New Amazon Developer/Devops Tools, Mobile Targeting

I’ve always found Amazon’s AWS tools really fiddly to use – settings all over the place, the all too easy possibility of putting things into the wrong zone and then forgetting about them/having to try to track them down as you get billed for them, etc etc – but that’s partly the way of self-service, I guess.

Anyway, last week, amongst a slew of other announcements (AI services, new hardware platforms that include FPGAs), Amazon announced a range of developer/devops productivity tools that shows they’re now looking at supporting workflows as well as just providing raw services.

Here’s a quick summary of the ones I spotted:

  • AWS Batch: run batch jobs on AWS;
  • AWS CodeBuild: “a managed build service” that will “build[s] in a fresh, isolated, container-based environment”, incorporating:
    • Source Repository – Source code location (AWS CodeCommit repository, GitHub repository, or S3 bucket).
    • Build Environment – Language / runtime environment (Android, Java, Python, Ruby, Go, Node.js, or Docker).
    • IAM Role – Grants CodeBuild permission to access to specific AWS services and resources.
    • Build Spec – Series of build commands, in YAML form.
    • Compute Type – Amount of memory and compute power required (up to 15 GB of memory and 8 vCPUs).
  • Amazon X-Ray: a debug tool that allows you track things across multiple connected Amazon services. Apparently, Amazon X-Ray provides:

    … follow-the-thread tracing by adding an HTTP header (including a unique ID) to requests that do not already have one, and passing the header along to additional tiers of request handlers. The data collected at each point is called a segment, and is stored as a chunk of JSON data. A segment represents a unit of work, and includes request and response timing, along with optional sub-segments that represent smaller work units (down to lines of code, if you supply the proper instrumentation). A statistically meaningful sample of the segments are routed to X-Ray (a daemon process handles this on EC2 instances and inside of containers) where it is assembled into traces (groups of segments that share a common ID). The traces are segments are further processed to create service graphs that visually depict the relationship of services to each other.

  • AWS Shield: a tool that protects your service against DDoS attacks. In waggish mood, @daveyp suggested that many DDoS attacks he’s aware of come from AWS IP addresses. This feels a bit like a twist on an operating system vendor also selling security software to make up for security deficiencies in their base O/S? That said, “AWS Shield Standard is available to all AWS customers at no extra cost” and seems to be applied in basic mode automatically. Security essentials, then?!

Amazon are also starting to offer segmented alert targeting services for your mobile apps with Amazon Pinpoint. The service lets you “define target segments from a variety of different data sources” and more:

You can identify target segments from app user data collected in Pinpoint. You can build custom target segments from user data collected in other AWS services such as Amazon S3 and Amazon Redshift, and import target user segments from third party sources such as Salesforce via S3.

Once you define your segments, Pinpoint lets you send targeted notifications with personalized messages to each user in the campaign based on custom attributes such as game level, favorite team, and news preferences for example. Amazon Pinpoint can send push notifications immediately, at a time you define, or as a recurring campaign. By scheduling campaigns, you can optimize the push notifications to be delivered at a specific time across multiple time zones. For your marketing campaigns Pinpoint supports Rich Notifications to enable you to send images as part of your campaigns. We also support silent or data notifications which allow you to control app behavior and app config on the background.

Once your campaign is running, Amazon Pinpoint provides metrics to track the impact of your campaign, including the number of notifications received, number of times the app was opened as a result of the campaign, time of app open, push notification opt-out rate, and revenue generated from campaigns.

One thing I didn’t spot were any announcements about significant moves into “digital manufacturing” and 3D print-on-demand (something I wondered about some time ago: Amazon “Edge Services” – Digital Manufacturing).

They do seem to be moving into surveilled, auto-checkout, real-world shopping though… Amazon Go.


  1. Alex Bilbie

    The thing to remember about AWS is they only offer 50-75% of the solution. When start to automate your infrastructure and write glue between their services (either with the API or with Lambda) that’s when the real power of the AWS ecosystem starts to reveal itself.

    • Tony Hirst

      @Alex Right; but new announcements suggest they are starting to look at supporting the automation/glue bits too?

      They presumably already have their own tools to do this; and as those tools mature, that just add them to AWS and sell them on?