Planning for AWS re:Invent 2022

Cloud re:Invent AWS
TOMMY LIIKAMAA
05.10.2022

re:Invent, the yearly flagship event of AWS is getting closer. In this blog post, I will share my recommendations on how to successfully create a focused agenda so that you're both prepared and cover the things that fit to your purpose to attend re:Invent.

Without a plan, it's easy to be overloaded by all the available content the week has to offer. Regardless of whether this is your first re:Invent or not I hope you get something useful out of my previous experiences and mistakes.

Be intentional

Why are you going to re:Invent? What's the purpose, what are your goals? Are there any business outcomes tied to your attendance? As with everything in life, you should be intentional in how you spend your time and make sure you focus on what's important to you. A clear sense of direction will make a big difference in your experience.

Think about how you will measure your attendance, start with the end in mind, and what kind of results you will bring back home. Inspiration to build something AWSome? Motivation for your team? Showing how invaluable you are to your organisation? You can be as altruistic or egoistic as you want.

  • Write down your overall goal
  • Put some metrics into play
  • Filter the session catalog on Tracks, Area of Interest, Industry, and Service

Use your time wisely

re:Invent takes place across multiple venues. If you have ever been to Las Vegas you know that just going to the hotel across the street may prove a challenge and require a lot more time than anticipated. Instead of crisscrossing between venues, try to plan to spend half a day in the same location.

Try to visit all the venues, they are all nice locations and some of them are off limits for non-attendants or when there isn't any event going on (Wynn is one such place).

Transitioning during lunch works well for me. Breakfast and lunch are usually served at multiple venues, or you can just get them to go.

  • Aim to spend at least half a day in one place
  • Try to visit all the venues
  • Filter the session catalog on Venue

Pace yourself

Don't try to min-max your schedule. It's nothing wrong with being efficient but I aim for a focused schedule. Remember that you have a whole week to go and if you think this is a vacation you're in for a surprise.

Las Vegass AWS reInvent
If you're on-site, remember that you're in Las Vegas (baby). You should enjoy it and all it has to offer (moderately is my recommendation). If this is your first time in Las Vegas that's a topic of its own. This is typically the way I plan my days:

  • Get up early, 5 AM. This is when I get some private time. A brisk morning walk or run in the morning light, watching Las Vegas dust off the night and prepare for the coming day. Quick catch-up on work emails, messages and customers.
  • Have breakfast with my colleagues.
  • Attend my morning schedule.
  • Lunch break is a great time to get to know some new people. The sessions you attended during the morning always work as an icebreaker.
  • Attend my afternoon schedule.
  • Join an AWS or partner networking event.
  • Dinner is often pre-planned with customers, partners, and colleagues.
  • Go to bed early, 10 PM is my goal (no partying all night long, I wouldn't survive that).

Mix hands-on with learning

There is a range of different types of sessions available, ranging from big speeches like keynotes to individual chalks with AWS experts. With being intentional in mind, this is how I ponder over the different session types.

Breakout Sessions

These are the presentation sessions that you can find and watch online. Bad planning can make you end up in an interesting session you didn't expect. Even though you can watch most sessions online later, one very good reason for attending them in person is if you want to be able to speak to the person presenting. A second good reason is to catch up on news. When queuing for breakout sessions there will likely be two queues: one for preregistered and one for drop-in. Be there early if you haven't booked.

  • Meet presenter in person
  • Catch up on news
  • You have questions
  • Content preparing you for another session

Chalk talks

I find individual chalk talks with an AWS expert to go fast when the reservations open. I highly recommend these if you have a bigger question about a topic or specific service regarding a project, customer delivery, unique challenges, or similar. During chalk talks, a small group of people has direct access to an AWS expert.

  • Have a use case or specific challenge in mind
  • Book early

Chalk talks AWS reInvent

Workshops

For me, these can be a hit or miss. Knowing this, I look at workshops real close and how they fit into my goals. These are great for attending an industry-wide topic and in a few hours you can have your current or next project more or less laid out before you.

  • Try to find a workshop that matches a project you're doing or want to do
  • Bring a laptop

Gamedays

I don't see any available yet for the 2022 agenda, but I expect there to be a few of them. This is a great learning event, usually half a day, where you compete as a team supported by mainly AWS Solution Architects. You can attend with no experience at all in the topic, don't expect to finish number one but expect to have fun and learn a lot. You can come alone, the organizers will put you in a team (really, you're in good hands).

  • Learn and be curious
  • Bring a laptop

Get certified

With a certification, you'll get access to the AWS Certification Lounge. At the lounge, you got a pretty good chance to meet AWS Heroes or AWS Ambassadors, like Knowit's own Rolf Koski and you're also invited to attend the exclusive AWS Certification Appreciation Reception.

I usually pop into the lounge for a quick break (usually coffee, drinks, and snacks are available) or chat with some interesting new people.

  • Make sure to get your certification before the event.
  • Take the cert at least two weeks before the re:Invent just in case you fail, there's a 14-day cooldown period between retakes.
  • If you already are certified - don't forget to check the expiration date on the exam.

Final recommendations

I could go on forever but to wrap things up, here are some of my final recommendations.

Don't skip the late sessions

You think running a workshop or meeting after lunch is hard? Ask anyone hosting a session at the end of the day at re:Invent, competing with free drinks. One of last year's highlights for me was a workshop at the end of one day on Digital Transformation with Zehra Syeda-Sarwat and her team. Full access to the leader and the team on a topic highly relevant to me was close to priceless.

The quirky events

AWS usually organizes a bunch of quirky events, check them out.

Connect with people

Let people know that you're going to re:Invent. It's a huge networking opportunity.

The Expo

Besides, that re:Invent is huge in the number of participants, venues, and sessions, there is also a big expo area with partners and AWS experts. Make sure to visit this! Likely to find a vendor or partner you already work with from there. Connect, and present your challenges and questions.

The afterparty - re:Play

The final party at the end of the last full day (there are still sessions Friday morning).

Reserve your sessions when the reservations open

In Swedish we have a saying, Häng på låset, meaning waiting for something to open. If you wisely spend some time planning ahead and go in early to reserve seats at your most wanted (or all if you're lucky) sessions you're off to a good start.

So best of luck, enjoy re:Invent and feel free to reach out to me with any questions related to AWS or re:Invent. See you there!

tommy liikamaa 150x150

Tommy Liikamaa
Senior Cloud Advisor and AWS Tech Lead at Knowit