Rowan Udell Senior Solutions Architect at Stax

Rowan Udell

Cloud Practice Director at Versent, Serverless Champion, AWS APN Cloud Warrior

January 8, 2019

My 2018 was rounded out by recapping some of the highlights from AWS re:Invent for some of our customers. Now we’re in 2019 (happy new year everyone), and I’m sharing the top 25 “best of the best” recorded sessions from the thousands seen at re:Invent, that will (ideally) be relevant and interesting for you.

Note that I have only included the sessions that were recorded, so you won’t see any chalk talks or workshops listed here.

You can follow the links below or check out all the recommendations as a YouTube Playlist.

1.     Amazon DynamoDB Deep Dive: Advanced Design Patterns for DynamoDB (DAT401)

If you are using DynamoDB, thisis a must watch. Worth it just for the examples on partition and range key selection and design.

2.    CI/CD for Serverless and Containerized Applications (DEV309-R)

A solid review of the current best practices for an AWS native approach to CI and CD in the cloud.

3.    Mastering Identity at Every Layer of the Cake (SEC401-R1)

A good session that covers the principals and concerns you should have in mind when managing IAM in AWS to avoid pain in the future.

4.    A Serverless Journey: AWS Lambda Under the Hood (SRV409-R1)

I was able to attend this talk in person, and I really enjoyed it. While the insight into some of the challenges and new features coming to Lambda are great, the reality is you don’t need to know all of it to get the benefits.

5.    Applying Principles of Chaos Engineering to Serverless (DVC305)

Yan Cui is an AWS Serverless Hero and a great writer and speaker in the serverless space, and you should definitely listen to what he has to say if you’re working with serverless in any serious way.

6.    Releasing Mission-Critical Software at Amazon (DEV209-R1)

Nice insight on the motivation and approach used by AWS and Amazon internally. I really like the idea of”pre-mortems” as part of the deployment process.

7.    Container Power Hour with Jess, Clare, and Abby (CON362)

I didn’t get to attend this session in person, but it was really great that they were able to get three container powerhouses on stage together.

8.    AdvancedVPC Design and New Capabilities for Amazon VPC (NET303)

A talk that Matt Lehwess fromAWS has given at a couple of re:Invent conferences now (updated obviously), and is a good technical summary of most of the network-related announcements such as Transit Gateways, IP management, and all things gateways.

9.    Authentication& Authorization in GraphQL with AWS AppSync (MOB402)

A good introduction to the various auth options available to you when using AppSync. I like this talk because the options outlined matches what we’re seeing our customers do, and what we’re using internally at Versent.

10.   Best Practices for Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier (STG203-R2)

No summary needed here – thesereally are best practices worth hearing.

11.   Introduction to AWS Security Hub (SEC397)

A nice introduction to the newSecurity Hub service. These talks are usually the fastest way to get up to speed on new services, so you can work out if you need to invest more time with the service.

12.  Mastering Kubernetes on AWS (CON301-R1)

Covers off the state of Kubernetes on AWS as it stands today, with a nice summary of the current state and plans for things like IAM support, and access modes.

13.  Elastic Load Balancing: Deep Dive and Best Practices (NET404-R1)

Load balancing is such a core service for AWS-based applications, so this is a good session to get a deeper understanding on the recent feature updates, and how it should be used for the best results (Unfortunately no mention of UDP support for NLB).

14.  AWS Transfer for SFTP, a Fully Managed SFTP Service (STG326)

I spoke at a number of re:Invent recap sessions across Australia in December and I think this announcement got the biggest reaction from the various audiences, which speaks volumes for the amount of pain being suffered due to SFTP out there in the wild…

15.  AWS DataSync – Automate & accelerate online data transfer (STG324)

As with the other new service sessions, this is a great way to get familiar with an offering before your colleagues and customers start asking you about it.

16.  MigratingYour Oracle & SQL Server Databases to Amazon Aurora (DAT318)

Databases were a hot topic at this re:Invent (even more than normal), and there were lots of great stories about real-world migrations taking place.

17.  Deep Dive on Amazon Rekognition, ft. Tinder & News UK (AIM307-R)

Another interesting real-world use case of the high-level ML services.

18.  Role of Central Teams in DevOps Organizations (DEV370)

19.  From Monolith to Microservices (And All the Bumps along the Way) (CON360-R1)

20. Security and Compliance for Modern Serverless Applications (SRV319-R1)

21.  Powering Next-Gen EC2 Instances: Deep Dive into the Nitro System (CMP303-R1)

Announced at last year’s re:Invent, the Nitro system is powering the new generations of EC2 instances, as well as impacting the AWS services built on EC2. Understanding Nitro will help you understand the huge variety of EC2 instance types that are coming out of AWS these days (and I’m sure will continue in 2019).

22. Policy Verification and Enforcement at Scale with AWS (SEC320)

23. Breaking Containers: Chaos Engineering for Modern Applications on AWS (CON310)

24. Inside AWS: Technology Choices for Modern Applications (SRV305-R1)

A great talk on how you should approach application development in 2019, with some great examples from how the approaches work in AWS with big name services like API Gateway, etc.

25. Closing Loops and Opening Minds: How to Take Control of Systems, Big & Small (ARC337)

A must-see for anyone developing distributed systems. Even if you haven’t thought about your application in the context of control/data planes, there’s a decent chance that you can benefit from the approaches outlined in this talk.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more videos on the AWS YouTube Playlist page, so get watching! And please, get in touch if I’ve missed any that you thought were the “best of the best” at re:Invent.

Rowan is the Cloud Practice Director at Versent, a Serverless Champion, AWS APN Cloud Warrior, and published author on AWS. When he’s not using and talking about AWS at work, meetups, or online, he’s busy running after his three kids.


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