Many of the features of AWS CodeCatalyst and Application Composer were technically possible before, but the new services package them accessibly via a low-code UI.
Amid a flood of new tools and services at re:Invent 2022 this week, AWS DevOps tools also gained new low-code mechanisms for putting the cloud provider’s existing offerings together more easily.
Three products, launched during re:Invent keynotes and super sessions on Dec. 1, offer low-code approaches to link existing AWS DevOps services, from application delivery pipelines to serverless functions. Amazon CodeCatalyst, launched in preview, is a software development and delivery service that includes project blueprints, managed CI/CD pipelines, cross-account role-based application controls, and built-in collaboration features such as Kanban boards and application testing reports. Amazon CodeCatalyst also integrates with third-party IDE tools, such as JetBrains and Visual Studio Code; code repos, such as GitHub; and issue tracking tools, such as Atlassian Jira.
This tool joined two other low-code offerings released by AWS this week: Application Composer, a low-code serverless application design utility released in preview; and Amazon EventBridge Pipes, now generally available, which allows point-to-point connections between individual event-driven computing services. Previously, EventBridge only supported connecting groups of event-driven services together.
Technically, users could find a way to do these things before. But they previously required writing what Amazon CTO Werner Vogels termed “undifferentiated glue code” in a keynote presentation this week.
“It’s already all possible, but it’s not streamlined. It’s like having the parts for a car versus taking an Uber,” said Nathan Bennett, cloud architect at Sterling Computers, a value-added reseller in North Sioux City, S.D. “At the end, you get the same thing, but I’d prefer an Uber.”
Bennett, who attended re:Invent this week, said he is especially interested to try out EventBridge Pipes.
“The ability to combine services is a cornerstone of cloud, from decoupling services in monolithic apps to creating microservices in Kubernetes. Things still need to talk to basic needs like networking, storage and compute,” he said. “The key word I caught [in Werner’s presentation about EventBridge Pipes] was ‘easily.’ I would not call EventBridge plus [Simple Notification Service] plus Lambda easy, though we have accepted it as normal.”
And this combination of services is “part of the bread and butter of the cloud” for Bennett and his clients — a key component of auto-scaling cloud services.
“This has always been around in the cloud with SNS and Lambda. But making it easier makes the cloud ops job easier to deploy, manage and scale,” he said. “It’s interesting to me also, because in the VMware world, with vRealize Orchestrator, they referred to something like this as anything-as-a-service. It will be interesting to see what comes from it.”
With low-code tools, signs of regime change at AWS
Such pre-packaged services have long been the purview of specialized DevOps vendors such as Atlassian and GitLab, rather than AWS, which has been better known as a selection of Lego sets that appealed to do-it-yourselfers.
But one analyst now sees a change in AWS that he traces back to 2020 and the launch of Amazon Honeycode — among the earliest forays into low-code/no-code tools for the cloud provider. That shift accelerated with two key executive hires over the next two years: AWS vice president of developer experience Adam Seligman and head of community engagement Emily Freeman. Both led a detailed presentation about CodeCatalyst and Application Composer this week.
“Adam Seligman came in from outside — from Salesforce, Google — and he’s trying to bring that low-code/no-code culture into Amazon,” said Larry Carvalho, an independent analyst at Robust Cloud.
It’s already all possible, but it’s not streamlined. It’s like having the parts for a car versus taking an Uber. At the end, you get the same thing, but I’d prefer an Uber.Nathan BennettCloud architect, Sterling Computers
Seligman came in as vice president of Honeycode in 2021 and moved to his current role in August. Freeman, the author of DevOps for Dummies, joined the company from Microsoft as head of DevOps product marketing in August 2021 and took on her current role in December of 2021. Meanwhile, former AWS CEO Andy Jassy succeeded founder Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO in July of 2021. The transition to Jassy’s own successor within AWS, former CEO of Tableau Adam Selipsky, began in March of that year.
As with many initial versions of AWS services, CodeCatalyst is a minimum viable product at this stage, Carvalho said. Its future growth will be dictated by how — and if — customers choose to use it. Most enterprises have already begun the process of digital transformation and DevOps adoption. Some key features, such as DevSecOps collaboration, are notably missing from CodeCatalyst so far, according to Carvalho. It’s likely that the initial release will be most relevant for small teams working on new projects, he said.
But CodeCatalyst should also put third-party DevOps vendors on notice. The most commonplace features of DevOps delivery are now commoditized, Carvalho added.
“AWS keeps partners honest and makes sure they keep making their products better,” he said. “If you want to do something simple, for example, you can use Amazon QuickSight. And if you want to do something more complicated, you go buy Tableau — and Tableau has to stay ahead of QuickSight. Same thing with Snowflake and Amazon RedShift, and now maybe [Atlassian’s tools] and AWS CodeCatalyst.”
By Beth Pariseau, senior news writer at TechTarget, is an award-winning veteran of IT journalism. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @PariseauTT.