AWS Summit London – A Review

Today I attended my first AWS Summit (London) at the Excel Centre.

What is AWS Summit?

AWS Summit is a free one day expo that allows people with all different levels of experience with AWS to get better understanding about its capabilities and how those experiences can be leveraged for their business.

It all started with the Keynote

The keynote was started by Gavin Jackson (Managing Director, AWS UK and Ireland) who covered various topics around AWS including AWS:Restart which is an initiative to help those people (such as ex-Servicemen and youngsters) into the tech industry.

Then Werner Vogeis (Amazon.com CTO) took to the stage to cover the AWS Cloud Super Power’s, including:

  • Forcefield (AWS Shield)
  • Supersonic Speed (EC2 instances)
  • Flight (Database)
  • Precognition (Artificial Intelligence)
  • X-Ray Vision (Redshift)

The Sessions

Session 1 – VPC Fundamentals and Connectivity Options

After a short break, it was straight into the first session on VPC Fundamentals with Paul Burne who gave an overview of the basics around VPC and explained how easy it is to configure a basic VPC.  As I am just starting on my AWS journey this was a good session did what it said on the tin.

Session 2 – A Deep Dive on Microservices and Docker

Taking nothing away from the presenter Abby Fuller,  the content of the second session was a little disappointment.  Whilst I acknowledge that the target audience has a varied level of experience in AWS, I expected a Deep Dive session to be more in-depth and whilst I learned a little about EC2 Container Service (ECS) and it left me wanting more detailed information.

Session 3 – Windows on AWS

My grounding is in both Windows and VMware so I wanted to attend this session to see how I could run/integrate AD and other services within AWS for customers.  Again,  I was a little disappointed with this session.  Taking nothing away from the two presenters, Julien Lepine and Ariane Gadd. However, in my view, once we touched on integration with on premises AD/ADFS via AWS Identity Access Management (IAM), Amazon VPC and AWS Directory Services, I immediately felt this presentation became a how do I transform my Windows machines/databases into AWS Services.  Which is, on the face of it, a reasonable strategy to take and the content was of good value (especially around the database migration service).  It wasn’t to me in the spirit of the title of the session.  Maybe the session should be renamed Transforming Windows workloads to work on AWS.

Session 4 – Scaling Up to Your First 10 Million Users

In this session, Sara Mitchell talked us through the challenges and design decision required to scale an application up to 10m users.  This was a really useful session as it showed the changes in way in which an application could be architected using different AWS service to cope with load growth.

Session 5 – Another Day, Another Billion Packets

During this session, Steve Seymour introduced us to deeper understanding of how AWS networking concepts work.  This session was the most technical of the day for me and my head hurt by the end of it.  It was very interesting to see and hear about some of the hardware choices that had been made and how AWS write their own firmware etc on the switches so it is tailored for the services they need and they then don’t have to worry about feature sets they are not going to use.

The Expo / Vendors / Startups

There was an array of Vendors (a lot of them I had seen before at other conferences and nothing to do with AWS) and Startups with stalls at the event but wandering around, I didn’t feel compelled to talk to any of them.  I’m unsure whether it was because I have just started to look into AWS and so don’t know enough to hold a meaningful conversation or whether nothing they were saying or showing was interesting to me.  The one vendor I did listen to a demo for was DataDog which seemed an interesting proposition around monitoring of AWS and other vendor using a SaaS offering.

Final Thoughts

AWS is obviously a very hot topic right now and rightly so, some of the work they are doing (and have been doing for nearly 20 years) is #awesome.  One of the key drivers for me to learn about AWS has been the upcoming release of VMware on AWS.  However, as I learn more and more about AWS and its capabilities, I realise that is a very short sighted way at looking at it.

Overall the AWS Summit, whilst not as exciting as I thought it would be, was a worthwhile investment in my time.  I look forward to investing more time into learning about AWS.

Thank you AWS, until next time.

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