AWS re:Invent 2023 is now officially two weeks behind us, and I’m almost recovered. If I had to use one word to describe the event, it would be “busy.” It was an incredible week of information and ideas, people and parties, laughs and livestreams, and of course, lots of walking. 

Rahul and I will be breaking down the main themes of this year’s re:Invent on AWS Made Easy (hint: gen AI) but I also wanted to share my personal highlights.

1. Great keynotes

AWS’s keynote speakers are always interesting and this year proved no different.

Peter DeSantis had the Monday night slot, which he has said is an homage to Monday Night Football. Peter discussed the challenges of scaling as more and more services are being engineered to be serverless. Of course, being an AWS keynote, the speech was interwoven with new releases. These included Amazon Aurora Limitless Database, Amazon Time Sync Service, Amazon ElastiCache Serverless, and the addition of AI-powered scaling to Amazon Redshift Serverless.

Werner Vogels’ talk was the final keynote of re:Invent on Thursday morning. It focused on how cost and sustainability should be design requirements from the very beginning. He announced his framework, the Frugal Architect, described as a set of “simple laws for building cost-aware, sustainable, and modern architectures.” In terms of sustainability, it was great to hear him mention that cost and environmental footprint are tightly coupled, as energy cost is one of the key cost drivers behind AWS services. Optimizing for cost often has a positive impact on sustainability and vice versa.

Werner’s talk was also highly focused on being a builder. With AWS’s investments into AI/ML tooling like BedRock and SageMaker, it has never been easier for an individual or small team to build a robust, AI-powered application. He demonstrated an application he had built using AWS Application Composer and Amazon CDK ML constructs, concluding that “it has never been a better time to be a builder!”

Ruba Borno’s keynote was focused on partner relationships. Like the other re:Invent keynote speakers, the theme of generative AI was woven through her talk. She cited a McKinsey report that claimed that generative AI would contribute $4.4 trillion to the global economy. AWS intends to be a key player in this technology revolution and wants to enable their partners to do the same. She announced a Generative AI Center of Excellence for AWS partners to help educate and train AWS partners on using gen AI. She also announced several new partner services, including the AWS Partner Central software listings, an enhanced AWS Partner Central co-selling experience, the AWS Partner Central Partner Analytics dashboard, and the AWS Marketplace APIs for sellers, just to name a few. 

The other keynote that stuck with me was Swami Sivasubramaniam. Swami’s keynote focused on the pillars of a data / generative AI strategy. He recommended that this strategy should be (1) Comprehensive, (2) Integrated, and (3) Governed. As part of this framework, Swami spoke about all of the work AWS is doing to make generative AI ready for enterprise usage. The generative AI announcements included Amazon Titan image generation, support for Claude 2.1 and Llama 2 70B in Bedrock, SageMaker HyperPod, and more. As part of the Integrated pillar, support for vector search (which enables AI-based comparisons) was added to many database products: Neptune, OpenSearch, DocumentDB, and DynamoDB among others.

2. Daily AWS Made Easy livestreams

Livestreaming about AWS is one of my professional passions and it was a pleasure to bring our show to re:Invent. Yes, those were some early mornings – we broadcast at 6am every day – but it was a fantastic way to discuss what was going on at the event, talk through the impact of the announcements, and share our insider tips for making the most of re:Invent. You can catch all the episodes here.

My favorite episode was definitely the closing party. Not only did we stream for an epic almost two hours, we hosted some of the most interesting folks at AWS:

  • Rick Ochs: Senior Manager at AWS, overseeing Cloud Optimization and a member of the Finops Foundation Technical Advisory Council.
  • Lorenzo Winfrey: AWS Senior Specialist in Flexible Computing, with extensive experience in managing large-scale AWS deployments in enterprise and government sectors.
  • Yuriy Prykhodko: Principal TAM at AWS, leading Cloud Intelligence Dashboards and an expert in Cloud Native Architectures.
  • Letian Feng: Principal Product Manager at AWS, focused on the new AWS Cost Optimization Hub.
  • Jeff Barr: Vice President & Chief Evangelist at Amazon Web Services.

It was an amazing group of very smart people and we had a blast reflecting on the ups, downs, ins, and outs of the event.

3. Presenting our sessions

I thought our CEO Rahul provided some excellent guidance around AWS cost optimization in his talk, Saving on AWS? If not, what are you waiting for? I’m always partial to presentations that leave you with actionable takeaways and Rahul’s definitely fit that bill. 

It’s hard to top our Cloud Cost Savings Spectacular, though. Darko Mesaroš (AWS Developer Advocate) and I got to flex our acting chops while Steph Gooch (AWS Sr. Optimization Architect, OPTICS) continuously gave us guidance and advice, acting as our friendly AWS Solutions Architect. Rahul played the part of the manager, pushing the project forward and making sure that Darko and I listened to Steph’s sage advice. He then gave the audience a demo of CloudFix, which makes it easy to implement all of AWS’s cost-saving recommendations. I’ve never laughed so much talking about controlling AWS costs.

4. The people factor

AWS is obviously incredible technology, but the thing that makes it so special for me is the people. It was wonderful catching up with the CloudFix team; we’re fully remote and literally spread all over the world, so it’s always a pleasure to come together and spend some quality time. I loved seeing all of our AWS folks in person, especially after our many virtual encounters on AWS Made Easy. It was fun to chat to other vendors as well, explore the expo, and see all the different ways that people are innovating around AWS.

Most of all though, I enjoyed talking to our CloudFix customers and potential customers. Having real conversations about business challenges and successes is so rewarding. It’s a reminder about why we do this work and a chance to dial into what companies really need and want when it comes to AWS cost optimization. 

That’s it from me – the four reasons I found this year’s AWS re:Invent to be perhaps the best event yet. What were your highlights? Let us know every Tuesday on our AWS Made Easy livestream.