88. AWS re:Invent 2019 – A Preview Show

Support Mobycast



Let’s get ready to rumble! It’s that time of year when we head to Las Vegas with 50,000 of our closest friends for the biggest AWS event of the year: re:Invent.

Five days long, with more than 2,500 sessions, taking place in 6 huge venues spread over 2.5 miles, re:Invent is a heavyweight of a conference. If you don’t plan ahead, re:Invent will take you down in a TKO.

In this episode of Mobycast, Jon and Chris are in your corner, breaking down this year’s event with the tips, tricks and secrets you need to make the most of re:Invent.

Show Details

In this episode, we cover the following topics:

  • AWS re:Invent general overview
    • December 2nd thru December 6th
    • 2,500+ sessions, spread over 6 venues, spanning 2.5 miles of the Las Vegas Strip
  • Discuss the 4 primary types of content and the pros/cons of each
    • Sessions, chalk talks, workshops and builders sessions
  • Our general observations of themes to expect this year
    • Hint: Kubernetes is hot
  • We point out some of the sessions we are particularly looking forward to
  • re:Invent is not all work, you get to play too
    • re:play
    • Other parties and where to find them
  • Our predictions for new product/service announcements at re:Invent 2019
  • We also talk about Apple’s recent launch of a new MacBook Pro (goodbye butterfly keyboard!)


End Song

Flowerchild (Lost Lake Remix) by Owen Ni

We’d love to hear from you! You can reach us at:

Stevie Rose: Let’s get ready to rumble.

Stevie Rose: It’s that time of year when we head to Las Vegas with 50,000 of our closest friends for the biggest AWS event of the year, re:Invent. Five days long with more than 2,500 sessions taking place in six huge venues spread over two and a half miles, re:Invent is a heavyweight of a conference. If you don’t plan ahead, re:Invent will take you down in a TKO.
In this episode of Mobycast, Jon and Chris are in your corner breaking down this year’s event with the tips, tricks and secrets you need to make the most of re:Invent.
Welcome to Mobycast, a show about the techniques and technologies used by the best cloud native software teams. Each week your hosts Jon Christensen and Chris Hickman pick a software concept and dive deep to figure it out.

Jon Christensen: Welcome Chris. It’s another episode of Mobycast.

Chris Hickman: Hey Jon, it’s good to be back.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, good to have you back. You know, I was just at the diner with my kids because they had a dentist appointment this morning, and one of the things that’s so cool about this town that I live in is that, I never noticed this before about the diner, but there’s a booth that’s set aside for a guy named Jack, I think. Jack Auster, or something like that, and he was sitting there, and I was like, “Whoa, that man is old.”
That’s not the cool part about the town, but anyway this old man, I was like, “He’s got to be a local hero. He’s got to be somebody who is a longtime local.” And I looked up his name, and there were a few articles in the paper about him, and it’s just kind of mind blowing because he grew up here and he’s 95 right now, so he’s really been here a long time, and he was a renter on the land that ended up becoming the development that my wife grew up in, and we’re not totally spring chickens, right?
I was just thinking about how he probably knows … he knew people that, when he was young and talked to them, they had memories of skirmishes with native Americans, literally. Right here.

Chris Hickman: Yup.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, unbelievable. It’s just such a pioneering place.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, living history for sure. And it’s getting rarer and rarer these days.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, it is.

Chris Hickman: Like just mobility is so high now and people don’t really stay in one spot anymore.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, and when he was growing up here, it was really a place where people didn’t live. Nobody lived here. It was really pioneering, so that’s kind of cool. Anyway, that’s just a side story. That wasn’t about technology at all. What are we going to talk about today Chris?

Chris Hickman: It is that time of year, so let’s get ready to rumble. Here comes re:Invent. And so today, this is a preview show, we’re going to kind of break it down and just give some tips, tricks, and things that we’re looking forward to and maybe throw down some predictions as well.

Jon Christensen: I think the most important question about re:Invent is where you stand.

Chris Hickman: Where you stand? This is the first time that I’m not at the MGM Grand. So I’m down in ground zero at the Venetian, so it’ll be interesting as well for me.

Jon Christensen: Yes, whenever, and I think that’s going to be part of the first key words of every conversation I have. “Hey, how’s your re:Invent going so far? Did you know I’m staying at the Venetian right here?” Just to make sure people know.

Chris Hickman: But you realize that 10,000 hundred people are staying at the Venetian as well?

Jon Christensen: Oh I know, but it’s the 10,000 most important other people.

Chris Hickman: The 10,000 VIPs?

Jon Christensen: All right. Yeah, let’s talk about re:Invent. Actually, before we do, I think there was something else you wanted to talk about. Something that-

Chris Hickman: There is, absolutely. So, as of now when we’re taping this, yesterday Apple announced it’s new MacBook Pro that’s long been rumored. It’s a 16 inch version, and really didn’t know what to expect. All the rumors leading up to this were basically saying, “Okay, it’s a slightly bigger screen than the 15 inch MacBook Pro.” Probably not much changes to the keyboard other than we did know that there was going to be a separate physical escape key which, okay, that’s a bone people are getting excited for.
But other than that, just guesses and speculation, but really kind of thought it’s going to be the same Butterfly keyboard which we have come to loathe. And this is one of the reason my MacBook Pro is the mid-2015 model and I just can’t bring myself to get one of the current MacBook Pros with the Butterfly keyboards. It’s just, I cannot stand it. So-

Jon Christensen: You hear that? That’s the sound of the key not working on a Butterfly keyboard That’s what it sounds like.

