View from the airport: AWS re:Invent 2018

Bobby Hellard

30 Nov, 2018

Go big or go home, is a slogan for Guy Fieri’s Vegas kitchen, which is just around the corner from the Venetian hotel where AWS re:Invent had taken up a residency for the week.

The cloud giant’s annual conference certainly did just that, taking over the famous Las Vegas strip where over 50,000 people flooded the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, the Venetian and more for the latest cloud computing innovations from AWS.

And the announcements came thick and fast and left most visitors excited and overwhelmed.

There were surprising announcements for blockchain services, satellite geospatial data innovations, machine learning capabilities and plenty more. Partners like Formula 1, Fender and GuardianLife took to the stage to talk up AWS services like SageMaker and AWS Greengrass. The scale of the conference matched that of the city which hosted it, challenging you to experience as much as possible.

“The first day I walk 13,265 steps, which equates to 6.5 miles, so that gives you a sense of getting around to see all the customers,” said Philip Moyer, the global director of financial services at AWS.

“One of the things you probably saw in every single session, there was a customer talking about what they are doing. That is really important for us to have the customer on stage. And, the customer loves to be there as well. It gives great validation for the type of innovation they do.”

Customer innovation was a running theme for the event, where AWS when to a great effort to stress the importance of letting its partners build and develop on top of its products. Gavin Jackson, the managing director of AWS for the UK and Ireland put it best when he said that some people want a Lego product that has instructions to build a specific thing, whereas others will just want Lego bricks to build something from their own imaginations.

“We really try to focus on the builders and really try to make it tangible,” added Moyer. “The business side, the deep technical side, the security side, for me it’s really exciting we get to see people faces after they’ve said: ‘we’ve been asking for that and you’ve delivered’. So, in that aspect it’s almost like Christmas day for us, unwrapping all these presents for our customers. So that part is really exciting for us.”

Perhaps the best present of all was saved for the very end, as superstar DJ Skrillex headlined the AWS:Play closing party. The DJ’s appearance was announced by CTO Werner Vogels, during his keynote on Thursday.

The AWS: Play after party

According to Vogels, Skrillex requested to be there. Having first headlined the event back in 2014, the DJ was keen to return for a night of fun. Clearly, he knew, as did the 50,000 plus guests, there’s no place quite like Vegas and, arguably, no cloud event quite like re:Invent.