The Ultimate Guide to AWS re:Invent 2022
Ping me, if you spot a problem or if something is missing @marknca.
As always, the event site is the ultimate source of truth (though I try to provide more context here). The site is available at https://reinvent.awsevents.com
Thank you to A Cloud Guru for cross-publishing this guide again this year. The continued support is always appreciated!
- The Goal
- Who Am I?
- Health Measures
- Virtual Attendance
- How to re:Invent
- Reserved Seating
- Mobile App
- Leadership Sessions
- Hero Guides
- Recommend Sessions
- Gamified Learning
- Sponsors and the Expo
- Public Spaces
- Managing The Day
- Learn and Have Fun
My goal with this guide is simple: help you get the most out of AWS re:Invent.
It started with just a few tips in the early days. As the show grew, and grew, and grew, so did the guide. An entire week in Las Vegas is tricky any time. At a conference with hundreds of sessions and with a mountain of new things to learn? It’s a real challenge.
I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years and to every re:Invent (with the slight exception-ish of attending only virtually in 2021). The guide is my way of giving back to the community and helping myself to keep it all straight!
This is probably the longest running guide to AWS re:Invent. I’ve been writing this guide since 2015. The eighth version will follow closely to the layout of the last couple years as a lot of people have found it useful.
For nostalgia’s shake, here are the previous guides:
- 2021, “The Ultimate Guide to AWS re:Invent 2021”
- 2020, “The Ultimate Guide to AWS re:Invent 2020”
- 2019, “The Ultimate Guide To AWS re:Invent 2019”
- 2018, “The Ultimate Guide To AWS re:Invent 2018”
- 2017, “The Ultimate Guide To Your First AWS re:Invent”
- 2016, “5 Ways To Get The Most From AWS re:Invent 2016”
- 2015, “5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of AWS re:Invent 2015”
Code of Conduct
This is the most important part of the whole guide. Honestly. The code of conduct sets the baseline for community expectations. AWS re:Invent is all about learning and having a shared experience. The key to that is making sure that environment is inviting, safe, and supportive.
The AWS Community Codes of Conduct applies to both the physical and digital space surrounding AWS re:Invent…and to all other AWS events.
I would say that it’s all common sense and following the golden rule but with tens of thousands of people from around the world sharing the experience for the week, it’s best to call this out explicitly.
If you encounter an issue or problem that runs counter to the code or if you in any way feel unsafe, please reach out for help. Amazon Security can be reached at email@example.com for live events. In addition, any one of the on-site staff or security can help resolve any issues.
No system is perfect but this is a great start at creating a safe, inclusive community at this fantastic event.
Who Am I?
I’m an AWS Community Hero, a long time AWS re:Invent attendee and a big fan of the show.
I teach a few courses over on the A Cloud Guru/Pluralsight platform (AWS Business Essentials, Introduction to the AWS Marketplace, and Mastering the AWS Well-Architected Framework), tweet regularly, and post a lot here on my site.
Any gathering in 2022 needs health measures in place to be successful. AWS has posted their requirements on the event site. As with everything, these measures may change as we get closer to the show.
The key aspects are:
- Masks are not required for attendees
- Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the event space
Science and recent history show that masking up is a very good idea in shared spaces. Yes, even if you are fully vaccinated. This requirement may change leading up to the event.
As of Monday, 08-Sep-2022, AWS has removed the vaccination requirement for this event. This is inline with updated guidance for the US Center for Disease Control (CDC)
If masking and other health measures are optional, please respect everyone’s individual choice…even if you don’t agree with it.
Remember the code of conduct? Respect is a massive part of it. Response to COVID-19 is a sensitive subject for some, please be aware of that.
Registration for AWS re:Invent 2022 is open now.
Full badges go for $1,799 USD. Virtual access (live streams for the keynotes and the leadership sessions) is free.
This show is big enough that AWS actually calls the conference space a “campus.” Honestly, I don’t blame them. Here’s a look at the campus 👇
When it comes to hotels, the key is to understand what you want from an experience point of view. If you want to be in the thick of the action, the yellow/amber properties are where you want to stay. These are locations where AWS is hosting the event itself.
