AWS, Big Data

Now that I have made it back home and recovered slightly from my jet lag, I have had a chance to reflect on my time at AWS re:Invent 2017. This was my first time at the conference, and the scale and array of talks were truly mind boggling. In a discussion with someone I met, they outlined that to have a good view across the conference they would need at least 11 people, it was truly fantastic! 

I learnt a lot and have an extensive number of conversations to follow up on, so I wanted to share my top five key takeaways:

1. The scale of the event

The event was sold out, with over 40,000 people landing in Las Vegas for the main conference, the partner summit and the focused track days (Contino being the sponsor of the FSI track day on Monday). 

Although not the biggest tech event globally, the sheer volume of talks and the spread up and down the strip was amazing (although there were some logistics challenges). With a large number of after parties and customers coming from all over the globe I can see why everyone gets so much out of it.

2. The number of new services AWS announced

There were a large number of new capabilities and services announced prior and over the course of the week. From new Machine Learning services (Sagemaker, Video Rekognition, Transcribe, Translate, Comprehend), to the updates to database services – taking another shot across the bow of Oracle. Aurora was also updated to create multiple read/write master instances across multiple Availability Zones.

However, the worst kept secret was around the introduction of an AWS Kubernetes service and this was duly made available, here's a link to the talk with all the technical details: AWS EKS. The other main focus area was IoT services, allowing customers to run massively scaled out IoT deployments with thousands of IoT devices.

Additionally, previously 'home only' Amazon services are also coming into the workplace, with Alexa for Business - an interesting option for business meeting interactions.

Overall, the number of new services and updates to services amount to a whopping 61. And all attendees were highly excited about how to get their hands on the new capabilities.

3. The focus on uplifting skills in Machine Learning

My favourite new capabilities announced were AWS Deep Lens and AWS Sagemaker. This is because the market is lacking people globally that understand and can develop with machine learning. Yet, one of the most important elements of the modern enterprise is customer and business data, but the complexity of creating algorithms can limit the adoption. By introducing a number of services that simplifies development of machine learning models (Sagemaker) and allow a developer to test and enable these (Deep Lens and AWS Greengrass), AWS are giving IT teams a way to increase that adoption.

4. The hunger for business cloud adoption

The cloud adoption is still accelerating. Companies not already adopting cloud are now clearly falling behind. Public cloud adoption is now sitting at around 30%, with companies hungrier than ever to move workloads to cloud. Furthermore, adoption of containers allows this to move at pace and support the digital transformation successes in the enterprise.

However, 30% is still a phenomenal statistic that outlines how many businesses are yet to move to cloud. As a result, cloud migration services are in high demand among business customers. It's predicted that more than 50% of software workloads will move to the cloud by 2020.

AWS re:Invent is the perfect opportunity to discover how other organisations in the same industry have gone through the cloud adoption journey and learn from them. Barclays, for example, gave an overview of its approach, which you can watch here.

5. The importance of data

Data is the crown jewel of every company. Managing, leveraging and securing the data is key to moving businesses forward and looking at how AWS customers are using data to create new products, to creatively update existing products and truly understand what the end customer wants, provided those that attended with great insights. For example there were a large number of case study talks focused around data and data management, have a look here.

Meanwhile, the keynote by Andy Jassy used a customer reference from the NFL to outline how data is captured from every single player and can be used to understand exactly how effective each player is in their specific positions. The system allows real-time statistics on every player in the league.

Overall, the week was fascinating and tiring, with the number of talks, events and meetings that made the long trip more than worthwhile. I will look forward to attending the event again next year...but while we wait for the next re:Invent to come round, recommend that you watch both the keynotes from AWS as they provide real insight into how the company is thinking adoption will grow, and the key business challenges AWS are being asked to help solve: