Is AWS retiring the ds2.xlarge Redshift node type?

It’s rampant speculation time. AWS have released a number of nice features for Redshift over the last few months, from maintenance improvements like auto-vacuum and auto-analyze, to time savers like the in-browser query editor and new cluster configuration recommendation tool, that helps you find the right cluster configuration for your needs. It’s these two features that lead me to my wild assumption in the title, for one main reason – neither of them support the ds2.xlarge node type.

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Redshift now provides the option to choose between Elastic and Classic resize operations.

Amazon Redshift now supports Elastic resize

One of the major pain points for me with Amazon Redshift has always been the coupling between storage and compute.  Competitors like Snowflake and Google’s BigQuery offer independent compute and storage, which means easier (and quicker) scaling in times of increased load.  Redshift’s main drawback in the scalability sense has been that it can take up to 24 hours to resize your cluster (during which it’s in read-only mode), meaning there’s a lot of pressure to get your cluster configuration spot on before you go into production.  Redshift’s provision of elasticity is just not up to par with most of Amazon’s other services.  While Redshift Spectrum helps with this, it’s not a solution to the issue of scalability for an existing cluster.

In the lead up to re:Invent, Amazon last night dropped a load of really neat announcements (server-side encryption for DynamoDB as standard, SSE support for SNS), among which was the reveal of Elastic resize for Redshift.  As an aside, if this is the stuff they’re announcing now, there should be some really nice announcements at re:Invent. Continue reading…

A "spectrum_enable_enhanced_vpc_routing" parameter has appeared in Redshift.

Redshift Spectrum finally supports Enhanced VPC routing

What seems like an age ago, I spotted a setting on one of our Redshift clusters that suggested Enhanced VPC routing support for Redshift Spectrum might be on the way.  After waiting a while, and waiting some more, and then waiting some more, it seems that Amazon have finally released this into the wild, and Redshift Spectrum now works with clusters that have Enhanced VPC routing available!

As of Build 1.0.4349 or Build 1.0.4515, this functionality will be available in Redshift.  It hasn’t made it into the official announcements yet, but it has popped up on the Redshift forums here: https://forums.aws.amazon.com/ann.jspa?annID=6197 Continue reading…

in-browser query editor for Redshift (close-up)

AWS releasing in-browser Query Editor for Redshift

One of the things that I really like about Google BigQuery is the ability to write queries right there in the web browser without having to install a hefty IDE.  Sure, there are times when having the full power of something like JetBrains DataGrip comes in handy (source control integration, customisation, formatting), but sometimes you just want to dive in and write a quick query without any messing around.  Amazon did this for Athena, which was really handy, but strangely never did so for Redshift…until now! Continue reading…

AWS Lambda function with SQS as an event trigger

AWS Lambda can now be invoked directly from SQS

While quietly perusing Twitter this evening, I happened to notice one from the official AWS account with a link to a blog post from Amazon tech hero Randall Hunt describing the newly available capability for AWS Lambda: SQS as an event source!

This is functionality that I, personally, have been wanting for a while now.  While Simple Notification Service (SNS) is absolutely brilliant for a fan-out architecture, and provides immense flexibility with a wide range of supported subscriber types, controlled, serverless polling of SQS wasn’t really a viable option.  While you *could* run a Lambda for a few minutes doing long-polling on SQS, and then terminate before exhausting the 5-minute execution duration cap, it really felt a bit dirty.  To properly implement a queue-polling architecture, you really had to deploy an application on EC2, which meant managing servers etc.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, it just seemed like there was a big glaring hole in the Serverless model.

Native SQS to Lambda event integration though really patches this omission and then some.  Randall’s blog post explains it in full, but it seems like Amazon have implemented some really nice intelligent scaling mechanisms to adjust Lambda concurrency (up to a defined limit) in response to queue depth.  This should really help constrain costs and ensure consistent throughput regardless of spiky traffic.

I’ve not yet had a chance to observe this in the wild though, so best tested for your workload before betting the farm on it, but this looks like yet another long-awaited piece of functionality that Amazon have knocked out the park.  Have you explored SQS as an event source for Lambda yet?  Any observations or gotchas so far?  Let me know in the comments below!