AWS X-Ray how it works

Published: May 10th, 2017

Canadian customers of Amazon Web Services can now access two new cloud services that will help them monitor and manage their systems in their local region.

Amazon X-Ray and EC2 Systems Manager launched on the AWS Canada (Central) region this week. That adds more services available to developers and IT teams using the new Montreal-based AWS region launched late last year.

The new services came online after feedback from customers, says Ian Massingham, a lead evangelist of AWS that was in Toronto for an AWS Innovate event on Wednesday. “We’ll prioritize the feedback we get and that will drive us to deploy different services in different regions,” he says.

X-Ray is a tool for developers offering various micro services to monitor the interactions between them in realtime. Different service components can be monitored to observe the number of interactions and the latency between the services. This helps developers build a chain of micro services into an application play and make adjustments to manage its performance.

On stage, Massingham pointed to a European AWS customer, Trainline, that manages a series of loosely-coupled services in this way. The transportation company allows its customers to access online self-service features such as finding a nearby station, buying a ticket, and even locating the best spot on the platform to stand to increase their chances of getting a seat.

“That’s how you build loyalty with digital apps,” he said.

Trainline migrated from a legacy monolithic application to running 250 different micro services. The result was a 70 per cent reduction in environment drag, 60 per cent less downtime, and $1.5 million in annual savings.

EC2 Systems Manager allows the automaton of making updates on EC2 instances. Rather than logging into the instances to run updates, administrators can issue commands to run the next time they are logged into. An agent that runs on the machine communicates to a control plane and executes an update, such as a patch or policy change, to the system automatically. It allows for compliance management and can serve as a bridge between AWS and on-premises systems.

Here’s Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, releasing EC2 Systems Manager on Dec. 1, 2016.

Cloud adoption in Canada

AWS is seeing a balanced adoption of its cloud services by startups and enterprises alike, Massingham says. Many companies in the broadcasting and publishing industry are among early adopters of the new Canadian region.

Having multiple regions available around the world has helped AWS bring on board customers that are looking to cater to international markets, he says. For example a Canadian company that wants to expand its offerings to Germany might start with an AWS region there, knowing they could expand to their local Canadian region down the road.

There’s no roadmap for what AWS might launch next to the Canadian region, but Massingham says they’ll be staying tuned to customer feedback to help make that decision.