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My first time at AWS’s re:invent

himanshugupta profile image Himanshu Gupta Originally published at abitdeployed.com on ・6 min read

This post was originally published on my blog.

I love going to conferences! As a developer, it’s a great opportunity to attend some great sessions live and meet other developers, not just from your industry but across industries. Talking to attendees who might code in same language as me or might use same backend technologies as me, is my favorite thing about attending tech conferences. Another thing I really like is visiting the expo where I get to see all the different companies and what they are working on. For example, I have been to last two AWS Summits in NYC and it’s always fun seeing how many companies have built their business around cloud recently.

This year, as a Solutions Architect working at Solace, I had the opportunity to attend one of the biggest (if not the biggest) tech conferences out there: re:invent. Re:invent is AWS’s annual week long conference hosted in Las Vegas in December. It is attended by developers, marketing folks, account managers, executives, solutions architects and many more from all over the world. This year, there were approximately 50,000-60,000 attendees.

Dream team at the expo

Just like last year, Solace had a booth at re:invent expo this year as well and along with my colleagues, I was responsible for running the booth. This was the first time I was on the other side of the booth and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult at all and provided me with the opportunity to speak to hundreds of developers and senior architects interested in event brokers and enabling their applications to become event driven.

At first, as soon as someone approached me at the booth, I would start telling them all about Solace’s PubSub+ Platform. However, after a day or two, I realized that a better approach would be to first ask them a few questions so I can cater my response to their requirements. Here is what I started asking them:

  1. What does your current architecture look like? Are you applications batch based or event driven? If they are batch based, are you looking to make them event driven?
  2. What does your infrastructure look like? Are your deployments on-prem, hybrid cloud or multi-cloud? What does your target infrastructure look like?
  3. If you are currently using an event broker, are you facing any issues?

These three questions quickly provided me with enough information about their current infrastructure and application architecture as well as their future goals. Many of the attendees mentioned they are moving towards a hybrid cloud setup with at least one public cloud (mostly AWS since we were at re:invent) and on-prem. Some developers from large institutions mentioned they are looking at a multi-cloud strategy to avoid being fully dependent on AWS. This gave me an opportunity to talk to them about event mesh and how PubSub+’s Dynamic Message Routing (DMR) enables an event mesh. In short, event mesh allows your applications deployed in different public/private clouds and on-prem to publish and consume messages dynamically with minimum configuration. It also makes sure the events only go where they need to go.

Event Mesh in action

For example, if you are publishing stock prices for US equities traded on NYSE on-prem and an application on AWS requests for pricing data for AAPL, then only AAPL’s prices will flow to AWS and be consumed by the application. This is enabled by Dynamic Message Routing which not only minimizes your egress costs (cloud providers might not charge you for ingress because they love your data but they will certainly charge you for egress) but also provides you with proper security and governance so your sensitive data only goes where it needs to. A lot of attendees resonated with these two points because their current broker sends ALL of the data to the cloud which is more expensive and less secure.

PubSub+ on AWS

Many developers were also curious about how we work with AWS’s native messaging services such as SNS and SQS. They were happy to hear that PubSub+ works well with these services. More information on PubSub+ integration with AWS services can be found here.


Re:invent Sessions

Anyways, enough about booth duty. What about the sessions? Unfortunately, because of sessions being spread out across different venues and a hectic schedule, I was not able to attend as many sessions as I would have liked. I plan on catching up on others online once they are available.

From the sessions I attended, here my top 3 (in no particular order):

  1. Go event-driven with AWS Lambda and Event Mesh By Marc DiPasquale (youtube)
  2. Moving to event driven architectures by Tim Bray (youtube)
  3. HSBC: Meeting requirements for Open Banking with serverless by Sahana Hussein and Imtiyaz Jatu (youtube)

Go event-driven with AWS Lambda and Event Mesh

This session was by my colleague Marc who is a developer advocate at Solace. It was a packed session about how companies are realizing that their customers expect them to be event driven. Marc talked about how an event mesh can help organizations deal with:

  • migrating data to cloud
  • integrating legacy applications with modern cloud applications
  • integrating applications deployed across different clouds
  • integrating applications with AWS’s services such as Lambda and Kinesis

If you weren’t able to attend the session, I highly recommend checking out the recording.

Moving to event driven architectures

This was a great talk by Tim Bray who is a distinguished engineer at AWS. He went over what events are and why more and more companies are adopting event driven architecture. Tim, using Amazon.com as an example, discussed how it is important to note down your requirements for your architecture before picking a messaging solution.

For example, Amazon.com doesn’t require guaranteed ordering because it’s OK to have some orders out of order and it can tolerate duplicate messages because its downstream transactional databases can remove duplicate messages. While these two features are not important for Amazon.com, they certainly can be for other companies and their applications. For example, ordering is critical in payments systems.

Tim also compared AWS’s messaging services to open-source message brokers and why you may want to go with one over another.

HSBC and Open Banking

Before I attended this great talk by Sahana and Imtiyaz, I was not aware of Open Banking. I was extremely impressed by how Sahana and Imtiyaz’s team at a huge bank was able to implement Open Banking with tight deadlines. Both presenters emphasized how they were not aware whether Open Banking, which was driven by regulator requirements, would be successful or not which meant they didn’t want to commit to massive up-front infrastructure costs. AWS helped them with all the services they needed in short period of time with a pay-as-you-go model. Whether this is the setup and model they will continue for long-term is to be seen.

Imtiyaz went over how HSBC used industry standards and adopted cloud-first strategy to implement Open Banking. The presentation was surprisingly detailed in how their architecture and spending looks currently. I came out of the room having learnt what Open Banking is and how it is gaining a lot of traction all around the world. Kudos to Sahana and Imtiyaz for a great presentation!


Final Thoughts

Overall, I had a great time at re:invent but it does get a little exhausting. Being around thousands of people for a whole week can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. Amazon did a great job organizing the event.

I definitely recommend attending re:invent at least once. After most sessions are finished on Thursday, AWS hosts a huge party for all attendees called re:play. This year it was at Las Vegas Festival Grounds and had individual domes for food, concert, games, and more.

re:play party

I had a great time hanging out with my colleagues, learning from different sessions, catching up with ex-colleagues and collecting all the free socks and t-shirts from the expo.

As I finish writing this post, it is time to go back home after a long week. I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed.

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