The light blue properties are where AWS has negotiated room blocks and discounts. They also provide transportation between these properties and the locations where the event is happening.
If you’ve never been to Vegas, there isn’t really a “quiet” place listed here…with the possible exception of the Signature at MGM. This location is behind the MGM Grand and is a bit quieter than the rest as it’s only a hotel. No casino or theatre.
To learn more about each property, here are the direct links. Remember to book through the AWS re:Invent registration process (or afterwards through the event site) in order to get the discounted rates.
- Venetian / Palazzo remains the center fo AWS re:Invent. This year it’ll host breakouts, AWS Certification exams, the lounge(s), Content Hub, the Expo, keynotes, leadership sessions, registration, self-paced labs, and SWAG
- Caesars Forum for breakout content, a Content Hub, and meals
- Encore for breakout content and bookable meeting space
- Wynn has breakout content and meals
- Mandalay Bay is hosting breakout content, a Content Hub, and meals
- MGM Grand has breakout content, badge pickup, a Content Hub, and meals covered
Venues included in campus but not hosting events;
- Treasure Island
- The Mirage
- The LINQ
- The Cosmopolitan
- Signature at MGM Grand
Mandalay Bay and the MGM Grand are the outliers when it comes to hosting content. Most of the action is down in the Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn, Encore, and Caesars Forum area. If you’re looking to reduce your walking times (if only slightly), that may be the best choice.
No matter where you choice to lay your head at the end of the day, you’re going to be moving between venues…a lot. That means there’s no wrong choice when it comes to hotel.
Making sure that you’ve got a room at a rate you can manage is the most important thing at this point.
Not too much to say about attending virtually. This year’s show is back to an in-person focus which means that the bare minimum is available during the week remotely.
Given the ongoing and ever changing situation COVID-wise, if you aren’t comfortable or cannot attend in person, there isn’t really an option.
You can watch the keynotes and leadership sessions on the stream and follow along on social. That’s about it.
How to re:Invent
AWS knows re:Invent is a lot to wrap your head around. The past few years they have brought us the show, “How to re:Invent.”
This show helps break down specific aspects of the event. It’s definitely worth watching.
All six episodes are up for viewing now on the event site.
- Episode 1 covers booking your hotel and gives a general preview
- Episode 2 talks about the campus, getting around, and how to get the most out of your stay
- Episode 3 is all about connecting with the community
- Episode 4 dives into the keynotes, leadership sessions, and some must see breakouts
- Episode 5 looks at the virtual experience for those that won’t be in Las Vegas
- In Episode 6 Annie and Kelley are joined by Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist AWS to talk about onsite networking and some tips from a re:Invent veteran
Reserved seating opened on 11-Oct-2022.
In-person attendees will want to take advantage of the reserved seating system in place for this years event. It opened Tuesday, 11-Oct-2022 and allows you to lock-in a seat in your preferred sessions…assuming you can get a spot.
Fingers crossed 🤞 that the reservation system works well this year. It’s always been a pain to deal with. You might not think it’s an issue but the most popular sessions can fill up very quickly when reserved seating opens up and any issues with the system can reduce your overall experience.
The good news? Any issues that pop up are quickly fixed and after the initial rush, it’s really a non-issue.
Session times are mainly scheduled now, but more will be added as we get closer to the show. Remember, even with reserved seating, AWS usually holds back some seating for walk ups on the day.
Also, all breakout sessions (not chalk talks, workshops, or other session types) are recorded and posted to YouTube shortly after re:Invent.
Keep that in mind as you build out your week.
It’s doesn’t suck now. That’s about all you need to know. 🤣
For years the mobile app was super frustrating. Now it’s improved to the point where it’s a handy companion for your week. Find the latest sessions, maps, timing of transportation, ways to connect with the community, and more.
The official agenda is up on the event site. It’s a handy way to see the high level flow of what happens throughout the week.
Sunday kicks things off. It’s a great day to get oriented and get your badge and swag before the lines get busy. The Help Desks and AWS Training and Certification Information Booth are both open at noon. The only official event is the Midnight Madness. That runs 10:00pm to midnight.
