Amazon’s AWS re:Invent conference has become the must-attend conference of the year for anyone even tangentially involved with the cloud. This is now my third year attending re:Invent and each year it continues to improve and grow, with attendance growing roughly 50% every year. The sessions from Amazon and customers were incredibly insightful and I plan to spend many hours catching up on videos of sessions I couldn’t attend. For those not able to make it, I have shared my main takeaways below.
Offense over defense. In the past, Andy Jassy’s keynote was filled with references to other cloud providers and reactive moves like matching pricing cuts. With the exception of the EC2 Container Service coming on the heels of Google’s Container Engine, none of that happened this time around. Even though Google announced price cuts, nothing of the sort came from Amazon. In my conversations with AWS insiders, the mood is apparently shifting toward a focus on innovation rather than matching. I anticipate that price drops will continue, but it is clear those will be on Amazon’s schedule.
It’s all about the enterprise. Amazon started by appealing to developers. They are now focusing squarely on the enterprise. While past keynotes featured early adopters like Netflix and NASA, this year’s keynote moved into the early majority, highlighting companies like Philips, Johnson & Johnson, and Intuit. Nike was one interesting company to highlight. Aside from throwing an amazing after-party, they spoke about their journey to a cloud-native microservices architecture. They went from taking months to deploy a new feature in 2011 to a few hours in 2014. A shoe company not only moving into the cloud, but fully embracing it is shows us what’s ahead as the rest of the non-tech world realizes the full benefits of operating in the cloud.
AWS innovation engine shows no signs of slowing down. The number of new services that Amazon announced was truly impressive. I was impressed with both the quantity and the quality of the new services Amazon announced at with the conference.
Of all the announcements, Lambda was the one I found most interesting, and I think that many in the audience shared my sentiment. Lambda creates an entirely new programming model for event-driven asynchronous programs that leverages what AWS does best: abstracting away the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building infrastructure and freeing developers to focus on the more differentiated application logic. I also found it the most unexpected of the menu of new services.The other product launches were natural incremental features to existing services or use cases. Take for example the EC2 Container Service: this was expected in reaction to Google’s announcement a week prior. Lambda was creative, unique and unexpected and it is that innovation which will help Amazon maintain the wide lead it has established in the race to cloud dominance.
What I find most rewarding about attending conferences such as re:Invent is the opportunity to meet with other people interested in similar spaces and technologies. It was wonderful to reconnect with everyone from AWS with whom I had previously worked at Netflix and to catch up with the rest of the clouderati in attendance. The Expo, hallway, and drink conversations alone are worth the price of admission.
Already looking forward to seeing you next year at re:Invent.