The AWS­palooza took me to Ve­gas for four night­s, with thir­ty thou­sand or so oth­er cloud-heads. Here­with notes and spark­ly Ve­gas pic­tures.

Growth · The num­bers tell the sto­ry: from 12K to 19K to 32K, and I don’t see any rea­son it’ll slow down. While the or­ga­ni­za­tion and lo­gis­tics were formidable, ob­vi­ous­ly the work of sea­soned pros, we’re get­ting close to the lim­it of what those venues can bear. I’m pret­ty re­laxed about life, but had a cou­ple of lit­tle claus­tro­pho­bia flash­es, when the crowds over­filled those huge hall­ways.

Fountain, Achromat rendition
· · ·

I took along the Achro­mat lens be­cause
it’s good at spark­ly things and Ve­gas has lots of those.

There are up­sides: I ate like a horse and drank like a fish, but I bet I lost weight from the miles and miles (not a fig­ure of speech) of walk­ing from ho­tel to venue to venue. 24 hours away from the show, my feet are start­ing to feel less like un­der­cooked ham­burg­er.

Cus­tomers · There are two big tribes: First, the cloud na­tives, tiny to huge, who’ve nev­er re­al­ly thought of any oth­er way to do com­put­ing. Then the much larg­er tribe just get­ting their toes in the wa­ter and fig­ur­ing out what they’re go­ing to have to change to get the pub­lic cloud’s up­sides in cost and se­cu­ri­ty and avail­abil­i­ty and dura­bil­i­ty.

The sec­ond group is big­ger. I was talk­ing to a guy from a Bri­tish bank that sent fifty peo­ple for a crash course in the fu­ture. But he told me there was still a strong No-Cloud-Here fac­tion, some in cor­ner of­fices. “I can out-wait them” he said, “but in the mean­time we have to get ready.”

Evil flower horse

Evil flow­er horse.

Oops · I like to start the cus­tomer meet­ings (each day had many) with a ques­tion: “What’s not work­ing? Tell us about your pain points.” And they laugh but then the ice is bro­ken and you get a good talk go­ing right away about the things that mat­ter.

So we sat down with this one big in­sur­ance com­pa­ny (you’d rec­og­nize the name) and I asked the ques­tion; they looked sur­prised and start­ed talk­ing about the prob­lems with mono­lith­ic lega­cy Ja­va and lin­ger­ing RPG and DB2 in cor­ners of the busi­ness. I’d mixed up my brief­ing docs and hadn’t re­al­ized they were just start­ing the cloud mi­gra­tion, didn’t re­al­ly have much in pro­duc­tion yet. So I was em­bar­rassed and apol­o­gized, but they said “No, this good, let’s keep going.” And ac­tu­al­ly it was, we learned things that they were go­ing to have to watch out for and al­so some low-hanging fruit they can win with in the short ter­m.

Se­crets · When I was at Google, we couldn’t keep any  —  by the time IO rolled around ev­ery year, the press and blog­gers knew pret­ty well what we were go­ing to re­lease. I’m not sure it did any dam­age, but it was ir­ri­tat­ing as hel­l.

Trump tower

Dark tow­ers are so 20th-century.

AWS is a tight ship, rel­a­tive­ly; we man­aged to sur­prise the au­di­ence with a cou­ple of things, this year and ev­ery year. I to­tal­ly don’t know why; if you lis­ten to the AWS an­nounce­ments, it’s ob­vi­ous that cus­tomers have been look­ing at the new prod­uct­s, so the num­ber of peo­ple who know is not smal­l.

The Launch · I helped launch the new AWS Step Func­tions pro­duc­t. My role was small  —  flipping a cou­ple of GitHub re­pos pub­lic, push­ing a Ru­by gem, pub­lish­ing a spec  —  but enough to get me in­to the Launch War Room in a hid­den cor­ner of the con­fer­ence.

Get­ting all the ser­vice pieces live on the net in sync with their keynote de­but is not un­like a ten-player eight-dimensional chess match; I’ve nev­er seen any­thing like it. I guess I have to be care­ful of giv­ing away se­crets here; suf­fice it to say, it was pret­ty groovy.

Speak­ing · I gave a ses­sion to an au­di­ence of a thou­sand and change; my first pub­lic ap­pear­ance as an Ama­zo­ni­an, on my sec­ond an­niver­sary here. It wasn’t as much fun as I had be­rat­ing au­di­ences about pri­va­cy in the time be­tween Google and Ama­zon, but I do like speechi­fy­ing.

re:In­vent is speaker-friendly. At Ja­va One, your talk was ripped out of your hands and edit­ed by “professionals” who didn’t un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween 1010 and 1,010. At Google IO, you got to keep your own talk, but you had to re­hearse with, and get it ap­proved by, Devel­op­er Re­la­tions peo­ple (like me) who ruth­less­ly stamped out bul­let lists.

For re:In­ven­t, they had pro­fes­sion­al ed­i­tors, who were smart and help­ful about style and brand­ing cor­rect­ness, but oth­er­wise got out of the way. If there’s a re:In­vent in your fu­ture, I strong­ly rec­om­mend get­ting a talk ac­cept­ed; the Speak­er Work Room is a haven of qui­et con­ver­sa­tion, free food, and strong In­ter­net.

Next year? · If I still have this job, it’ll be hard to not go. I think peo­ple who are build­ing in­to the cloud  —  even if, like me, they don’t like Ve­gas and don’t like crowds  —  should too.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Paul (Dec 05 2016, at 14:58)

I was really hoping that support for Ruby on Lambda would be announced, I guess I'll keep waiting. Postgres on Aurora will keep me happy for awhile.


From: Jeremy (Dec 06 2016, at 08:42)

The secret is out - the AWS Launch War Room runs on Groovy.


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