Monday is jam packed with content. Everything is open logistics-wise. Bootcamps and breakout sessions start in the morning. Of note, the Welcome Reception runs from 4:00pm to 7:00pm in The Venetian.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are “standard” days, if that’s even a thing at this show. Content all day and something unique each evening. Tuesday and Wednesday have community events in after the content. Thursday brings back the legendary re:Play party.
Friday is a half day. Content runs up until 12:30pm which is the official close of the show.
Phew, there is a lot going on!
The last few re:Invent’s have expanded to five keynotes. Yup, five. That’s crazy.
The first keynote is usually on the Monday and comes as part of “partner day.” This year, Ruba Borno (VP, Worldwide Channels and Alliances, AWS) will deliver this one. This keynote is focused on the AWS Partner Network and various programs and efforts focused on AWS partners. If you’re not a partner, you can safely skip this one. (The 2021 partner keynote.)
Adam Selipsky (CEO, AWS) will deliver the “main” keynote this year. This will give us a broad business update, some key launches, and important customer use cases. (Here’s Adam’s keynote from 2021.)
Swami Sivasubramanian (VP, Amazon Machine Learning) will give the ML and database keynote. This one has gotten steadily more interesting each year. There’s always some cool use cases and new functionality announced. (The ML/database keynote from 2021.)
Monday Night Live became Tuesday Night Live and finally “Peter’s Keynote.” The eponymous Peter DeSantis (SVP, AWS Utility Computing and Apps) is back with this deep dive into how AWS works. Don’t expect any new features but each time Peter takes the stage we learn more about how AWS achieves the scale they do. There’s always an insiders look at some of the technology innovations that AWS has created and how they impact AWS as an environment. (Peter delivering the 2021 keynote.)
Finally, Dr. Werner Vogels (CTO, Amazon) will deliver a keynote focused on builders. Werner always has a strong call to action to help everyone build better in the cloud. This keynote usually features more technical launches and new services. (The 2021 keynote from Werner.)
The keynotes outline the structure for week’s content. I strongly recommend watching at least Adam, Werner, and Peter’s.
The leadership sessions are essentially mini-keynotes. They are delivered by a senior AWS leader and focus on a specific area of the business. The sessions this year at re:Invent are:
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by Candi Castleberry (VP, Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Amazon)
- Executive Cloud Insights by Francesca Vasquez (VP, Technology and Customer Solutions)
- AWS Storage by Mai-Lan Tomsen-Bukovec (VP, Object Storage, Monitoring and Observability, Messaging and Streaming Services)
- AI/ML by Bratin Saha (VP of Machine Learning and AI Services)
- Analytics by G2 Krishnamoorthy (VP, AWS Analytics)
- Architecture by Francesca Vasquez (VP, Technology and Customer Solutions)
- Business Applications by Diego Pantoja-Navajas (VP, New Products)
- Cloud Operations by Nandini Ramani (VP, AWS Monitoring and Observability) and Kurt Kufeld (VP, AWS Platform)
- Compute by David Brown (VP, Amazon EC2)
- Containers by Deepak Singh (VP, Compute Services)
- Databases by Jeff Carter (VP, Databases and Migration Services)
- Developer by Ken Exner (Director, AWS Developer Tools)
- Enterprise and Migration by Miriam McLemore (Director, Enterprise Strategy) and Al Opher (VP, AWS Professional Services)
- IoT by Yasser Alsaied (VP, IoT)
- Networking and Content Delivery by David Brown (VP, Amazon EC2)
- Public Sector by Max Peterson (VP, AWS Worldwide Public Sector)
- Public Sector Partners by Jeff Kratz (GM, Worldwide Public Sector Partners…and a lot more)
- Security, Compliance, and Identity by CJ Moses (VP and CISO)
- Serverless by Holly Mesrobian (VP, AWS Lambda)
- Training and Certification by Maureen Lonergan (VP, AWS Training and Certification)
This is a very similar set of sessions to last year. Some of the leaders have changed and some of the areas have either merged or grown enough to be called out on their own. You can view last year’s leadership sessions on the AWS YouTube channel.
