A Few Thoughts on AWS re:Invent 2016

As far as conferences go, I have to say, Amazon puts on a pretty good show. Most sessions were interesting and on point. Attendees were smart and social. And the exhibitors provided more than enough products and solutions to fulfill my weekly geekdom quota. The icing on the cake was the free Echo Dot awaiting everyone on Day 1. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first re:Invent, but by the end of the week, I was leaving the desert with plenty of ideas to bring into the office on Monday. Here are a handful of my takeaways.

Technology Over Vendors

AWS re:Invent focused on technology. This was apparent almost immediately upon arrival. The conference was not about vendors trying to sell their product (excluding Amazon of course). I’ve been to many conferences where you walk into a session expecting one thing, only realize about 5 minutes in, it’s a sales pitch for a product you have little interest in. It was refreshing to find most sessions at re:Invent led by technology professionals focused on AWS and their offerings.

Optimization is Art, Not Science

One of my main goals in attending was exploring ways to better utilize our resources. What I quickly realized after a couple sessions is that the optimization process is forever evolving. Not only is every situation unique, circumstances change all the time. The mechanisms and tools at your disposal are vast, and the more you know about them, the better. This includes anything from how to purchase your compute resources, when to use what type what type of storage, or re-architecting a solution to take advantage of server-less technologies.

An intriguing service that Amazon now offers as part of their support plans is called Trusted Adviser. This service scans your AWS portfolio and provides warnings and recommendations regarding performance, security, cost optimization, and fault tolerance. While Trusted Adviser should not be the sole source of your decision making, it may be a good place to start.

Workspaces Could Work

With the introduction of the Windows 10 experience in Workspaces, this has become a much more appealing offering. I’ve explored a handful of virtual desktop options, all with a handful of similarities and limitations. Where AWS Workspaces differentiates itself for us, is that it has the ability to simplify accessing secured resources running in AWS, specifically developers working in our devops pipeline.

The more we invest in AWS, the more convenient this option becomes. Imaging and securing individual instances is straightforward, and the AWS Workspace client is widely available and easy to use. The experience is so good that I’m actually using my Workspace running on a Chromebook to write this post, because I want to, not because I have to.

Until Next Year…

All in all, I’d consider our trip a success. Anytime you can go and spend a week with smart people chatting about innovative technologies, it’s a win in my book. Making it even better is that much of what we learned at re:Invent can immediately be leveraged and applied to the initiatives we’re currently working on. Our 2017 roadmap is full of exciting projects. Now it’s time to get back to work.

What cool things did you see? Let us know below.

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the blog of Dominion Consulting. On November 1, 2017, Dominion Consulting merged with TeraThink and are now operating jointly as TeraThink. All blog posts migrated from the Dominion Consulting website have been updated to refer to ourselves as TeraThink.]

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  1. […] month, I attended the 2016 Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference with Jed Carr, Dominion Consulting’s Director of IT.  I went primarily with a DevOps focus, trying to expand our continuous integration and continuous […]