After attending the Pop-up Loft when it was in London last time and having enjoyed the sessions so much it was an easy decision to sign up for AWS Summit London 2016 when the email about it landed in my inbox. Featuring a range of technical sessions, Bootcamps and labs, an Expo of AWS partners, access to AWS engineers and architects, certification lounge, startup area and a keynote from Werner Vogels, CTO of AWS it looked like a promising line up.
After trekking my way across London to Excel, which seems like it has been located as far away from everywhere else as humanly possible, I went through registration, collected my pass and got my bearings. Split across 4 levels it was well laid out with nothing seeming like it was too far away and numerous escalators and lifts made getting around easy. The map on the back of the pass useful when hurrying between sessions!
I was keen to check out the certification lounge, a special area only available to those that have achieved AWS certification. I headed over and have to confess I was a little disappointed to find it was a small area in the main atrium with a handful of chairs. In my head I was expecting a plush room, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Summit a bit like a first class lounge at an airport but was more like a Costa in a shopping mall. It did give me a chance to access the free Wi-Fi that was available throughout the venue and check work emails while waiting for the keynote to start.
Keynote from Dr Werner Vogels, Chief Technology Officer at AWS
Gavin Jackson, AWS UK, Ireland and Europe Managing Director opened proceedings by telling the packed venue that there were over 5,000 attendees making this summit the biggest so far in Europe and underlining how big AWS in the UK had become. He also assured the audience that post-brexit nothing would change with AWS and their commitment to the UK, with the long awaited UK availability zone scheduled for the end of this year/early 2017.
Werner Vogels took the stage and after his ‘look how fab AWS are’ spiel went on to introduce a theme that ran throughout the keynote. He said that servers were like pets; we named them and looked after them, nursed them when they were sick but that times had changed. We now have fleets of EC2 instances that come and go, that auto-scale with demand and they are just numbers. They are not like pets, they are like cattle. He then took this a step further when speaking about the rise of serverless as a technology to be reckoned with. Those cattle have gone now, servers are not needed and instead of cattle, there is the herd. Micro-services, containers and Lambda functions that all co-exist and live together as a herd to provide what is needed.
The other strong message that came across was one that as a CSC employee I was pleased to hear, the Digital Transformation. It is something CSC have been saying for a long time now, about the journey that our clients are going through as part of the Digital Transformation and to hear that echoed by an industry voice such as Werner Vogels was good to hear.
It was LONG though and I think people would have liked a new feature or two dropped as part of the keynote but regardless, 5k+ people left the auditorium enthused and excited about the next phase for AWS in the UK and for the rest of the AWS Summit London 2016.
Getting Started With Managed Database Services on AWS
David Elliott, Solutions Architecture Manager at AWS and Rob Hart, Chief Architect with DVSA
Database technologies have always been of particular interest to me and this session served as a good reminder on what the options available to AWS customers are, particularly around Amazon Aurora. What made this session really worth attending was the input from Rob Hart of DVSA who was able to talk about real life experiences of using databases on AWS. I came away with some valuable insights that I have no doubt will help in future solution designs of my own.
I had organised a gap in my agenda that would give me a chance to grab some lunch and explore the Expo to see what the various vendors were offering. I had already heard of many of them, had experience of some (CloudCheckr for example) but many were new and it was interesting to see what tools and services were available to support how AWS is used.
Cost Optimisation at Scale
Mario Thomas, Senior Consultant at AWS and Greg Cope, Head of Platform Architecture with FT
As with the previous session, it was hearing from Greg Cope of the Financial Times that made this session so entertaining. His dry sense of humour and amusing presentation gave real life meaning and experience on the ways in which you can not just get the most out of AWS, but how to save money as well. These tips on managing an enterprise level implementation of AWS are bound to be of use in the future and I was furiously scribbling away as he talked.
Supporting Diversity In Technical Workspaces
Azalea Vo Miller, Software Development Engineer and Lee Kear, AWS Solutions Architect
The last session of the day and a break from the norm as it was one that focused on soft skills, rather than technology. The two speakers were articulate and passionate as they informed us how they had become involved with the S3 Women’s Circle at AWS, what it involved and tips for setting up your own circle. Creating close groups of any diversity (women, LGBT, disabilities etc) gives a chance for those in the circle to have a safe environment to grow and develop with like-minded others.
LeanIn.org was cited as a good resource for discussion starters and a focus point for a circle – well worth checking out if you are interested in this kind of thing. Which you should be!
AWS Summit London 2016 – A Summary
A useful and interesting day out that was done very professionally and left me walking out into the sunshine afterwards feeling positive and energised about my involvement with AWS. The energy from the speakers, the Expo partners, the session hosts and the attendees was infectious and gave the whole event a good vibe. My only negative feedback to AWS would be that it would have been nice to have seen more women involved in leading the sessions and in particular the keynote, they were noticeable in their absence.
Let me know in the comments what you thought of the event if you attended and I’ll see you at the 2017 Summit!