AWS re:invent 2021 Top Takeaways of AWS Announcements and Releases

December 12, 2021

This is the Daily Tech Show and we are recapping AWS re:invent 2021 and my journey from start to finish of the first in-person event for AWS since re:invent 2019.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) certainly has control of the cloud computing space as reported by Gartner’s Magic Quadrant but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar within the cloud space.

(See Full Gartner Report here)

One month ago I joined Turbonomic as a Sr. Product Marketing Manager and Evangelist. This role was exactly what I was looking for and allowed me to pursue my passion of content creating. A week before starting they asked if I could attend AWS re:invent 2021 and the folks at Turbonomic were going to hold a conference pass for me. I mean, the opportunity to be part of AWS re:invent’s 10 year anniversary and to evangelize on it, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance!

This year AWS held re:invent in-person and virtual which is a change from 2020 that was a fully virtual event. Which means this was the first major learning conference held in-person in two years. AWS had over 25,000 attendees for the 5 day event, a significantly scaled down from 2019 that had over 60,000 and multiple hotels to host it.

While AWS re:invent typically doesn’t officially start until Monday with sessions, series, and the Global Partner Summit, social media was going wild with all the posts of everyone arriving Saturday and Sunday, but my AWS re:invent kicked off on Friday, when I decided to dye my hair, green and orange to support my company, my personal brand, and AWS.

Pre-re:invent 2021 hair

I mean this was a step up from having the AWS Logo shaved into the side of my head for re:invent 2019.

AWS re:invent 2019

If you arrived on Sunday, it gave you a chance to get registered, grab your swag, and some were lucky enough to receive a coupon for an exclusive 10 year anniversary jacket.

The main conference is always held at theVenetian and since they had a limited number of attendees, everything was close or in proximity to the main keynotes and sessions. I was staying at the Encore and while you think that is very close, my room was a 20 minute walk one-way and trust me, I found out how much time it takes after leaving a few items in my room throughout the week.

One of the improvements that I might suggest for the event is to let everyone know that the Caesar Forums is NOT, and I repeat, NOT at the Caesar Forums Shops about a miles walk from the Venetian. I made the mistake of heading over there to meeting up with some AWS DeepRacer folks and after asking around, I ended up finding out that it is a building right next to the expo hall. Yeah, that was an 11 mile walking day with the extra added steps.

Sunday Night – Midnight Madness

Late Sunday night was Midnight Madness kickoff or what I like to call the pre-re:invent festivities. When you walked into the “madness” they already had the wing eating contest underway, a half-pipe, and we can’t forget the awesome air guitar action happening on stage.

AWS re:invent 2021 Sunday Midnight Madness

This time I stayed for the whole event to see what new services AWS might release to get things started. What I didn’t know or expected was that I would run into a good friend and mentor of mine, Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for AWS. I’ll probably have to write another blog on how Jeff became my mentor. I actually didn’t notice Jeff because I was talking to Werner Vogels (CTO of AWS) and trying to get a picture with him when Jeff tapped me on the shoulder and says “Hi Jon”.

Jon Myer & Jeff Barr

By the end of the night I was starting to drag and it was time to head back to my room. Before calling it a night, I setup my Sony a6400, Rode NT-USB Mic, and USB hub to get ready for a long but exciting week.

Monday

Leadership Spotlight

Not sure if I missed it last year or not but typically on Monday they start the learning conference off with sessions but this year they kicked it off with a Spotlight Series with Francessca Vasquez, VP of Tech. She hosted a panel discussion around Leading Through uncertainty: Resilience, grit, and courage. I enjoyed her discussion with various leaders including this quote.

Creation can come from anywhere. Regardless of your title in the organization, everyone has the same square, everyone is created equal.

Ukonwa Ojo

Global Partner Summit

A few weeks before re:invent, it was reported on CRN news that Doug Yeum was moving from AWS to Amazon to follow Andy Jassy,who took over as CEO of Amazon in June, shortly before Jeff Bezos’s flight on the Blue Origin. If you remember about two years ago, Andy appointed Doug as AWS Channel Chief and after almost two and half years as the Channel Chief it isn’t a surprise that Doug is moving to “the other side of the house” to work with Andy again. With the announcement being so close to re:invent, Doug still delivered the opening Global Partner Summit Keynote with some key announcements for Partners were the AWS Graviton Ready Program followed by the AWS Energy Competency. AWS is starting to really invest in their partners because work with a majority of their customers. I remember right before the Pandemic hit, we had our SKO (Sales Kickoff) in Windy Chicago and that was the turning point for AWS when I realized they were investing heavily in their partners.

