What a week in Las Vegas!
I feel so lucky to say this is my fourth time attending AWS re:Invent, and it continues to amaze me with all the topics, events, and experiences we can find during that week. So, let me share some thoughts about it.
- Ticket for the event... checked
- Every year, the Community Builders program gives a certain amount of vouchers with a discount for the event (this year was 43% off), and I was lucky enough to have one!
- Besides that option, I also learned about the AWS All Builders Welcome Grant program, which provides financial assistance to underrepresented technologists in their early stages of tech careers. Here is a link of a blog post that provides more information about it. And the best part is that I got to know about this thanks to people that I met this year that went thanks to it.
- Hotel... checked
- The event is split into several conference centers in Las Vegas casinos. The portal of re:Invent provides access to some of them, but I was too late to reserve one of those, so I needed to book a hotel using a regular portal, and I stayed at the Flamingo's, which is quite close to the Ceasars Forum, which is also a venue of the event and has a direct connection to the Venetian, which is the main venue.
- Flight... checked
- I couldn't find a direct flight to Las Vegas from Munich, so the next option that was more convenient and under my budget was to do a step in Atlanta. The downside was that the step took about 5 hours, which meant at least more time to kill playing Pokemon Go.
- Making the agenda... checked
- While reserving the sessions I was interested in, I remember my time at the university, as it was required to log in on the platform, look for the session, create our agenda, and then be ready the day they open the registration for them, as the most interesting ones tend to run out of places quite fast.
- A tip is to try to have the sessions in a single venue because even though there's transportation between the venues, it can be exhausting and sometimes even impossible to go from one venue to the other and then to the other. So keep in mind that.
- Things to wear... checked
- Remember my last point? Walking is a huge part of the event, so comfortable shoes and clothes are a must. Besides that, it can be chilly in the afternoons during this time of year, so warm clothes are also necessary.
- Also, remember to leave some space in your luggage for all the SWAG you could find in the Expo from the sponsor.
I traveled on Nov 26th and arrived in Las Vegas almost at midnight. However, I could still reach the AWS booth at the airport to collect my badge, which was practically empty due to the time. That way, I could avoid a longer queue the next day at the venues.
On the contrary, the queue at the hotel was way longer for everyone arriving. Still, it was nothing that a little bit of patience could handle.
One thing I recommend for people traveling from a different time zone is to avoid making the mistake I made of arriving with not even a complete day to rest. Monday was particularly challenging, but we could find coffee easily in the event.
Breakfast, lunch, coffee, sodas, and snacks are included during the event. The major venues have specific places for that, and there's a schedule where they provide them. And this year was the first time that the breakfast on Monday was included, as far as I know.
For dinner, there are also several options. Depending on the events we attend after the daily sessions, it might also be possible to grab some food there, but here, let's be clear that it is not included directly on the ticket as the others.
As a reserved person, starting a conversation with a stranger or finding a proper topic is complex. On top of that, my introverted side requires more time to gather energy to be around people, making this kind of event challenging for me.
I always went with colleagues/friends in the past, so I already had a safety net of people who broke the ice for me. There were the typical occasions in the lunch rooms or in the halls where they started talking with someone, and then I would join the conversation.
Another situation would be during the sessions, where at least I would already have a common topic to talk about. Then, the conversations started naturally with other attendees, as we would have similar issues or solutions for those issues in our companies that were discussed during the session.
Besides that, one of the advantages of having at least one AWS certification is access to the Certification Lounge. In this place, people can relax and connect with other certified people. One of the main advantages is the continuous access to coffee and snacks. Don't get me wrong, these are provided for all attendees all day in the hallways, but the queue could get bigger there than in the certification lounge.
Well, I said all that because this time was exceptional, as it was the first time I went as part of the Community Builders program, which came with the possibility of getting to know even more people, exchanging ideas, and discussing the content of the sessions.
Curious enough, it was also the first time the Community Lounge took place, which worked as my base for the event. There, it was easier to find people I already knew or break the ice with new people, as we were already part of the same community. Therefore, we have things in common. Besides that, I didn't feel drained of energy much, as I felt part of a group that shared the same enthusiasm for the event.
Being an expat living in a country where they don't speak my native language can be challenging from time to time, so it was also great to talk with the AWS LATAM community and show them that the communities in EMEA and NAMER are also great.
Finally, one more thing to highlight on this part is that I met several AWS Heroes and User Group Leaders, which increased my motivation to share the knowledge and get more people involved in the cloud topics. Sharing is caring.
I will not dig too much into the details of the announcements made at the event, as other fellow builders did a great job doing that, so I will share a couple of useful links that are great to keep on the radar.
- You can find the top announcements of the event in this link
- Most sessions are on this Youtube channel.
- Some of the workshops, among other valuable topics, can be found here.
Besides that, the topics shown at the event are state of the art in their areas like DevOps, Serverless, Generative AI and Machine Learning in general, and best practices for building applications on the cloud or migrating to it. The sessions are made with a specific target audience, from beginners to experts.
Besides the several kinds of sessions we can find at the re:Invent, other events promote networking among the participants while allowing them to have drinks and snacks. Like the Expo, where all the sponsors are located, and people can hunt for some cool swag, and also people working at AWS, where they expose use cases and success stories by industry and another place for the developers' community to gather and get more information of best practices and training and certification.
Besides the official party re:Play, we have the AWS Welcome receptions for each region, Community Mixer/User Group/AWS Heroes meetups, and sponsors' events.
It was great that during those events, I encountered colleagues from previous and current customers, which allowed me to catch up and have deeper discussions about the topics shown in the sessions.
I couldn't predict that snow would cause many problems in Munich. My connection flight got delayed more than 12 hours because of that (Munich airport closed operations), but what kind of odyssey would it be if it didn't have some unexpected events. And at least at this point in time, I could kill some time chatting with all the persons I met who were also traveling back, and that even got stuck, unfortunately.
Last but not least, is to remember to enjoy the event. I'm happy with all my experiences and the people I met.
I'm looking forward to future events, and I hope this information will be helpful. Feel free to share your questions in the comments.
Until next time re:Invent...