December 08, 2016
Wheels up from re:Invent
By: Chris Wegmann

Like a groundhog, I have come out of my re:Invent “hole” and I’m back home. As I flew over the Rockies, I thought back to what I got out of spending four days with 32,000 of my closest peers, geeks, clients and friends.

This was my fifth re:Invent attended and it’s been a privilege to be a part of the growth of this event and expansion of Accenture’s relationship with AWS. This year Accenture celebrated the first anniversary of the Accenture AWS Business Group and the success we have seen.  Accenture brought 300 people and hosted many of our clients during the show….a huge leap from the 20 Accenture people who attended five years ago!

For me, there were four key themes at the event; an increased emphasis on enterprises, a growing and diverse partner ecosystem, the growth of serverless, and evolution of the cloud enabled operating model.

AWS’ focus on enlarging the executive summit and partner summit, extending cloud education beyond developers (who are still a primary focus) mirrors the evolution of cloud importance in business. What was once a niche technical conversation is now a topic of boardroom discussions around the world. Breakout sessions on evolving a cloud enabled operating model to DevOps and serverless design were standing room only with hundreds turned away, speaks volumes as to how cloud has reinvented tech (note to self: Pre-register for breakout sessions next year!)

Enterprise Focus at re:Invent

  • AWS had over 1200 enterprise CTO and CIOs at their enterprise summit, up from 900 last year

  • Andy had three large enterprises on stage Wednesday talking about their successful Journey to the Cloud

    • Enel (an Accenture Customer)
      Wheels Up from Re:invent

    • McDonalds

    • Finra

  • AWS launched several services targeted at the enterprise, including:

    • Aroura Postgress

    • Greengrass to support customers building out their IOT solutions

    • AI & ML services which are not new in the industry, but have been designed so they are e easier to consume. This is what enterprises are looking for to allow them to expand the use of these services without investing in more robust custom solution.

    • And of course Snowmobile, the 18-wheel, 45 feet long, eight feet wide and nearly 10 feet high, mobile storage and data transfer “tool” that can hold 100PB of data at a time, that’s something only an enterprise customer cloud fill up.

  • AWS started using the word “Hybrid” again, acknowledging that most customers are going to have many of their applications on-prem for a while. To reinforce that they highlighted the recently announced VMware partnership which seemed to create great excitement in the crowd and on social media when Pat Gelsinger joined Andy Jassy on stage.

Active Ecosystem

The expo floor was larger than ever, filled with 100s of the 1000s of AWS partners ranging in size from small start-ups to the global enterprises. It seemed like the hottest two partner segments this year were education and cost optimization vendors. The education vendors are trying to help customers grow their skills to enable them to move to AWS. Optimization vendors were there to help their customer reduce their AWS spend and ensure they are getting the most value out of their cloud investment. The expo floor was packed all day long, at some points it was hard even to walk around. I was excited to see that our booth sessions were standing room only! (note to self: Arrive early to get the SWAG and spend a lot more time talking to the vendors outside of the Expo hall)

Wheels Up from Re:invent  Wheels Up from Re:invent

It’s all about the operating model

It’s been years since I saw queues like I did for breakout sessions at an event. People were lined up in hallways sitting on the floor with their laptops hoping to get into sessions that had booked to capacity on the re:Invent tool. Our sponsor session “Building Enterprise Cloud operations as-a-service with T-Mobile” hosted by Miha Kralj, managing director, Accenture Technology Strategy and Arjun Shah senior manager, Business and Technology Integration at Accenture was standing room only with a line of questions so long they had to move into the hallway to answer them so the next session could start! 

Wheels Up from Re:invent

And it wasn’t just in the sessions, every client meeting I had included a discussion of the right way to transition their organization to be most effective in a public cloud environment. While every customer was consistent in their approach to implementing DevOps in their origination, I was amazed by all the different approaches enterprise companies were applying to the operational side of their IT organization. None of the enterprises I met with had fully completed their IT organization transformation, but all seemed to face the same obstacles, changing IT culture, and implementing the governance that enterprise companies require without impacting the agility and cost savings that AWS brings.

Serverless Architecture is all the rage

The concept of serverless application is growing much quicker than I thought it would.  I heard multiple great use cases for the technology, not only being discussed but, demonstrated during the show.  As an application architect by trade, I found this fascinating that enterprise application teams are moving so quickly to adopt this technology.  To me this shows that this is one of the best ways for companies to leverage the full power of public cloud.  AWS services like Lambda allow you to innovate and scale quickly while limiting cost.  My colleague Rodrigo Floris posted a fantastic blog about his team’s experience making the transition to a serverless architecture, check it out:

If you were unable to attend the event or get into your selected breakout sessions, or like me, were too engaged in great discussions, take a look on the AWS YouTube channel, does a great job of making recordings of the sessions available.

All in all, it was a week well spent learning and networking. As my father told me the first time I want to Las Vegas, there are no sure bets in a casino. But I think you can bet that, AWS will continue to innovate, re:invent will be bigger next year, and there will be several DJs that I have never heard of! See you next year at re:invent 2017!

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