Monthly Report on AWS, Azure and GCE

January 5, 2017 Alexander Green

Bi-monthly cloud highlights and release notes from AWS, Azure, GCE & More

Welcome to the January 2017 edition of Cloud Report! It’s a new year, and we're excited to deliver incredible content from the Scalr blog team every week.

The Cloud Report is a bi-monthly blog post aimed to keep IT administrators and developers up to date on the world of cloud computing. We focus on the latest news and releases from cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, GCE, and OpenStack. We’ll also be talking about other popular technologies and tools, such as containers, load balancers and more.


Release Notes

Highlights on current release notes from each cloud platform.


Amazon, as is their want, is constantly pushing new updates for all of their services. In light of that, we’ve compiled all the updates making it easier for you to know what’s going on.

AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail now includes support for Amazon Lightsail.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk now includes support for streaming CloudWatch logs and application version management.

Amazon QuickSight

QuickSight now supports Amazon Athena as a data source.

AWS SDK for Java

The SDK for Java features frequent updates - usually minor tweaks and bug fixes. Last month updates included support for the Amazon API Gateway, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) and AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

AWS CodeCommit

AWS CodeCommit now supports authentication over HTTPS with Git credentials. CodeCommit is a new service for AWS, so we’ll give them a little leeway.

AWS Config

AWS Config rules support expands to more AWS Regions: US West (Northern California), and Asia Pacific (Seoul).
Amazon RDS


RDS now supports copying an encrypted DB snapshot to another region, and migrating data from a MySQL DB snapshot to a MariaDB DB instance.

AWS Database Migration Service

Updates to the AWS Schema Conversion Tool to add task and endpoint integration with the AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS). It also adds support for storing AWS profiles, and using Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL compatibility as a target database. For a refresher, the Schema Conversion Tool makes database migrations easy by converting the source database schema and to the format of the target database. If you’ve ever worked with rolling over legacy code using an archaic version of SQL, this one’s for you. It supports conversions of SQL Server, mySQL, Oracle, and postgreSQL.


No updates in the last month - the most recent update was the ability to interact with the serial console from last month.


General Availability: Larger Block Blobs in Azure Storage

This one’s for our enterprise customers - the introduction of larger Block Blobs increases the maximum file size from 195 GB to 4.77 TB. Blobs are typically used to store large data sets, and the increase in size is a definite boon to Azure users. Plus - the Blobs are mutable, so you can delete objects and data sets from the blob without uploading the entire Block Blob. You can start using this new feature in any existing Blob Storage or General Purpose Storage Account across all Azure regions - but remember that this only affects the size of Block Blobs. Append and Page Blob sizes remain unchanged.

Azure Import/Export in Azure portal

First, a crash course in Import/Export - it enables enterprises to transfer of data in and out of Azure Blob Storage by shipping data on hard drives. You may have heard of the Amazon analog - the Snowball, a physical hard drive shipped to you that you can locally upload terabytes of data on to.

The reason? When you have terabytes on petabytes of data which takes long to upload/download over network, you can have the hard drives shipped to Microsoft to have them upload it directly into Azure. Now that Import/Export is inside the Azure portal, you can view statuses on ongoing import/export jobs, see percentages of transfers and get estimated time frames, and see logs and errors as they come in, all through a pane in the Azure portal. They’ve also improved the actual import/export tool that you use to prepare data to ship to Azure data centers. Preparation time is dramatically reduced, and you no longer need to shard data to figure out optimal placement.

Azure Analysis Services is now available in North Europe and West US

Azure Analysis Services is currently under technical preview, but it enables you to host semantic data models. The benefit is that users in your company can connect to your data models using tools like Excel to create reports and perform data analysis. As a developer I can appreciate this - it’s removing the need to build extra UIs and export to CSV functions when your users can get direct access to the models and data.

Azure Analysis Services is available in North Europe, West Europe, West US, South Central US and West Central US.

Several New Azure Services now available in UK

There’s a lot going on here, so here’s an excerpt from the Azure blog on the details of each service now available in the UK.