AWS Graviton Ready Program

The newly release AWS Graviton Ready Program for partners, validates, optimizes, and supports their software on AWS Graviton-base instances. Partner products are vetted by AWS PSAs (Partner Solution Architects) to ensure customers have a consistent experience using their software between ARM based architecture or x86.

Release Link for AWS Graviton Ready Program

The next speaker for the Global Partner Summit is a mentor of mine and who’s been a reoccurring guest on The Daily Tech Show, Sandy Carter, VP of Public Sector Partner and Programs. (Sandy Carter, Empowering Women and her latest Sandy Carter on becoming Unstoppable).

After Sandy was Stephan Orban, GM, AWS Marketplace & Control Services, who announced his new book “Ahead in the Cloud”. He also mentioned the newly released AWS Marketplace offering for Kubernetes and that customers can subscribe to third party applications that run application in Kubernetes.

AWS Marketplace Offering for Kubernetes

Expo/ Welcome Reception

Since the Partner Summit overlapped the opening of the expo (assuming for good reason to space everyone out), I didn’t make it to the expo until an hour after opening. This year the welcoming reception was highly energized as everyone had only three hours in the expo to move from booth to booth meeting up with new and old colleagues as well as new and old friends. Also, it was probably a great time to grab some swag at the booths that you’ve missed out on for the past two years. Who couldn’t use a few extra shirts, socks, and stickers? Oh, side story, I forgot my phone cable in my truck before heading into the airport and I thought to myself “I’m sure there will be some in the expo because that’s one item that’s always given out”. ah, I was wrong, I couldn’t find a cable at any booth but luckily I recently purchased the iPhone13 Pro and my battery life lasted all day even with recording in 4k.

I’ve never been in the expo long enough to be “kicked out” but by 7:30pm they were asking us to make our way out. Typically, I would get together with some colleagues but this year was different for me. I needed to go back to my hotel room and put together content for two vlogs that I would be doing daily. One for my new role with Turbonomic, and one for my personal brand. Which meant I needed two separate pieces of content with slight overlap.

Tuesday

When I travel, I typically like heading to the West Coast because I’m up by 5am when my wife and kids give me a call right before school on the East Coast. That means I can get a head start on my day and a quick workout, prepare for my upcoming vlogs and upload any content from the previous day. Needless to say, I didn’t have enough time to make it down to watch the keynote in person after recording in the morning. I actually found it more productive to watch the keynotes my hotel room. I had more room to work, take notes on releases and it allowed me to prepare for the next day.

Adam Selipsky’s gave his first keynote as the new CEO of AWS and while he didn’t delivery it like we are are use too with Andy Jassy, I think he did a good job. Especially with the release of the new AWS Graviton3.

New Amazon EC2 C7g Instance Powered by AWS Graviton3 (Preview)

Back in late 2018 AWS announced Graviton, an AWS-designed Arm-based 64-bit processor. In 2020, two years later, AWS released Graviton2 and following suit, they announced the next generation of AWS Graviton3 that included a new instance type, the C7g to support its release.

We can’t forget to mention that they also released two additional instances supporting Graviton2, the lm4gn, and lm4gen.

Release link to AWS Graviton3

AWS Private 5g

Who wouldn’t like to have their very own private mobile network? Honestly, this sounds very interesting and maybe one day this podcast will be running of its own 5g or at least have it as a backup. AWS announced a new managed service to setup and scale a private mobile network within days versus months. AWS delivers and manages the radio units, servers, radio access network, and SIM cards to connect the devices. No upfront fees or cost, customers only pay for the network capacity and throughput requests.

Release Link to AWS Private 5g

For me, AWS Graviton3 and Private 5G were the exciting announcements publicly made by Adam Selipsky but if you look later on there were a number of off-stage announcements made that probably should have been part of the keynotes.

Wednesday

Finally we made it to hump day and if you’ve ever been to re:invent, you know how much time and energy is spent between sessions, events, and socialization. Not to mention the miles you put on walking throughout the event. My average miles per day was around 9.5 and that’s because I made the mistake of walking to Caesar Forums on Sunday rounding out an 11 mile day.

It was time for Swami Sivasubramanian’s, VP Amazon AI, keynote and for AI/ML fans, it was going to be an important day of releases as AWS continues to make improvements to their Artificial Intelligences and Machine Learning Services.

