The Docker Transition Checklist

19 steps to better prepare you & your engineering team for migration to containers

36. Preparing for Re:Invent 2018

Chris Hickman and Jon Christensen of Kelsus and Rich Staats from Secret Stache discuss what to expect and how to get the most value at re:Invent 2018 in November. Are you going? If so, have you already put together a game plan?

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • Based on past years, expect thousands of attendees, multiple venues, tons of material and content, and thousands of sessions over a period of a few days
  • Introductory to advanced sessions are for AWS customers, practitioners, or developers
  • Content Categories: Sessions, Chalk Talks, Workshops, and Builder Sessions
  • Topics focus on Cloud, AWS, serverless, analytics, security, databases, and containers
  • Expo floor features hundreds of vendors offering Amazon add-ons, integrations, solutions, or core guidance
  • AWS Village: Various AWS teams have their own booths with experts and pros; place to network and listen to/participate in conversations
  • Get ready to be super impressed by the keynotes and associated announcements
  • Feel the energy and excitement around AWS’ goals, mission, and vision
  • AWS is into developer tools and other things that touch practitioners, but doesn’t yet offer a content management system (CMS), like WordPress
  • AI is coming along and serverless computing is the biggest thing AWS has done recently; eventually, things get too hard, there’s too many decision points, leave it to machines
  • More than 2,000 sessions spread over five venues is a logistical nightmare; can be challenging to pick sessions you want to go to (and everybody else does, too)
  • What to Wear: It’s mostly t-shirts, jeans, and good walking shoes; bring a sweater because session rooms are air-conditioned and get chilly
  • Take certification exams on site for convenience; certification stickers give you access to certification lounges

Links and Resources

re:Invent 2018

DynamoDB System

Brian Krzanich (former Intel CEO)


Andy Jassy

Werner Vogels

Steve Ballmer



Secret Stache Media

Rich: In episode 36 of Mobycast, we look ahead to re:Invent 2018, discuss what to expect as well as offer a few practical tips to get the most value. Welcome to Mobycast, a weekly conversation about containerization, Docker and modern software deployment. Let’s jump right in.

Jon: Welcome, Chris and Rich to another episode of Mobycast. Rich, let’s hear what you’ve been up to this week.

Rich: I finished up a district website, recreation district website that’s turned out pretty good. I’ve been pretty much focused on that for the last five days or so.

Jon: That’s super fun because you live over two hours away from me but that website recreation district that you’ve been working on is for the one that I live in, so that’s going to impact me. I’m excited.

Rich: Yeah. I also lived there too. It’s not a far reach for me working on the project. But yeah, it’s fun, it’s coming to an end. We’re starting to get a couple requests for, sometimes agencies will well I don’t dilly-dally and the next thing you know, they have to get stuff done by the end of the year and they haven’t started. We’re starting to get a lot of those, “Oh my god, can you help us?” requests which are nice because we can charge a lot at the same time, it’s like, “Do you really want to run into the New Year with that much stress?” so I’m debating because I had a revenue goal that we might come up shy on. If I do these actually, they’ll definitely pass it, but to what.

Jon: You got to do it, Rich.

Rich: Yeah, we’ll see.

Jon: That’s funny. Chris, how about you? What have you been up to?

Chris: Yeah, just busy, busy, busy. I’m kind of working on reorganizing my team to reduce some of my overhead so introduced a new team member. Now, I have three different product teams for a particular client and just getting that all slotted together and working. That’s been a multi month project and it seems like it’s come together. I’m pretty happy with that. And also learning how to draw architecture diagrams and studying for my next AWS certification exam which I’m taking in a few days.

Jon: Fantastic. I also am studying for a certification exam. I will be taking my first one at re:Invent which is the topic of this show. We’re going to talk about AWS re:Invent that’s coming up at the end of November and both Chris and I will be there and we’re both super excited to go. If you’re listening to this, you may be going or you may not be so I would say if you’re going, you probably already are starting to put together a game plan.

But maybe we’ll have some information for you that could be useful. If you’re not going, then probably by the end of this, you’ll have such of that so the next year, you’re definitely going to go. Let’s just jump right in. I guess, let’s just say quickly Chris, give a quick overview, what is this thing? What’s the point of it and how big is it and all that good stuff.