Chris Hickman: That’s what it sounds like when a developer cries, yeah. So they announced yesterday this new MacBook Pro, and it turns out this Christmas came early this year because they did update the keyboard. So this is, they’re calling it the Magic Keyboard. That may be a little bit of hyperbole but the truth of the matter is that just getting rid of that awful Butterfly keyboard, anything else is going to be magic. You could give me an abacus on that thing and I would probably be happier.
I’m actually really excited about this. I had to go on to the Apple site and start praising it out, and I showed it to my wife and she kind of … She gave me this look. It’s like, “Are you kidding me? We just spent gobs of money on a bathroom remodel. We’re putting our son through college. Put that away. You’re sticking with your [inaudible 00:06:33], there’s nothing wrong with your MacBook. So yeah, I’m very excited. This new Magic Keyboard, it actually has, it’s a scissor mechanism instead of the Butterfly. So it’s got a deeper travel of one millimeter of travel. Talked about it has the dedicated escape key now, so it’s no longer that silly virtual escape key in the touch bar, and it sounds like there’s just a lot of improvements around this keyboard.
So there’s rubber dome on the keyboard that makes the key press more responsive and it bounces back more. It’s got that deeper travel, and so far, everything that I’ve seen in early reports from people that have actually got their hands on this, they’re like, “This is the keyboard it should have been from the get-go.” So really excited at that. And not only that, I mean, there’s other improvements as well. So biggest battery ever in a Mac notebook. They’re saying you can get up to 11 hours of wireless web browsing and video playback.

Jon Christensen: That’s pretty good.

Chris Hickman: That’s pretty impressive. Audio is greatly improved with six speakers.

Jon Christensen: So for me Chris, the things that’s been killing me about Macs has been the just underpowered graphics performance. Have they addressed that at all?

Chris Hickman: Yeah. It’s now gone to an eight core, 9th generation Intel I9 processor.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, but that’s the processor, but what about the GPU? The GPUs they’ve been putting in have really, I mean literally, been kind of like mid model 2008, ’09, ’10 sort of capability.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, so I’m not a GPU freak. I do know that, again, they have improved this and they’ve published the benchmarks comparing previous versions, whatnot for both graphics and CPU, and obviously they’re better. So the GPU you can get with this, it’s like $100 extra is an AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8 gig of memory, so.

Jon Christensen: Mem. It doesn’t sound like they really did much there, but I could be wrong. That doesn’t speak like name brand awesomeness to me. Obviously AMD makes some good video cards, but they usually don’t have names … They usually have actual names, the good ones, and not just numbers, I think.

Chris Hickman: Well this is a Radeon Pro. Radeon Pro.

Jon Christensen: Ah, okay, but still. Anyway.

Chris Hickman: Still not impressed.

Jon Christensen: Yeah. I just poked around online a little bit, and it turns out the AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series, that’s a mouthful, is a big step up. It turns out that what they were putting, the AMDs that they were putting in the MacBook Pro 15 inch line, some Vega cards, are at least half, if not less than that as powerful as the new AMD Radeon Pro 5,000 series line of cards. So really happy to see that the MacBook Pro laptops are getting better horsepower and graphics processing. They’re not top, top, top of the line, but Apple is always trying to make sure that we can use our laptops for a long time and not 30 minutes on battery. So it does make sense that there’s some trade offs there.

Chris Hickman: The other thing that’s super impressive about these, so the baseline memory in the MacBook Pro now is 16 gigabytes, which I mean that’s a lot of memory for a laptop. And that’s just baseline. So you get your choice of 16, 32 gigs or 64. 64 gigs of RAM in this laptop. That’s kind of mind blowing.

Jon Christensen: It is.

Chris Hickman: And then storage, it goes up to eight terabyte SSD. Eight terabytes.

Jon Christensen: Eight terabytes is huge. It is.

Chris Hickman: Massive. I mean eight terabytes. And so just kind of blown away by just how much power they’re packing into four pounds. It’s pretty impressive. I’m excited. I mean this, to me, is one of the best Apple announcements in a couple of years.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, that’s huge. That is huge. I’m interested too. I have this super underpowered Mac, but when I’m at home because it’s so underpowered I use my big old tower PC and I like it.

Chris Hickman: The other good news on this too is that even though it’s bigger, so it replaces the 15 inch MacBook Pro. The 15 inch Mac Pro, I think the screen is 15.4. This is 16, but the bezels are thinner, so it ends up … I think the overall physical size of it ends up being-

Jon Christensen: Oh, that’s so cool.

Chris Hickman: … about the same as the 15 inch MacBook Pro, which is really nice.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, that is huge. I would love that. Cool.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. So I’m going to work on convincing Santa Claus to get me a new MacBook that will [crosstalk 00:11:50]-

Jon Christensen: You know, you’ve worked for a company too that could probably help.

Chris Hickman: Oh, I can. You know those forums that they have for conferences, “Here’s the form you can use to convince your boss that this is a good investment. Yeah. Apple used to have that on their site. Although it sounds like maybe I’ve already convinced my boss. Hey, should we talk re:Invent?

Jon Christensen: Let’s do it. Let’s do it.

Chris Hickman: Let’s do that.

Jon Christensen: So I guess not everybody that listens really thinks about re:Invent definitely doesn’t go to re:Invent. A lot of people got to re:Invent, but I’m not sure. I would be interested to know what percentage of our listeners, and in fact, I guess I should say, if you are going to re:Invent, please, please figure out a way. There’s like seven ways now I think to get in touch with us. There’s a voicemail, there’s Reddit, there’s Twitter, you can do ask@Mobycast.fm. You can do my email, which is jon@kelsus.com. Chris’s email, which is chris@kelsus.com. There are ways to get in touch with us to let us know that you’re going to be at re:Invent, and we’d like to meet you. We’d like to talk to you and figure out what we can do to do a better job of this show, and just generally who you are. We want to know who you are and get to know you. So please meet us.

Chris Hickman: Absolutely.

Jon Christensen: Send us a note.

Chris Hickman: And just for getting some cool stickers, right?

Jon Christensen: Yes, we will have those. Yes. So what was I going to say? Oh, and for everybody else, let’s just say what it is.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. So I mean, re:Invent is the annual blowout for the AWS. So all things AWS is their big event for the year. This year it’s going to be over 50,000 attendees, and this is a full week long, so December 2nd through December 6th, Monday through Friday. And then actually there’s some extent that you can start Sunday actually. And there’s now a new music festival called Intersect that extends in another couple of days. So this is just really just big. We’re talking over 2,500 sessions of content, different types of content. We’ll get into that a little bit, but over 2,500 sessions of content. That’s a lot.

