This content is part of the Conference Coverage: A conference guide to AWS re:Invent 2021

Cloud experts offer their AWS re:Invent 2021 predictions

As AWS prepares for its biggest event of the year, our contributors predict what the cloud vendor will unveil at re:Invent 2021.

This year, AWS re:Invent returns to Las Vegas for its 10th show. The conference will span from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 with a variety of keynotes, technical sessions, trainings, certifications and more.

The conference serves as a platform for AWS to unveil technologies and practices. Notable reveals from last year included two new previews of AWS Outposts, the expansion of AWS' Local Zones offering and new compute instance types.

While last year was completely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year, the conference is back in action with in-person and remote options. Either way, the five-day event promises to be an exciting week, packed with AWS news.

So, what should attendees expect from this year's re:Invent? We asked SearchCloudComputing's expert contributors for their predictions.

Editor's note: The following predictions have been edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

Brian Kirsch, IT architect

Normally, when it comes to AWS re:Invent, something large comes to mind, such as AI, new offerings and new locations. These leaks often have people wondering what will be next. Outside of a few specific improvements to some products, I think this will be more about refinement over innovation. This is not because there is no next step or new technology, but because the industry and marketplace haven't demanded it yet.

Brian KirschBrian Kirsch

Cloud technology is often led by innovation and offers services ready for people to embrace -- but vendors often struggle to meet the customization needs of some customers. This ongoing process has taken center stage over the past year, as customers work to understand what they have and make the best use of it.

So, what will we see this year? Well, to start, more cost insight capabilities. In addition, there will likely be updates to AWS Trusted Advisor and more extensive security and auditing tools. Additionally, expect a continued focus on microservices, Kubernetes and containers -- whether you need them or not. The shift from the monolithic application stack will continue, and you're going to see the cost aspect favoring microservices more and more. AI will still be a key focal point of the show, with the technology hopefully moving from something mostly conceptual to something that can make a true impact to your business and bottom line.

George LawtonGeorge Lawton

George Lawton, IT writer

Robotic process automation (RPA) has been one of the fastest-growing areas of IT over the last several years. It involves creating software robots that mimic the ways humans interact with applications. RPA is also a key element of the tools for automation at scale, which Gartner characterizes as "hyperautomation."

AWS has a rich collection of tools for scaling automation using traditional development and deployment infrastructure, such as container orchestration and serverless tools. But it has lagged behind other cloud providers when it comes to scaling business process workflows using technologies like RPA. Microsoft has launched its own RPA tool set around its Power Automate platform. Google has launched a major partnership to bring RPA to the cloud with Automation Anywhere.

AWS has already begun the groundwork for an RPA ecosystem with improvement to its WorkSpaces virtualization service. Over the coming year, it is likely to reveal a major partnership with one of the leading RPA vendors, such as UiPath, Blue Prism or Automation Anywhere. These will facilitate improved scalability and governance on top of Amazon's virtual desktop infrastructure.

Kurt MarkoKurt Marko

Kurt Marko, consultant

AWS has grown into an IT version of its parent, Amazon: a sprawling online marketplace where buyers can find anything they need. What is Amazon? A grocery store? Drugstore? Hardware and home center? Electronics mart? Book, music and movie store? Indeed, it's all of these rolled into an app delivering a convenient, frictionless shopping experience.

AWS has evolved into the same thing for IT services: a place with something for every need. Thus, predicting what AWS might introduce at re:Invent has become less interesting as it's grown more predictable by annually providing more of the same:

  • more instance types further tailored to different applications, with a recent focus on AI development, model training and inference;
  • additional management features to automate cloud operations, security configuration and resource optimizations;
  • new database configurations to accommodate those few enterprise apps not already supported; and
  • better price performance as AWS exploits improved processor, storage and network technology and, recently, by using custom chip designs with alternative processor and machine learning architectures.

Although AWS has become the all-in-one superstore for cloud infrastructure, it lags behind its largest competitors, Microsoft and Google, in products designed for the new, post-COVID hybrid workforce dependent on cloud productivity, collaboration, messaging and video services.

While AWS has some SaaS products -- what it calls business applications -- services like WorkDocs, WorkMail and WorkSpaces pale in comparison to category leaders like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Furthermore, these business applications don't adequately address capabilities like group collaboration and real-time communications. A key selling point of Microsoft and Google when negotiating enterprise cloud deals is their ability to provide both infrastructure and workforce applications. Expect AWS to start closing this feature gap at re:Invent via a combination of new products and close partnerships with one or more category leaders, like Box, Dropbox, Cisco and Zoho.

Ernesto MarquezErnesto Marquez

Ernesto Marquez, IT architect

After two years of its initial launch in 2019, I've been expecting an expansion of Savings Plans coverage beyond EC2 instances, AWS Lambda functions and AWS Fargate containers. Hopefully, an expansion of Savings Plans will now support Relational Database Service instances, Amazon Redshift and Amazon ElastiCache or Elasticsearch nodes.

I expect machine learning offerings, such as Amazon SageMaker, to continue evolving with new features. Amazon Braket, its quantum computing service, could also be an interesting area to watch.

Chris TozziChris Tozzi

Chris Tozzi, analyst

I suspect AWS will announce that Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) Anywhere -- which was first unveiled at the 2020 re:Invent -- can now run in more places. I wouldn't be surprised if it reveals some kind of integration with other public clouds so that EKS Anywhere comes closer to living up to its name. However, this implies the ability to create Kubernetes clusters anywhere. As of now, it just supports select deployment modes.

More generally, I expect some announcements involving more ways to integrate AWS with other public clouds. For a long time, AWS has tried to keep customers solely in its own ecosystem, but I think it is finally starting to realize that it needs to evolve for a multi-cloud world. So, I imagine we'll see new tools or services -- or new features for existing tools and services -- that can connect AWS workloads to those hosted in third-party clouds or use some of AWS' administration, monitoring or security tooling in multi-cloud environments.

Finally, I wouldn't be super surprised if it announces more tools related to compliance or auditing. That remains an area that AWS, as well as most other public clouds, has only partly developed.

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