Chris: Yeah, as far as technical conferences go, this is one of the biggest ones out there. It’s been going on now for I think four or five years. Last year was the first one that I actually went to. It’s been on my list to go to this one and I finally did go last year for the first time. I was definitely blown away by just the sheer size of it. It was over 40,000 attendees. The content was spread over three separate venues there in Las Vegas along the strip and that seems kind of reasonable. The Vegas strip, a couple of blocks away, it’s actually 45 minutes worth of walking.

One end of the strip was The Venetian the other one was MGM Grand and then it had The Aria in between those two. That’s a 45-minute walk from one to the other. So very large scale just tons of just the material and content, just thousands of sessions to go to that are just packed in over a period of five days. It really is kind of like drinking from the fire hose. They have introductory level content and all the way up to really advanced level content, so really, something for everyone. If you’re into cloud computing and especially AWS, this is the conference to go to. To just really learn. It’s a great opportunity to learn about stuff, go deeper in stuff that you already know and then also to be exposed to new things and other tangential areas.

Jon: You’re just talking about who maybe should go and it’s sort of like any customer of AWS that uses it plus any AWS practitioner and developer. Companies or people that get in the AWS that mix stuff in it. That list I think within a couple more years it might just be everybody in the planet. Basically, if you live on our planet, you probably are using AWS and would benefit from re:Invent. There’s not anybody that couldn’t benefit from going to it I guess is what I’m saying.

I guess let’s talk a little bit about, what kind of stuff is there, what kind of talks are there, how it’s organized and how it’s set up. Not geographically, not like how many hotels and stuff, but like, what are the things that they do? Is it going to rooms and listening to people speak? What kind of stuff is it?

Chris: There are many different types of sessions and events that are going on ranging from things like parties or after hours type of stuff. There’s the keynote sessions which are pretty amazing and actually interesting, entertaining keynote sessions that they have. Then the actual technical content, broadly, there’s four different categories of that content. The first one would be sessions and so these are the lecture style, traditional breakout sessions where there’s some topic, you have an expert one or two experts that are presenting that material lecture style. And then sometimes, they will have depending on how long the content goes, they may or may not have some time for some Q&A at the end. Usually, it doesn’t work out that way. Usually, there’s so much material that they end up taking almost a full 60 minutes it feels like.

Jon: And Chris will probably send a couple of those and end up bringing them down in Mobycast right?

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah and they cover all topics at all levels. I think this year in the catalog, they break things down and spend over about 25 different topics I think. Things like serverless, and analytics, and security, and identity databases, containers so topics like that. There’s probably at least 20, 25 topics.

Jon: I was going to say, don’t start reading that list.

Chris: Exactly. And then different ranging from 200 level all the way up to 400 level materials. Those are the sessions, that’s definitely the meat and potatoes of the content. That’s the bulk of what these sessions are and then a second vehicle for the content are the chalk talks–and these are relatively new. I think they introduced these actually maybe last year and what they are, definitely much smaller sessions.

You have an AWS expert that gives basically a 10 to 15 minutes talk about the particular topic and then after that, the remaining 45 minutes or so are just spent doing Q&A with the audience and kind of getting up at a white board and doing things real time. Very interactive. If you’re using AWS or stuck on some sort of issue or you want to know maybe there’s a better way of doing it, these are great sessions to go attend because you can ask those kinds of questions and brainstorm with experts.

In a way. it’s kind of like free expert level consulting and engineering right there on the spot. The third one are the workshops. These are these 2-hours workshop sessions that are really just hands on session, bring your laptop, it’ll be on a particular objective for that workshop. The instructor will set it up with the 10 to 15 minute overview and then after that, you’ll break off into groups and work on whatever it is that you’re going to be building during that workshop. Maybe it’s like, you’re going to set up a DynamoDB system with some tables and some keys and properties in there and maybe wire up with some API gateway. You actually have like an end-to-end kind of application type of thing–so those kinds of material.

Jon: Sorry to interrupt, just to make it more clear. One of the examples I saw was building like a translation. I forgot the name of it, but when you speak and then AWS transcribes your speech and then translates it into another language and then transmits it back out as a spoken word. One of the ones was to build something that did that.

Chris: Right, yeah.

Jon: That’s an example of something you might build and it looks kind of fun. Yeah, you can build that in two hours.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Those are the workshops. I just realized, those are basically double sessions. So they’re two hours instead of the normal 60 minutes. That’s something to take into account when you’re building that in your schedule in the catalog. Then the fourth is something that’s a bit more new, they call them builder sessions. They’re one hour long, they’re kind of like a mini workshop.