Jon Christensen: That’s so many. I feel like that’s got to be fake somehow because when you actually look at the catalog, if there were that many, it would seem impossible to even scroll through it all. And you kind of can, if you go day by day. I don’t know where that number comes from, I guess is what I’m saying.

Chris Hickman: Well, I will tell you this. So reserved seating opened up about a month ago and it took me a good four hours to go through the session catalog. Especially the peak days, like Wednesday, Thursday, they’re like 900 sessions in the catalog just for those days alone. I believe the number. Like just in the session catalog alone, there’s probably easily 2,500 and they keep adding to it as well.

Jon Christensen: And that’s so unbelievable.

Chris Hickman: So this is very much a dynamic catalog that’s living and breathing and growing each day.

Jon Christensen: So if we did the entire body of Mobycast another 250 times, no, I guess 25 times, then we would catch up to the amount of information that’s going to be blurted out in one week there?

Chris Hickman: Actually, I was just reading this morning that Andy Jassy made a post saying, “We’re doing pre:Invent this year where we’re not going to bunch up all the announcements at the keynotes. We’re going to start announcing stuff before re:Invent happens.” So they made an announcement today with a new service called Data Exchange, I believe. There’s going to be more in the coming weeks. Absolutely there’s going to be, as always, there’s going to be a flood of announcements and new brand, new services, lots of new features being added, case study and then just tons of information to try to come up to speed on.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, so much. And I mean, I guess the hope for everybody that’s there is that the new announcements are just mind blowing and super cool. That’s what you want, right? You want to go there and you want to be like, “Oh, wow, I never thought of that. And so cool that they announced it.” Right? Wouldn’t that be neat?

Chris Hickman: Yeah. Well, that’s usually been like my experience, just watching the keynotes in real time is just like, they’ll just rattle off. Like, “Oh, this year we’re going to announce this,” and, “we just announced this.” And it’s like, that’s a whole company. That’s a whole company that you could go do a $30 million round on of VC, or 50 million and be, post-money, quarter billion dollar valuation, and they just rattle off, right?

Jon Christensen: Right, yeah.

Chris Hickman: There goes 10 of them. It’s almost like just spawning companies-

Jon Christensen: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it is.

Chris Hickman: … with these announcements. So it’s kind of mind boggling. But again, I mean, AWS is so big, this space, it’s such a big part of the economy now and they’re going so head-to-head with, especially in Microsoft with Azure. There’s a lot at stake and you cannot fall behind. You have to just figure a way to keep growing. That’s what AWS is really kind of running up against, I think, and probably at the forefront of their mind is, “How do we keep growing?” Because it was a lot easier five years ago, right?

Jon Christensen: Yeah. Once you’re a certain size, it feels like growth wouldn’t normally just naturally happen at the margins and not, “We’re doubling. We’re doubling again.” You also have here that content is spread over six venues. Last year I think I only got to two venues out of, say, five or six that were there. And at least one of the ones I went into did feel a little like, “Okay, this is not the heart of re:Invent.” So while it is spread over six venues, there are some kind of ghost town venues.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. So six venues spread two and a half miles from the most Northern one to the most Southern one. So that’s quite a distance that we’re covering here. And you can kind of break it up into the South strip venues versus the North strip. So at the North end, you have the Venetian, the Encore and the Mirage. And then on the South end you have the MGM Grand, ARIA and the Bellagio. And chances are you’re going to spend most of your time at the Venetian, the ARIA, and maybe the MGM Grand. The other three venues, definitely less, not as much content there. But you may have a session or two at those places. I think Encore would be the one that probably has the least amount of content and you may not even visit that venue.

Jon Christensen: Right. Interesting. I know, I’m not going to name a name, but I know somebody that recently got a job at AWS and I was kind of interested to see that person’s session and saw where it was and thought, “Oh, I guess I might not get to that one.”

Chris Hickman: Well, unfortunately, I mean location does come into play here with sessions that you can attend. So if you have sessions that even are an hour apart, but one’s at the very North and one’s at the South end, it’s just, it’s not going to happen. You can’t get from there to here.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, cool. There’s all these sessions, right? There’s sessions, and sessions, and sessions, but what are they? What is actually happening?

Chris Hickman: There’s four main types of content at re:Invent. So you have sessions, chalk talks, workshops and what they call builder sessions. And so sessions, this is kind of like the typical lecture style events content that we’re kind of used to at conferences. This is where you go and there’s a speaker, they go through a presentation, it’s an hour long, and then typically they’re going to have 10 to 15 minutes at the end for Q&A. And this covers topics at all levels. So it’s the introductory, the 200 level type material all the way up to the black belt 400 level, hold onto your hat or we’re going to go really deep. So lots of good information presented really, really quickly. And the other thing to keep in mind with this is that most of these are recorded. So if there are sessions that you can’t get to either because it’s full or it just doesn’t match with your calendar after re:Invent, definitely go and find that on their YouTube channel. And you should be able to see it.
Caveat, they do say that like, “Hey, all of these are recorded and you can see them,” but that’s not totally true. So I’ve noticed that after a certain, definitely after a certain amount of time, that not all of those sessions remain available in video format. So there’s been sessions that I wanted to go back and see and you go and try to find and it’s like, sorry, that video is no longer here. It’s been removed.

Jon Christensen: Well, and let’s be real. I mean, I was having that conversation. So now this year, some other folks from the Kelsus team are coming from Argentina. And I’m really excited for them to come up and participate in this. [inaudible 00:21:57] and Raul and Johnny and Noel are all coming up, and they had this argument that seemed pretty valid. It seems like they were like, “Oh yeah, we’re going to do more chalk talks and workshops and stuff because sessions they’re recorded and what’s the real point?” And I was like, “Oh no, no, no, no, no.” My main point against them was, how often do you spend time watching and conference online? How often do you really actually do that and go see all the sessions from some conference that people are buzzing about? And he answers like, “Okay, no, we don’t ever do that.”
Who really does that? Every once in a while, if there’s a conference talk that’s really popular and really doing the rounds, you might watch a little bit of it. Or if there’s one that’s really right up your alley, like in terms of you’re trying to build something new with a new tool that you don’t understand and have never used yet, maybe you’ll go walk and watch a talk about it before you get started. But I find it pretty rare that people will just go and watch a conference online. That’s sort of the point, is like, you go to the conference to force yourself to learn. That is when the learning happens, is when you’re like, “Okay, I’m in learning mode. I’m not in developer mode, I’m not in being around my family mode, I’m not in,” whatever it is. “I’m here to get this information into my head in a very short period of time and to get inspired also.” And sessions are the ones that do that I think more than any of the other types. What do you say Chris?

