Another re:Invent has passed, and we’re left nursing sore feet from a week of hitting record step counts and contemplating the learnings from some amazing keynotes and sessions. re:Invent 2022’s Thursday session was the energetic and passionate exploration of AWS and developers that Dr. Werner Vogels is famous for, and here’s our summary of what it presented.
The key theme for Dr. Vogel’s talk this year is “the world is asynchronous”, with a humorous Matrix-style intro imagining what a fully synchronous world might look like and the challenges it would bring; french fries being made one by one was a highlight.
Much of the keynote was spent challenging the audience to consider the world around us as inspiration in building scalable, resilient, and evolving systems. From starling murmurations to spiderwebs, understanding how complex systems can be built up from simpler and loosely coupled systems was touched on again and again. These examples served to show the strengths and characteristics of asynchronous event-driven architectures.
Using S3’s guiding principles as an example, Dr. Vogels demonstrated how AWS has been incorporating asynchronous architecture from its inception; “asynchrony”, “decompose into small well-understood building blocks”, “controlled concurrency”, and “controlled parallelism” were all at the heart of S3 when it was released in 2006 and included only eight separate microservices. Now, in 2022, those same core principles have allowed it to expand and evolve to over 235 microservices representing numerous feature additions and improvements, all without interruption to such a key AWS service and while allowing AWS teams to continue to accelerate.
AWS Service Announcements
While a lot of time was devoted to educating the attendees on the patterns and benefits of event-driven architectures, there were also some of the AWS service announcements we all came to re:Invent eager to hear. A few of the announcements that stood out for us were AWS Application Composer, Amazon EventBridge Pipes, and Amazon CodeCatalyst.
AWS Application Composer, in preview now, is a visual means for developers to accelerate the creation of serverless applications. Providing a way for services to be easily dropped in and connected with one another, configured as desired, and clearly depicted, Application Composer also automatically builds your infrastructure as code (IaC) templates as you go, incorporating AWS best practices to ensure you can easily deploy and evolve your application.
Taking a cue from UNIX, AWS has added the capability to pipe data between event producers and consumers using Amazon EventBridge Pipes. Another element in building asynchronous event-driven architectures, this feature allows for applications to be more easily evolved. Data can come from a variety of sources such as an Amazon Kinesis Data stream, be passed through a filter to match patterns like time or prefix, and be passed along to a target such as an Amazon API Gateway where it can be processed by a microservice.
Data enrichment is also possible, allowing the use of Lambda, Step Functions, or API Gateway to modify and enhance data as it is passed to the target consumer. With Pipes it’s possible to batch events, even for sources that don’t support it, and to maintain event order if provided by the source producer. Using Pipes allows developers to not have to maintain custom means of transferring information between components in their systems, leveraging AWS to provide a standardized and scalable solution so that efforts can be spent on solving their business needs.
Finally, Amazon CodeCatalyst looks to solve the challenge of creating well-managed and consistent code development. This service allows developers to quickly create new projects, using blueprints that define the languages, tools, CI/CD pipelines, environments and more to be used for that application. These blueprints can be created from scratch, pulled from AWS’ growing library, or defined by the organization according to their needs and standards.
CodeCatalyst supports plenty of 3rd party integrations out of the box and is also intended to make it easy to invite teammates for collaboration. Currently, CodeCatalyst is in preview.
Werner’s dive into asynchronous event-driven systems was an enjoyable exploration of how, using AWS, we can build highly resilient, scalable, and evolvable systems built from simple loosely coupled components. Using these same architectures, he showed how massively complex simulations could be run to solve challenging real-world problems – from self-driving cars understanding and reacting to road conditions, to imagining the impacts of reforestation, and the variety of ways that reforestation could be influenced.
As always, the last challenge of the Thursday keynote was “Now Go Build”, but this year it was coupled with “Simulate Everything” to provoke developers to push the boundaries of their systems, and to look to the real world as a source of inspiration.
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