AWS Re:Invent 2021 – Preparations

The yearly conference and tech fest arranged by Amazon Web Services in fabulous Las Vegas is back in-person and is just around the corner. It kicks off with an evening activity on Sunday, November 28th, and runs to Friday, December 3rd

It’s one of the biggest parties in tech but at the same time one big learning session. With over 1200 breakout sessions, numerous keynotes, quirky activities, and spontaneous meetings, it’s safe to say that re:Invent has something for everyone.

This year is unique for several reasons, and not only the most obvious one, Covid. These are my thoughts about the conference this year.

Pre:Invent

What is pre:Invent? A couple of weeks to a month before re:Invent, AWS typically starts to release new features and services rapidly. Sometimes these releases are prerequisites and enablers for larger releases at re:Invent. This period is generally referred to as pre:Invent.
This year is not an exclusion, and releases have started to pour in! 

Covid

There is no doubt that Covid will affect the conference. AWS is taking every step they can to ensure that it’s safe, but, unfortunately, the Covid impact is still huge. After last year’s cancelation and transformations into a virtual conference that, in my opinion, didn’t turn out that good, I think AWS does everything possible not to repeat the virtual experience and to be able to hold an offline event.
It will be a reduced version with a smaller campus and fewer attendees than usual. There are also rigorous health measures in place to make it as safe as possible. To attend, you must be fully vaccinated against Covid, and masks are also mandatory safety kits throughout the campus, dedicated eating areas, and more. Read more on the re:Invent Health Measure page.

The Campus

Formerly, re:Invent campus would stretch from the southern end of the strip to the northern. It would be from the MGM Grand in the south to the Wynn and Encore in the north. This year it’s concentrated in the north with Wynn, Encore, The Venetian, and the new Caesars Forum. All in a 15-minute walking distance, no need to get on the campus shuttle.
One thing I find fascinating is to see how the new venue, Caesars Forum, will be utilized. I think this might be a good replacement for The Venetian in the future. Sure, Venetian is a classic re:Invent venue, where all it had started. But to be honest, is it really that good for a conference venue? The hallways are small and are always crammed with people. So, for me, it will be interesting to see how this new venue will be utilized. The Venetian still feels like the center of attention, with all keynotes, the certification lounge, Swag desk, and others. But maybe next year that will not be the case. 

The 10th anniversary

This year is the 10th anniversary of the conference. I can imagine that AWS had planned a grand feast for this year. Instead, they had to prepare for a smaller than a regular conference. Make additional plans on how to make it safe. Still, I think some grand plans have not been revealed yet. I think this year’s re:Invent will be a feast like never before, and maybe it’s a good thing that it will be a smaller conference, perhaps that gives the possibility to do something that could be impossible in a huge standard setup.
We just have to wait and see what will be revealed during the week.

The new CEO

For the first time, we will not see Andy Jassy on the stage during a keynote. The question is how the new CEO, Adam Selipsky, will transform the keynote and make it in his manner. I can imagine that he would like to make changes, not just be the person who took over Andy and continued with his theme. I’m looking forward to this keynote so much.
The thing I don’t think will not be changed is the cavalcade of service announcements. Most likely, there will be numerous amazing releases. Usually, I can forecast one or two, but this year I have no clue. What I would like to see is more services in the serverless space. I would love to see more database and storage services take the same path as Amazon Aurora and offer a serverless version of the traditional version.

Sessions and content

One thing that is not different is the number of sessions and content. One thing is sure, it’s impossible to come even close to watching even 1% of everything. After the conference, most of the sessions will be available on Youtube. I take my regular route and mostly schedule breakout content that will not be on Youtube later. Things like workshops and chalk-talks. These are my favorite sessions this year.

BOA310 – Resilient and well-architected apps with chaos engineering
Workshop around Chaos Engineering with Gunnar Grosch and Tyler Lynch, can it be better?

BOA308 – Build production-ready full-stack applications with GraphQL
Chalk talk with Marcia Villalba and Gunnar Grosch, this one is going to be good!

SVS305 – CI & CD workflows for serverless applications
Chalk talk with the one and only Eric Johnson, one of my favorite speakers. Amazing!

DAT316 – Data modeling with Amazon DynamoDB
Alex DeBrie will lead this chalk talk. I don’t think there is anyone more suited to lead this chalk talk.

SVS309 – Architecting secure serverless applications
Serverless and security are two of my favorite topics. I’m hoping for a good chalk talk with Josh Kahn.

Lastly, I like to promote the demo session that will take place at the Open Source both at the Expo and at  Caesars Forum on Tuesday, November 30th. My fellow and Community Builder, Lars Jacobsson at MatHem, will showcase all the excellent tools they have built! Don’t miss it!

What to bring?

It must be impossible to write a blog like this without offering a couple of packing pieces of advice. My #1 advice is to bring a couple of good walking shoes. There will be a lot of walking! I usually take 2 or 3 pairs of shoes and switch them every day. By the end of the week, my feet are thanking me for this 🙂 My #2 advice is to bring chapstick and moisturizer. I always get dry skin and chapped lips, we will be in the middle of the desert, and the air is super dry.

Final words

If you are going to Las Vegas, drop me a PM on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s meet up, have a chat, and drink some coffee together!

 

See you all in Vegas!!