Chris Hickman: Absolutely. Me, personally, I’m typically going to sessions, the lecture style sessions because that just works best for me and it’s just, I’m going to get exposed to as much content as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And then I can pick out the points or areas or topics that I want to go dive deeper on, and then I can go find tutorials or I could just go play around with it myself and dive deeper. But I’m looking for this exposure type thing of, what are some of the new ideas? What are some of the new services? How do they interact? What are the integration points and whatnot? And [crosstalk 00:24:11]-

Jon Christensen: I’m having this epiphany though as you say this Chris. It’s like going to a conference is a forcing function for your attention. It actually could be more efficient for you to save up three or four conferences from a year. Like, “Okay, I’m going to do … this week, I’m going to get through re:Invent and I’m going to get through KubeCon and I’m going to get through DockerCon all this week and I’m going to watch all the videos that are important to me and I’m going to fast forward through the boring parts and just get all this information.” That could actually be more efficient if you had the attention span for it. If you weren’t getting distracted by what’s going on on Slack and what’s happening in the news and what’s doing this or what’s doing that, a conference forces you to sit in a room full of other people that are paying attention.
There’s something about that that works. And I was thinking about Mobycast too, it’s like because the podcast, people probably listening right now are either, maybe they’re doing something else and they’re kind of coming in and out and paying attention at times and not paying attention at times. But the nice thing about a podcast is that it works in a situation where you might be doing other things like driving or walking, whereas watching a video online, it kind of doesn’t. You got to watch the video and when you’re sitting in front of your computer watching a video, the distractions, especially people that are into social media or anything like that, the distractions are impossible. I don’t know, every time, every once in a while I’ll try to watch a video online and a lot of times I get through like two or three minutes of it and then meh. And I’ll leave that tab open for a week and then realize I’m never going to watch it. It happens all the time to me. And so podcasts are a great way to avoid that problem, and so are actually going to conferences.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. I mean, the way that I look at conferences is basically you’re giving yourself permission to go do this, this research, this learning. That is your job at that point in time. You are giving yourself permission to do it, and so you’re carving out that time and so yeah. You just have to just appreciate that for what it is. And that’s one of the great values of it. Yeah, they may have all the videos of the sessions that you wanted to attend online, but are you really going to sit through 25 hours of online video back at your desk when everything else is going on in your life? You no longer have-

Jon Christensen: Heck no. You never are. You just won’t.

Chris Hickman: You don’t have permission to do it.

Jon Christensen: I would like for each and every person that has sat through 25 hours of video after a conference to personally email me at jon@kelsus.com and let me know exactly how you pulled that off because I know you didn’t. Okay, cool.

Chris Hickman: Cool, so that’s sessions. So the second type of content is chalk talks. And so these are highly interactive content, much smaller audience. So the sessions can be anywhere between say a couple hundred all the way up to a thousand people or more in that room. Chalk talks, typically more like 50 to a hundred people type thing, and it’s delivered by an AWS expert where folds usually start off with 10, 15 minute lecture on a particular topic. And then after that the rest of it is just Q&A white boarding session with the audience.

Jon Christensen: Mm-hmm (affirmative), which doesn’t really work by the way. In my experience, the audience doesn’t know each other. They don’t feel comfortable asking questions or the questions that they do ask end up being more like, “I have more of a comment, less of a question.” And then they pontificate. It’s not my favorite format.

Chris Hickman: Do you pronounce that? AMA, or AMA, or AMI?

Jon Christensen: The chalk talks that I went to last year that were better were ones where they kind of treated it more like a session and just gave it a talk.

Chris Hickman: Cool. Personally, I have never attended a chalk talk.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, keep the streak alive, man. Good street to have.

Chris Hickman: All right. Awesome. All right. The third one, workshops. They’re two hours long. So this is the only sessions that are actually more than an hour. So these are double, two hours long, and they’re hands on sessions where you work in teams to solve problems using AWS. So it starts off 10, 15 minute lecture by main speaker and then the rest of the time that you’re working in groups on your laptops actually building something and solving a problem in a group environment. So those are workshops. And then the last one are builders sessions. And so these are one hour long or small group sessions. I think they limit it to about five people and one AWS expert and they start with a short explanation or demonstration of what you’re going to build and then you just go and build it. So obviously scoped pretty concise for you to be able to do something basically within the span of 45 minutes on AWS.

Jon Christensen: I know I went to one last year and I can’t remember whether it was a workshop or a builder session. It was kind of fun. I mean, if you need a break from sort of the barrage of content that you need to do something different for a little bit. It’s a great way of doing it. And, again, maybe when I explain what it was, you’ll know which it was Chris, but it was a room full of computers. They were all set up to just sort of hit play. And then once you hit play, you kind of were immersed in, in this case what was a Python Jupyter notebook and you went through the steps and you use SageMaker and you got some stuff done. And I didn’t really learn anything doing that. Just blank. I would say the reason I didn’t learn anything is because I already had pretty good solid understanding of how machine learning works, and I think that people without that solid understanding would have been like, “What am I even doing? I don’t even know why I’m clicking on these buttons and what’s actually happening.”
So it’s kind of a weird thing. It was kind of like, if you know machine learning then it’s not that helpful, and if you don’t, then it’s not that helpful. But it was still pleasant. It was like, “Oh, it’s kind of nice to just use a computer for an hour.”

Chris Hickman: Yeah, I think there are other things you can do at re:Invent, and this may be one of those, and I think they call these hands-on labs. It’s what you’re describing. So these don’t require any kind of … you don’t have to reserve any kind of registration. It’s just walk up to it and if there’s availability you can sit down and away you go. So I think that’s what it was that you attended.

