AWS re:Invent showcases Amazon's cloud leadership

CloudTrail as an example of APIs and third-party support.

The AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas has evidently become the "must-attend" event in the cloud world. Speaking to several friends of mine who attended the event held at the Venetian Hotel, there were thousands upon thousands of attendees. There seems to be an entire ecosystem of third-party vendors who are developing AWS solutions. But perhaps the best validation of AWS's arrival is that its two biggest competitors, IBM and Rackspace, took to street advertising and trying to pick off attendees right outside the show. As well they should, since Amazon is reported to be eight times the size of its nearest competitor in the public cloud space.

Of course, AWS rolled out some big guns for the conference, highlighting name-brand customers, stats and new features for the granddaddy of clouds. Many are already familiar with Netflix as an AWS customer, so much so that there was a drinking game at the conference that called for players to drink a shot every time Netflix was mentioned in the keynote address. Additionally, AWS rolled out new features and products for cloud customers. While the AWS news announcements were plentiful, they paled in comparison to announcements from third-party companies exhibiting and attending re:Invent.

More than anything, the amount of third parties developing solutions for the AWS market is probably the best indicator of its vitality. A year or so back there, was a lot of debate over AWS not being open source like OpenStack or CloudStack. Would the AWS API strategy be open enough to attract third-party development? The answer to that is clearly a resounding yes!

One of the new features announced in beta was the Amazon CloudTrail service. CloudTrail is:

 ... a web service that records AWS API calls for your account and delivers log files to you. The recorded information includes the identity of the API caller, the time of the API call, the source IP address of the API caller, the request parameters, and the response elements returned by the AWS service.

With CloudTrail, you can get a history of AWS API calls for your account, including API calls made via the AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, command line tools, and higher-level AWS services (such as AWS CloudFormation). The AWS API call history produced by CloudTrail enables security analysis, resource change tracking, and compliance auditing.

When you think about it, this is really pretty good. From a compliance standpoint, an audit trail of who accessed what and when is almost always required. Now you can have this on all of your data and servers in AWS.

As a great example of how third parties are working with AWS, several security companies concurrently announced log management services or enhancements to existing log management solutions that work with CloudTrail to give users a more complete set of logs, as well as help them be more compliant with regulations.

One of the companies announcing support for CloudTrail was Alert Logic. Alert Logic is already an AWS cloud security provider with offerings in the Amazon Cloud Marketplace for Threat Manager and Web Security Manager solutions. With addition of CloudTrail, its log management capabilities are really enhanced to be the equal to or even greater than if you were not an AWS customer, keeping all of your infrastructure in-house.

Users expect AWS and other cloud providers to offer at least as good security and other services in the cloud as they would have in an on-premise environment. The fact is that cloud providers and their partners like Alert Logic can offer even superior solutions given the uniform infrastructure that all AWS customers share.

I have already marked my calendar for next year. Re:Invent seems like a must-see event in the coming years.  

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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