An APN Ambassadors guide to re:Invent

An APN Ambassadors guide to re:Invent

I have just completed my second re:Invent, the first being in 2017, as a customer of AWS. re:Invent is always an amazing week, fun-packed to the max,  lots of intense sessions and by the end of it you are inspired but also very tired! This time I was honoured to attend as an APN Ambassador and this meant my re:Invent was even crazier than last time. My week was as follows:

Sunday:

Landing just in time to get registered, myself and the other members of the Inawisdom contingent split up, some of the team went to Midnight Madness while others straight into meetings and knowing I had a full day the next day, I headed to my bed. I remember from my last time at re:invent that it is important to pace yourself and making time for chilling out time is important.

Monday:

First up; the big APN Ambassador gathering where we did…. Sorry I wish I could tell you, but I am under an NDA that means I cannot. What it is, is 10 hours of access to some the most exclusive people in the AWS world. During which I met Jeff Barr, one of my AWS idols, I was also lucky enough to get to speak with him and have a photo :-).  After the APN Ambassador gathering, I had to hit 3 parties back to back; the Ambassador party, the Amazon Personalise and Forecast party and then the Inawisdom AI Executive dinner. Wow! What a long, but amazing, day!

Tuesday:

Next morning, it was the big Andy Jassy keynote at 8am, us Ambassadors had reserved seating to enjoy the 3 hour spectacular, full of announcements. For us at Inawisdom all the ML announcements were super exciting and well received; we are now looking at using them or reviewing their usage. For me Amazon Wavelength was the most interesting: right at the centre of the ML, IoT and 5G worlds, it allows you to add a Wavelength Zone to your VPC to allow you to run EC2, EBS, ECS, and Fargate at the cell tower. I suspect Greengrass and Lambda will come. I can see this being a really neat way of running ML for small footprint devices, i.e. water valves, energy meters etc.

After the keynote had finished, I went over to the expo hall to find the Matillion stand which was alongside all the other AWS Technology Partners. Matillion had a theatre as part of their stand and this is where I gave my presentation on how we used Matillion as part of our solution for Aramex, our global logistics customer having huge success with ML. The presentation was in the silent disco format where the audience wore headphones and I spoke into a microphone. I think overall it went very well as this was the first time I had presented in this format and it took some adjusting to.

Then it was time to attend some sessions and first up was the Machine Learning summit that featured a very interesting presentation on how ML is being used to better fight cancer. The company featured is using ML to tailor drugs to the exact need of the patient, this increases the responsiveness of their immune system that fights the cancer. Fascinating to see how ML is being applied across industries and for such incredible usages.

Wednesday:

Wednesday was a ‘blue ribbon’ day for Inawisdom, where we were featured four times across re:invent. First up, following Inawisdom’s award win for APN Differentiation Partner of the Year 2019, we were highlighted as an award winner during the Global Partner Summit keynote.

The second mention of the day was down at the MGM where Mohammed Jamal from Aramex spoke about the project that our teams had been working on together for the past year. This was one of the proudest moments of my career to have my team’s work featured as a re:Invent session, including our architecture, statistics and costings. The other two Inawisdom highlights saw our CTO,  Robin Meehan present on the Matillion stand, swiftly followed by joining our Head of Practice, Andrew Smale, at a lunch for industry analysts, a prestigious and very select event where we were featured as the only AI/ML AWS partner and got to talk with the analyst community about our partnership with AWS and the market for AI/ML.

For the remainder of the day I watched non-stop sessions until 19:30; “Serverless Architectural Patterns and Best Practises”, “Beyond 5 9’s, Lessons from our highly available data planes”, and “Introducing SageMaker Studio, the first full IDE for ML”.

Thursday:

Next morning, it was the Dr Werner Vogels keynote at 8:30am, us Ambassadors again had reserved seating to enjoy it, along with the Deep Racer final that happened just before the keynote.

Traditionally, Werner’s keynote has been my favourite as it stirs the developer within me and inspires me to ‘go build’. This year having attended the “Beyond 5 9’s” session, along with previous Clare Liquori and Abby Fuller sessions on Fargate and Firecracker, I found that I already knew most of the content. Maybe you can have too much of a good thing, but it was delivered really well all the same.

The rest of the day was using the access and privileges that being an Ambassador gives me to go speak with a couple of the AWS product owners for the services we use for our customers. This allowed me to give the product owners an insight into how we use their services, things we found good about them, requests for new features and things we would like to see improving. In return they give me an insight into where their service is heading and some of the most relevant roadmap items for the next 6 months.

To finish the day, it was then off to re:play – the closing party which included the amazing Intel drone show.

Friday:

Our last day and our flight back to the UK was not until the afternoon, therefore I caught some of the last of the sessions; “Best practices for CI/CD using Fargate and ECS” and “Amazon.com automating Machine Learning deployments at scale”. The first one was presented by, you guessed it, Clare Liquori. It was very good and gave me a deep understanding of the CDK. The second session was a 300 level on the challenges of the Machine Learning Development Lifecycle. It was interesting and reassuring that Amazon.com have the same processes and approaches to cracking this as we do at Inawisdom. Next time a 400 level 😉

Once that was over, then I had some final meetings, and then it was off to the airport, wheels up and next thing I knew we were getting ready to land 9 hrs later.

Lastly;

I had an amazing time and would like to thank Inawisdom for sending me to re:Invent. I would like also to say a special thank you to my wife who was left back home looking after my two daughters whilst I went to her favourite place on earth for a week, she was not at all jealous ;-).

Thanks all and hope your re:Invent was as epic as mine. Here’s to next time!

Phil Basford
phil@inawisdom.com
3 Comments
  • Ayhan
    Posted at 22:34h, 11 December Reply

    Love it mate! Keep up the good work

  • Jason Oliver
    Posted at 09:35h, 12 December Reply

    An amazing insight into the life of an APN Ambassador, and local hero. Thanks, Phil.

  • Tabitha-Taylor Higginson
    Posted at 10:51h, 12 December Reply

    Sounds like a busy week – good to see you back and in a Christmas jumper!

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