Jon Christensen: Cool. And I think I probably did pick up a little bit of SageMaker specific stuff, but nothing that stuck with me. SageMaker is like you use a Python Jupyter notebook that’s hosted inside AWS. So you get to skip the part where you’re like, “Jupyter start.” It does that for you.

Chris Hickman: Awesome. Well, yeah. So those are the four main types of content sessions that they have at re:Invent and makes it over 2,500 of those. Then there’s additional things that you can do. There’s hackathons you can do, like I said, there’s the hands on labs, there’s the builder’s fair. There’s just tons of information there. So definitely spend some time, if you’re going, spend some time, do, do the planning. Identify what kind of sessions you want to go to, what topics you’re interested in and try to reserve, if you can, any sessions that you are interested in. If you can’t, if everything is wait listed, don’t despair. So I believe that the ratio is they allow 75% of the seats to be reserved and 25% is left for the wait list. And so if it’s a session you really want to go to, just to make sure you get in line I would say probably like 45 minutes before the session starts and I would almost guarantee you’re going to get into that.

Jon Christensen: Definitely. And I think the takeaway for people that are not going to re:Invent, why are we talking in so much detail? I think that the takeaway, the notes that we’ve hit that make sense for everybody is, go to conferences and get in. Go to sessions at conferences and learn at those sessions because it’s just a great way to get inspired to learn things quickly, to learn from experts, to be surrounded by the kinds of people that are going to make you better in your career.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. It goes back to like you’re giving yourself permission for personal development, for learning. You’re carving it out. There’s no other real expectations, or at least that’s the major expectation. You may still have to do some work in the mornings or in the evenings or whatnot just to keep up on things, but you have that dedicated time towards your personal development, towards [crosstalk 00:33:01]-

Jon Christensen: Right. And specifically conferences. Say you go to meet ups a lot and maybe you go to even two a week, a single conference can be six months worth of meetup, right?

Chris Hickman: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

Jon Christensen: Because a single meet up might have two talks in it and one of those talks might be kind of somebody just practicing something that’s totally not important to you and the other talk might be kind of good, but a conference and you might get 15, 20 pretty good talks if it’s a two day conference and even more if it’s a five day conference like re:Invent. So do it.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, absolutely. The quality is almost assuredly going to be much higher at something like … I know personally at re:Invent and I’m very happy with the quality of the content where it’s, I would say like 90% of the sessions I go to, I would give them an A, versus at other conferences. That’s not true.

Jon Christensen: Not true. Not always.

Chris Hickman: Not true.

Speaker 2: Just a sec. There’s something important you need to do. You must have noticed that Mobycast is ad-free, but Chris and Jon need your help to make this work for everyone. Please help the Mobycast team by giving us five stars on iTunes, writing positive reviews, and telling your colleagues, friends, neighbors, children, and pets about the show. Go ahead and do it now. Great. I promise not to ask you to do that again.

Chris Hickman: I thought maybe we could do some just general observations about re:Invent this year. So as I was going through the catalog, just kind of noticing some themes, and what stuck out to me, one of the big things that stuck out to me is that Kubernetes is really hot this year for AWS, which is kind of interesting. The same thing happened at DockerCon in 2018, was like this big radical shift whereas the previous year, there was maybe two sessions that mentioned Kubernetes. And then in 2018 it was over half the sessions mentioned Kubernetes. And so this year, 62 out of the 107 sessions, and this is as of four weeks ago, there’s probably more sessions now, but almost 60% of the sessions in the containers track are related to Kubernetes. That’s a lot. So AWS knows that Kubernetes-

Jon Christensen: Well, that makes sense, right? So containers, you can talk about them to death, but at some point they get to be a commodity. So you figure them out and move on. And then, okay, so how are we going to orchestrate containers? Well, Kubernetes is really complicated and you can talk about it forever because there’s so many things you can do with it. And then the other orchestrator that’s kind of the big one in the room is ECS and it’s less complicated and you can talk about it a lot, but not forever. It’s just not as big.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, and it also has the track history. They’ve been talking about it now for three or four re:Invents as well. But it was still a little bit a surprise to me that there wasn’t as much content on ECS. As we discussed in previous episodes of Mobycast, there’s been a lot of changes to ECS over the last 18 months. So kind of surprised not to see more content there, but yeah, Kubernetes, it’s very high. I think this really goes to AWS is just understanding people are running a hybrid environments, or-

Jon Christensen: They are.

Chris Hickman: … we want to move them from on-prem to the cloud. And if any of those situations, they’re using Kubernetes. And so Kubernetes is part of that migration path.

Jon Christensen: Right, there’s this bifurcation between legacy, on-prem, big co kind of environments and startups. And it’s like startups or small co environments I think should stay the heck away from Kubernetes and everyone else is on it. They have to be on it for various reasons. And it’s creating this divide I think in the community and the infrastructure community, it feels like. “Are you on Kubernetes yet?” And you’re like, if the answer’s no, you’re not team Kubernetes.

Chris Hickman: Team swarm. That’s a whole nother episode. We’ll get into that one. Cool. So another kind of observation is that just Serverless continues to be big. The Serverless track has, again, this is as of a month ago, 158 sessions. I’m sure there’s probably, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s over 200 sessions now in that track. And then other popular categories that kind of popped out to me are, IoT seems to be more popular this year. It seemed like last year it took a little bit of a backseat after the previous year when they kind of really went big into IoT with Greengrass and everything else. So that seems to be more of a focus this year. AI and ML of course, big, big topics that will continue. We’re going to continue to see advancements here and emphasis on this as these are just so important going forward. And then migration is another big category. How do we get from on-prem to the cloud? And so a lot of sessions around just topics in that area.

Jon Christensen: I was just thinking about an XKCD that I saw today, did you see it? Where it was the CAPTCHA for ML training and the CAPTCHA was the ones where there’s all the images and you have to click on the ones that have the thing in it. And the directions were to click on the ones that represent places that you would hide in a robot invasion.

Chris Hickman: There we got at training the robot-

Jon Christensen: The robots, they’re learning.

