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The best things about AWS re:invent (one of them is Skrillex)

November 18, 2014

  • Lextech Admin
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Last week Amazon held its third annual AWS re:invent conference at the Venetian in Las Vegas. I’ve been to other conferences, but nothing of this scale. But I guess that’s what Amazon is good at – scale.

Over 13,000 people attended, and with a couple of exceptions it was all managed beautifully. There were a couple of tracks that were so popular that people had to be turned away due to fire code.

Pre-conference hands on labs

The day before the actual conference – and all during the conference – there was a hands on lab (above) set up where participants could run through real-time exercises involving all things AWS. Different than most computer-based training, you would actually spin up and configure live AWS resources as you completed the course. The two that I took were pretty simple, but for someone that is just getting started using AWS, they could be a good head start.

Wide awake for these keynote announcements

Keynotes at AWS reinvent

For me, keynote sessions are usually the thing you have to sit through before you can get to the good stuff. Not so this time. Both the Wednesday and Thursday keynotes were filled with one product announcement after another – each one followed by genuine applause.

From CodeDeploy – which brings Amazon’s internal code deployment tool to the public, to Lambda – which allows you to execute code in the cloud without having to manage any resources, each announcement was followed by cheers and murmurs of “that’s awesome”, and “finally!” The announcement that was met with the most applause was that of EC2 Container Service (ECS). ECS looks to make management of Docker containers in EC2 a much simpler task.

Docker is the latest and greatest thing in deployment technology. It allows developers to define their app and all of its dependencies and package it up in a container. That container is versioned, and the same code (with all of its dependencies) can be deployed in the same way to any environment – from a developer’s laptop, to a production system. There are many other benefits to Docker. Follow the links for more info.

Plethora workshops, free phones, and level-specific sessions

Again, Amazon is great at scale. Offering over 20 sessions at a time, there was something for just about anyone. The talks on Docker had to turn people away, leaving them to go to their second choice session. Once word got out that the talks about the Fire phone included a free phone, those had to turn people away as well.

I attended sessions on Docker, cost optimization, performance tuning, monitoring, and logging – and a session on the Fire phone. Most of them were very informative, with only one of them being far too entry level for me. Sessions were given college style numbers so that you could tell what level the session was geared for at a glance.

Two story Tetris and a little Skrillex

Entry to the AWS reinvent party

The after hours events included a Wednesday night pub crawl involving 15 of the bars and restaurants in the Venetian and the Palazzo hotels, and a massive party featuring Skrillex on Thursday night. They really went all out for the events, bringing in a two story Tetris game as well as foosball, pool tables, air hockey, and a full video arcade.

All in all, it was a fun and informative conference, and I definitely plan on going again next year. I’ve got a lot of new things to introduce my teams to and a lot of good information to further reduce our AWS spend and improve our performance in the cloud. Let us know if you went and what you thought about the conference.