IT pros packed the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas last week, frantically thumbing their smartphones to comment across social media about the premier AWS re:Invent conference. The response to the cloud king's conference was overwhelmingly positive, with attendees even gushing about how orderly the packed hallways were, despite standing-room-only sessions.
Whether in awe of a rocket scientist's reenactment of Seven Minutes of Terror or inspired by a CEO's background, the buzz on Twitter seemed to confirm the prominence of Amazon Web Services' user conference -- once again placing the public cloud provider on top of other vendors.
All that was missing from Amazon.com senior vice president Andy Jassy's keynote speech, which featured a riveting recount of the Mars Curiosity rover landing by Khawaja Shams, manager of data services at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was a car that turned into a robot that could save the world. Many attendees noted the loud music and lightshow of the flashy keynote event, but even more noted the scene-stealing dramatic performance of Shams, who Jassy introduced as a "rocket scientist." NASA used AWS cloud for its rover landing, and Shams described in nail-biting detail those seven minutes of terror in August -- a reenactment befitting a blockbuster hit, according to many.
If AWS's codenames for its products aren't enough of an indication, maybe the board games and air hockey tables at the re:Invent party clue you in to how young and playful AWS's developers are -- and the same spirit was upheld throughout the conference. From the glow sticks to the indie music leading into the conference sessions, people were talking about how AWS aimed to be the more fun, hipper conference on the scene, attracting young IT talent and social media buzz.
If there was one complaint about the AWS re:Invent keynote -- and one was hard to find -- it was that Andy Jassy knocked private cloud. More than one attendee spoke out against the private cloud hate at the cloud conference, noting that AWS itself has embraced a hybrid cloud model. And with a section of enterprise IT still hesitant about putting all faith in public cloud, hybrid cloud does stand out as a viable path moving forward.
AWS public cloud is not all about landing space rovers and "pinning" holiday recipes, it's also taking credit for Barack Obama's reelection this November -- at least partially. The Obama for America team's session followed up on Jassy's claim that AWS cloud was crucial for Obama on Election Day, hosting call centers and voter analytics data for the president's team.
If one theme ran through the re:Invent conference, it wasn't just to expect failure, but that failure was a positive. "You need to fail more often and fail with a smile," said one of the Obama for America tech team members. Jassy also noted in his keynote that failure drives innovation and experimentation. Is AWS just trying to shroud its own outages and slip-ups with a positive spin?
Almost in unison, those tweeting from re:Invent praised Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos' endlessly quotable, inspiring fireside chat with Werner Vogels, chief technical officer and vice president of Amazon.com. Whether he was telling IT pros to follow their passions and not the latest wave in IT or discussing his own personal hobbies, Bezos inspired a litany quotes across Twitter, almost all without commentary needed.
Caitlin White is associate site editor for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in December 2012