Leaderships sessions generally follow the same format. A quick review of the biggest announcements from the past year for this area of focus. They a new announcements or launches and they wrap with some sort of call to action.
Announcements in the leadership sessions are ones that aren’t quite big enough to make the main keynotes. But for those with an interest in the topic, they can be just as important.
Now an annual tradition, a collection of AWS Heroes have created guides to help you navigate the sessions at AWS re:Invent 2022. Each guide follows a theme and helps you find a great set of sessions to dive deeper on that theme.
Attending AWS #reInvent? Don't miss the #AWSCommunity session track, led by AWS Heroes!— Ross Barich (@rossbarich) October 6, 2022
⭐️ Favorite in the re:Invent session guide now, & grab a seat when reserved seating launches October 11, 10AM PDT: https://t.co/ovcDIf0ek4 pic.twitter.com/iIul1KR3k5
This year, the available guides are:
- Cloud infrastructure automation by Thorsten Höger
- Data and analytics by Matt Lewis
- DevTools by Francisco Edilton and Marcelo Palladino
- Enterprise Strategy by Drew Firment
- Introverts by Margaret Valtierra
- Machine Learning by Vinicius Caridá
- Newbies by Brian Tarbox
- Security by Mark Nunnikhoven
- Serverless by Angela Timofte
- Startups by Serhat Can
- Storage by Dave Stauffacher
- Sustainability by Rolf Koski
- SysOps by Chris Williams
There are also some industry and partner guides available by other authors (AWS folks, APN partners, etc.)
Outside of the official guides 👆, a number of people inside of AWS and out have compiled some great guides to session at AWS re:Invent. Here are a few I’ve found useful:
- A sneak peek at the security, identity, and compliance sessions for re:Invent 2022 | AWS Security Blog
- AWS re:Invent session guide 2022, by Jimmy Dahlqvist
- AWS re:Invent 2022 serverless sessions, by Sheen Brisals
- Session Guide to Re:Invent 2022, by Luc van Donkersgoed
Bootcamps are half or full day session that provide a deep dive, hands on experience.
There are three main types of bootcamps; exam prep, technical, and partner. Each of them provides a different experience.
These camps are typically offered for an additional fee. That can be a very smart investment, especially if you’re making that last push for an exam or need more guidance on a specific technical area.
New-ish this year is “gamified learning”. This is a collection of activities that have been popular throughout the year at re:Invent. This includes several AWS GameDays and Jams.
This year, the options are:
- AWS GameDay: The New Frontier
- AWS GameDay Quest Fest
- AWS Jam: Security
- AWS Jam: DevOps & Modernization
- AWS Jam: Data & Analytics
These are all hands-on challenges where you work in teams to solve problems together. Each problem is scored and there’s a nice friendly competition vibe to the whole event. It’s a great way to learn and apply some critical skills.
There’s just enough pressure to pump teams up and push you further in order to beat out the competition!
Every year AWS releases a tidal wave of new functionality leading up to and during AWS re:Invent. It’s a foundational piece of their culture. What does that mean for you?
For the three weeks leading up to the show and during the week, you’re going to get overwhelmed with the announcements. Seriously, it’s a crazy amount of effort to keep up.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a chart of the average number of AWS announcements per week over the years they’ve held AWS re:Invent.
In the AWS re:Invent “window” (the 3 weeks before and the week of), there is a 245% increase in the volume of announcements. That means there’s an average of 56 announcements each week during the window.
No wonder I always joking with Jeff Barr about his keyboard usage!
how many keyboards worn through? 😉🤣— Mark Nunnikhoven (@marknca) November 28, 2021
You are not going to be able to keep up with all of these announcements. That’s ok.
My suggestion? In your notes, have a dedicated space for “look up later.” Anytime you hear about a new announcement, cool session, or see a great write-up/discussion, add the URL or reference to your note.
After the show, set aside a little time each day to review one or two announcements until you’ve caught up.
AWS is introducing a new program this year called, PeerTalk. The call to action is, “Expand your mind and your network.”
From what I can tell, this program is going to leverage your attendee profile to help you better connect with people in the community. Once you’ve identified someone or a couple people you’d like to connect with, you can chat online or request an in-person meeting.
