Before diving into the technical aspects and the new announcements I’ll take a moment and write a bit about the time before the actual conference. If you have never participated before there are a couple of ‘gotchas’.
Travelling from Europe is tiring and it’s better to arrive early to give yourself time to recuperate. Also when travelling from Europe remember that if you have a connecting flight inside the USA you will have to do the customs/CBP stuff when you first land. This combined with the fact that your luggage must be collected from baggage claim and re-checked into the domestic US-flight means that you should reserve enough time for your connection, otherwise you will experience added stress and potentially miss your connection.
When in Las Vegas…
Remember that the whole city is designed specifically to separate people from the contents of their wallets. Everything costs and more often than not the price is not cheap. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert and the air is dry, this is something you should take into account if you have sensitive skin. For me, the effect of the dry air is best visible on my beard. In Finland, it is usually much more curly due to more humid air. Here it straightens out considerably. I bet you wanted to know that :)
Las Vegas Boulevard aka ‘The strip’ isn’t that long on the map but it is long enough that moving between different venues takes time. If at all possible try to plan your schedule so that you minimize moving between venues. AWS has booked shuttle buses, there’s a monorail and you can walk but all the options take time and most of the time there will be a sea of other attendees moving in addition to you.
Also, contact other companies and people. There is a huge amount of different smaller gatherings and parties organized by different companies. The opportunity to network and to get to know people is huge. Attending your local AWS meetups will help you connect with others.
In the end, the conferences usually are best experienced first hand. The technical information can be learned from streaming videos and Youtube-videos. Being visible and networking is something that won’t be possible if you don’t attend. Furthermore, attending with only one person is overwhelming. Absorbing everything that is available is a huge task. Combined with networking and possibly having a booth is even more overwhelming. Consider sending more people, preferably 2-3 and if you have clients with you or are having a stand in the expo you need even more. Naturally, for a consulting business, this might be a pretty big investment. There are the costs of the trip itself (tickets, flights, hotels, per diem, etc) but in addition to these, the attendees are not doing billable work. So attending Re:Invent can also be seen as a commitment, you are committed to your partnership with AWS.
Actual announcements and news!
On Sunday, 25th of November the actual Re:Invent hasn’t started yet, however, there are some program items already on Sunday, more specifically the Midnight Madness and Tatonka challenge. Midnight Madness is a launch party or pre-party and Tatonka challenge is an event where attendees try to eat huge quantities of chicken wings. I had the advantage that I live in Tampere which is the wing-capital of Finland. Long story short: I didn’t win Tatonka but in addition to Tatonka and Midnight Madness there was the first official launch: AWS announced ‘AWS Robomaker’.
Robomaker is intended to help developers creating robotic applications. AWS has an extended open-source framework “ROS” and included extensions so it includes connectivity to the cloud. Robomaker aims to be a complete development environment and includes an integrated development environment, simulation possibilities and fleet management.
Robotics is not an area which would come up in my daily work. However, if you are working in such field this new offering might be useful for you. I also hope that offerings like Robomaker will help different ecosystems to grow. Making robotics and robot-development accessible to a bigger audience will help innovation and might produce completely new products and offerings.
In addition to Robomaker, there were also some interesting announcements and new features that were published during the last few days. However, these might go unnoticed on the grand scale of Re:Invent. Here are some of the new features sampled by me (my listing is not comprehensive)
EFS infrequent storage class – coming soon. EFS will be getting an infrequent storage class much like S3 has. Naturally, this helps with cost-control and should be interesting to anyone using EFS.
- Amazon Rekognition. Improved facial analysis, detects faces with greater accuracy and confidence. Should be interesting if your use case includes Amazon Rekognition.
- AWS DataSync. New service to automate transferring data between on-premises storage and S3 or EFS. This service is mostly aimed at hybrid solutions and cloud migrations. Definitely, something to check out if you are working in the hybrid/migration space.
- S3 batch operations – preview. Simplify the management of huge amounts of objects. Bulk operations are usually custom code, developed by AWS clients themselves. Batch operations aim to reduce the complexity that bulk operations usually require. Moving objects, replacing tags or managing access controls. Use cases are almost limitless ranging from compliance to backups to data migrations.
That’s it for Sunday in Vegas. Let’s see what Monday brings!