Containers / DevOps / Serverless

AWS Proton, a Shared Services Library for Cloud Native Resources

3 Dec 2020 8:07am, by

Amazon Web Services has launched a new shared service platform, called Proton, designed to integrate containers, AWS Lambda serverless jobs and other cloud resources into one catalog, making it easier for developers to assemble a standardized stack of components to run their applications.

Proton was one of a number of new cloud native services and enhancements the company debuted in its user conference, AWS re:Event, being held virtually through this month.

To date, integrating multiple microservices together into a cohesive application has been a difficult task, given that different components may be maintained by different development teams.

“There’s no single solution that allows you to provide consistency in the architecture deployments. Normally a platform engineering team or central engineering team wants that to be standardized. But there’s no good way to do that today,” said Aaron Kao, AWS’s head of modern applications product marketing, during an interview with The New Stack.

AWS Proton was designed to simplify the process of provisioning, deploying, and monitoring applications built from ephemeral computing elements, such as components built-in containers or run as serverless jobs.

With Proton, platform engineers can define and publish a stack in a schema file, such as for a containerized web app, or a serverless data processing service. For a web app, for instance, they may want to use an Elastic Container Service (ECS) cluster, a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and associated security groups, as well as AWS Fargate, load balancers for the front end, and DynamoDB for the backend data. A monitoring system will be needed, along with a CI/CD system for the build process. The platform team will define, in a standardized way, how all these components fit together, and are secured.

Proton is not a “control plane” or runtime, according to Kao, but it can set the stage for easily building one out. But when the developer chooses a stack, Proton will push it through the build process and deploy it to a previously-defined set of cloud resources. Developers can reuse stacks for different jobs — the platform team ensures all the components stay up-to-date and patched. And AWS itself also offers a number of pre-built stacks that represent the cloud giant’s best practices around security, architecture, and tools.

Other cloud native news from the virtual conference include:

    • Amazon ECS Anywhere: Amazon’s Elastic Container Service can now be extended to the user’s own data center, or to another cloud. A small agent is placed on the user’s server, which connects back to the ECS console, giving administrators the ability to manage clusters, schedule workloads, and monitor containers in both environments.  This feature will be available in early 2021, and pricing has yet to be determined.
    •  Amazon EKS Anywhere: AWS’s own Elastic Kubernetes Service, can now be downloaded and run within a data center or on third-party cloud services. It is built on the company’s own Kubernetes distribution, but also includes the same set of controls that are offered through EKS itself, which provides the same interface for at-home Kubernetes deployments, which should already be familiar to those admins already managing the AWS versions. This distribution will be available in the first half of 2021.

  • AWS Lambda Improvements: The company’s function-as-a-service can now run workloads, along with their dependencies, in containers, specifically the containerd standard. Many developers are now working in containers, Kao mentioned, and this approach could be easier than packaging the workloads into a ZIP file, the traditional method of submitting jobs to this serverless service. Billing has also been improved: Users will now be billed on use-per millisecond, rather than be billed per 100 milliseconds, offering an incentive for programmers to write more efficient programs.
  • Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) Public: AWS container repository, which provides a home for user container images now provides the ability to expose these images for public access. This can be a useful feature for independent software vendors who want to provide a location for their customers and other interested parties to download official container images of their software packages, without incurring fees that may come with another registry, such as Docker Hub.

TNS reporter B.C. Gain provided Twitter coverage for this event.

Amazon Web Services is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image by B.C. Gain.

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