AWS Greases the Skids to the Cloud

June 22, 2016

AWS made multiple product announcements at the April AWS Summit in Chicago. For an attendee like me who has spent most of his career working with storage technologies, I was not disappointed since there were several storage related announcements.

But the announcement that was the most interesting to me was the AWS Application Discovery Service, which went GA on May 12th.  This service was created to help companies understand their current application environment and provide them with the information needed to help them successfully migrate to the cloud. Through the use of agents deployed on the originating hosts, the service does four things:

  1. Performs an application inventory
  2. Maps application dependencies
  3. Creates a baseline for systems and process performance
  4. Encrypt and send information to the AWS Application Discovery Service Discovery DB (think short-term Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) maintained by AWS)

The agents can be operated in an offline mode so that the discovered information can be inspected before being uploaded to AWS.  After the initial discovery and upload, incremental data is sent every 30 seconds by default. Currently, there are agents for the following operating systems: Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2RHEL 6.5 and 7.2CentOS 6.5 and 7.2 and Ubuntu 14.04.

The service is proxy agnostic and only needs port 433 outbound access.  The following APIs are provided for Discovery DB interaction:

  • ListConfigurationItem – search discovery hosts
  • GetConfigurationAttributes – describe a discovered host
  • ExportConfiguration – ability to export the discovery data as a CSV file
  • Create/DeleteTags – group services and plan migrations

As “CMDBs” grew in prominence (mainly driven by ITIL – Information Technology Infrastructure Library), multiple tools hit the market to assist with the discovery of assets and keeping configuration data current.   These tools were often expensive and complicated to implement.  The concept of storing your application configuration in a public cloud would have been a foreign concept not long ago. This service looks to simplify and reduce the cost since the agents and storing the configuration data (up-to 90 days (max)) are free. That being said, it is assumed that there will be cost for the AWS Professional Services or APN Partner you must engage to use the service.

For years, Sungard Availability Services has utilized CMDB information to provide our customers with recovery solutions for their critical computing environments.  For a public cloud like AWS, this is a welcomed tool for companies wanting to migrate workloads to the cloud and for helping them understand what components are required for their DR site in the cloud. I would expect that “traditional CMDBs” will be a thing of the past in the years to come with more and more ephemeral components, serverless computing, and containers moving from one node to the next, etc.. But for migrating or creating recovery solutions for non-cloud-native applications, this information is still key.

For more information on AWS’s Application Discovery Service, click here.

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