AWS Surprises – Change is Constant

Being comfortable with change is an integral part of a career in IT, I like the saying that “if you don’t like change, you will have to accept being irrelevant.” The thing is that the rates of change are very variable. VMware releases a new major product version every three to four years for each product. Between major version releases, there are usually minor version releases every year or two, and between those are point, or update releases every few months. As a VMware trainer, I might teach a particular version of a course for a year or more. Similarly, customers would run a particular release, with a fixed feature set, for years.

On AWS, (surprise) there are no exposed versions. Products update and gain new features every week. In fact, AWS publishes a weekly newsletter of the new features and capabilities in the last week, and there are usually at least 20 items each week. For me, this means that courses are also changing constantly, about every two months there is a new release of Architecting on AWS with new slides. Every second week there is an update to the labs because of AWS console changes for one service or another. Because of these changes, the courses (and certifications) tend to focus on basic principles rather than details such as speeds and specifications.

With all of these new services, new features, and new capabilities, there is change all of the time. In fact, I like to paraphrase Werner Vogels with “Everything changes, all the time.” Another perspective might be the growth in AWS service numbers. When I first attended AWS training in about 2014, there were 42 services; as of early 2020, there are over 200 services.  There is no way for a single person to stay completely up to date on every AWS service, or even know every aspect of any significant service. A result is that on AWS, more than any other platform, knowing where to find the answer is more important than knowing the right answer since the answer often changes. There is a psychological shift in not expecting to know the details off the top of your head but expecting to look up the answer. AWS expertise is not about knowing every product fact and feature.  There is another angle, too; architectural design patterns change, so you should be slow to judge old architectures. As an example, before the Transit Gateway service, it was very painful to join a lot of VPCs together into a routed network using only VPC peering. As soon as Transit Gateway was released, it became the standard for new VPC connectivity. However, the older networks using peering and routers in EC2 instances did not disappear because they still work.

When everything changes all of the time, you need to check your assumptions and validate whether you should keep on doing what you have always done.

© 2020, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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