Week 31 2017 - CloudFormation StackSets; Microsoft Container Instances; Flash EOL

CloudFormation StackSets improve AWS and Azure introduces Container Instances. Both are very nice, and to top it all off Flash has received an end date.

AWS CloudFormation StackSets

Between giving a presentation at the latest Serverless meetup and passing two AWS certification exams in the week since the latest note1, I’ve been paying even more attention to cloud platforms than usual. So I’m quite happy that the most interesting news matches up with that.

This first bit comes from AWS and is a welcome improvement/addition to CloudFormation. StackSets allow you to deploy stacks across regions and accounts. The idea here is that you can more easily deploy the same things in all your regions and/or accounts. Additionally, while it will be possible to deploy applications this way this seems far more suited to deploying the underlying tooling.

This becomes clear already from the sample templates that AWS supplies, which are focused on things like enabling CloudTrail and AWS Config or adding config rules. Similarly other things can be set up like this. Personally I can see a great case for various helper Lambda functions or base level infrastructure such as VPCs.

That said, it sure sounds like a lot of fun to deploy a complete application across a lot of regions at the same time with a single command.

Microsoft Container Instances

The most interesting cloud related news didn’t come from AWS however. No, that honor went to Azure with their new Container Instances. Azure has been doing quite well with their Docker support, first by their regular container service which supports various orchestration methods, but this Container Instances is something I can’t remember seeing before2.

Basically, it can almost be described as serverless Docker. The only thing you actually provide is the Docker container and Azure does the rest for you. That means there’s no virtual machine to handle, no security related things, nothing. Obviously you’ll still specify the resources your container needs in the way of cores and RAM, but this means it becomes a lot easier to run standalone, simple Docker containers.

In addition, they’ve created a Kubernetes connector. So that if you’re already running Kubernetes you can use that to hook into Container Instances to spin up any single containers you happen to need.

I recommend watching this YouTube video to see how easy it is to use and I’m personally looking forward to seeing what else the container team at Azure will come up. Well, and hopefully we’ll see things like this show up in different cloud platforms as well3.

Flash End of Life

My history with Flash isn’t a happy one. I remember complaining about it to friends who defended it when I had switched to running Ubuntu on my desktop4. In case you weren’t into tying your hands behind your back at that time, this meant that streaming videos basically didn’t work for me. There was no support for Flash on Linux, and nobody supported anything other than that because the only people who counted did have Flash.

Luckily, the smartphone then entered the world. First iOS shipped without support for Flash and after a couple of years Android gave up on trying to make it not empty your battery for a 5 minute video. This caused the world to slowly switch to using other video standards, which have their own issues but those are mostly patent/DRM related. Also, for some reason I could never figure out, Google decided to built Flash support directly into the desktop version of Chrome.

But all of this eventually led to the moment where Adobe has thrown in the towel. We’re still stuck with it until 2020, but after that this common attack vector for security issues will no longer be distributed.


  1. SysOps Administrator Associate and Solution Architect Pro if you want to know. [return]
  2. If you have, please let me know so I can check it out. [return]
  3. Of course, it would be good if AWS rolled out something more useful than ECS in the first place. [return]
  4. Warty if you’re trying to date this. At least until the first beta version of Hoary that supported my laptops wireless card. [return]
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