That was intense. AWS’s customers are great. But I wish I could like Vegas more.
Size matters · There were 19,000 people, more or less, at the Venetian, up from 13K the year before. I’m glad I don’t own the problem of figuring out what to do next year. The way things are going you have to assume more people will want to come but I’m pretty sure that hotel can’t hold ’em.
Split venue? Go for intensity over quantity and retreat to Moscone West (max capacity 5.5K) as Google and Apple have? Use one of the mega-venues? Beats me.
F2f! · I only caught 1½ technical sessions, because I spent the rest of the time in small rooms talking to customers about their wins and pain points. You’d probably recognize every name. Some don’t love these meetings, but I can’t see why; these people are doing totally batshit-crazy things with the platform and getting good results and are never boring.
The way people use general-purpose infrastructure is always surprising to the other people who build it, and since AWS’s infrastructure is about the biggest and most general-purpose, the surprises are real brain-stretchers.
Cloudfolk · While I was at Google, for one reason or another I spent almost all my time talking to mobile-app people, and I liked that, but after this week I realize I’m more at home on the server-side.
With basically every one of those 19K I could slip effortlessly into conversation about what they’re building and operating, and what’s hard about it, and what’s wonderful. We constitute a tribe to a greater extent than I’d realized. I wonder if at some point we and the clientfolk will become mutually incomprehensible.
Bunny work · Standing at the booth, I mean. The feet get sore but, once again, do you ever hear about some cool stuff. And people are so good-humored; they laugh over stories about busted deployments and poisoned databases. And they casually drop these astonishing numbers about records and transactions and dollars, dunno if they’re consciously trying to impress the AWS geeks but they do.
If you’re a customer at re:Invent doing anything at all complicated and you’re not dropping by the booth, you’re crazy. There are all these little mini-stands with the names of the products on them, and a lot of the time, the person standing there isn’t just some droid, it’s Director-level management or an ultra-senior engineer who knows all about how that sausage is made and you just don’t have any questions they can’t answer.
After about the fifth question based on the customer doing something you never remotely thought of, and vaguely wonder is even possible, you realize that in deployment technology, weird is normal.
Think about it; everyone’s trying to build fast, reliable, apps that hundreds of millions of people can use all the time, and do it on fallible silicon, deep network stacks any layer of which can break, and often-flaky storage hardware. And the apps work fast and stay up at scale! It shouldn’t be surprising that there’s some weirdness involved.
Keynotes · Meh. But I’m not the target demographic I guess, I hated Steve Jobs’ keynotes too. I just loathe extended public chest-thumping, but I recognize I’m in a small minority and modesty is just not a capitalist virtue. Even when something I built is up there.
Something you built? · Well, yeah. Much of the stuff I’ve been working on hasn’t shipped yet, but my fingerprints are detectable on infrastructure that made one keynote-worthy feature possible. So there. I am not an AWS evangelist and don’t want to be one, but I probably can’t not write about stuff I help build.
Zedd · Well, now I’ve seen a big-leage EDM DJ dude; he played the conference party.
It’s really hard to say much without sounding like Grandpaw, but bubblegum is still bubblegum, even with a monster bass and nifty video. Even the light-show was all dazzle and no wit.
Also, get off my lawn.
Vegas · It really bothers me that I don’t like it. Full of people with smiles on their faces, having a good time — well, except for those parked in front of the slots — how can that not be a good thing?
Everywhere on the streets are people who’ve gone to immense time and trouble to maximize their sexual attractiveness, and I really enjoy the efforts of half that population.
The bartenders are friendly in an unforced way that both coasts could learn from.
But at the end of the day I don’t like tobacco smoke and I don’t like standing in lines and I don’t like slot machines and I don’t like the soundtrack; heading for the airport, I smile.