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Drew Khoury
Drew Khoury

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AWS 2021 Highlights

AWS updates their services so quickly they literally have thousands of updates each year (1,284 the last time I checked):

This blog will highlight some of my favorite AWS updates for 2021.

AWS Network Firewall — A managed service by AWS that allows fine-grained control over network traffic.

Before Network Firewall was available, customers were left to manage their own squid proxy or similar service if they wanted fine-grained control over their traffic in the Cloud (like many Enterprise customers do). This meant ensuring their service met security and compliance requirements, traffic and scaling demands, and uptime SLA’s, all while adding to the burden for operational teams. Some routed traffic back to on-premise solutions, but this wasn’t always a viable solution for all customers.

AWS Network Firewall became available in Sydney back in January:

It received a few updates and deployments to other regions. In April, they rolled out to 10 more regions. By June, it was available as part of AWS GovCloud (US), and by the end of July, it was PCI DSS Compliant.

Amazon EBS io2 Block Express Volumes

If you have the need for speed (that is, I/O speed), then this is the update for you. In July, AWS launched a special kind of volume that is perfect for I/O intensive operations. This isn’t intended for your typical web server with a few hundred concurrent connections, but plenty of Enterprise clients may find themselves needing a little bit of extra grunt.

  • up to 4x higher throughput, IOPS, and capacity than io2 volumes
  • designed to deliver sub-millisecond latency
  • 99.999% durability
  • Supports Multi-Attach and Elastic Volumes

Customers can now provision a single io2 volume with up to 256,000 IOPS, 4000 MB/s of throughput, and a storage capacity of 64 TiB.

PrivateLink for Amazon S3

As of February, Amazon S3 supported AWS PrivateLink, providing direct access to S3 via a private endpoint within your virtual private network.

  • Simplify your network architecture by connecting to S3 from on-premises
  • In AWS, use private IP addresses in your Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to connect to S3

This eliminates the need to use public IPs, configure firewall rules, or configure an Internet Gateway to connect to S3.

As of July, AWS also lowered the data processing cost for PrivateLink (phew):


Each of these updates has been something I’ve personally been waiting for or had to work around in the past. They also represent a nice cross-section of services that you’re likely to encounter if you dive deep enough into AWS.

AWS continues to roll out updates across its services which reduces the effort required to enter the Cloud. They continue to deliver services that cater to the speed and scale we could only have dreamt of 15 years ago (oh and Happy Birthday AWS/EC2).

Also posted on medium as AWS 2021 Highlights.

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