CloudCheckr's guide to a successful 2017 re:Invent
Article Amazon Web Services October 12, 2017

Your Power Guide to AWS re:Invent 2017

Re:Invent is the annual learning and collaboration conference produced by Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year it starts on Monday, November 27th, and lasts through Friday, December 1st. Things kick off on Monday with hackathons, training, and certifications. It then goes Tuesday through Friday afternoon with days full of keynotes, learning, lectures, labs, extracurriculars, and so on. If you don’t have your tickets yet, get them now – AWS re:Invent sells out every year.

 

This will be my second re:Invent and CloudCheckr is a premier partner yet again this year, I’m stoked!

 

Whether you’re a conference veteran or a newbie, it’s easy to have your own successful re:Invent experience. To get you started, here’s a my best advice pulled from previous conferences.

 

General Expectations

AWS re:Invent 2017 includes four-and-a-half days of content across six venues in Las Vegas, with an estimated attendance of 40,000 people. There are over 1,000 sessions to choose from that are either a traditional lecture format, a workshop, or an open forum discussion. In addition to those sessions, there are full- and half-day bootcamps, self-paced labs plus an assortment of extracurriculars like pub crawls, fitness events, parties, and more.

You can expect to learn a lot by attending sessions and networking with the AWS community of staff, partners, and expert users. You’ll gain a deeper knowledge about AWS and AWS best practices.

 

The Campus

The conference takes over Las Vegas Boulevard and includes six venues. The re:Invent team has tried to focus session content by building to help you focus your visit and avoid an unnecessary commute between venues.

The Venetian

Find Here: Major keynotes, the expo hall (come visit us!), hands-on labs, general sessions, registration, and a re:Invent Help Desk

Session Topics: Architecture, AWS Marketplace, DevOps, Content Delivery, Databases, Machine Learning, Mobile, Networking, Storage, and more

MGM Grand

Find Here: Major keynotes, Global Partner Summit, general sessions, workshops, registration, and a re:Invent Help Desk

Session Topics: Business apps, enterprise, security, migration, compliance, identity, Windows, and more

Aria

Find Here: General sessions, skill sessions, the Builder’s Fair, Robocar Rally, the Deep Learning Summit, registration, and a re:Invent Help Desk

Session Topics: Alexa, big data, containers, IoT, Machine Learning, serverless, and more

Mirage

Find Here: Full- and half-day bootcamps, AWS Certifications, fitness activities, registration, and a re:Invent Help Desk

The LINQ

Find here: Hackathons, jam sessions, and the re:Play party

Encore

Find Here: Bookable meeting space and reception rooms

 

Pro Tips: Plan Ahead

I have two pieces of advice about planning your days:

1. Focus on one or two venues per day
  • Commuting between venues can take up to 45 minutes (or more) each way. Planning to visit too many venues per day could kill hours that could have otherwise been spent learning or enjoying elsewhere.
  • The re:Invent team wanted to help avoid wasted times commuting, so they plan on streaming many high-demand sessions from one venue to another. If you plan to spend most of your day at MGM Grand but really want to watch a session from the Venetian, look for a stream of the session instead of making the hike.
  • Another nice option that the team has put in place is that some of the more high profile sessions will be running multiple times throughout the show. If you’re having a hard time deciding between two sessions, see if either of them will be given again.
2. Study the calendar a lot, but plan a little
  • Pick a few keynotes per day that are “must see” based on your goals but otherwise spend your time networking, visiting the expo hall, and having some fun at some of the more laid-back events.
  • Planning to spend all four-plus days on high-alert in session after session will deplete your energy by day two.

 

To help with both goals, take a look at the catalog already available. Due to high demand, the AWS re:Invent team will share the final schedule,  give a full week for registrants to take a look, and then open up the session reservation system seven days later. Take advantage of this time and think of this like registering for college courses back in the day – the best sessions fill up almost as soon as the registration is open, sometimes within minutes!

ASAP: Read the session catalog and save tons of favorites by clicking the “I’m interested in this” option

October 12: Check the schedule that posts on Thursday, October 12th, and go through to identify which of your favorites list are your “must see” sessions

October 19: Reserve seats at your “must see” sessions on Thursday, October 19th

 

General Tips

  • Gear – Wear comfortable walking shoes, bring rechargeable batteries, always have business cards on hand, find someone giving away a bag, and get a water bottle early on as it can be very dry in some of these venues.
  • Pharmacies – I recommend having water, snacks, and medication on hand at all times. Have granola bars, trail mix, water bottles, and ibuprofen (or your hangover cure of choice) in your bag every morning.  A small bottle of hand sanitizer is also great to have if you’re going to be shaking a lot of hands! There are seven pharmacies along the re:Invent Campus, take advantage.
  • Wifi is available, but keep your cellphone charged and available if you leave the venue and may need Uber. Lyft, or walking directions.
  • If you’re attending a full- or half-day bootcamp, bring your own computer and be aware of the requirements.
  • Pre-register for any events that require it, this is usually done via the registration system when you log in.
  • Simple tips but easy to forget – Bring a pen. Bring two pens. With all the people you’ll be meeting it’s important to be able to write a quick note on someone’s business card so you can jog your memory about the conversation you had with them. A sharpie also can be great if you’re going to be attending a lot of raffles, write down the time on the back of the ticket as most raffles require you to be present.

 

Extracurriculars & Fitness

Sure, this is a major learning event. But like I said, you will be brain dead by day two if you plan nothing else but hardcore learning. Just like having a work life balance is important in the office, it is important at re:Invent. Keep your energy up with exercise and leisure events.

LEGO Activities | Open hours vary Monday thru Thursday at The Quad at Aria | Contribute to a LEGO Great Ball Contraption or a LEGO Pinewood Derby
4K Charity Fun Run | 6:00 am Tuesday at The Mirage | Pre-registration required along with a $45 donation
Welcome Reception | 5:30 – 7:30 pm Tuesday at The Mirage | Meet and greet with cloud leaders and AWS engineers
Spin Challenge | Seven timeslots available, first at 7 am and last at 7 pm Wednesday at The Mirage | Keep the energy up with a 45-minute instructor-lead spin class. Registration required with a $35 donation per ride
Broomball Tournament | 5:30 – 7:30 pm Wednesday | Watch as a spectator, register your team, or join an existing team to play Amazon’s signature Broomball
Pub Crawl | 5:30 – 7:30 pm Wednesday at MGM Grand or The Venetian | Visit some famous Vegas bars when the drinks and appetizers are free – thanks, Team re:Invent!
Tatonka Chicken Wing Eating Contest | 5:30 – 7:30 pm Wednesday at MGM Grand or The Venetian | Self-explanatory, pre-registration required
re:Play Party | 8:00 pm Thursday at The LINQ | Includes an EDM concert and all sorts of fun like ball pits, arcade games, a rock wall, interactive light shows, and more. It’s hard to describe – here’s a 2016 party highlights video.

 

I hope that you have a successful re:Invent experience, and I’m pretty sure that you will if you can follow some of my planning advice. Most importantly – don’t forget to register before tickets are sold out, and visit CloudCheckr in the Expo Hall. See you in Vegas!

 

Jarrett Plante

Marketing & Events Coordinator

(or CEO – Chief Events Officer)

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