Artificial intelligence, filesystems, containers ... Amazon showers cloud gold on devs

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Containers are go

Amazon has also made generally available two major features it introduced at the AWS re:Invent conference in November. The first is the EC2 Container Service (ECS), a way of spinning up Docker containerized applications as first-class citizens on the AWS cloud.

In addition to declaring ECS production-ready, Amazon has added a new Service scheduler to make it easier to manage long-running containerized services. The Service scheduler can scale clusters up or down by starting or stopping containers, use Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to distribute traffic across multiple containers, and restart containers that die or fail ELB health checks. It will also automatically relaunch containers when you change the images or container definition files used by your application.

There's also a new web-based console that makes it easier to get ECS clusters up and running, although ECS can also be managed via command-line tools or APIs.

Unlike most AWS services, Amazon said it doesn't plan to charge for ECS, so the production version is still free – although you do have to pay for the other AWS resources your applications use, including compute, storage, and so on.

AWS Lambda nods, winks at mobile devs

Another feature that Amazon has declared ready for production workloads is AWS Lambda, a way for developers to write software functions that run directly within the AWS cloud, without the need to manage any infrastructure.

Lambda functions generally work by being associated with triggers tripped by events in the AWS ecosystem. They run automatically whenever a certain S3 storage bucket is modified, for example, or when they receive a notification from Amazon Kinesis. As of the general-availability release, they can now also be triggered by Simple Notification Service (SNS) messages or Cognito Events.

But the production version adds a new twist, too. Lambda functions can now be called synchronously by invoking them directly from applications and waiting for a response. Jassy said this latest feature was added largely at the behest of mobile developers, who have been particularly smitten by Lambda because of its potential for creating "server-free" backends for their apps.

All of the above features are available today, but Jassy said another new feature is coming soon that's an even bigger deal. When Lambda launched in preview at re:Invent last year, it only supported functions written in JavaScript/Node.js. But "in the next few weeks," Jassy said, AWS will introduce support for Lambda functions written in Java – although we'll have to wait and see just how that pans out.

Pricing for Lambda hasn't changed since the preview version, but it's complicated – you can check out the gory details, with examples, here. ®


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