On day 2 of Re:Invent 2019, it was pretty clear that Amazon Web Services had done a lot of work to scale this conference out. Last year, it was 55,000 attendees and the logistics were terrible. The app crashed often and it was damn near impossible to reserve a seat for any sessions. Getting up and down the strip was a nightmare. AWS had promised a shuttle system, but the shuttles were not well thought out and it actually made it even more difficult to get from venue to venue. They didn’t have enough busses. They didn’t have enough personnel. They didn’t have enough of anything. Ironically, it was like they couldn’t scale out the conference like they can scale their compute services.
There were definitely more people this year. How much more? At least 65,000. But later I learned that the final count was somewhere closer to 80,000… and they were handling them all very well. I was happy to see this because I had pretty much sworn that I wouldn’t be attending anymore re:Invent conferences because it was such an awful experience. This conference was already turning into a complete 180.
I skipped Andy Jassey’s keynote. Andy is a competent guy and runs his business very well. He is not, however, a very good presenter. His keynotes run 2-2.5 hours and they’re full of marketing and momentum-bursting interruptions with musical acts. It’s like he’s trying to be Apple, but not sure how to do it. He needs to get some better coaching. I watched his keynote from the comfort of the certification lounge the last few years. This year, I decided to just skip the keynote altogether and read the summaries on the net later. They had already announced so many new services and enhancements that I had no idea what they might want to introduce in the actual keynote. The keynotes were reserved seating only and I didn’t realize that until it was much too late.
I spent the day chasing sessions. It was here that my strategy formulated for this re:Invent and the years to come: favor chalk talks, builders sessions and workshops over sessions. Sessions are recorded for YouTube. The others are not. They’re also highly interactive and much more involved. That’s just my opinion anyway.
Read on for session notes.