AWS re:Invent re:Cap 2017

By | December 4, 2017

This was my very first AWS re:Invent conference and there are so many things to talk about!  New announcements, new friends, a list of do’s & don’ts for the next time I attend!


AWS Services

First off, I’m going to briefly talk about the new services that have were announced, but I’m not going to do a deep dive on any one of them… the reason being that (a) there is going to be MUCH more coming out on the services in the future & anything I say here will probably be incorrect and (b) you can go straight to the source... so I’ll link where appropriate, and (c) there were so many new services that I’m only going to hit on the big ones that I have better than passing knowledge of anyway 🙂

  • Amazon Sumerian – Create and run VR, AR and 3D applications without requiring specialized programming or 3D expertise.
  • Alexa for Business – Start meetings, shared devices, use for conference calls, create private skills for your business… the sky’s the limit with this & I’m excited to see where it goes.
  • Amazon ECS for Kubernetes (EKS) – This has been a long time coming.  Most of the Docker instances on EC2 were managed by K8s anyway.
  • New EC2 instances:
    • M5
    • H1
    • T2 Unlimited
  • Lambda
  • Amazon Time Sync Service (NTP)
  • AWS Serverless Application Repository… Just signed up for the preview – can someone do WordPress please!?  😉
  • AWS Server Migration Service for Hyper-V
  • Aurora
    • Multi-Master – scale write nodes across multiple AZs increasing scalability and availability
    • Serverless – A new serverless mode that will save time and money by automatically adjusting database capacity to match application needs
  • DynamoDB
    • On-Demand Backup
    • Global Tables – Fully managed, multi-region, multi-master.
  • AWS Cloud9 is a browser based IDE where you can write/run/debug.  As long as you have a web browser… you have access to your code to work and share.  I haven’t tried it yet but it sounds very cool.
  • IoT
  • Machine Learning (or as I call it the Skynet initiative…)
    • DeepLens – Skynet eyeball, but I still WANT ONE
    • Comprehend – “analyzes text and tells you what it finds, starting with the language, from Afrikans to Yoruba, with 98 more in between. It can identify different types of entities (people, places, brands, products, and so forth), key phrases, sentiment (positive, negative, mixed, or neutral), and extract key phrases, all from text in English or Spanish. Finally, Comprehend‘s topic modeling service extracts topics from large sets of documents for analysis or topic-based grouping.” … not super creepy at all…
    • Rekognition Video – Rekognition, but for video now
    • SageMaker
    • Translate – a neural machine translation service that uses advanced machine learning technologies to provide fast language translation of text-based content
    • Transcribe – add speech to text capability to your apps!

There were many more announcements.  If you want the whole comprehensive list please go here:

Alternatively, if you are on the road I recommend listening to the AWS Podcast & the AWS Tech Chat , both are excellent.


Re:Invent Dos and Don’ts

This being my first time attending the conference, I made a few mistakes so hopefully you can learn from them!

Do go to as many hackathons, chalk talks, hands-on labs, and workshops that you can.  Basically anything that isn’t being recorded that you can watch later that you want to do, go do that.  I met some really excellent people at the 1 hackathon that I attended.  Next year I will try to hit at least 2.  In terms of getting the most value out of my time, Hackathons, the Expo hall (here’s my interview with Linux Academy!), and simply walking up and talking to people were my top 3.

My hackathon team thanks to Calvin’s 360 camera… which I am now ordering 🙂 

Team Nakatomi in the house #reinvent #awsjamsessions – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Do drink tons of water!  Bring a backpack where you can and put a water bottle in it, refill it often!  Vegas is super dry and you will be constantly thirsty!  I thought I was coming down with a cold the entire trip because my nose & throat were so parched.  Also bring chapstick/moisturizer/lotion.  Anything to stave off the dry climate.

Do stay in one of the 7 hotels or in a connecting hotel.  Look at the map & find one that is close to where you want to be.  If you have a lot of things you want to see in one particular hotel, try to stay there.

Do wear comfortable shoes.  The conference was spread across 7 different hotels, so even with sneakers & extra soft inserts I got blisters on my feet.  I’m used to walking 3+ miles a day and this was a LOT of walking for me.

Do go to as many night time events as you can!  I cannot tell you the number of amazing people I met simply by attending the corporate sponsored after-parties.  This was the single best way to learn what other people are doing with AWS services & it gave me a lot of fantastic ideas and great contacts for when I have questions.  People LOVE to talk about what they are working on.

Do eat the provided lunch.  A lot of conferences have… less than great food.  The breakfasts & lunches that I had at re:Invent were really good.

Do go to the re:Play party Thursday night!  The entire experience was amazing, tons of activities for people who aren’t into EDM (which I’m not) and I ran into a bunch of great friends that I had made during the week or knew from previous conferences.

Damian playing dodgeball!


Rob, me and Luke enjoying ramen & talking shop 🙂



Deanna, Damian and me at STK enjoying a drink

Additional nightlife shenanigans thanks to Calvins Skynet eyeball 🙂 

We are Cloud Native #reInvent – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Don’t take the bus.  A 20 minute walk turned into a 80 minute wait for the bus.  If your feet are killing you take a Lyft or taxi.  Maybe next year will be better, but this year was a logistical mess as far as the transportation went.

Don’t wear a heavy backpack.  You’re going to be walking a lot and will regret it.

Don’t attend sessions*  Now I agree this one is a little contentious.  There are SO MANY amazing sessions that are spread out all over creation that you will kill yourself trying to make them all.  All of the sessions are recorded… so you can catch them after the conference is over.  Note that the Q&A is not recorded.  If you have questions that you want to ask the speaker then GO and ask, otherwise catch ’em all on the flight home like I did.

Don’t train on a canvas heavy bag if you are used to leather bags.  This one is oddly specific… but trust me on this.  Especially if you do knee strikes.  Side note:  the gym in The Cosmopolitan has a heavy bag… and it’s canvas.


All in all I had a great time.  Sure the conference had some issues that needed tweaking, but I learned more, came away with more energy and excitement than I have from a conference in a long time.  Now I need to rest up on the couch with #ITKitty, Kim, and a giant iced coffee 🙂

Home again!



Category: AWS