#1 Get approval to go

Hands-down, that’s the easy part (at least at DiUS). Every year a select few of the most senior and experienced cloud technologists are sent to re:Invent. They learn the latest advancements and are charged with applying these learnings directly to client projects and sharing the gold with the rest of the company.

#2 Don’t wing it

When there are 43,000 other people at a conference and it’s spread across four casinos, you won’t get anywhere without reserving your seats, plotting your routes and factoring in bus times. Wear comfy shoes and don’t book yourself into back-to-back sessions without checking the location. Plan. And then plan some more.

#3 There’s no such thing as too many t-shirts

Make time to visit the expo to get some SWAG. Ian planned wisely and walked away with eight t-shirts.

#4 Being hands-on is not just about the code

The maker plaza where people build and experiment with programming lego gets a special mention. Shout out to the team that built a flight simulator. Respect.

#5 Take a deep breath and hang on

AWS releases new products and services at the pace of a startup. That’s just how they roll. It can be tricky to keep up at the best of times but at re:invent there is a dizzying array of newness - even for someone like Ian, the DiUS AWS Cloud Warrior.

Of the 1000+ technical sessions at re:Invent, Ian and Gerd made it to around 10 or 12 each. And if you’ve been paying attention, you would know they applied strategy and razor sharp focus to maximise their time.

This is what the walkup line for popular talks looked like for those who headed to re:Invent sans razor sharp plan.

Top tech takeaways:

#1 It’s all about Machine Learning

The announcement of AWS SageMaker, a tool for building and deploying your own machine learning models using pre-configured machine learning algorithms was expected and very welcome. Given that we’re seeing a lot of demand for AI, ML and Deep Learning within our clients, SageMaker is going to help drive speed to market and execution.

#2 Hot Dawg

At re:Invent AWS introduced a piece of hardware called DeepLens, a smart video camera for developers with built-in image recognition algorithms. Ian and Gerd attended the breakout session and told us that Deeplens has a big preference for hotdogs with mustard. We feel you DeepLens.

*It was announced that everyone attending DeepLens sessions would be given a camera to take home. This crashed the booking system and resulted in more crazy lines.

#3 Containers are king

AWS is making it easy for you to run your containerised workloads when, how and where you like with the introduction of Kubernetes support and Fargate. It’s no longer “why Docker” but “why not?”

#4 Chat to your bot in any language

AWS Translate (currently available in 6 languages) allows you to translate large volumes of text efficiently in real time. This opens up the option of chatbots with a real time translation feature, further removing language barriers in customer experience. AWS Transcribe was also released. We’re already seeing early adoption of these AI-technologies, for example our client, media-intelligence provider iSentia, is using Transcribe, Translate and Comprehend to collect multi-language global insights and intelligence more quickly for customers.

#5 Keep moving up the stack

With managed services like Fargate, GuardDuty and Cloud9, AWS is working hard to automate away the drudgery. This leaves you free to concentrate on your strengths and differentiation.

And that’s a wrap of ‘Ian and Gerd do re:Invent.’ We might see you there next year - hopefully not in a long line.