Chicago Summit 2016: AWS Announces Raft of New Features and Confirms CEO

May 8 2016 | by Yoav Mor

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Over the last 10 years the pace of innovation at AWS has been nothing short of extraordinary. And that trend looks set to continue after the $10 billion global cloud business announced an exciting range of new services and features at its annual Chicago summit in April.

Many of the new offerings have financial implications for the AWS enterprise user. These include new services that can improve performance, efficiency and compliance, but at the same time introduce potential new costs to your monthly cloud bills. What’s more, the company also announced the imminent release of another new offering, AWS Application Discovery Service, which will help organizations plan their migration to the cloud.

In this post, we’ve narrowed down the key messages that came out of the conference into six announcements most likely to be of interest to enterprise IaaS users and adopters.

So let’s get started …

1. AWS Application Discovery Service

In a move to support adoption of its cloud platform, AWS is set to launch its brand new Application Discovery Service. According to the company, the tool will facilitate the migration process by helping systems integrators determine the interdependencies between applications running on their on-premise infrastructure. By analyzing usage and configuration data from servers, networking and storage equipment, it will automatically identify applications that run independently of one another and those that should be migrated as a group.

The tool will also collect operational data, such as host CPU, memory, disk use and network latency, which will allow you to compare subsequent performance in the cloud with your on-premise baseline. The service should help reduce the time and cost involved in planning a migration. However, Amazon has yet to confirm a release date.

2. Two New Types of EBS Magnetic Volume

The leading cloud vendor has also bolstered its range of low-cost EBS volumes, with two new types of magnetic storage specifically designed for high throughput to support large databases and big data workloads.

Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) is the optimal choice between cost and performance, with a baseline throughput of 250 MB/s for a 1TB volume up to a maximum burst of 500 MB/s. It’s already available in all US regions and costs $0.045 per provisioned GB-month in the US East region.

Cold HDD (sc1) is designed for similar workloads, but provides a lower cost alternative for data that’s accessed less frequently. Throughput performance starts at 80 MB/s for a 1TB volume up to a maximum of 250 MB/s. Likewise, it’s available in all US regions and costs $0.025 per provisioned GB-month in US East.

For both volume types, I/O is included in the price. With the introduction of these, Amazon actually reduced the price in comparison to the previous generation Magnetic EBS volume which is priced at $0.05/GB.

The Amazon EBS Pricing page offers more detailed information about all the vendor’s storage rates, with examples showing how charges are calculated.

3. S3 Transfer Acceleration

A new paid feature that’s designed to speed up bulk transfer of data over longer distances in and out of S3 buckets. It works by routing your transfer through an AWS CloudFront (CDN service) edge location with the lowest latency. It’s easy to use, with no gateway servers, firewalls or special protocols to worry about. You simply tick a checkbox in the AWS Management Console to activate the service.

S3 Transfer Acceleration is charged in addition to data transfer. So if you’re moving large amounts of data between regions, it’s important you’re aware of the full costs involved. However, the service does offer you a risk-free price guarantee, where you’re only charged if acceleration is likely to make a difference in transfer time.

The cost is $0.04 per GB for all transfers via the Internet into and out of S3 and applies to transfers accelerated by edge locations in the US, Europe or Japan.

4. New 80 TB Version of Snowball Appliance

Snowball is a relatively new introduction (announced at Re:Invent 2015) that allows enterprises to move huge amounts of data in and out of S3 using an industrial-strength storage device, which AWS ships out to customers on request. The first incarnation was available as a 50TB appliance and was charged at $200 per job plus shipping.

But the Chicago summit saw the launch of a second, higher capacity version, which is able to store up to 80TB of data. It’s available to all US regions and costs $250 per job plus shipping. The fees for both appliances cover 10 days of onsite usage, after which an additional rate of $15 per day applies.

5. Amazon Inspector

Amazon officially announced the news that its EC2 security scanning engine has now completed its preview phase and is generally available to all AWS customers. Amazon Inspector automatically assesses applications for potential security issues by identifying vulnerabilities and deviations from security best practices.

It’s available as a 90-day free trial, subject to a maximum of 250 agent-assessments. Prices then start from $0.30 per agent-assessment for the first 250 assessments.

And finally …

Official Confirmation of CEO

Finally, the Chicago summit marked one particularly significant development for the cloud computing company. At long last it officially confirmed the appointment of Andy Jassy as CEO of AWS. Though he’s long been known as the de-facto CEO, his official title was previously Senior VP at

While working as one of Jeff Bezos’s technical assistants, Andy championed the idea of the scalable, pay-as-you-go IT infrastructure model. He was also one of the key driving forces behind the vendor’s spectacular growth over the last 10 years. So everyone involved with AWS can remain confident the company will be in safe hands for some time into the foreseeable future.

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