You have small groups. I think they’re up to .five attendees with one facilitator. You have a short explanation again or demonstration of what it is you’re going to build, and then you spend the rest of the time building that and getting that help along the way from the person that’s facilitating that session. So one hour you build something pretty cool and it’s a much more intimate smaller environment.

Jon: You and I were talking about this earlier, because I was trying to figure out what I should do, and your tell me what you were going to do. I think, your job role plays a big role in what you should do, so Chris is the VP of technology at Kelsus, and you make a lot architectural decisions, you design a lot of software, you do a lot of the AWS work yourself, make sure that things are set up the way they should be, and help people with setting things up. You just need just downright content. You need to know what’s going on in AWS and know how to use it and be expert at it. I think you’re going to probably end up going to a lot of sessions, right?

Chris: Correct. Yeah.

Jon: Because that’s the most information per minute that you can get basically, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Jon: I was thinking for myself, some of those may make sense, especially if they’re particularly interesting, but as somebody who’s more sales marketing-focused, spending my entire AWS re:Invent inside sessions, is a great way for me to not be seen and not meet people. I was thinking that for a lot of the things that I do, I should go to smaller things like chalk talks or actually really chalk talks a lot, because that gives me a chance to meet people and interact with them in a group setting, in a more natural way than walking around a conference floor and trying to strike up a conversation with a random person, which is always a little awkward. In chalk talks, you can start to see, “Oh, that person kind of knows their stuff,” or “That person has the type of problem that Kelsus is really good at solving. I think I might try to get into some of those.

Chris: Yeah, I think that’s a great plan. We’ve talked about this as well. I think that the expo floor is a great place—that’s one thing we haven’t mentioned yet. As all technical conferences, there’s an expo that have hundreds of vendors offering Amazon add-ons or integrations or solutions or core guidance on the show floor, there with booths and just tons of information. It’s really interesting to me to—one, I mean, you can go speak to the vendors and find out more about what it is that they’re doing, and see whether or not the problem that they’re solving kind of rings a bell or it’s applicable to what you’re doing. But it’s also really interesting to hear just kind of like listening to what other people are asking as they come up to these vendors.

It’s a great reference point of understanding what are the common problems that people are facing out there, what are these common questions and what not. Sometimes what happens is, you can actually end up answering the questions for them, too. I don’t think the vendors really appreciate that.

Ron: I know from my experience on expo floor type situations, if you’re a VC or an entrepreneur, that is a good place to spend a lot of time, because there is no better insight into the market than looking at the market just all laid up there before your eyes.

Chris: Yeah, indeed. The other thing that’s interesting about the expo floor at re:Invent is that AWS itself, they give themselves a big footprint there–it’s called AWS village. This is where all the various teams of AWS have their own booths and they’re all co-located there in that one area. They bring the experts, they bring the pros. These are the folks actually working on those, they’re not just limited to marketing folks or support folks, these are the people doing that work. If you have any deep challenging questions about any kind of AWS product or service, that’s a great listing out. It’s also where business people are going to be there as well, just a really great resource.

Ron: It’ll be interesting just thinking about my own self and going on into the AWS village. Essentially, stalking down some of the AWS people that I follow on Twitter and meeting them in person. I think that would be a great place to do that type stuff.

Chris: As you mentioned, a lot of these sessions are content that’s delivered by AWS employees. What I’ve noticed is a lot of them will just go hang out at the village, too, after doing sessions and whatnot. It’s a great place to just network and just listen to conversations and participate yourself.

Ron: Right. I want to talk about the keynotes next. One of the only big keynotes I’ve ever seen in my life is delivered by the former CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, I think was his name. And before that keynote, I was just kind of joking around with a friend and talking with a friend that worked at Intel and my friend was saying, “Yeah, there’s a tendency to do vision casting and strategy by keynote,” which was sort of like a, “What?”

What he was saying to me is that, sometimes the rest of Intel finds out what Intel strategy is by going to the keynote and listening to it and then, “Oh, I guess those are the commitments we’re making to the world.” That’s sort of a horrible thing to do as a company and that particular CEO is no longer the CEO of Intel, but I assume that that’s not what AWS does. I’ve never seen an Andy Jassy keynote but, yeah, maybe tell me what we might expect of you guys.

