08/12/2021 • Peter Jans

AWS re:Invent 2021 – Quick rundown of the highlights!

Like every year, Amazon held its AWS re:Invent 2021 in Las Vegas. While we weren’t able to attend in person due to the pandemic, as an AWS Partner we were eager to follow the digital event. Below is a quick rundown of our highlights of the event to give you a summary in case you missed it!

AWS closer to home

AWS Office

AWS will build 30 new ‘Local Zones in 2022, including one in our home base: Belgium. AWS Local Zones are a type of infrastructure deployment that places compute, storage, database, and other select AWS services close to large population and industry centers. The Belgian Local Zone should be operational by 2023.

Additionally, the possibilities of AWS Outposts have increased. The most important change is that you can now run far more services on your own server delivered by AWS. Quick recap: AWS Outposts is a family of fully managed solutions delivering AWS infrastructure and services to virtually any on-premises or edge location for a consistent hybrid experience. Outposts was previously only available in a 42U Outposts rack configuration. From now on, AWS offers a variety of form factors, including 1U and 2U Outposts servers for when there’s less space available. We’re very tempted to get one for the office…

AWS EKS Anywhere was previously announced, but is now a reality! With this service, it’s possible to set up a Kubernetes cluster on your own infrastructure or infrastructure from your favorite cloud provider, while still managing it through AWS EKS. All the benefits of freedom of choice combined with the unified overview and dashboard of AWS EKS. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

Low-code to regain primary focus

With Amplify Studio, AWS takes the next step in low-code development. Amplify Studio is a fully-fledged low-code generator platform that builds upon the existing Amplify framework. The platform allows users to build applications through drag and drop with the possibility of adding custom code wherever necessary. Definitely something we’ll be looking at on our next Ship-IT Day!

Machine Learning going strong(er)

Ever wanted to start with machine learning, but not quite ready to invest some of your hard-earned money? With SageMaker Studio Lab, AWS announced a free platform that lets users start exploring AI/ML tools without having to register for an AWS account or leave credit card details behind. You can try it yourself for free in your browser through Jupyter notebooks!

Additionally, AWS announced SageMaker Canvas: a visual, no-code machine learning capability for business analysts. This allows them to get started with ML without having extensive experience and get more insights in data.

The third chapter in the SageMaker saga consists of SageMaker Ground Truth Plus. With this new service, you hire a team of experts to train and label your data, a traditionally very labor intensive process. According to Amazon, customers can expect to save up to 40% through SageMaker Ground Truth Plus.

There were two more minor announcements: the AI & ML Scholarschip Program, a free program for students to get to know ML tools, and Lex Automated Chatbot Designer, which lets you quickly develop a smart chatbot with advanced natural language processing support.

Networking for everyone

Tired of less than optimal reception or a slow connection? Why not build your own private 5G network? Yep: with AWS Private 5G, Amazon delivers the hardware, management and sim cards for you to set up your very own 5G network. Use cases (besides being fed up with your current cellular network) include warehouses or large sites (e.g. a football stadium) that require low latency, excellent coverage and a large bandwidth. The best part? Customers only pay for the end user’s usage of the network.

Continuing the network theme, there’s now AWS Cloud WAN. This service allows users to build a managed WAN (Wide Area Network) to connect cloud and on-premise environments with a central management UI on a network components level as well as service level.

Lastly, there’s also AWS Workspaces Web. Through this service, customers can grant employees safe access to internal website and SaaS applications. The big advantage here is that information critical to the company never leaves the environment and doesn’t leave any traces on workstations, thanks to a non-persistent web browser.

Kubernetes anyone?

No AWS event goes without mentioning Kubernetes, and AWS re:Invent 2021 is no different. Amazon announced two new services in the Kubernetes space: AWS Karpenter and AWS Marketplace for Containers Anywhere. With AWS Karpenter, managing autoscaling Kubernetes infrastructure becomes both simpler and less restrictive. It takes care of automatically starting compute when the load of an application changes. Interestingly, Karpenter is fully open-source, a trend which we’ll see more and more according to Amazon.

AwS Marketplace for Containers Anywhere is primarily useful for customers who’ve already fully committed to container managed platforms. It allows users to search, subscribe and deploy 3rd party Kubernetes apps from the AWS Marketplace in any Kubernetes cluster, no matter the environment.

IoT updates

There have been numerous smaller updates to AWS’s IoT services, most notably to:

  • GreenGrass SSM, which now allows you to securely manage your devices using AWS Systems Manager
  • Amazon Monitron to predict when maintenance is required for rotating parts in machines
  • AWS IoT TwinMaker, to simply make Digital Twins of real-world systems
  • AWS IoT FleetWise, whichs helps users to collect vehicle data in the cloud in near-real time.

Upping the serverless game

In the serverless landscape, AWS announced serverless Redshift, EMR, MSK, and Kinesis. This enables to set up services while the right instance type is automatically linked. If the service is not in use, the instance automatically stops. This way, customers only pay for when a service is actually being used. This is particularly interesting for experimental services and integrations in environments which do not get used very often.


Just like ACA Group’s commitment to sustainability, AWS is serious about their ambition towards net-zero carbon by 2040. They’ve developed the AWS Customer Carbon Footprint tool, which lets users calculate carbon emissions through their website.

Other announcements included AWS Mainframe Modernization, a collection of tools and guides to take over existing mainframes with AWS, and AWS Well-Architected Framework, a set of design principles, guidelines, best practices and improvements to validate sustainability goals and create reports.

We can't wait to start experimenting with all the new additions and improvements announced at AWS re:Invent 2021. Thanks for reading!

Peter Jans