Guest Column | November 16, 2020

What to Expect At The First-Ever Virtual AWS re:Invent

By Dustin Snyder, 2nd Watch

COVID 19 Virtual Conference

It’s that time of year again. Where I live, the leaves are changing color, the temperature is diving, and turkeys are starting to fear for their lives. These signs all point to AWS re:Invent being right around the corner. This year, AWS re:Invent will kick off its 9th annual conference on November 30th, 2020 with a couple of major caveats. It will be three weeks long, 100% virtual, and free to all. This year will be a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure to pace yourself. As always, 2nd Watch is here to help prepare you with what we think you can expect this year, so let’s get to it!

At the time I am writing this article things are a bit unclear on how everything will work at re:Invent this year. We can count on live keynotes from the likes of Andy Jassy, Peter DeSantis, Werner Vogels, and more. For the hundreds of sessions, it’s unclear if the sessions will be broadcasted live at a scheduled time and then rebroadcasted or if everything will be on-demand. We do know sponsor-provided sessions will be pre-recorded and available on-demand on the sponsor pages. I am sure this will be fleshed out once the session catalog is released in mid-November. Regardless, all sessions are recorded and then posted later on various platforms such as the AWS YouTube channel.

AWS expects somewhere in the range of a mind-boggling 250,000+ people to register this year, so we can all hold our expectations for getting that famous re:Invent hoodie. The event will be content-focused, so each sponsor will get their own sponsor page, which is the equivalent of a sponsor booth. Sponsor pages are sure to have downloadable content, on-demand videos, and other goodies available to attendees, but again, how you’re going to fill up your swag bag is yet to be seen. Let’s move on to our advice and predictions, and then we will take the good with the bad to wrap it up.

Our Advice 

  • Be humble - Hold off on boasting to your colleagues this year that you are part of the elite that get sent to re:Invent. News flash: they are going this year too. Along with 250,000+ other people.
  • Pace yourself - You will not be able to attend every session that you are interested in. Pick one learning track and try to get the most out of it.
  • No FOMO - Fear not, all the sessions are recorded and posted online for you to view on-demand, at your convenience.
  • Stay connected - Take advantage of any virtual interactive sessions that you can to meet new people and make new connections in the industry.
  • Get hands on- Take advantage of the Jams and Gamedays to work with others and get hands on experience with AWS services.

Our Predictions

Let’s take a quick look at some of the predictions our experts at 2nd Watch have for service release announcements this year at re:Invent.

  • AWS Glue will have some serious improvements around the graphical user interface.
    • Better datatype detection and automatic handling of datatype conflicts.
    • Glue job startup will also speed up significantly.
  • Amazon SageMaker algorithms will become easier to use – data integration will be smoother and less error-prone.
    • AWS will release managed implementations of text generation algorithms like GPT-2.
  • Some kind of automatic visualization or analysis feature for Amazon Redshift will be released, so you don’t have to build analyses from scratch every time.
  • Expanded/enhanced GPU instance type offerings will be made available.
  • Lambda integration with AWS Outposts will be made available.
  • Serverless aurora goes fully on-demand with pay-per-request and also, potentially, global deployment.

Finally, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of the good that comes with the changes this year.

Take The Good With The Bad

The Good

  • No crowded hallways
  • No lines
  • No rush commutes from hotel to hotel
  • No limits on sessions
  • No need to wear a mask
  • Potential for some fun, virtual after-hours events
  • No hangovers (maybe)

The Not-So-Good

  • No in-person events or after-parties
  • Yet to be determined swag giveaways
  • No feeling special because you registered for a session before your friends or colleagues
  • No going out for amazing food and drink every night
  • No legendary 2nd Watch party


In Closing

Nothing is as we are used to this year, and re:Invent falls right in line with that sentiment. Nevertheless, we are eager with anticipation of a great event and hope you are too.

About The

Dustin Snyder is Director of Cloud Infrastructure & Architecture at 2nd Watch.