Chris: Like I said, last year was the first year that I’ve gone to. I was super impressed with both keynotes. There are two keynote sessions, the first keynote which is on the on Wednesday of re:Invent week is done by Andy Jassy, that is a 2 ½-hour long keynote session, which you might be thinking, “Oh my goodness, that is a long keynote.” But the thing is that it certainly didn’t feel long. I mean, it was just unbelievably jam packed with announcements

They must’ve announced at least 20 major things during that one keynote session. I was thinking to myself, each one of those announcements was like the equivalent of a startup company or a smaller company like, “This is what we’ve been working on all year and this is this huge announcement. We’re going to go get a round of funding based on that. We’re going to go raise $20 million on it.”

Jon: Right, not a sort of company with the seed round, but like a Series B startup company.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. They did 20 of those and it’s almost like nonchalant, like, “Oh, by the way, we did this. Oh, we did this.” It’s just really impressive on what it is that they are announcing and releasing during that session. Also, Andy did a really good job of just painting the whole picture and the business environment kind of what their goals are, what their mission is, the vision. It’s one of those things where it’s hard not to get wrapped up into it and just really feel the energy and the and the excitement. There is a lot to be said of just being there in person and experiencing it, hearing it. You’re like, “Wow, they’re not sitting on their laurels,” I mean, they are they’re pushing full steam ahead.

Jon: You talk about the vision and we have done sort of an AWS falling over under its own weight because they’re just into everything […] before. I was like, what vision could you possibly have aside from, “If there’s a computer out there, processing some information, we want that to be an AWS computer.” that’s what the vision is, process all the things.

Chris: Sure, I mean there’s a Microsoft computer on every desk and running Microsoft software and this is the same thing. They wanted to touch an AWS software and infrastructure and services. There’s a lot more computers now and it continues to grow. The market share is just expanding at a much faster rate and just technologies is reaching its tentacles out into so many areas and so many different niches and businesses. Yeah, lots of possibilities for them to go into.

The keynote is just really cool and interesting to see and to get that perspective kind of like at the higher level. It’s kind of hard for a company as big as Amazon is now in for as much stuff that they have going on for everyone to be on the same page. I’m sure there are folks that work at Amazon, they’re like, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that’s with the AIML stuff that they’re doing over there in that team.”

Jon: I realized what I said, maybe it may have been a bit confusing. I wanted to say that strategy by keynote literally means you aren’t even sure if you’re going to be able to meet the commitments that you’re making during a keynote. You’re painting a grand vision and then kind of not living up to it. That is sort of the problem in Intel, right? I don’t think Amazon has that, AWS does not have that problem.

Chris: No, I’m pretty sure they have. I mean just like with many companies, they have roadmaps and they have general outlines for what they want to do over the next year, the next three years, five years and whatnot. Of course, everything is changing so rapidly like, that’s going to be pretty flexible. They aren’t very well-known for their small teams, there are two bits of teams and they they’re kind of organizing in autonomous fashion. They are known for just throwing resources at something, and it may or may not turn out to be something that has a return, and they’re not afraid of that.

Jon: You know what I just realized, I was thinking about what could AWS do that they just really haven’t conquered yet. What area can they get into that big, it’s part of the computer industry, and they just don’t have a good solution there yet, and I just was like, “Wait a minute, Rich is sitting right here with us.” Rich is on WordPress and so is two thirds of the internet and AWS does not have a content management system that I know of or if they do, it’s not very popular.

It’s just sort of interesting to me that that’s not an area that they are putting an effort into. That’s not to say that all the WordPress I thought there in the world, like probably two thirds of those are running on AWS in one way or another via third party hosting that itself is running on AWS or directly under AWS. It’s kind of interesting like they’ve got into developer tools and some of the other things that touch actual practitioners, but they haven’t tried to kill WordPress.

Chris: They need to hire some UX designers before they can vote CMS.

Jon: I totally agree with that.

Chris: Yeah, you can just imagine what the UI would look like.

Jon: Yeah, that could be it. I mean it could just be that CMS gets too far into stuff that has to look nice and have UX that is loadable, but clearly that is not their focus and has not ever been.

Chris: Do you remember when Google refused to load a style sheet because they want to slow things down? Now, Google docs has one of the biggest style sheets. I think that eventually, they’re going to have to go into that realm.

