5 Takeaways from AWS re:Invent 2018, Number 3 is a Must-Have

Artwork and company shout-out on the big re:Invent board courtesy of Alex Halili - Dignari Solutions Architect

Artwork and company shout-out on the big re:Invent board courtesy of Alex Halili - Dignari Solutions Architect

AWS re:Invent 2018 is a wrap. Here’s what you need to know

It has been almost 2 weeks since I returned from Las Vegas and the 2018 AWS re:Invent extravaganza. 

Notice I didn’t call it a conference. It’s much more than that. It's more a full-blown celebration of innovation, creativity, and bleeding edge technology. A mass of 50,000+ self-proclaimed and proud geeks walking (and walking and walking) around Vegas trying to wrap their heads around something they just learned, only to find themselves thrown into another session of awesomeness. 

This was my second re:Invent and I was a bit skeptical that the second time would be as good as the first. I was wrong. I was still blown away by the community, the passion, and all of the announcements…so many announcements. In fact, there were 147 announcements reported at re:Invent, including the week leading up to the event. What?!

With all of this drinking from a firehose, here are 5 takeaways for you from this year’s re:Invent. 

1. Amazon continues to throw its weight around…

You don’t realize the sheer breadth of Amazon’s power in the cloud until you attend an event like this. It really hits home when you watch the keynotes. Seeing the number of clients, spanning every market segment you can imagine, displayed across a screen the size of at least two football fields really brings it home. AWS is everywhere.

Amazon is the cloud computing market leader and is relentless in its pursuit of dominance. The announcements I mentioned above are not only enhancements to their existing services but brand new services as well. 

How can anyone keep up with their progress? They are a juggernaut with no signs of slowing down. It’s like a snowball screaming downhill, gaining mass and market share as it rolls. 

2. …and companies continue to be put out of business

There was a point during Andy Jassy’s keynote when he announced AWS Security Hub. As he was explaining what it was, I nudged my colleague and told him they just put 1/4 of the expo floor out of business. 

You see, companies are constantly trying to find out how they fit in the new cloud computing space and what product they can offer. This is especially hard when you look at the broad suite of services offered as core capabilities from AWS. So, one area of focus that vendors selected was security and compliance of cloud environments. Well, along comes AWS Security Hub and just like that AWS puts them all at a huge disadvantage. Why should I buy vendor A’s security suite when Amazon is offering one that is baked in with the services it’s actually monitoring? This is just one example. There are more, many more.

All is not lost for companies trying to find their niche though. There will always be new pockets of need sprouting up from the services offered by AWS. In fact, as AWS continues to grow exponentially, the need to help decipher and manage all of these services will spawn a large number of businesses. 

3. AWS knowledge is fundamental

If you work in a technical profession of any kind, in any market, in any capacity, you need to know AWS. It’s that simple. It’s like back in the 90’s when you had to know Windows. It’s that foundational. 

Sure, there are other cloud providers and technologies to know, but AWS continues to expand into all areas of solution development and delivery with no signs of slowing down. Add the fact that client adoption is on fire and suddenly you find your ability to avoid AWS as nonexistent. 

But, don’t be discouraged if you are behind the curve or don’t have as much knowledge about AWS as you would like. The good news is there are a number of ways to catch up. 

The first thing you need to do (TODAY) is to get engaged. Start browsing the AWS website, do tutorials, go to Meetups, listen to podcasts, watch the AWS YouTube channel. In fact, all of the sessions from re:Invent are posted to their YouTube channel within a day of the presentation and all of the slides are up on their SlideShare. So, start digging like your professional life depends on it…because in a way, it does.

4. Developers are getting some love

You find a little bit of everything at re:Invent. In fact, I was in an IoT session and a guy proclaimed loudly to the presenter that he had 38,000 garage door openers out in the field and he was pumped for AWS IoT FreeRTOS and Greengrass. His excitement was…palpable.

As you stroll around the event you’ll run into system administrators, network gurus, security folks, and even marketing and management leads. But, I was especially happy to see solid representation and a particular focus shown to today’s technical artists - developers. 

Since I came up as a developer (and still try to at least launch my IDE throughout the day) I was glad to see the number of announcements and sessions dedicated to those in the trenches creating the next big thing in software. I think AWS realizes that they are the true enablers of what the platform can be. 

5. And the biggest themes go to...

Even with the insane number of announcements, there were a few trends that stood out to me. 

Artificial intelligence is a core area of focus for Amazon and they continue to refine their offering and bring new capabilities to bear. They realize, much like most of industry, that AI, machine learning, and deep learning are critical components of future tech and a wave you want to be riding. 

One of the more obscure yet quite interesting announcements related to AI was the introduction of AWS Marketplace for Machine Learning. This is a place to share your algorithms with a larger community and to find the right algorithm for your particular need. That sure sounds like an app store for machine learning to me. If you are into algorithms, you may be able to monetize your craft much the same as the developers who originally dove into the app store. 

Continuing with AI, last year’s biggest toy launch of re:Invent was the DeepLens camera. AWS dropped it and everyone went crazy and wanted one. But, this year the DeepLens was nowhere to be found. Instead, AWS went in a different direction and introduced us all to the reinforcement learning-based DeepRacer. They didn’t stop there either (why would they?). They also introduced the first global autonomous vehicle racing league. Interesting.

Other major areas of focus included serverless (much more than containers) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Wrapping it all up

AWS re:Invent is one of those conferences that rekindles your spirit of adventure and inspires you to create. Even with cloud acceleration and the current trajectory of innovation, there is still room for AWS, and industry as a whole, to grow. That’s what makes being in the technology industry so exciting. Let’s go build.