For those of us in the cloud computing industry, this time of year carries special meaning. Yes, it signifies the beginning of the holiday season and (if you’re in the US) the opportunity to engage in excessive food consumption. But it’s also the precursor to the Very Big Show — AKA AWS re:Invent, where 40,000 members of the global cloud community converge to soak up industry best practices, learn about the latest and greatest AWS products and features and stock up on vendor tchotchke.
Attending re:Invent is a great way to turbo charge productivity and maximize cloud investments...IF you know how to get the most out of the experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a tradeshow newbie, my handy survival guide will help you KNOW IT ALL and take advantage of everything the event has to offer. So pack your bags for Vegas (leave room for swag!) and prepare to hit the streets cigarette-smoke-infused halls of the Venetian armed with my 8 tips.
1. Know your session level
While we’d all like to pretend we’re experts, the reality is that some are more advanced than others...even yours truly was a beginner at one point ;-).
AWS offers 3 different levels of sessions: introductory, advanced, and expert, so every attendee can get the most out of their experience.
#PROTIP: If you’re an AWS expert who has already implemented a solution on your own, be sure not to accidentally sign up for an introductory session. One exception to this is that many of the customer case study sessions will be labeled “Introductory."
2. Plan your calendar
This may seem obvious, but we’re all guilty of procrastination and this is one area where it really pays to lay the groundwork in advance.
Once you’ve decided your session level, start looking for sessions that interest you. The Session Catalog has been posted, and includes over 1000 sessions! Register to save your spot before you land in Vegas.
Don’t miss our session:
Leveraging a Cloud Policy Framework - From Zero to Well Governed
Vikram Pillai, Chief Architect, CloudHealth Technologies
#PROTIP: Putting a session on your calendar will mean your seat is automatically reserved. No more standing in the back corner.
3. Attend the keynotes
Show keynotes include AWS leaders and top customers. Peter DeSantis, VP, AWS Global Infrastructure, will be kicking things off at the Tuesday Night Live session, followed by Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon Web Services speaking Wednesday and Werner Vogels, Chief Technology Officer, Amazon.com, speaking Thursday.
The keynotes are where speakers announce their biggest new products and features, so they usually contain some big reveals. Don’t miss ‘em -- and keep an eye on Twitter for reactions from the crowd.
#PROTIP: If you plan on live tweeting the keynotes make sure to include #reInvent in your posts.
4. Don’t miss the pub crawl
Your feet might hurt and there’s a good chance you’ll be losing your voice, but everyone gets reinvigorated for for the AWS re:Invent pub crawl. Let loose after a couple of long days in breakout sessions and keynotes, take advantage of the bar and appetizers and unwind with hundreds of other conference goers catching their second wind.
#PROTIP: I’ll be joining the rest of the CloudHealth Technologies team at the hottest nightclub in Vegas (or so they tell me -- truth be told, I’m not great at judging “hot nightclubs in Vegas”):
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Hakkasan at MGM Grand
5. Stay hydrated
Hit up a juice bar if plain old water is too boring for you, just remember to hydrate.
Many of us have learned this one the hard way. Lack of sunlight, the excitement of the expo floor, the fatigue of endless sessions, the nonstop sound of slot machines...re:Invent is a blast, but it can be overwhelming. The fun events and free drinks can make you forget about the Vegas heat and long days on your feet.
Be sure to stay hydrated— especially if you managed to hit every location on the pub crawl.
#PROTIP: Bring a reusable water bottle (or pick one up from a vendor on the trade show floor), that you can refill at various places throughout the venue.
6. Visit the Expo
Make sure you carve out time in your schedule to visit the Expo Hall, where you have the opportunity to connect with AWS partners and sponsors -- not to mention get your fill of free swag and giveaways.
CloudHealth Technologies will be at Booth #1125 -- swing by to meet with one of our cloud management experts and test your KNOW IT ALL skills with an interactive trivia game. (Now you see where I was going with all the know it all references!) We will be giving away daily prizes and a grand prize of $2,500!
#PROTIP: The Expo is a great place to learn, network, and get free swag.
7. Make dinner reservations
All that networking and learning requires sustenance, so you’ll inevitably work up an appetite. With 40,000 attendees descending on the strip, getting into restaurants will be difficult, especially with a big group. Use OpenTable or Reserve to book your table a day or two in advance to make sure you get to eat.
#PROTIP: Consider making reservations at hotels that are not part of the re:Invent campus, where reservations may be easier to book.
8. End your week right — attend the re:Play party
Dubbed “world-famous” by AWS, it is a night not to miss. Join your fellow attendees in the LINQ parking lot, Thursday, November 30th at 8:00PM.
#PROTIP: If you are into EDM, this is a must-see show. Past performances have featured Skrillex, Zedd, and deadmau5. Again, while I’m not the arbiter of cool, even I know those are impressive names.