I had the fortune of attending the AWS Summit in Atlanta last week with 6,000 of my closest friends. I’ve previously attended their flagship event, AWS re:Invent, as well as their smaller Transformation Day event. However, this was the first time seeing their middle-tier event in-person. The two main topics? Serverless and blockchain. I met folks from all over the Southeast with titles from developer to CEO. The theme of the day was cloud migration, and AWS gave their best pitch of why, when, and how to migrate existing workloads and place new workloads in the cloud.
The best story came from Change Healthcare during the keynote, which showed how they created a completely new business by plugging their existing claims data into AWS Sage Maker, creating a prediction model for rejected insurance claims, and publishing the service in the AWS Marketplace as a new service offering, going from idea to new revenue stream in 6 weeks. Clearly, the cloud can enable the speed, agility, and power to monetize IP through software in new ways.
At conferences, I’m always interested in what will be the hot new tech that everyone’s talking about. This time, serverless stole the show. The dev talk on AWS Step Functions was standing room only, with people lined up so far back from the presentation that it was difficult to hear. I got to know AWS Step Functions better, and they look truly powerful. Devs were excited about the ability to stack and run Lambda functions in parallel and also vary the action based on the data. The keynote mentioned Coca-Cola using Step Functions to create the logic to immediately reward their customers when using vending machines.
As a former banker, I’m always fascinated by Blockchain, which seems to have so much potential that hasn’t been harnessed yet. AWS had the clearest articulation of blockchain value-prop by focusing on two main use cases with specific services to address each case:
- A shared ledger hosted by a central trusted authority with a transparent transaction log
- A decentralized ledger for shared contracts that is visible to all and controlled by none
Apptio is a sponsor of AWS Summits, and I got to spend some time in the booth talking cloud and giving demos. It was fun to see large contingents from the same organization: I gave a demo to four ADP representatives (another Apptio customer), and Turner and Georgia Tech sent over 100 people each. I always love to ask what was each person’s favorite session because there are so many tracks. Several favorites:
- Migrating data using Amazon DMS, which can synchronize a live on-prem database to the cloud, reducing the risk of data loss and speeding/enabling a smooth cloud migration
- DevTalks on containers and EKS: Again, standing room only
- DataLakes: Everyone wants one. No one seems to have one (or have a good one)
My favorite learning: Did you know that the S3 service is made up of 235 individual microservices that are weaved together to form the service we know and love as S3. Amazon truly “drinks its own champagne” when it heeds its own advice to move away from monolithic applications and use microservices to create and improve powerful apps and services.
My least favorite part: Amazon has this thing for running several live sessions in the same room, requiring attendees to don multi-channel headphones to hear the presentations. It is annoying, probably unsanitary, and, for people who wear glasses like me, uncomfortable. The one upside – you can quickly see if the other presentations are more interesting if people start switching their headsets to other sessions – you can identify folks “cheating on” their session by looking at the color of their headset. I caught quite a few “cheaters.”
Attend an AWS Summit
If you can’t attend re:Invent, I highly recommend attending a local summit. Plus, it’s free! And don’t forget to stop by the Apptio booth. See you in Chicago on May 30th.
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