Jon: Yeah, maybe we’ll hear about that at this re:Invent. Maybe this time maybe they’re like, “Okay, WordPress is looking a little bit vulnerable because they’re running on pretty old software.” It could be that they decide, “Now is the time.”

Chris: God I hope not, I don’t want to be a coal miner that quick. I’ll take the contrarian build. I don’t see that happening. I think they’re just fine with WordPress running on AWS infrastructure and the app itself is still in transition. There’s not a lot of business value there for them and revenue perhaps to extract for. Instead, they’ll go after things like prescription medicine, right, disrupting the retail marketplace.

Jon: I think that’s a great point like thinking of it from a business perspective. The parts of the WordPress ecosystem that don’t happen on AWS already is marginal. It’s like the databases are inside AWS already, the processing is already happening inside of AWS and the only stuff that’s left is just the software that people don’t even pay for.

Chris: Yeah.

Jon: Interesting. All right so let’s talk about some practical tips.

Chris: Yeah maybe before we move on, that was the Andy Jassy keynote, and then the second one on Thursday is when Werner Vogels gives his keynote. He’s the CTO for AWS. This seems really typical on these conferences. The first keynote is done with more of like from a business guy and then the second one is more of the technical one. Werner gives more of the technical keynote to kind of get a painting the strategy, that vision like what does the future look like, where are they going.

This one and definitely not going to do a lot as many announcements or whatnot, but it does paint an […] picture. He’s a very interesting and entertaining speaker. He’s really into it, kind of felt a little bit like watching Steve Ballmer sometimes, and just because Werner is bold and he’s very passionate. He’s under the hot lights up there on stage by himself and he did a great job. It was entertaining, some interesting things to talk and think about that he brought up. I definitely would recommend folks to go see it.

Jon: This is where I see it going and you can disagree, but here’s my strongly held opinion. I mean loosely held strong opinion. We talk a lot on this on this podcast about all the things you need to know in order to do a good job deploying production workloads and deploying distributed services and there are so many things. It is important to know all those things and be able to be full with them because every problem is different, every company is different, the thing that works for business A might not be the best for business B–so really understanding all those things is super important.

But it’s getting too hard and guess what, AI is coming along and serverless computing is like the biggest thing that AWS has done recently and it’s just like this rocket ship that’s just taking off. We’ve talked on Mobycast about how, “If you really got important workloads and you really are already an expert in doing these stuff, keep doing it with the existing tools and don’t go to serverless just yet.”

But where I see this going is that eventually, things get too hard, there’s too many decision points, it’s just best leaving all that stuff to the machines. Let the machines figure out how they should balance workloads, how they should scale up and scale down. Let the machines figure out what should be on more available stuff, what should be on higher redundancy stuff, what should be on more expensive stuff, less expensive stuff. Let them sort that all out with AI and I think that’s probably the mantra. I can’t imagine that it’s not. Make that more and more powerful to the point where super experts finally like push back from their desk and say, “I can’t be the expert anymore. The computers are going to have to take over for me.”

Chris: Yeah, I think that’s definitely possible. I just don’t see it happening any time in the next 25 years or so.

Jon: You’re so wrong. We’re going to put a Mobycast bet right now. I’d say it happens in the next 10 years.

Chris: Okay, I will take that bet for sure. I will definitely take that bet. Mostly, it’s not because the technology wouldn’t be there it’s actually the people. All this stuff requires people and process change. People just aren’t going to change that quickly. It’s actually one of the problems of serverless. It sounds great like, “Okay, I don’t have to manage infrastructure anymore, I don’t really have to worry about ops, and let someone else do it,” but it does require kind of a like that. A lot of them, people change and process change and just the way you develop software. That’s a huge huge barrier. I mean, Lambda’s been out since—it’ll be four years now. How much of people’s workloads actually is run on lambda and it’s just a small fraction.

Jon: Yeah, for sure. Okay, well, we’ll check back in 2028.

Chris: Set your alarm.

Jon: Right, okay. Let’s just spend a couple more minutes just talking about practical stuff. I know we also wanted to talk about what we’re excited to see, but I think we may be only have time to talk about some practical tips and move on from there.

Chris: Sure, yeah. Definitely, one of the things to consider is the session catalog, it’s massive. There’s over 2000 sessions over these five days. It’s a logistical nightmare because these sessions are spread over five different venues. They actually have staggered schedule sessions—theey’re overlapping too. You have these two overlapping schedules that are going on. It can be kind of challenging to pick out your sessions that you want to go to and then you also have the issue of lots of people are here. They do offer reserved registration for these sessions but they…

Jon: Is there an aftermarket for that research stuff? Because I swear scalpers took it all up within minutes.

