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Your 2016 AWS re:Invent Survival Guide

By Andrew Nhem on October 27, 2016
There's an art to getting the most out of one of the biggest tech events of the year. This year's guide by Cloudability will help you work hard, play hard, and get the most out of AWS' flagship event.

There’s an art to getting the most out of one of the biggest tech events of the year. This year’s guide by Cloudability will help you work hard, play hard, and get the most out of AWS’ flagship event.

These guides are a long-standing tradition at Cloudability (see last year’s guide here, for example), and we’re proud to help many of the estimated 29,000 attendees have a solid time at re:Invent.

What we’ll cover

pyramid

AWS resources might be scalable and adaptable, but our human bodies can only take so much learning, meeting, greeting, and partying before we bottom out. To keep the energy levels up, the good times rolling, and the knowledge flowing, we’ll cover some fundamental things to have in place to fully enjoy the conference.

This guide covers:

Getting ready

AWS is holding re:Invent 2016 at The Venetian: Palazzo, The Mirage, and The Wynn: Encore. There are no rooms available at these locations through the duration of re:Invent, but we have a few alternatives that might have vacancy.

We recommend checking out rooms at Treasure Island and Harrah’s, as they won’t be too far from the event. There are also suites available nearby The Venetian at its Intercontinental annex, but this is an expensive, last-resort option that’s relatively close to the event.

Extra note: on the main AWS re:Invent event page, there are also flight codes through Delta Airlines that can be redeemed to save on travel.

Your room will be your home base for the week. So, be sure to make it as relaxing as possible. Part of this is to make sure you pack the essentials. Another part is to bring that extra “something” for your temporary home away from home. Here’s some advice from re:Invent veteran Drew Williams, Sr. Finance Manager at Tinder.

“For that week or so, your hotel room is home. Bring things that cozy it up as much as possible as it’s the closest thing to privacy that you’ll get,” said Drew. “Also, we all know that after the party, it’s the after party. So if you’re hosting, bring what you need to have a good time till dawn.”

We’ve curated a list of travel essentials recommended by our road warriors at Cloudability:

Drew also would like to remind this year’s attendees to have the right gear on hand to keep devices charged:

“Having the right power cords on you at all times is a MUST for the week of re:Invent. No one wants to be stuck all day with a computer or cell phone that is powerless!”

Getting around

what_to_bring

Most of re:Invent is within walking distance of the venue and its surrounding hotels and casinos. You’ll want to have this map of the Venetian handy, since it’s where most of the event will be.

But, between sessions, booths, and parties, you’ll be doing a ton of walking. Take the advice of our Director of Sales, Gary Ellingson. Over the course of four past re:Invents, Gary’s logging in about 120 miles in steps (he has measured every event using a pedometer).

His advice: “Trust in the doctor. Doctor Scholls.” If our power-networking sales titan believes in the gel inserts, they might be a good idea for folks planning on being super mobile throughout re:Invent.

It’s also a tech conference. All eyes will be on the numerous bombshells and announcements that AWS will make. People will forgive you if you leave the leather shoes at home and whip out the fresh, comfier sneakers instead.

How to fuel up

Las Vegas has some well known eateries, ranging from the gourmet, Michelin-star meals to seafood buffet madness, and even secret hole-in-the-wall gems that satisfy. Here are a few highlights.

Indulge

Nothing is worse than trying to answer the question of “where should we go eat?” with your newfound re:Invent friends. Here are a few spots to start making reservations at at The Venetian and nearby:

Meals to make a great impression

Cheap Eats

For the businesses on a budget and wanting to fuel up quickly and affordably, we recommend:

Some of these places are a ways from the main event space. So, be sure to plan in plenty of travel time to not miss out on sessions. Not even the new Reserved Seating feature can save you if you’re fighting off a food coma miles away.

Keeping it lean and mean

fueling

For folks wanting to maintain peak energy levels, and perhaps absolutely destroy the re:Invent 5k run, maintaining nutrition is key. There’s the indulgent, decadent Vegas, as we described above, but there are also healthy joints, including some with vegetarian and vegan options, to hit up to stay fit:

Pro-tip: Hacking the conventional meeting

Our own co-founder, J.R. Storment, lends this gem of advice: “Change things up and schedule a poolside brunch meeting on Friday after the week’s insanity has quieted down. By that time, you’ll be ready to get some sun and it’s often the easiest time to get on that busy someone’s calendar.”

