AWS changes game with free EC2 Container Service

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AWS changes game with free EC2 Container Service

The AWS re:Invent keynote on Thursday US time kept in line with the week's theme of empowering developers building applications and services on the industry-leading cloud platform, with Amazon the latest cloud to get behind Docker by introducing a Linux container management service.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels made his first appearance on the stage of the 3rd annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, telling partners and customers that AWS is building a platform to support agile application development, and with a free offering called EC2 Container Service, has created a solution for managing and deploying large Docker clusters.

"The power of AWS is in the depth and breadth of the platform," Vogels told attendees.

"This breadth of services is not just what AWS delivers, it's about what our partners deliver for you," he said.

In addition to Docker integration, Vogels introduced a new service called Lambda intended to relieve software coders of the burden of managing their application environments. He also announced a high-end compute option called C4 featuring processors Intel designed specifically for AWS, as well as an upgraded Elastic Block Storage tier.

But Vogels earned the most applause by revealing EC2 Container Service, Amazon's play to support Linux containers and the rapidly expanding Docker ecosystem that has changed the game as far as managing and deploying distributed applications.

Vogels led into the discussion of the new product by asking the crowd, "Why do developers love containers?"

Answering his own question, he said the technology offers an easy way to manage environments and components, increase portability and efficiently ship product.

But "scheduling containers requires a lot of heavy lifting," Vogels said. "It's not simple."

Container Service delivers all the benefits of containers "without the overhead," he said.

Amazon is the latest name-brand cloud to embrace Docker, with Container Service being introduced to the world a week after Google announced its own plan for tighter integration with the open-source technology.

Vogels introduced onto the stage Docker CEO Ben Golub, who told the thousands in attendance, "Docker just turned 18 months old and this all feels a little surreal."

Docker just reached the milestone of 15 million downloads, Golub said.

Docker's CEO endorsed Amazon's approach to Linux container management, telling attendees the new AWS service is consistent with Docker's ethos of respecting portability, recognising a larger ecosystem and working through the Docker Hub repository.

"We think we are entering and enabling a new world of applications," Golub said.

He compared developers to authors and said technologies throughout history have come to "liberate authors from concerns about production and distribution".

Docker does that by freeing developers of the need to worry about access to servers, resources and dependencies, Golub said. It liberates applications from infrastructure and allows deployment within minutes.

Over the next 18 months, Docker will focus on improving functionality with large, multi-application containers, he said.

"Docker is a disruptive technology so some vendors will win and some will lose," Golub told attendees.  

Code execution, compute and storage

Shifting gears to Lambda, Vogels said he thinks the new compute service "will revolutionise the way you will be writing your business applications".

Lambda introduces an "event-driven computing service" that automatically manages compute resources, making it easier for developers to execute code without having to worry about the underlying environment. The service has been released in preview and offers a free tier, Vogels said.

On the infrastructure side, Amazon is bringing to market a new EC2 instance type called C4 that optimises compute resources with the help of processors Intel developed exclusively for the AWS cloud. Amazon and Intel engineers collaborated to fine tune the attributes of the high-speed computing cores for the AWS environment.

AWS also has launched new Elastic Block Storage volumes that offer more storage and faster IOPS than previously available.

Paul Duffy, Amazon's senior product manager, told CRN US after the keynote that Container Service and Lambda will empower developers to quickly develop and put into production sophisticated applications.

Some customers had already been running Docker containers in the AWS environment, Duffy said, by using the Docker daemon and handling all management, scheduling and deployment tasks manually.

"Containers themselves are a great thing for portability. Many customers run Docker containers already, but what they don't like is having to do that scheduling," Duffy told CRN US, adding Container Service will free them of that burden and bring the much-vaunted benefits of Docker to a much larger base of potential users.

Lambda is another tool that will "make a developer's life easier," Duffy said, adding "all you have to do as a developer is write the code and not have to worry about those back-end things".

"You can build a reasonably sophisticated application without having to maintain any infrastructure yourself," Duffy said of Lambda.

Those latest additions to AWS create "huge opportunities" for Amazon's channel partners who possess the necessary skills to help their customers implement complete cloud solutions.

"I would encourage them to learn about the capabilities we launched and take them to their customers," Duffy said.

This article originally appeared at

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