AWS Re:Invent 2017 - Summary

Posted by Grant Olliff on 12 January 2018

Andy Jassy (AWS CEO) opened AWS re:Invent at the end of November 2017, to over 43,000 attendees, by saying AWS now has “Everything you need so everyone should be using AWS!”, and many of the top companies around the world are doing just that. Some are “Born in the Cloud” businesses, but the majority of AWS customers are traditional businesses seeking the need to transform not just their Technology but their whole business.

AWS are now offering products and services that allow businesses to do more, and on demand, without the need to build their own IT Infrastructure, with Serverless Compute power and Databases and Data Stores bigger than they ever previously thought possible.

With Machine Learning & Deep Learning services and products such as Alexa (Audio) and DeepLens (Video) opportunities are rapidly expanding to bring function and automation to business processes, well beyond our current imagination.

US Border Protection is experimenting with Bio Recognition, identifying you as you move through airports, instead of the traditional queues for finger prints. The new Singapore Airport Terminal 4 is already utilising this technology in production - your passport shown only once when you enter the terminal, all other security checks are based on video recognition.

The weeklong conference enabled the technical attendees to hear and see what was possible today, to share experiences and ideas for refinement. There were +1300 technical sessions and two very large areas dedicated to Solutions, Demos, and Experiments.

For the not so technical there was also the opportunity to discover what many traditional businesses were doing to take advantage of the new world. Business like CapitalOne, a finance business that over the last four years has challenged their IT team to take advantage of the many AWS services to improve their business. Now that they are on that journey they have set up a Technology Division selling many of the products and services they have developed on the AWS platforms. Database search, systems and financial analytical tools, security and compliance are just a few of the solutions CapitalOne is taking to market.

With AWS (a +US$18B business) releasing 3.5 innovations a day, there is a continually evolving set of services. Many of the products & services released at the conference keynotes received a standing ovation.

The AWS teams traditionally developed products & services based on the Amazon Online business requirements. While this is a core growing and demanding AWS customer, others such as General Electric, 3M, BMW, Hitachi, Phillips, TATA, Vodafone… are now driving AWS for more and more functionality.

AWS are in every industry in the public and private sectors. Universities and Government departments are now taking advantage and with various consumer products and offerings AWS is in many homes as well.
The AWS CEO and CTO are evangelists for their company and its services, with the conference keynotes full of new and exciting information, there is no doubt AWS is innovating and enabling functionality previously only dreamed of.

IT Engineers and Developers are now seen as “Builders” utilising the foundations and functions AWS has available to bring new and exciting business process alive. Taking traditional IT out of on-premise and local datacentres and moving those business functions to the “On-demand Services” at AWS. AWS services, with over 4000 products and services either in production or released for testing, brings a wealth of functionality in a “Try for Free” and On-Demand commercial model that can be compelling.

However, the Cloud isn’t as Open as you may have been led to believe. Sure, you can shift your files from one Cloud Platform to another, but once you start to take advantage of the many AWS specific services such as Lambda (Serverless), DynomoDB, and Glacier (Archival Storage) you are heading down a proprietary path. This exclusive functionality can create technical debt that can be almost invisible until the time comes to move away from the service.

If you have been dismissive of The Cloud as just being a fad, or questioned if it would really work for you… look again, it is quickly becoming the Compute Platform your competitors are taking advantage of.

Grant is the GM - Digital Services for OSS, responsible for today's delivery as well as looking towards tomorrows technology services. Grant has been at the forefront of technology delivery for over 30 years.