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5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of AWS re:Invent 2016

AWS re:Invent is the best conference in cloud. This post gives you the top five things to focus on to get the most out of the 2016 edition.

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of AWS re:Invent 2016

It was early November in 2012 when 2,000 technology enthusiasts gathered in Las Vegas to tell stories, share experiences, and build new solutions. The first AWS re:Invent was an intimate conference that was just exploding with possibilities.

This year, the 5th iteration of the show is happening in Las Vegas on 28-Nov through 02-Dec. Just like the AWS Cloud itself, it bears little resemblance to that original gathering.

Over 20,000 attendees will converge on Las Vegas to learn about AWS Cloud technologies. This new scale — 10x the original — brings a new look to AWS re:Invent.

Last year I posted my top 5 ways to get the most out of the show. Here are this years 5.

1. Plan Your Schedule

This year AWS has introduced reserved seating and staggered start times for sessions. Reservations opened in late October and after a bit of a shaky start, most attendees have booked a spot in the sessions they’re planning on attending.

If you haven’t, login now (but come back after!) and plan out the talks you’d like to see. If a talk is full, try to get on the waitlist.

Didn’t get into a talk you really want to see? AWS is allowing walk-ups once a sessions starts in order to fill any empty seats. Remember that the talks are spread across multiple venues and it may take a while to walk from venue to venue.

AWS has those walking times will be around 20 minutes (only 15 between Venetian/Encore) which — based on my experience — is reasonable. Keep this in mind if you’re looking to walk-up to a session.

I know a few people have grumbled about the reservation system but I think it’s an improvement over the free-for-all we saw last year. Massive lines and jammed hallways made it difficult to get to sessions on time and safely. This year will be better.

It may be small consolation but it is definitely handy that the talks will be posted on YouTube a couple weeks after the show.

2. Get Certified

An AWS certification is a nice recognition of hard won cloud knowledge. If you haven’t gotten certified, why not write during the show?

You can register ahead of time (which is highly recommended) and once you pass, you’ll have access to the AWS Certification Lounge and reception later on in the week.

While the community has expanded rapidly, being certified is also a great way to meet new people who are building real solutions in the AWS Cloud.

If you don’t think your skills are up to the challenge, why not sign up for a 1/2 or full day readiness bootcamp?

You can build a lot of momentum during the week and — while it may be a tiring week — you probably have a better shot at passing during re:Invent vs. studying and pushing yourself on your own afterwards.

3. Run The 5K

New this year is a group 5K run . It’s already sold out so if you didn’t manage to sign up, you’ll have to support your friends from the sidelines. Running’s not really my thing (I only run if I’m being chased 🐻 or chasing a ball 🏀) but it’s great exercise and this race is for a fantastic cause.

And that’s why I’m bringing it up here, 100% of the re:Invent 5K $35 entry fee is being donated to Girls Who Code .

This is a great charity with a mission to bring computer science to middle and high school girls in local communities. If you didn’t sign up for the race, please consider making a donation to this important charity!

4. Be Social…In The Real World Too

Twitter activity spikes during AWS re:Invent and there are a ton of blogs, code updates, and other posts to learn from. More importantly, there are 20,000 other folks all around you looking to engage with others and learn.

Don’t be shy, say hi!

Since that rhymes, that’ll be my mantra for the week. It’s too easy at conferences to simply hide away and not meet anyone new. Once you get over that initial shyness, you’ll find it’s just as easy to say “Hi” and start a chat about the latest announcement that AWS made or to share stories about what you’ve been building in the AWS Cloud.

Your week will be much richer if you break out of your shell and connect with people.

5. re:Play

Like the show itself, the re:Play party gets bigger and bigger every year. It has to be one of the most approachable, welcoming parties out there. There are always lots of activities and games on top of the great food and beverages.

The party also highlights AWS’ commitment to security. Despite our best efforts, year after year Werner has yet to publicly reveal the musical guest ahead of the party. He’s a vault when it comes to the headliner…but you can be sure that it’ll be epic again this year.

Ever if you don’t normally attend these types of parties, re:Play is unique enough to merit at least a walk through. I guarantee you’ll end up sticking around and having a blast!

BONUS: Ask Me Something

This year, I’m going to be writing, recording, and tweeting more than ever (sorry? 😉). I thought it would be fun to help find some answer questions for you.

I’ve setup a simple Google Form where you can submit a question about an AWS service, techniques, partner technology, or person that you want to know more about.

You can also hit me up on Twitter with the hashtag #AskMarknca.

I’ll do my best over the week to track down the answers and then write them up, code them, or record a quick video to help everyone learn more about the topic.

This will be my 5th re:Invent and I’ve been a part of the AWS community for a long time. I think I’ve got a unique perspective on AWS and the ecosystem and I’d like to share it with you.

Hopefully we’ll all be able to learn from it. Let me know what you want to learn about!

Get Ready For A Great Week

I can’t wait for this years show to start. On the bright side, it looks like you might not have to wait until AWS re:Invent to start working with new AWS technology:

Lots to share at #AWS #reInvent this year, so we'll probably launch a few things early. Stay tuned for updates in next couple wks...— Andy Jassy (@ajassy) November 8, 2016

This is typical of the show in years past but the first time we’ve heard it from the top. Announcements are usually put through the following funnel;

If a service is announced on the main stage, it’ll also get a breakout, blog post, social media announcement, and updated docs.

There is a ton of content generated leading up to re:Invent and released during the show. It usually takes a few weeks to sort it all out and find those long tail features that truly make a huge difference to your day-to-day AWS usage.

Let’s Connect

I’ll be at the show all week. I’ve giving 2 talks again this year (SAC201 & CMP305) and my primary employer, Trend Micro, is a Diamond sponsor (booth #2033). My schedule is jammed packed but I hope to connect with as many folks in the community as possible.

If you see me (I’m hard to miss!) please say hello. I’d love to hear about what you’re working on and your experiences in the AWS Cloud.

If you can’t make it to AWS re:Invent this year, you can check out the live stream of the keynotes and selected sessions.

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