Chris: Well, what they do is, I believe, they allow up to 75% of the capacity to be reserved and then that leaves 25% open for wait list and walk-ins. A lot of these sessions, they may accommodate somewhere between 200 or 300 to 1000 people depending on what room they’re in. When you have over 40,000 people attending, it doesn’t take long to get 300 people to say, “Yeah, I want to reserve for that session.” and then it gets filled up. Don’t stress out if you can’t reserve the sessions that you want to go to if you have to wait list for them.

For me, last year, I didn’t realize just how big AWS is and what a circus it can be. I didn’t do the pre-registration so when I came on site, I was basically just looking at the agenda the night before and kind of planning out what I wanted to do. For almost all of the sessions I was, wait listing or just walking in on them. I think probably a good 80% of the sessions I was able to get into.

Jon: I heard that they are limiting the queuing time to something like 30 minutes or an hour or something?

Chris: You line up for the wait list like 30 minutes before the session and then if you’re reserved, if you’re not in there within five minutes of the start time you lose it.

Jon: Right. The new thing this year is that they were having people kind of camping out for ones that are really popular and they wanted to prevent the camp out, so now they’re going to start telling people they’re not allowed to line up and I think it’s 30 minutes. If you’re there more than 30 minutes before the session starts and while you are waiting in line, they’ll tell you to, “Shoo, go away.” Which I think for a few sessions it’s going to create this weird people kind of milling about, looking around like right around the area, and then like a mad stampede to get in line right at 30 minutes before the thing starts.

Chris: It’s something you have to experience for yourself because it is kind of crazy when you’re there on site because a lot of these—they’re  in these narrow-ish hallways. You have rooms on either side of the hallway, and you have these queuing areas for each one of these sessions, meanwhile sessions are going on in those rooms. There is only so much room there for people and usually there’s not enough room for the wait list and so it has to snake around. You don’t even know what line you’re in, just trust in the cosmos that everything does kind of—it really does kind of miraculously work out.

Everyone is not happy though. People are just grumbling and griping, just thinking, “Oh, this is just terrible.” and it actually works out okay. Have some patients and again just definitely do some research on the agenda. Figure out where you want to be physically, try to limit yourself to a venue for a few hours or maybe even all day. It’s going to make your life a lot easier than if you’re trying to zigzag back and forth between MGM and Venetian. That’s just not going to happen. You’re going to end up just hanging out with Elmo there by the bartell drugs or something like that and just in a stupor.

Jon: You know what they can use to do a little bit of crowd management is Disney theme parks. Really make it more pleasant for people waiting in line.

Chris: Yeah. It’s a real estate thing. Obviously, you can’t have enough stanchions and chain to actually keep it orderly.. They just don’t have the real estate or the just the facilities to do that. Some of these, you can only scratch your head, “Really? We’re going to get 5,000 people into this?” It just seems like this place was not designed for that. It kind of feels like they’re really designed for 1,000 people and then you try to get 5,000 people in there and it’s just like, “This just doesn’t feel right.” There are multi level so you’ll be on escalators that are going between levels and you look down is like this sea of just a mass of people and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going down into that.”

Jon: I have another practical question that is a real honest question. I have been meaning to ask you this, so here we go. Just talking about what to wear, most of time I’m planning on being able to be fairly comfortable, but as you know I may want to, I need to interact with sort of executive level people while I’m there, particularly executive level people that work at enterprises. I was thinking, “Oh, maybe I should bring a blazer.” But I also know it’s going to be hot and I don’t really loves walking from place to place when it’s hot in Las Vegas especially wearing a blazer, I just was wondering what your take is.

Chris: Yeah, it’s not too terribly hot that time of year. I mean, I myself, I think I was always wearing a light sweater. I almost always also had a hoodie that I would in case—especially in the session rooms themselves, those are usually pretty well air-conditioned and they get chilly there.

Jon: I’d probably wear a hoodie because that’s my comfort zone. But I’m maybe doing some stuff that might have me interact with executives is what I was thinking of having the blazer available but you could you could tell me right now, “Dude, I never saw anybody in blazers.” and then I go, “Oh, then I won’t bring one.

