AWS re:Invent 2015 – a Guide to Cloud Computing’s Biggest Event

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Thinking of attending this year’s AWS re:Invent at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas starting on October 6th? Think again: it’s been completely sold out for weeks.

AWS’s flagship event attracts thousands more participants each time they run it (the 2014 edition boasted more than 13,000 people, and it looks like they’ll top 18,000 for 2015). re:Invent has quickly become the most important Cloud Computing event of the year.

What makes it so popular? We certainly can’t ignore the two keynote speeches (scheduled this year for Wednesday and Thursday mornings), where AWS will undoubtedly announce new services, features, and more astonishing numbers documenting their scale and continued market dominance. But re:Invent is about a great deal more than just industry talk. There will be lots of serious learning, too.

So, if you’re lucky enough to have already registered, there will be so much going on that you might need help just navigating through the many hundreds of possibilities. Either way, keep reading.

Useful links

  • The Venetian is a huge complex, so it definitely can’t hurt to map out some of your journeys in advance. AWS re:Invent 2015 agenda
    Floor plans to the convention space alone take up sixteen pages!
  • If you haven’t already figured out which sessions you’re going to try to attend before you arrive, forget about it. You could literally spend half the week reading through the descriptions.
  • Keeping an eye on the general event agenda won’t hurt either.

What your day might look like

Bootcamps and Hands-on Labs

On Monday and Tuesday, you’ll be able to choose from a wide range of full-day technical boot camps, each designed to quickly provide an in-depth introduction to a particular AWS technology. Mainstream boot camps come in three flavors, Introductory (on topics like Getting Started with AWS and Business Essentials), Advanced (Architecting, Big Data, etc), and Expert (Networking, Security, etc). In addition, there are also partner boot camps and AWS Certification Exam Readiness workshops.

Besides boot camps, there will be more than seventy Hands-on Labs spread through days of the show, where you can work through real-time AWS services.

Breakout sessions

From Wednesday on, fourteen one-hour time slots are set aside for breakout sessions. There will be more than 300 individual sessions led by more than 450 speakers presented in these slots. The speakers are all noted Subject Matter Experts or AWS engineers with loads of insight and experience, so it would be hard not to find your Cloud Computing knowledge enriched.

Breakout sessions are also arranged by level (Introductory, Advanced, and Expert) and follow Tracks like Architecture, Big Data and Analytics, and DevOps.

re:Invent Central

For some people, the vendor tables at the re:Invent Central expo are the most important feature of the whole week. Just be prepared to spend endless hours wandering among all of the many displays and fighting enormous crowds. But by all accounts, the expo is a terrific opportunity to find out what’s at the cutting edge of Cloud Computing and there’s no way to know who you might meet and connect with. Bring business cards.


Between the Hackathon and GameDay competitions, you can submit yourself to significant technical challenges, letting you show off what you can do and learn a whole lot more at the same time.

Down time

re:Invent 2015 won’t be all work and no play. Whether you’re inspired by riding Harleys through the desert or pub crawls, there will be something for you to enjoy in any spare moments you manage to carve out of your busy schedule.

Finding the right sessions

While there will be more than 300 separate sessions available (and more likely to appear in the aftermath of announcements made during keynote speeches), AWS wants you to find the ones that will help you the most. Therefore, make sure you spend some quality time with their event search tool.

You can use the checkboxes on the left to filter your search by values like “Level”, “Industry Focus”, and “Track”, and then search the results by either session or speaker. Clicking on a particular session will reveal more details, including time and location.

So suppose you’ve come to learn more about automating instance launches through AWS Lambda. You might filter by Compute, and quickly see that the “CMP302 AWS Lambda and the Serverless Cloud” session covers a lot of the material that interests you. You can note the event schedule and plan to be there with plenty of time to spare to make sure you get in.

Of course, to make the best use of your time, you wouldn’t mind doing some homework preparation. Here’s one place where Cloud Academy can help. We have a Lambda course Understanding AWS Lambda  (including forty minutes of video lectures) to introduce you to all the of Lambda’s basic concepts and function and, to give you a feel for how it works in the real world, Cloud Academy’s hands-on Introduction to Lambda lab.

Cloud Academy, of course, has courses, labs, and quizzes on all the core AWS services. In some cases, you may actually find that Cloud Academy can cover all the basics for you, freeing you to spend your re:Invent time exploring other, perhaps deeper, topics.

AWS Certification exams

With all the intense learning of AWS skills going on during the week, AWS has brought their certification process right into the hotel. If you book ahead, you’ll be able to take the exam for any AWS certification for which you’re already qualified, right at re:Invent.AWS Certification icon

With Cloud Computing the juggernaut that’s driving so much of the IT world right now, and with AWS leading the way by every conceivable metric, building solid AWS skills is obviously a very safe and sober career/business decision. But if you want to convince your clients or employers that you’ve got what it will take to excel in the AWS world, then you’ll need to get the appropriate AWS certifications.

Here too, Cloud Academy can help. If you’re after professional, expert AWS exam preparation at any level, try Cloud Academy’s AWS Certification training content. We’ve got video courses, hands-on labs and quizzes covering the AWS Solutions Architect Associate and professional levels, plus the associate level for both AWS Certified Developer and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator.

Travel plans aren’t going to work out? Unable to squeeze it all in? All is not lost. You can share some of the magic through AWS’s own live streaming. But your quickest personal route to AWS skills will always be open through Cloud Academy.

Over to you

What about you? Do you have any tips you’d like to share from your past re:Invent experiences? Anything you wished you’d done differently? Add your thoughts to the comments below.

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