Amazon SageMaker

Amazon SageMaker had a number of feature releases that included:

AWS DeepRacer League 2022

AWS announced the official start of the AWS DeepRacer League that would kick off on March 1st 2022. For those of you who aren’t familiar with DeepRacer, it is a fun way to get started with reinforcement learning technique that utilizes Machine Learning. A racer would build, train, and test a model within Amazon Sagemaker including running simulations. After training it for a period of time, the racer would participate in a physical race using a 1/18th scale race car, on a real track trying to get the fastest time, while keeping the car on the track.

Release Link for AWS DeepRacer League

Thursday

Out of all the keynotes and releases that happen during the week, Werner Vogels (CTO of AWS) Keynote is probably one that had a higher attendance rate of in-person or virtual. He always seems to bring some direct humor along with a number of interesting service releases.

After announcing a few back to back services and feature releases, at one point Werner said “You have asked for this, it is basically your fault” referring to AWS and their Leadership Principle called “Customer Obsessed” about listening to their customer needs.

AWS New Amazon EC2 M1 Mac Instances for macOS (preview)

Amazon EC2 M1 instances are available in preview for the macOS built on Apple’s Mac mini’s and powered by AWS Nitro System. Who wouldn’t want to build some awesome Mac instances for iOS and macOS application workloads? This is a great way to spin them up and test any application before production deployment.

Release Link for Mac Instances

AWS CDKv2

AWS CDKv2 Released with guest speaker Matt Coulter, a technical architect from Liberty Mutual who’s been a pioneer within the AWS community for continuous development, implementation, and improvement on the Cloud Deployment Kit. Matt was also named an AWS Hero in 2020.

Release Link for CDKv2

AWS Well-Architected Framework new pillar “The Sustainability Pillar”

The Well-Architected Framework was released in 2015 with five pillars. Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, Performance Efficiency, and Cost Optimization. Organizations are now taking a Top down climate first approach and setting sustainability goals. Using the Sustainability Pillar, it can help companies make informed decisions to balance the other five pillars

Release Link for AWS New Sustainability Pillar

AWS re:Post

A community driven question and answers location to drive innovation and remove technical roadblocks. Personally this might turn into something interesting, maybe a little bit better than the currently highly used Stack Overflow.

Release Link for AWS re:Post

re:Play event

Thursday night is one night you usually don’t want to miss. I mean I say that and yet I took the Red Eye home that night. I’ve attended the previous re:play events and they are a good time to relax and unwind. In 2019 and previous years, they had old arcades games, huge bounce house, dodgeball, and that was just the beginning. We can’t forget the night time drone show.

Friday

Friday is usually light or quiet day since re:invent is scheduled from 8:30-12:30pm PT. If you leave early (like I did) you do miss out on some interesting sessions or the chance to catch repeat sessions that performed well during the week.

Alright folks, stay tuned as I might do a podcast around the event and some of the highlights. Now that I think about it, I could have just done an audio only version and convert it to text to save me a lot of time typing this out.

Off-Stage Announcements

Before I wrap this up, how about we talk about some of the off-stage announcements.

AWS AI & ML Scholarship Program

In collaboration with Intel and Udacity. 2000 nano degree and out of that 500 for an advanced nanodegree

Release Link for Scholarship Program

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud
AWS DeepRacer Student League

Free Model Training, Learning Content, and global racing competition just for Students

Release Link for Student League

AWS S3

AWS Backup for VMware Workloads

AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts provide local compute and networking services closer to edge locations. Typically you’ll find these in data centers to support workloads that can’t move to the cloud due to constraints like data latency. In 2018 they announced AWS Outposts as a 42U rack, and by re:invent 2019, AWS was ready to take orders and has done so since then.

Re:invent 2021, AWS announced two new form factors, the 1U powered by Graviton2 and a 2U powered by the 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors.

AWS also announced the availability of Outposts in 5 new locations, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Morocco, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

Release Link for AWS Outposts New Form Factors

Release link for AWS Outposts New Location

Amazon EBS Announcements

Amazon EBS Snapshots Archive to reduce the cost of long-term retention and Amazon Recycling Bin to recover from accidental deletion. Note that you need to setup a retention policy based of tags. No tags, no retention, and say bye bye to an EBS snapshot you didn’t want to delete.

Well folks, I could continue writing this blog till the end of the year and still probably miss some of their announcements. Make sure to follow me on YouTube, LinkedIN, and Twitter for up to date information.

Summary

Well folks, it’s time to wrap this long summary up but stay tuned as I’m going to dive into depth on some of these releases and even those that I didn’t mention.

Author: Jon Myer

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