Chris Hickman: Training the system, yeah. We find you. There was John Mulaney, comedian, we were watching one of his standup routines the other day and he’s got this whole bit about CAPTCHAs where basically he’s like, “Using a computer, you end up spending 90% of your time just proving that you’re not a robot.” And so it’s like talking about the ridiculousness of these CAPTCHAs. “Prove you’re not a robot to me. Which of these are sidewalks?” And he said, “Well, you’ve done well, but can you show me which one of these have traffic lights?” It’s like, you’re not a robot. This is what it’s come to.

Jon Christensen: It is.

Chris Hickman: Cool, moving on, some sessions or events that we’re looking forward to, like I said, I spent a lot of time going through the catalog. I am reserved, I think for probably about 20 different breakout sessions. So I’m pretty happy so far with my calendar. And some of the ones in particular that I’m looking forward to are, there’s an architecture talk about how to reduce your blast radius with cell-based architectures.

Jon Christensen: Oh, that’ll be interesting.

Chris Hickman: So it sounds pretty cool. There’s another one that is an under the hood episode where it’s all about how Amazon builds resilient services at any scale. So kind of another architecture one that I’m looking forward to going to. There’s a session on Amazon’s approach to security during development. We always talk about how security is no fun, but at the end of the day it’s so important and I’m actually … I do geek out on that stuff. So I’m looking forward to that talk.

Jon Christensen: Well, and it’s a source of entropy, right? If your security is good at point A and then you do work and then you haven’t been doing security thinking along that time, and then you measure again, your security is going to be worse in a few months.

Chris Hickman: Yup, absolutely. Entropy. And then a few others, there’s a deep dive on the CDK, the Cloud Development Kit. This is interesting, right? They announced this last year and it’s going to become part of our toolkit. So this is using, you can yet use actual programming language code to manage your infrastructure instead of using YAML with CloudFormation and whatnot. So there’s other companies that have sprung up that have competing offerings, but it’s interesting to see what AWS is coming up with that. And then there’s a deep dive that I’m going to on the Nitro System. So we talked a little bit about this on our-

Jon Christensen: Oh yeah.

Chris Hickman: … VMs and containers episode, right? So that’ll be interesting. How about you, John? Any-

Jon Christensen: I’m going to go to all of those same ones so that I seem smarter on future episodes of Mobycast.

Chris Hickman: Awesome. Have you seen the movie, the Italian Job?

Jon Christensen: No, I haven’t.

Chris Hickman: Oh, okay. So the group of basically thieves, they steal some gold from bad guys, of course. So it makes the theft not as bad, if you’re stealing people

Jon Christensen: Okay, yeah. I agree with that. Let’s get [crosstalk 00:42:04]-

Chris Hickman: So after they’ve stolen the gold that they’re talking about. What are they going to do with their shares? And each one of them goes around and they’re like, “Oh, I’m going to go buy a Spanish Villa and have my own personal cobbler make my shoes for me.” And someone else like, “I’m going to get this really awesome fancy sports car,” and the other guy’s going to get like, “I’m gonna get a speaker system that’s just boss.” And the other guy’s like, “Oh”. “What are you going to do?” Edward Norton plays the characters, like “Well, what are you going to get?” And he’s like, “I don’t know. What you guys said sounds good. I’ll have one of each.” So it’s just like, whatever you guys are doing, I’m going to do, right?

Jon Christensen: Yup. One session I’m looking forward to is one that I saw Ben Kehoe mentioned on Twitter, he’s the AWS hero that’s really outspoken about Serverless. And he’s like a real Serverless purist. And I think it’s kind of interesting to get that purist point of view because I, frankly Ben, I don’t think that purists and software mix very well, but I’m curious to go listen to what he has to say. And the one thing that is good about being a purist is that if you’re a purist with your vision, your direction is likely to be good. It’s just, if you’re a purist with your actual execution, you’re going to have a hard time. So I’m interested to hear what he has to say.
And I said something like, “I’m only going to go to sessions where I know the people on Twitter.” And then everybody jumped all over me for saying that. And it was a joke, but they were like, “No, you have to use re:Invent as a way to get further out there and meet more people.” And I was like, “God, I will. It was a joke.”

Chris Hickman: You forgot to do LOL after the tweet or something like that, right?

Jon Christensen: Yes.

Chris Hickman: Cool. So some other sessions, I know I always look forward to the keynotes.

Jon Christensen: Me too.

Chris Hickman: So especially the Andy Jassy keynote and Werner Vogels, his keynote. It’s interesting, this year, almost every previous time they’ve been on back to back days. So usually it’s like Andy’s on Wednesday and Werner’s on Thursday. This year, Andy’s is on Tuesday and Werner’s is on Thursday. So there’s a gap day between them, which is … I don’t know. I’ll have to see.

Jon Christensen: So you don’t have to wake up early twice in a row. That’s nice.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, twice. Yeah, you’re right. And I’m really hoping that they … I really wish they would have brought it back to the MGM because … so the MGM, they have the arena there.

Jon Christensen: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. That would be so nice, to have like that elevated seating really makes-

Chris Hickman: Yeah. It was like, the energy was just crazy off the hook. I mean, it was kind of almost, I mean magical and-

Jon Christensen: Right. Well, and whenever you put 10,000 people in a flat floored room, it’s just going to be awkward.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. Kind of feels like lunch.

Jon Christensen: Lunch. Brought lunch everyone.

Chris Hickman: Without food.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, and sitting really close to each other.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, indeed. So anyhow, the keynotes, if you can attend them in person, you really should because the energy levels is very, very high. Otherwise, livestream, they have livestream locations all over the campus. And of course you can do it on your own, over the inter-tubes back at hotel room, or if you’re not going to re:Invent you can watch them. So check them out. Something else to look for, the expo of course, two locations and the primary one’s at the Venetian, and then there’s a slightly smaller one over at the ARIA, the ARIA Quad. So tons of vendor booths. If you’re into t-shirts, you’ll never have to buy a t-shirt again. Just go to the expo and you will get tons of swag.

Jon Christensen: You can get yourself a Datadog t-shirt for every day of the week.