SQL Server Stretch Database

SQL Server Stretch Database migrates your cold data transparently and securely to the Microsoft Azure cloud. SQL Server Stretch Database provides cost-effective availability for data you do not use regularly, doesn't require changes to your queries or applications, and keeps your data secure even during migration. Stretch Database targets transactional databases with large amounts of infrequently used data, which are typically stored in a small number of tables.

Azure Functions

Azure Functions is a solution for easily running small pieces of code in the cloud. You can write the code you need for the problem at hand, without worrying about a whole application of the infrastructure to run it. You can also develop in the language of your choice, such as C#, F#, Node.js, Python, or PHP.

Power BI and Power BI Embedded

Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service that connects users to a broad range of live data through easy-to-use dashboards, provides interactive reports, and delivers compelling visualizations that bring data to life. BI Embedded is an Azure service that enables application developers to embed stunning, fully interactive reports and visualizations in customer-facing apps without the time and expense of having to build custom controls from the ground up.

Azure DocumentDB

Azure DocumentDB is a fully managed NoSQL database service built for fast and predictable performance, high availability, elastic scaling, global distribution, and ease of development. As a schema-free NoSQL database, DocumentDB provides rich and familiar SQL query capabilities with consistent low latencies on JSON data.

Azure DevTest Labs

Azure Devtest Labs is a service that helps developers and testers quickly create environments in Azure while minimizing waste and controlling cost. The goal for this service is to solve the problems that IT and development teams have been facing: delays in getting a working environment, time-consuming environment configuration, production fidelity issues, and high maintenance costs.

The public APIs, PowerShell cmdlets and VSTS extensions make it super easy to integrate your Dev/Test environments from labs to your release pipeline. In addition to the Dev/Test scenario, Azure DevTest Labs can also be used in other scenarios like training and hackathon.

The Year Ahead

It’s been a few quiet weeks in terms of news and deals. As the industry takes a look back at the transformative growth of the cloud industry in 2016, here’s a good read on a survey on the future of cloud computing.

Here’s the highlights on where we’re going in 2017 and onward.

42% of Businesses get 50% or more of their business through cloud-based applications

SaaS is officially here to stay - both enterprises and small companies make use of dozens of small applications to leverage their business and succeed.

75% of business functions are in the cloud

From sales CRM through Salesforce to marketing through Hubspot, email management from Front or Mixmax and HR and payroll through Gusto and Zendesk; small, effective products are moving into the cloud. But it’s not just SaaS that’s breaking through.

47% of Companies use Hybrid Clouds, 30% use exclusively Public clouds(AWS, GCE, Azure), and 23% use Private clouds (VMware vSphere, Rackspace, Openstack).

The change from last year’s survey was that there was, surprisingly, an increase in private cloud usage. Even though Amazon continues to dominate, there is still an advantage to be had with private cloud infrastructure.

28% of companies store a majority of their data in public clouds, 59% of companies store their data in private clouds.

This year, like ones before it, has been a wake up call for security. And while a majority of failure is typically user error, companies are being aware that there’s an intense hunger for access to company data. It’s forecasted that this ratio will flip in the next few years, but it’s not going to be a easy fight.

The Top Reasons Enterprises Move to the Cloud (unchanged from 2015 to 2016)

  • Agility
  • Cost
  • Innovation
  • Scalability

In addition to those four primary reasons, enterprises are being driven to cloud due to the reservoirs of open source code and documentation, and ease of development for mobile software.  

The Top Reasons Enterprises Are Against the Cloud

  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Complexity
  • Vendor Lock-in
  • Regulatory Concerns/Roadblocks

One of the biggest concerns over the last year is vendor lock-in, enterprises don’t want to completely dedicate their time and resources into a cloud provider, only to be locked into their services. This is where cloud management platforms truly shine - by using a common denominator between cloud providers, you completely free yourself from vendor-lock in, and the complexity that comes with using multiple providers.


And that’s it for the first 2017 edition of Cloud Report - hope you enjoyed it. Don’t bother sifting through release notes, product updates and bug logs - that’s our job. Questions, comments, or concerns? Shoot us an email and let us know what you’d like to hear more about. We’ll be back at the end of the year for another update in the world of cloud computing.



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