to schedule time-based events to trigger actions in over 270 AWS services. 

AWS continues to pile on new EventBridge features, announcing two more quality of life updates. You can now generate CloudFormation templates from existing EventBridge rules, as well as automatically generate patterns from a schema. Patterns are used to check whether an incoming event matches the expected format, and historically these had to be written manually. I’m excited to see what other EventBridge features will be unveiled at this year’s re:Invent 2022.

Step Functions adds easy cross-account functionality

This month, AWS announced expanded and simplified cross-account functionality with Step Functions. Step Functions are used to orchestrate serverless workflows across many services, and even across many accounts. Historically, users have leveraged resource-based policies to grant step functions access to resources in outside accounts. However, not all services supported by Step Functions support resource-based policies. 

Users can now leverage identity-based policies, essentially allowing step functions to assume user-like roles in outside accounts. With this new functionality, it will be easier than ever to use Step Functions’s direct integrations with resources across accounts.

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Updated Certified Solutions Architect Pro exam

As of November 15th, AWS has officially switched over to the latest version of their Certified Solutions Architect Professional exam. They removed the cost control portion of the exam and distributed it across the other four domains: 

  • Design Solutions for Organizational Complexity
  • Design for New Solutions
  • Continuous Improvement for Existing Solutions
  • Accelerate Workload Migration and Modernization.

Organizational Complexity now takes up a much larger portion of the exam, moving from 12.5% to 26% of the total weight. David Blocher, who recently took (and passed!) this new exam, found that this change mostly manifested in more questions about managing multiple accounts with AWS organizations and granting cross-account privileges to users and resources. If you’d like to brush up on multi-account management, check out David’s course, How to Organize Your Accounts in AWS!

That’s all the biggest November headlines for AWS! 

Want to keep on top of weekly AWS news?

Check out AWS This Week for your weekly news roundup for all things AWS. Join our expert hosts as they cover everything you need to know about the past week’s developments, keeping it short, fun and informative. 

Whether you’re just beginning your cloud journey, or you know your stuff, there’s something for everyone!