Grabbing coffee

While it’s pretty standard for events and conferences to provide your basic carafes and pots of coffee, The Venetian has a few more options available, including Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and some 24-hour cafes, like the Grand Lux. Cafe Presse and Espressamente Illy offer a bit more specialized caffeination.

Getting the Most out of the Sessions

Before the event: registering for your sessions

day_of

If you haven’t, it’s time to check out the AWS Session Planner and start choosing talks to go to. For the first time, AWS is allowing attendees to reserve seats for their favorite talks. We explain how you can use the new Reserved Seating feature within the re:invent 2016 Session Planner in our walkthrough article.

If you want a place to start, Cloudability will be featured in two sponsor sessions, which we highly encourage you to attend. The sessions and their waitlists are full, but we’re working on opening up more spots.

We’ve been curating interesting talks about key AWS skills and concepts to know. Feel free to check those articles out for some ideas, too. You find sessions about:

Some of our customers are excited about AWS sessions that dive into cutting-edge topics like deep machine learning, VR, and serverless computing.

“Machine learning is a tantalizing proposition which could flip modern computing on its head,” said Christian Roth, Director of Cloud Services at Shutterfly. “I am eager to see how deep learning can unlock unique opportunities in our industry.”

With all this advice in mind, it’s time to hit the Session Planner and start registering for interesting talks.

Coordinate walking times

According to Google Maps, walking between each venue can take up to:

Please keep in mind that there are only 30 minutes between sessions during re:Invent. So with possibly 28,999 other people trying to get to their sessions, expect some traffic on foot. A great rule of thumb: leave early and walk briskly.

During the event: take notes like a boss

Whether you’re an avid note-taker, live-tweeter, or something in between, be sure to bring your device and a portable charger to last through the day. Event Wi-Fi and internet is always up to chance, so ensuring your note-taking app has an offline mode is crucial. Or, just use the good ole pencil, pen, and notepad.

Pro-tip: When at individual sessions, it’s better to use the cellular capabilities of your device or connect to the event Wi-Fi. Launching a personal hotspot is usually handy, but with thousands of other folks doing the same thing, we end up with wireless congestion that overlaps and bogs down everyone’s networks.

Networking hard

You’re going to meet a lot of great people. So, it’s best to be prepared. For the traditional route, remember to bring enough business cards. Don’t forget that the event goes through the week, and there are parties to attend nearly every night, so bring extra cards.

For folks with a bit more of a digital style, now is the time to start polishing up your social feeds, personal websites, Github accounts, and other worthwhile cred. If you were curious, it looks like AWS is going to use the #AWSreinvent and #reinvent2016 to track live content.

Partying hard

going-out

After a long day of learning, networking, and getting really darn good at AWS, it’s time to relax. By default, there are the flagship AWS parties to attend: Pub Crawl and re:Play.

You’re always welcome to sign up for the Cloudability t2.microbrews party. It’s our annual tradition at re:Invent held on Tuesday night at the Public House. Hope to see you all there.

New for 2016: To get into the spirit of AWS Lambda, we’re also going serverless…with our bartending. Attend our part of the AWS Pubcrawl (also at Public House) and grab a drink from our Serverless Bar!

Drew, of Tinder, also reminded us that it takes a level of balance to get the most fun and reward out of re:Invent:

“It’s all about work hard play hard, so make it a balance. Make sure to get out there and network with others and enjoy yourself, but also be on time the next morning.”

Other ways to hang out and have fun

For folks who aren’t into the usual party scene, AWS has a handful of other fun events. For the first time, AWS will hold a 5K re:Invent run. Other ways to chill include the Hackathon, Tatonka wing eating contest (a big deal for foodies and food fighters alike), and the re:Invent Harley Ride. More information about these side events can be found on the AWS re:Invent 2016 agenda.

Stay safe and have a good time

At the end of the day, your boss paid for your attendance to re:Invent to learn all kinds of great new things about AWS, to meet awesome people, and to have a great time. By all means, have a memorable time, but we recommend everyone be respectful to other attendees, vendors, and the AWS staff that puts this amazing show on each year.

Finally, visit us at our booth!

boothThis year, we’ll be at booth #1821. Stop on by to meet the Cloudability team, talk about all things AWS efficiency and cost management, and score a comfy t-shirt. We look forward to seeing everyone there this year.

Being in the know feels great