If you immediately got a little nervous, the next part should help put you at ease, “…request in-person meetings of 2-4 people in designated public spaces located across the campus.”
This program was just announced and more details will be coming soon from AWS.
Sponsors and the Expo
AWS re:Invent is when sponsors—APN partners—put their best foot forward. Partners will pop up all over the event. Some sponsor lounges, pub crawls, the mobile app, and more.
Where you will see most of the sponsors is in the Expo. In addition to the sponsor booths, there is also a massive AWS presence in the hall. It’s so big, they actually call is the “AWS Village” now.
This presence includes the AWS Jam Lounge (an area for short hands-on experiences), the Community Developer Lounge, the AWS DeepRacer League arena, Builder’s Fair, and more.
It’s well worth checking out these areas and speaking with some of the sponsors while you’re at it. The welcome reception on Monday, 28-Nov (4:00—7:00pm pacific) is held in the Expo hall and a great opportunity to get some snacks while touring the area.
In additional to the Welcome Reception, one of teh best ways to see the Expo is the un-AWS-official Nature Walk hosted by Corey Quinn as part of his re:Quinnevent 2022. That’s going down on Wednesday, 30-Nov (1:00pm pacific).
If you’re curious as to who will be in the Expo, you can view the complete list of sponsors on the event site.
Managing The Day
AWS re:Invent is a hard show to attend. There is too much content, spread across too many properties, and too much going on in the evenings. And that’s just the primary AWS approach. The sponsoring APN companies have a parade of events that they host as well.
You are not going to be able to take it all in. You’re not even going to get to 20% of it all. It’s just not possible.
Here are some concrete tips to manage each day to get the most out of the conference and everything that surrounds it.
Pay attention to where things are taking place. The conference has three main areas; Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and the Encore/Wynn/Venetian/Palazzo/Caesar’s Forum cluster
- Leave yourself at least 30 minutes to move within the cluster
- …at least an hour to move between the main areas
When you get to Las Vegas, visit one of the big drug stores/pharmacies. You need to make sure you have supplies in your backpack to get through each day. The Venetian/Palazzo has a 24/7 Walgreens. Pick up the following for your daily carry:
- Protein bars and trail mix for the week
- Fresh fruit (apples travel well) for the week
- Eye drops
- Lip balm
- Hand sanitizer
Make sure you have a multi-port charger/portable battery. You will run out of battery during the day. You will not find a charging port
Hydrate. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. Take advantage of the refilling stations throughout the event space. You’re going to be walking a lot. A constant level of exertion, dry air in the casinos, and an offbeat eating schedule all combine to increase your risk of dehydration. If you’re drinking in the evenings, that goes up further. Hydrate
👟 Wear supportive sneakers and good socks. You are going to be walking 10—15 Km (6—9 miles) everyday. Your feet—and everything else—will thank you for the smart footwear choice. Practical has to win out over fashion here. Make sure those kicks are broken in before you get to Las Vegas
Every year there a bunch of spaces throughout the campus where you can recharge and grab a snack, see a demo of a cool project, chat with some folks around a whiteboard, and more.
This year the event team has finally listed most of these spaces in one place, the Public Space Activations page on the event site. Check ’em out!
re:Play is the legendary party that goes down Thursday, 01-Dec from 7:30pm—12:00am pacific.
It’s hard to describe this party. It’s really something you need to experience to understand.
AWS does a great job of making sure there’s something for everyone. There’s always a couple of amazing, world class music acts. Werner will typically announce the headliner at the end of his keynote that morning.
In addition to that, there’s a ton of food and treats. Lots of games to play. And plays to step away from the sensory overload.
Even if you’re not one for parties, it’s worth going to re:Play just to check it out. You might be surprised about how much fun you have!
Learn and Have Fun
One this AWS re:Invent nails year after year is a fun and inviting atmosphere. It manages to strike the balance between being jam packed with new things to learn and providing environments to connect with the community.
Hopefully this guide will help you get the most out of your week!
Please check back regularly for updates! Ping me, if you spot a problem or if something is missing @marknca.