Your “sur-thrival” guide to AWS re:Invent

Justyn Green
Principal Engineer
I’ve been to many tech events over my career, but none quite like AWS re:Invent… What makes AWS re:invent so different? Two words. "IT'S MASSIVE!"
November 22, 2018

On the long dusty road to any new event, several things always cross my mind.

1.   Who is going to be there?

2.   What type of new people will I meet?

3.   What will I learn?

4.   Where is all the (good) coffee!?

I’ve been to many tech events over my career, but none quite like AWS re:Invent… 

What makes AWS re:invent so different?

Two words. "IT'S MASSIVE!"


There is boat loads to do, so many sessions to attend, and lots of people to talk to, but I've found that nourishment and hydration are absolutely essential to keep your energy levels high, and get the most out of your Vegas experience.

Watching your energy and fuelling right will not only keep your attention sharp for the week-long adventure, but also maintain your posture for excitement for every interaction and discussion.

Did you know that Amazon is one of only three companies that are in the trillion-dollar family?

Amazon Web Services being a key pillar in the Amazon company portfolio, means that they are only one of two cloud providers that have supported backing of its organisation with deep pockets.

It is to be highly expected that its global conference matches its pedigree.

To get the most out of re:Invent, I recommend a solid diet of at least three coffees a day, regular steaks, sandwiches and mashed potato.  

LET’S TALK ABOUT COFFEE - COFFEE IS LIFE - IS IT NOT!?

According to the interwebs, head to Fremont street for the best coffee in Vegas… 

·     Coming in at No. 1 across all general social review sites is PublicUS on Fremont St. This being a neat average of 4.8 out of 5. (Wow)

·     Coming in at 2nd and 3rd is Desert Wind Coffee Roasters and Makers & Finders Coffee.

·     If you’re looking for something closer to the re:Invent, I would head to Illy Café in the Palazzo for a decent latte.

I'll be testing them all for my preference of an extra strong flat white.  

NOW ONTO THE RE:INVENT AGENDA …

Seeing Jeff Barr dive into head to head debates on reddit (with some JoVL tenacity) was pretty enjoyable at previous events.

As always, the theme and continual evolution of the conference size and execution is in step with the well-known Amazon mantra of "obsessive compulsive customer focus." Even as engineers and integrators, we are still AWS customers.

I am picking this year’s potentially #1 theme to be security.

The topics on security stretch across all genres and technology stacks. For instance, automation of security with AWS or securing your ElasticSearch or MQ at scale, etc.

The levels of introduction and interest are across the board and cater to all situations.

Do yourself a favour and attend at least one or two sessions with focus on both a practical workshop as well as presentations of other vendors or organisations that have done something a bit different.

MY AWS RE:INVENT HOT TIPS

The whole conference is spread across seven different hotel casinos’ along the strip spanning nearly 3KM and potentially more than 45-minute walk. So, my first point about fuel is definitely important to digest (pun intended) on getting you where you need to go and how fast.

If you are thinking about attending sessions on particular tracks or topics, put your best effort forward to keep those sessions in the same location or as near as possible.

Don't stretch yourself too thin or over extend yourself with unrealistic superman expectations that you can literally run between the East and West parts of the strip, in a single bound.

Ensure that you do not jam pack your schedule with sessions like a 1970's chess board. Keep many gaps between some sessions to catch up with fellow delegates, old work colleagues or just new friends along the way.

Personally, I like to spend time wandering the vendor halls and or the partner halls to just see who is there and then having a ye' olde chat and see where the conversation takes me.

I can't express the high level of importance on this point, but please ensure you have daily quiet time. The attraction of re:Invent will be that from the moment you are awake, till when you stumble into your room at 2AM, there is activity and socialising to be done.

Please take care of yourselves out there. re:Invent is not a sprint, whereby you are returned to your families chewed up, worn and withered. Remember, its objective is to share, energise, empower, build and collaborate.

Consider picking up a local SIM card with data when you arrive. All the hotels have free wi-fi, but when you are one of 55,000+ people, even the best wi-fi can fall over.

Remember - make human connections, make human connections, make human connections! In a conference of more than 55,000 attendees, it is easy to hide and just exercise some voyeuristic skills and not talk to any people.

Double down a little bit; exercise some grit and choose to make connections with people who can help you, listen to you or on the flip side, can be helped by you.

Our industry is only one of a few that is always awake and globally connected. Use that mesh of access and time to your advantage and connect with those who need your help and support.

What makes this adventure even more sweet is that re:Invent will not stop when the last session ends!

My goal (and maybe yours too?)is to build newer, stronger and more personal relationships across multiple cross-client partnerships that we have with our migration teams. These being, again, for me - CloudEndure, HVR, Redhat (errrr, IBM, noooooooooo), HashiCorp, Netapp and SoftNAS.

I want to come back loaded with info and relationship cannon fodder that will see through the start of a new year with a bang like an explosion such from a James Bond film!

Take care, enjoy re:Invent and get in touch :)

- Justyn

Justyn is a Principal Engineer at Versent and has worked in the IT community for 12 years. Prior to this, he was a psyche nurse in an Australian federal hospital. As a dedicated IT professional, Justyn always asks the questions - "does it work, how does it work, can it work better, should it work over here!?" In more recent years Justyn has been heavily involved with the AWS platform and specifically focused on migrations.

If he's not running after team mates to move workloads into EC2, he's chasing after his two daughters who can be more savvy and challenging to deal with, or he simply just goes running. Usually attending the big 3x fun runs in Sydney every year.

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