12/01/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/30/2023 19:19

Live updates from AWS re:Invent 2023

AWS re:Invent 2023 - Keynote with Dr. Werner Vogels

Developers need to become "Frugal Architects," said Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels, at re:Invent Thursday, sharing a set of simple rules for building cost-aware, sustainable, and modern architectures.

There's so much technology out there competing for businesses' attention, he pointed out, but they can't afford to chase all of it. Instead, Vogels recommended that builders think of cost as what he called a "nonfunctional requirement of development." In other words, consider cost early and continuously when you're designing, developing, and operating your systems in order to balance features, time-to-market, and efficiency.

Conversely, it's also important to constantly align development decisions with the needs of the business, which typically means delivering systems and applications that will save customers money. The architecture, Vogels said, must follow the money. To illustrate his point, Vogels mentioned how Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) saved 80% in streaming costsby re-architecting for the cloud.

Cat Swetel, senior director of engineering at Brazil's Nubank, joined Vogels on stage to describe how costs were a key element in her institution's successful delivery of a 24/7, no-fee, instant money transfer program called "Pix." As Pix's popularity quickly grew, Nubank systems had to handle exponentially larger and more intense workloads. They were left with a choice: buy more equipment and capacity or re-architect to solve the problem more frugally. They chose the latter approach and, as a result, saw improved stability, more predictable workloads, and a 92% decrease in latency. More importantly, she noted, the bank's 9 million customers saved $8 billion in fees in 2022.

Vogels said developers also need to think about the connection between business costs and costs to the planet. Environmental sustainability as a fundamental element of software development is a "freight train coming your way," he said, "and you can't escape it."

Fortunately, Vogels noted that cost is a close proxy for sustainability. If businesses are architecting for costs and tracking financial impact along the way, they should be able to estimate their environmental impact, as well. As an example, he pointed to WeTransfer, a Dutch computer file transfer service, which he said experienced a 78% emissions reduction after re-architecting, tracking, and measuring server systems.

Sustainability is just one of the things developers should keep top of mind with respect to doing right by people and the planet, Vogels said. For example, he noted that Cergenx, an Ireland-based neonatal neurotechnology company, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to quickly identify newborn infants at risk of birth-related brain injury. He also pointed to Digital Earth Africa, an organization collecting and analyzing satellite imagery to help governments around the world track environmental concerns like deforestation and erosion.

Dr. Rebecca Portnoff, head of data science for Thorn, took the stage to explain how her nonprofit organization is providing machine learning (ML)-based tools that scour millions of digital files worldwide looking for possible instances of sexual abuse against children. With more than 88 million files reviewed in 2022, Portnoff said it could literally take three years for a human being to find a single abuse "needle" in that "haystack" of files. But with ML acting as a magnet to pull out those needles, she said, the process is light years faster.

Vogels said that such innovation is part of what's making software so exciting these days. He said there is a clear opportunity for technologies like AI and ML to do the heavy lifting, making coding faster and easier, but human beings will always be integrally involved in guiding it along and making decisions.