Why AWS DLM is Important

Brett Gillett


In case you missed it, back in July AWS announced a new feature for EBS snapshots called Data Lifecycle Management (DLM). DLM removes much of the heavy lifting associated with ensuring your EBS volumes are properly backed up - also known as ‘snapshotting.’ All you need to do is create an IAM role; DLM will do this for you, but you could also use CloudFormation, tag your EBS volumes and then create one or more policies.

Fantastic right? No more having to create (and maintain) your Lambda functions to create (or clean up) your EBS snapshots.

Shortly after the initial announcement, AWS expanded DLM support into 11 new regions - bringing the total to 14 regions where you can currently use DLM to ease the management tasks associated with protecting your EBS volumes.

So, why is DLM is essential? The answer depends on the relationship you have with AWS - are you a customer or a partner?

DLM for Customers

It’s a pretty obvious answer why DLM is vital for an end customer. AWS is doing what they have always done - removing the ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’ so that you can focus on building better solutions for your customers. No more troubleshooting Lambda functions - just ensure your EBS volumes are tagged, create a policy, and you’re off to the races.

The situation for AWS partners is a little more complicated.

DLM for Partners

I can almost guarantee that if you’re currently an AWS partner offering professional and/or managed services, somewhere in your sales pitch you mention setting up ‘snapshots’ for your customers - it’s a great way to add value to the services you offer - AWS just took that from you, and guess what - it’s going to keep happening.

The most successful partners I know have already moved way up the value chain and are building more advanced automation solutions for their customers - they are focusing on creating ‘guardrails’ for their customers.

If you’re not sure what I mean when I say ‘guardrails’ here’s a quick summary. I want my customers to move as fast as possible - as far as I’m concerned this is the biggest value associated with AWS (and public cloud generally) - but I also don’t want you driving your ‘car’ off a cliff. That’s why guardrails are so necessary, they let you drive as fast as you want, but ensure you keep moving in the right direction.

What are some examples of guardrails? Do you have private S3 buckets in your account? I bet you do - a guardrail can ensure that the S3 bucket stays private - automatically. How about security groups? Do you want to make sure that port 3389 is never open to the world? A guardrail can ensure it’s never accidentally opened - automatically.

If you’re a customer who is leveraging a partner and that partner is not building guardrails for your organization, the value they provide to your organization will continue to diminish as AWS continues to make the platform easier (and easier) to use.