Chris: No, I mean you have all sorts of folks there so—you have folks they wouldn’t even dream of going out without wearing a blazer and a white shirt. There’s tons of that going on. For the most part, this is a technical conference. By and large, it’s the t-shirts, jeans, sneakers is the uniform of the day. But temperature wise, that time of year, it was actually a little bit chillier than I thought it would be, I think. I remember it being more long, somewhere between 55 and maybe 70 degrees. It was one of the things was like, “Oh, it’s not quite hot enough to…” Not that you would hang out by the pool, but definitely it was not a […].

Jon: Okay good to know. Well, cool. Anything else we should discuss here?

Chris: Yeah, maybe some other tips. I would suggest don’t miss the keynote especially if you’ve never done it before. They are very entertaining, they’re inspirational and definitely worth going to especially if you can visit it in person. They do have obviously 40,000 plus folks, you can’t get them all into one place really so they do stream it to other locations. Like last year, one of them was at the Venetian and one was at MGM Grand. I was actually standing at the MGM Grand so I saw one in person and then I stayed there on the other day just to watch the live stream. The live stream is pretty good, but being in person is what’s even better and more enjoyable.

Jon: I’m planning on watching the keynotes with you and then going to replay with you and then largely kind of do our own thing the rest of the time.

Chris: Yeah, cool. Then certification exams, they have all week. You can take them there on site.

Jon: Is there any advantage to that? I’ve signed up to take one because it’s just, you know, I might as well get it over with, but is there any advantage to doing it on site as opposed to not?

Chris: Well, convenience for sure is there.

Jon: Do you either score sooner or you find out you passed it right there?

Chris: No, you can do that regardless of where you take it. It is run by the same company that’s administering the test, but they do have…

Jon: Do they slap a little sticker on your badge? Like, “Sir, AWS certified.” and you walk around with that and you’re like stoked.

Chris: Yeah, you could say that but the thing is like, you look around, there’s a lot of people there with certification stickers on their badges.

Jon: So then if you’re walking around without one then you’re like, “Oh man, maybe I better go get certified.”

Chris: Without one, yeah, for sure. You’ll need that to get into the certification lounges which can be nice. They have a few of these spread out over the various venues and sometimes it’s a nice place to take a break. If you are certified and you get that sticker on your badge, you can dock in there and play some arcade games or get some cookies, some snacks, get a coke or whatnot.

Jon: Well, I’m going at 8:00 AM Monday so the whole rest of the conference will be easy street for me.

Chris: Okay, yeah that’s good to get it done early and out of the way. The AWS employees are there as well. I think that’s kind of one of the more benefits of doing this here. When I took this exam, I took an exam last year at re:Invent and passed it and they were asking for volunteers to be in their SME program. I was like, “Yeah, sure. Sign me up.” It was because of that that I then got invited to participate in the exam topic writing workshop. That’s one you definitely won’t get if you just walk into one of the testing centers that’s spread out across any other locations.

Jon: For sure. I’ll do an episode on your experience with that.

Chris: It’s just kind of fun just to do it there. It’s definitely a lot more exciting like when you when you’re taking the exam off site throughout the rest of the year, you’re just going to some testing center where people are doing every kind of exam under the sun.

Jon: Like the GRE, or the LSAT or whatever.

Chris: Exactly. Versus here, it’s just everyone is taking an AWS certification exam. There’s definitely a bit more energy and it’s a funner environment to do it. If you are thinking about taking it, definitely do it there. Bring good shoes because you’re going to walk a lot.

Jon: Will do.

Chris: Your Fitbit will be happy with you.

Jon: I think we should wrap it up there. We went a little longer than usual, but maybe that’ll help […] over your listeners because we’re going to take the week of Thanksgiving and the week of re:Invent talks and we’ll be back December 5th which is the Wednesday after re:Invent. We’ll miss you. If you’re going to be at re:Invent and you’re listening to me now, I would love to meet you. Send us a note and we can say hi. Thank you Rich. Thank you Chris.

Chris: Thanks guys.

Rich: Have a good one.

Chris: All right. Bye.

Rich: Bye.

Well dear listener, you made it to the end. We appreciate your time and invite you to continue the conversation with us online. This episode, along with the show notes and other valuable resources is available at If you have any questions or additional insights, we encourage you to leave us a comment there. Thank you and we’ll see you again next week.

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