AWS re:Invent 2016 Review

December 8, 2016

AWS re:Invent 2016 Review

This was the first re:Invent that we attended - wow what an experience! Being in the mobs of people moving from presentation to presentation really makes you appreciate how much AWS has grown and how many companies depend on their service as part of their core infrastructure. In addition to the great presentations, I was able to connect with many like-minded professionals and trade stories about how AWS has changed how we do business (for the better!).

The big theme from re:Invent this year was Serverless - even though AWS Lambda had been released for a couple of years at this point, it was at this conference that I felt that every presentation had an element of how Lambda was used in the solution. Noting this increased usage, AWS released X-Ray to help developers analyze and debug distributed systems, including those built with Lambda. Also, AWS added a C# runtime to Lambda and also introduced Lambda@Edge, which makes it possible to run Lambda functions at edge locations like CloudFront.

AWS also had some big releases in the big data space, specifically AWS Glue, a tool for automatically running jobs for cleaning up data from multiple sources and getting it all ready for analysis in other tools, like business intelligence (BI) software. Also, they released AWS Batch, a service for automating the deployment of batch processing jobs. Both of these services allow a managed service approach to ETL and background tasks, which up to this point we would have used EC2 instances to implement.

AWS also released a number of AI services making it easy to take advantage of cutting-edge algorithms in your applications. Rekognition helps to categorize images and Polly is a text-to-speech service, but the most interesting for me was Amazon Lex - the technology underlying Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant. By using these APIs, we can build smart applications that are controlled by voice commands - which I believe will ultimately be the main way people interact with computers.

It was a great and overwhelming experience - I am looking forward to coming back next year and catching up with the friends I made as well as making new connections.

– Dylan