Over 6000 Flock to Amazon Web Services re: Invent Conference
In June 2012, Duo Consulting shut the doors on our physical data center as Equinix after we moved everything over to Amazon WebServices (AWS), a cloud platform created by Amazon, the popular eCommerce brand.
Last week, Network and Systems Administrator, Jason Dziedzic, and I attended the first ever AWS customer conference (AWS re: Invent) in sunny Las Vegas. More than 6,000 people from 60 countries attended the sold-out, over-capacity event—a number that overwhelmed Amazon and forced them to turn away people. It’s no surprise the conference was one of the hottest tickets in IT. Amazon maintains a vast set of services that extend across the globe.
Because of the demand to attend, security was extra tight. We had to check in before attending each session. The crowd was all over the place: suits, geeks, Rastafarians and everything in between. By ironic coincidence our conference was co-located with the Luxury Travel Conference. Luxury travel planners and network administrators. The contrast was stark.
A Little Background on Amazon Web Services
The larger-than-expected attendance may have caught Amazon off their guard, but a quick look into AWS explains why so many people clamored to get in.
Just how big is Amazon Web Services anyway?
- AWS currently has 100,000 customers in 190 countries.
- In 2003, Amazon.com’s retail business was $5.2 billion. Now, AWS adds enough server capacity every day to power the entire operations of the 2003 retail business. (Read that again.)
- AWS has introduced 150 new cloud services or features in 2012.
- Amazon’s S3 storage service now holds 1.3 trillion objects and operates at peak loads of 835,000 requests/second.
Those are impressive numbers! In the face of strong demand, Amazon delivered with an insightful event. Of course, it wasn’t without its pain points. But that’s to be expected for a first-time conference.
AWS re: Invent: The Good and the Bad
Our main reason for attending, of course, was to learn more about the infrastructure and future path of Amazon Web Services. Our three main takeaways included:
- Amazon announced a 25% cost drop for S3 storage costs. (Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said: “Thanks for saving me millions of dollars, Amazon.”)
- AWS announced a new product: Redshift.
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked about the parallels between Amazon’s retail business and Amazon Web Services. (Low margins + high volume = GREAT SUCCESS FOR CUSTOMERS AND AMAZON. WIN/WIN!) Their focus is on the obvious: people want low prices and fast delivery. Both businesses deliver!
The event itself included other great perks. We met with real rocket scientists (the NASA JPL Team for Mars Curiosity Explorer) who explained that every image beamed from Mars to your eyeballs is processed using AWS resources. (No, they no longer wear pocket protectors and they made me feel very, very old.)
The Obama technology dream team also attended and revealed how they moved all of the Obama campaign computing resources from the East Coast to the West Coast in less than a week to protect their resources from Hurricane Sandy.
TechTarget interviewed Jason at the event, where he offered some extra insights. On the positive side:
‘What was frustrating for me is that every time there’s a new feature out, there’s two other features that do the same thing—which one should I use?’ Dziedzic said. ‘Having a conference like this really did explain what sort of options are out there for us.’
Jason and I had a few gripes with the conference as well, one of which he put quite elegantly in the same interview:
‘The one thing that was kind of frustrating was the boot camps. They seemed more vendor-targeted, and I wasn’t too crazy about that,’ he said. ‘The one I went to was really heavy vendor, and I was thinking We paid for this? I’m getting a vendor spiel.’
Overall, we learned a lot of new things, confirmed that our current approach is sound and had a lot of fun along the way.
Looking for more in-depth takeaways? Videos of the keynotes are now up and sessions should be online as well here.