We learned a ton at the 2018 Amazon Web Services re:Invent Conference. Read our key highlights.
I went to re:Invent with a major goal: to learn as much as I could about new AWS services and solutions. And the conference delivered with a big selection of cloud and trending topic sessions across introductory, advanced, and expert levels.
This was my first re:Invent conference, and I was impressed by the scale and selection of offerings.
Here are some of my major takeaways from the conference, which wouldn’t be possible without the great note-taking skills of my colleague Richert Caldwell.
Top Five Takeaways
The Scale of the Event
Although I already made note of the scale, it’s worth mentioning again because it really was out-of-this-world. There were close to 50,000 people at the conference. It was hard to imagine a crowd like this.
Just standing in registration line on Monday put everything in perspective for me. So many people gathered together in one place.
It felt like all AWS gurus came to Las Vegas at once!
Current, Latest and Future Services
Application Integration for ML
AWS Step Functions: Help for machine learning (ML) is now available. There was a lot of discussion about machine learning (ML). AWS offers a few services that can be implemented but did not have a service which could provide centralized workflow. By introducing AWS Step Functions, a fully managed workflow service integrated with Amazon SageMaker and AWS Glue, there is now the integration some were looking for without the need to code.
AWS Step Functions automates ML workflows by connecting and coordinating multiple Amazon SageMaker jobs and AWS services, allowing for faster and simpler deployments and monitoring. Step Functions can be started in minutes, and it is something I hope to explore more in the coming months.
AWS Lake Formation: We all need help with Data Lake design, don’t we? AWS Lake Formation is coming soon and will make it easy to set up a secure data lake. Having worked with many different data sources, we all understand challenges and how hard this can be. AWS Lake Formation will make it easier to combine analytics tools – like Amazon EMR, Redshift, Athena, Sagemaker, and QuickSight – to drive the analytics and configuration in one dashboard. I am looking forward to recommending AWS Lake Formation to our clients.
Amazon Quicksight: New futures have been added to Amazon Quicksight. Amazon QuickSight now becomes the first business intelligence service to offer machine learning and insights for all users in an organization. This is another service that will be easy for users without expertise.
AWS Outpost: Another service that got my attention was something new and not offered before. Many of our clients are looking into this to satisfy onsite system regulations. AWS Outpost provides the possibility of running AWS workflows on-premises. VMware on AWS and on-premises is possible with the same hardware. The client can choose where to run their workflow based on their requirements.
Lambda: Support for Ruby2.5, Custom Runtimes: PHP, Cobol, C++. Custom Runtime allows developers to add their favorite language. AWS Lambda layers, which supports of libraries, and ability to configure Application Load Balancers for Lambda apps are other futures presented and had a lot of interests.
Management & Governance
AWS Control Tower: This new service helps step-up activities for AWS Landing Zone. AWS Control Tower automates the set-up of a baseline environment and offers to centralize views to configuration and administration of security for the cloud environment.
Amazon CloudWatch Logs Insights: Amazon CloudWatch Logs Insights is a fully integrated, interactive, and pay-as-you-go log analytics service for CloudWatch. This service enables you to discover, analyze, and visualize logs, simplifying operational and troubleshooting issues.
Security, Identity, & Compliance
AWS Security Hub: There’s now a single dashboard where you can integrate AWS services and Partner tools. A lot of security professionals were excited to see that the security view now appears on one dashboard.
Networking & Content Delivery
Transit Gateway: Now we can choose between Transit Gateway and EC2 or a simpler solution like Transit Gateway. Transit Gateway is an all-in-one device that will integrate DC, VPN and VPC Peering for VPCs. It’s also fully supported by AWS. Transit Gateway will have a major impact on enterprise solution design and make networking configuration and operations much easier for enterprises with a big number of VPCs in a region.
Amazon FSx for Windows File Server: Amazon FSx for Windows File Server provides a fully managed native Microsoft Windows file system. This shared file system storage can be accessed from thousands of compute instances. Amazon FSx for Windows File Server is built on Windows Server and SSD storage. Windows users were very enthusiastic about this announcement. Now they have shared file storage with the compatibility, features, and performance of the Windows-based applications they rely on. With this service, the AD files system can be shared across multiple Availability Zones and provide High Availability access to clients shared services.
Amazon Aurora Global Database: Now we can have a master instance at more than one region. This was an important announcement for global applications that required database hosting across multiple regions. At launch, we will be able to create a few masters instances in multiple regions.
DynamoDB Transactions: Amazon DynamoDB adds support for transactions. Developers can support business logic in mission-critical applications that require multiple, all-or-nothing operations.
New Support for Blue/Green Deployments: This will make life much easier for developers. Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and AWS Fargate now support blue/green deployments via AWS CodeDeploy. The developers can automate deployments to validate a new application version before routing production traffic to the new release.
Migration & Transfer
AWS Transfer for SFTP: No infrastructure needed anymore! AWS Transfer for SFTP provides a fully managed secure file transfer service that works with Amazon S3. This service migrates file transfer workflows to AWS without impact to ap
Ladies, Where Are You?
There were plenty of speakers who were women, but not enough in the audience. Women need to make more of a presence at re:Invent next year.
At one workshop, I counted 100 people in the audience but only four women (including me). It is a funny feeling, but looking back at my 20 years in this field, it’s nothing new.
Visit The Expo
The Expo is a great place to network and connect with other AWS professionals. In one hour, I met so many vendors and received so much rich information about their products and services.
I saw a few I like and have worked with before – like Splunk, VMWare Clouds, and more. I wish I could have had more time to spend at the Expo.
Social Media Influence in Huge
I posted my picture on LinkedIn, with a simple: “Hi, I am here”, on Monday, the first day of the conference.
I’m happy to report that my post got 200 views in a few minutes! That reveals the power of the #AWS and #re:Invent conference hashtags.
Now I know the potential of connecting with peers in real-time on platforms like LinkedIn. My excitement grew as the number of views grew. I even had the opportunity to connect with some colleagues I haven’t seen for years!
Overall though, the AWS conference was exactly what I envisioned – a great place where I could meet AWS IT professionals, partners, entrepreneurs and learn a ton about new cloud offerings and trends.
One of my biggest lessons, which I’ll make sure to remember next year: Register early because popular sessions fill up quickly.
Written and contributions by: Richert Caldwell & Agnieszka Mleczek
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