So, I Spent a Week at AWS Re:Invent

AWSSo, a few weeks ago I was priveleged enough to attend AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas.  This was the first technology conference that I have ever been too unless you include trips to the swap meet with my dad as a child to pick up radio parts like diodes and vacuum tubes.  With that said, other than the enjoyable parties and venue, what exactly did I learn from AWS re:Invent?

  1. There are a lot of people chasing careers on the back of AWS.  Yeah I said it. Most of the people at the conference were either kicking off the vibe of 1. I need to learn this public cloud stuff ASAP so I can stay trendy and not lose my job or 2. I need to figure out this public cloud stuff ASAP so I can sell more and not lose my job. Either way, everyone there was either trying to sell or learn…but not really doing either in the purest sense of the words. More of the learn / sell or die kind of vibe.
  2. Creating is better than consuming.  After about a day, I started to form a pretty serious case of programmer envy.  I wanted to immediately run out and start stickering all of my technology with all of the cool brands like “chef”, “puppet”, and “jenkins”.  I listened to all of these cool applications of Alexa and the AWS analytics platforms and really started to feel kind of shitty about how insignificant my contributions generally are.  PowerPoint slides versus visual recognition programming.  I think we all know what sounds cooler.  Anyway my slides are pretty awesome so I won’t downplay the skeelz quite yet.
  3. Las Vegas is cool and all. It is also kind of shitty for a conference. Walking to and from and inside and around casinos across the strip really really sucks. On my first day in Vegas, I pretty much walked 1.5 miles to a conference room, instead of taking the shuttle. Huge mistake. Pretty sure I blew my ACL just walking. Thats really how you know you are getting old.  Although I can’t blame the conference for that. Twas already known that my knee is like a 90 year old’s.
  4. The technology industry is still composed of a lot of middle aged white men.  This doesn’t necessarily become apparent until you are standing next to a bunch of middle aged men while watching a famous DJ perform.  I don’t think I have seen that level of immobility at a concert in a long time.  Except for maybe Lynard Skynard.  Everyone pretty much sat and smoked. The special cigarettes of course.  But I guess the general demographic profile really highlights the current status of legacy technology.  Very very white.  I don’t have the actual demographic data. It could be possible that I am bias. At the Replay event to finish the week, I did for a brief moment or two feel incredibly youthful. Thank you for that.
  5. Rovio is kind of a cool company.  Out of all the sessions I attended, I found the session by Rovio to be the most interesting.  The level of analytics that they deploy for their gaming platforms is very enlightening. As a freeware user, I never really realized the level of sophistication that goes into the behavioral analytics and user satisfaction.  The brief amount of commentary on this model was worth its price in gold. And the data lake architecture was kind of neat as well. Although I don’t fully “get it”. At least not yet.

So I guess the big question is “Was the event worth the price of admission?”.  I think the answer to that is Yes and No.  In the sense that I feel like I got $1800 (plus travel expenses) worth of value – Nope.  I guess if you look at it from the perspective of what the event symbolizes and the opportunities to network and meet people – then Yes.  I would certainly go again, but I think next time I would like to come better equipped with some more advanced skills that I can build upon at the event.  Or at a minimum identify where I have some gaps in my understanding to fill them in.  I likely also would replace my knee cap before going as well.

For the average person out there, you probably have no idea what this event is or what I am referring to, but I think over the next year you will start to hear more about the “cloud” – particularly AWS.  What they are doing over at AWS, and quite frankly what all players in the cloud space are doing in general, is really quite impressive.  You can pretty much check the box on the utilitization of computing. Done and Done. Next stop…..applications. Like applied computing….not codification.


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