Chris Hickman: You absolutely can. And maybe some notable things there are the AWS Village. So this is just a dedicated part of that expo floor that is just all for AWS. So just almost all the teams are there-

Jon Christensen: And it’s pretty cool. It is.

Chris Hickman: Yes, it is. So if you want to go and just ask some hard questions of the services teams, that’s the place to go.

Jon Christensen: And they’re pretty nice about it.

Chris Hickman: They are. They like to talk about, I mean, they’re proud of what they, what they do, and they want to be helpful. So, I mean, this is one of the leadership principles of Amazon, is just customer obsession. So they want to be helpful.

Jon Christensen: Right, and developers are kind of notoriously picky or we pick on people, and I definitely overheard a lot of people walking up to AWS folks going like, “So why didn’t you do X functionality when you decided to build Y?” And it’s always kind of like that. Why didn’t you think of this smart thing that I’m telling you right now? And people are super friendly, “Oh yeah, that’s a great idea. Here’s what we were thinking when we did it.” It was really, really professional, the way people approach it. I think it’s great.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, indeed. And then another thing to look forward to at the expo is Startup Central. So this is, again, another big dedicated space there where it’s really just dedicated to startups. So AWS definitely wants to show startups like, “We are a great place for you to start off with, to host your infrastructure on,” and just give you the resources that you need in order to be successful as you can. So there’s, in this startup central area, they have specific tech talks, they have speed networking activities, there’s mentorship opportunities where you can be one on one with a mentor. You can engage with other startups and do your networking and all that kind of good stuff. So if you are at a startup company or are interested in that, definitely check out Startup Central.

Jon Christensen: Yeah. I think I’m going to spend a lot of time there this year. I think this year I’m going to spend a lot of time just around the expo and in that startup area and with the AWS in the AWS lounge, maybe even more so than sessions and stuff, and definitely more than last year because I think for me and people with roles like me where your role is kind of business development focused or connections focused, that’s where you can meet the people that you want to meet. But I’m a geek too and I want to go learn everything. So it’s a hard balance.

Chris Hickman: Can’t do it all.

Jon Christensen: Yeah.

Chris Hickman: But we can try our best, right? re:Invent is pretty arduous for sure. So much to do, not enough time. And so sleep gets sacrificed for sure.

Jon Christensen: It does.

Chris Hickman: And speaking of that, so parties, lots of parties going on during the … I mean 50,000 plus people, tons of money, marketing money, being thrown at it, so there’s going to be parties. So there’s the official AWS party re:Play, that’s on Thursday, and that’s a lot of fun. So definitely-

Jon Christensen: It is super fun.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. I mean there’s lots of things to do there.

Jon Christensen: There’s enough distraction that you can kind of forget the fact that the balance of people there is not quite right. You know what I mean? It’s a little weird to have to go to a party with 30,000 other tech geeks that are mostly men, but there’s just so much to do. And the music is loud and it’s fun and the food is good and it doesn’t feel like it’s about getting people to drink as much as they can. Everybody seems to … it’s not like a drink fest, which is also nice.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. I mean there’s too much stuff to do, again. So whether it be playing console arcade games or dodgeball or broomball, there’s the light show, I mean the inflatable playground thing. I mean there’s so much stuff there to do and tons of food walking around and you can just graze all night if you want, although at some point you got to stop, right?

Jon Christensen: Right, and I know, Chris, that you and I have talked about this, you haven’t seen the TV show Halt and Catch Fire, which is absolutely one of my favorite series ever. And you will watch it. We will get this into your head at some point. But there’s a wonderful, wonderful scene during the first season where this company is trying to sell computers, this computer that they’ve made, and then it’s going to be a PC compatible computer that’s competing against other PC compatible computers out there, and it’s one of the first portable computers and it’s only 15 pounds. But the way that they decided to market it is they go to COMDEX, which, I don’t know if COMDEX was really the name of CES before it was CES, but they go to-

Chris Hickman: It was, yeah.

Jon Christensen: Okay, yeah. They go to COMDEX and they rent a room at the nicest hotel in Vegas, the one where it’s really happening where everybody is, and everybody comes, and they have shrimp and drinks and everything. And everybody comes into this party where they’re going to get to see the new computer and then … That’s how they were going to sell this computer. And it was like, “Oh, this is so cool.” And this is not the way that CES probably works these days, and the way that re:Invent obviously works is not that way anymore. It’s not like, “Let’s get a little room and show the important people the thing that we’re trying to sell. But that spirit of building something and trying to get people excited about it is definitely there at re:Invent. And so I’m excited to just be around that spirit.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, and make no mistake about it, there are. That activity is going on at these big conferences. Because there’s a lot of companies out there that can’t afford to go put a booth on the show floor, so they do have hotel rooms and they are trying to book meetings and show people what they’ve got.

Jon Christensen: Fair point, yeah.

Chris Hickman: So there’s lots of stuff going on, yeah.

Jon Christensen: Yeah. So fine though. It’s so cool. You’re going to love that when you watch it, and everybody that loves technology and business and startups and all that kind of stuff would love that show. So definitely watch it.

Chris Hickman: Cool. Awesome. Yeah, and then it’s not just AWS putting on parties, all the major vendors have their own party. There are websites out there that list all the parties going on. There’s Twitter feeds that list all the parties that are going on. We’ll have that in the show notes for anyone that’s interested, but just … I was doing some perusing through that and some of the things that just kind of look interesting are Sumo Logic, they’re hosting their Sumo Slam Jam with live Sumo wrestlers. So if you want to see live Sumo wrestling and food and drinks and all that kind of stuff in an arena, you can go to the Sumo Logic party. And MongoDB, they’re having a pop up playground at the industrial, and it’s kind of a little secretive. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it sounds pretty interesting.
Slalom and Snowflake and Tableau have joined together to have some sort of fiesta at Margaritaville. So you can do that. The team behind the Serverless framework, they’re having a happy hour at the Tao restaurant. I thought this one was kind of funny. Threat Stack, CloudHealth, PagerDuty, Logicworks, they’re having a recovery brunch at Yardbird on Wednesday morning.

Jon Christensen: That’s funny.

