Top 8 tips for visiting re:Invent 2023
AWS re:Invent 2022 will be an event I will never forget. From the sheer size of the event to the high-quality sessions, conversations, and swag, re:Invent has a lot to offer if you are at all working with AWS.
The event took place in Las Vegas, spanning multiple venues on the strip. AWS did their best to ensure that the event’s magnitude was manageable for the visitoran app that shows everything that is happening that week and by introducing helps you navigate between the venues.
Even with this app handy and all of the re:Invent employees ready to help you at any moment, there are still some things that are good to know before going to the event. In this blog, I will share 8 tips for re:Invent 2023 that I learned from my visit this year.
#1: Reserve your sessions
The sessions scheduled for re:Invent will be made available much earlier than the event, and you will have the option to reserve your seat at these sessions. I highly recommend you take the time to do this and reserve the sessions that you want to go to.
When you finally visit re:Invent, all sessions will have two lines. One for the reserved visitors and the other for the unreserved (walk-up) visitors. Having a reserved seat will not only guarantee you a spot at the session, but it also allows you to do other things and show up 15 minutes before the session and still enter. The people in the walk-up line usually start to gather about 45 minutes before the session and have to stand, and sometimes sit, in line until 10 minutes before the session. Don’t let this happen to you. Reserve your seat!
#2: Get Certified
There are sessions, swag, events, and even a special lounge for visitors that are AWS certified.
I had the most interesting interactions and the most fun at these events. I had conversations with AWS builders around the world. We had discussions about the certification process, how they use AWS at the companies they work, what kind of costs they have, which AWS services they use, and a lot more. We also played games and had some drinks, and eventually added each other on LinkedIn to keep in touch. Don’t miss out on this. Get certified! Any official AWS certification will do.
#3: Join the AWS Community builders
There are also special perks for visitors that are part of the AWS Community Builders group. This gives you access to events and special SWAG. There is an open application twice a year to join. To get into the AWS community builders, you need to:
- Write blogs about AWS
- Speak at conferences about AWS
- Give workshops on AWS technology
- Answer questions online about AWS technology
- Contribute to AWS open source projects
- …anything else that spreads the word and helps others learn about AWS
By joining, you get several benefits next to all of the special access and SWAG at re:Invent:
- 500$ AWS credit
- 1 year subscription at CloudAcademy
- 1 AWS certified exam voucher
- Access to Slack which gives you access to AWS community builders and Hero’s
- re:Invent discount of 50%
- More SWAG
- Lots of exclusive access to resources (webinars, beta previews)
#4: Leave room for SWAG
AWS re:Invent has SWAG, a lot of it! Once you visit the Expo, where all the stands are of the event sponsors, you will be overwhelmed with the number of companies that have shown up and are eager to talk to you about their products. Most, if not all stands have some sort of SWAG to give to you. These come in all shapes and sizes. Leave some room in your suitcase!
#5: Vary the type of session you visit
There are several types of sessions to choose from at re:Invent, ranging from typical breakout sessions to workshops. One fact to note is that a breakout session is recorded and can be viewed later on, while sessions such as Chalk or builders sessions do not. If you are struggling to decide which sessions to go to and some of them overlap, consider the session type and choose the non-breakout sessions. You can always watch the breakout sessions later.
For example, at one of the “builder sessions” I was sitting at a table with a Senior AWS architect and other re:Invent visitors to discuss how we can monitor costs on AWS. It was very insightful to see which tools were being used, either AWS native or third party, and also to see the massive number of costs some people are dealing with. One of the tools they discussed in this session is the CUDOS dashboard, which you can deploy via a CloudFormation template that can monitor various aspects of your costs and give you recommendations.
Another type of session was the “Chalk” session, which was very interactive. In one of the sessions, we designed a solution that included using Lambda extensions to debug them from your local development environment, decreasing the feedback loop during Lambda development.
I also visited some breakout sessions, which are available now on Youtube. Some of my favorites include:
- Unleash developer productivity with infrastructure from code
- An introduction to Infrastructure FROM code from the CEO of Ampt AWS services.
- A close look at AWS Fargate and AWS App Runner
- A walkthrough of the evolution from EC2 instances to AWS App Runner, given by a principal engineer at AWS that has been there from the start.
- A day in the life of a billion requests
- A look into how AWS optimized their authentication mechanism to handle half a billion requests per second to IAM. (spoiler: they use a lot of HMAC’s)
- Are you integrating or building distributed applications?
- An overview of choices you have to make when building distributed applications and makes clear that the words you use are important. Recommended for anyone in an Architect role.
- The architect elevator: Connecting the boardroom and IT
- This talk describes the impact you can have as an architect within a company and gives you tips on how to do this. Also highly recommended for anyone in an Architect role.
#6: Take the venue’s locations into account
As mentioned previously, re:Invent takes place at multiple venues on the Las Vegas strip. Take a moment to check where all the venues are and how long it takes to walk to each venue. AWS offers shuttles between venues, and in my experience, these work well. However, even with the shuttles, if you have to get from the Wynn to the Mandalay Bay, then you are probably going to miss the mark.
#7: Book a hotel close to the Expo
The expo was held at the Venetian. This is the place you want to be when you are not in any other sessions or events. There is a lot to do and see there, such as speaking to people at the several stands about their AWS-related products, collect SWAG, play several types of games, win prizes, attend lightning talks, view product demo’s and get some snacks.
Booking a hotel close to the Expo gives you more opportunities to experience everything it offers.
#8: Register and attend receptions
There is breakfast and lunch included on most days of re:Invent. However, try registering for as many receptions as possible for dinner. These will be announced in the AWS re:Invent app and will be hosted by several of the sponsors. This gives you a good chance to network with different kinds of people. Some of these will offer buffet dinners which is a nice plus.
For some of these events you have to register on time or you won’t get in, and in some cases, the registration starts well before re:Invent, so be sure to keep an eye out online and in your email inbox. If you get an invitation, register immediately as they are quickly full.
I had a great time at re:Invent, and I hope these tips will help improve your re:Invent experience if you choose to attend in person. Of course, you can attend re:Invent virtually as well, for free. Some of these tips, such as getting certified or joining a community, will require you to take action now. It might seem like a lot of work. However, you will be happy once you reap the benefits at re:Invent next year.