Chris Hickman: Yardbird is actually a really good restaurant too.

Jon Christensen: It is.

Chris Hickman: So it’s kind of like the recovery brunch Yardbird.

Jon Christensen: Yeah. And we should get to these while the getting is good, because all this excess money in this space, especially the VC-provided money that may be doing some of this, it might not be there forever, so enjoy it while you can. Thank you VCs.

Chris Hickman: Indeed, yes.

Jon Christensen: All right, I think we better wrap it up after this, Chris.

Chris Hickman: I think so. Maybe we could do some predictions.

Jon Christensen: Okay.

Chris Hickman: So what about you, Jon? Any predictions for what we’ll see at re:Invent? Like we could do with announcements or services?

Jon Christensen: Oh yeah. I think I’ve done this prediction already, but I do think that we are going to see an announcement that basically says you can run, it’s basically the ability to run Serverless. So like one step beyond Fargate, where you just sort of point either Lambda or some other thing in AWS at a image in a container registry and it’ll just scale to whatever from that without any kind of like, here’s how many workload units I need or how it’s going to scale or any sort of like knowledge of what’s inside. Like the way Google Cloud Run works. I think we’ll see something like that.

Chris Hickman: Cool. Yeah, I would not be surprised to see stuff in that space. I think for me, the major themes are just going to be AWS really needs to drive growth. And so for that, that means they’ve got to really focus on hybrid and on-prem. They also have to make, there’s this overarching problem of, we’ve talked about this, the pace of innovation is increasing. It’s accelerating, it’s hard to keep up, it becomes harder to … it’s really kind of harder to build an architect. Because you have to know more and more information. So how do they make it easier to consume the AWS services? So we’re going to see a lot more, I think in that space. We saw last year they announced Control Tower, Security Hub, Lake Formation. These are all designed to help you consume these services easier and kind of reduce that cognitive load. So I think we’ll see more in that space. I think we’ll see more willing of startups.

Jon Christensen: I wouldn’t imagine that it’d be super useful, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something like a 20 questions style architecture planner kind of thing.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, maybe. It might be integrated in with the Well-Architected Tool as well. And then I think for more concrete predictions, I think they’re definitely going to see a lot around Lambda.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, for sure. Lambda is the hot, it continues to be just the hot, hot, hot and Serverless.

Chris Hickman: Well, and not only that, there’s just so much that can be improved. It’s pretty still in its infancy.

Jon Christensen: It is. It is.

Chris Hickman: It was just last year that they announced Lambda Layers, which is a big step forward-

Jon Christensen: And Runtimes, yup.

Chris Hickman: But it’s still hard to work with them. It’s not easy to find Layers and to share that and whatnot. So this is my prediction, is that they’re going to have an artifact repository for Lambda Layers, and so [crosstalk 00:56:41]-

Jon Christensen: Right, which essentially is-

Chris Hickman: Basically a marketplace.

Jon Christensen: Right. The prediction that I just made and then prediction you just made are essentially the same prediction. It’s like, “Well, hey look at this, there’s a whole way that you can package up code and put it into a repository and it’s called containers and it’s called a container repository. So what if you could just throw a container image at Lambda and it would just take care of it?” That’s so worth talking to in the same direction. But it’s like how do you market that and how do you say it just right? Because everybody kind of gets … the Serverless purists get kind of, their hair kind of rises when you say that you’re going to put containers into Lambda and then … It’s not quite the same, but they’re very much approaching each other. How do you get code into a thing that just runs it?

Chris Hickman: Yeah, again, it’s like how do you make it easier to consume these services to build things that actually work and come up to speed quicker and so there’s lots, lots of improvements. I think the whole developer experience with Lambda, there’s just so much opportunity there-

Jon Christensen: Yeah, so much.

Chris Hickman: And this is part of that developer experience. So it’s like this was the big [crosstalk 00:57:47]-

Jon Christensen: They need a partner for that though. Don’t make it easier for me in Cloud9, make it easier for me in, what’s the name of that tool that everybody uses? Code? Code? VS Code. View it there.

Chris Hickman: Yeah. And what I’m specifically talking here with this artifact, I mean, this is like so easy to do. And it’s so needed because, last year they were talking about like, “Okay, you can create these layers and you can share them, but if you want to share them, they have to be public and you have to give someone the ARN to go to do it. So it’s like I have to give you basically this GUI for you to know how to actually be able to use that layer, which is just kind of crazy. It should be like NPM for [crosstalk 00:58:34] the layers. Right? That’s what they need.

Jon Christensen: Yes. That’s what they need. Yeah, that is what they need. They need a dependency manager for Lambda.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, I predict they will announce that.

Jon Christensen: Another overarching theme I expect to see is a little bit more of an acknowledgement and some sort of way of addressing the fact that Azure is creeping up and getting a lot of interest from the exact same market that AWS wishes that they were doing better with and it is focusing on. So I expect to see some sort of nod in that direction, whether it’s snark, whether it’s [inaudible 00:59:01] or whether it’s services that actually contend with it. I’m not sure what it’ll be, but the name Azure is going to be in the room.

Chris Hickman: Well, the big elephant in the room is them losing the Jedi contract. So how is that going to be discussed, if at all? So that was a big blow, I think, to AWS to lose a $10 billion contract that they kind of, from the get-go, were shooting for, and they lost it to Azure.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, Azure, Azure, tomato, tomato. Okay, well man, we really need to wrap up here [crosstalk 00:59:36]-

Chris Hickman: Yes. All right.

Jon Christensen: Yes. Thank you so much, Chris.

Chris Hickman: Yeah, thank you Jon.

Jon Christensen: That was so fun. It was fun to just keep it at a high level for a week.

Chris Hickman: You bet.

Jon Christensen: I hope everybody enjoyed.

Chris Hickman: See you in Vegas.

Jon Christensen: Yeah, see you in Vegas.

Chris Hickman: All right, bye.

Jon Christensen: Bye.

Stevie Rose: Nobody listens to podcasts outros. Why are you still here? Oh, that’s right. It’s the outro song. Come talk to us at mobycast.fm or on Reddit at r/mobycast.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons