AWS Summit London

Panorama of the AWS Summit London 2016 Expo area

Today we went to the AWS Summit in London. It was awesome! Over 5000 people and 63 partners attended, and there were many talks on AWS related topics.

Keynote

AWS Summit London 2016 keynote from Dr Werner Vogels et al.

The first talk of the day was the Keynote from Dr Werner Vogels, introduced by Gavin Jackson the MD of AWS UK + Ireland, and featuring several other people from AWS-based companies. It gave a great general overview on the current state of AWS and where it is going with a move towards serverless with Lambda. Gavin also assured us that despite Brexit, Amazon are still going ahead with plans to add the UK as a new AWS region in late 2016/early 2017. Vogels referred to a couple of interesting articles on the state of systems:

Sessions and Partner Expo

After the keynote we all went our separate ways and attended various sessions as well as walking around the partner expo.

Hands-on Lab

AWS Summit London 2016 Hands-on Lab Room

Tina: “This was a 40 minute session run by qwiklabs.com where you could work on any one of their 100+ self-guided AWS tutorials (aka ‘labs’). Each lab is a timed session that comes with a real AWS console account that you can play around with and is only valid while you are working through the tutorial. They have plenty of free labs, which seem a great way to familiarise yourself with the AWS product offering.”

Getting started with AWS Security

Tina: “A broad introduction to security-related AWS features (CloudTrail, Config, CodeCommit). At YPlan we use CloudTrail and it has helped us detect some dodgy API calls from third party integrations.”

Devops on AWS

Aaron: “This session introduced some of the continuous delivery and other developer tools available on AWS (CodeCommit, CodePipeline and CodeDeploy). We were shown in a demo how simple it is to set up pipelines to test and deploy code, being able to integrate with Lambda and other services such as Jenkins and Github. At YPlan we use Jenkins with Ansible playbooks to manage our pipeline, but it was great to see how quick you can get started from scratch with AWS.”

Deep Dive on Elastic Load Balancing

Adam: “This session covered some of the details on how ELB's can scale up/down, and how to deal with issues in production like traffic imbalance. It was a nice coverage of the various ways ELB's can be used, but I would have liked to see some more internal details.”

Containers and the Evolution of Computing

Alex: “In this session there was a review of interdependence between the modularisation of code and level of platform abstraction used for each module. The specific example was that for monolithic systems the top level unit of computing was the hardware machine. As we start designing systems in a service-based architecture, each service is running in a virtual machine, which offers platform-level modularisation and flexibility. As trends are progressing towards micro-services, the natural fit is the program-level abstraction of containers, which require less base resources to be run, and allows a virtual machine to actually handle multiple microservices.”

Deep Dive on EC2 Instances

Aaron: “This was a broad introduction to EC2 and how it has evolved from the m1.small instance type first available in 2006 to over 40 instance types today. One less well known feature mentioned was Auto Recovery for instances where instances can reboot with the same Instance ID, IP address and configuration on hardware failure. Chris Turvil from Trainline also explained how they managed to migrate their Windows servers and Oracle database to AWS and how their devops tools have evolved over the years. They plan to release an open source environment manager soon.”

Amazon Alexa and the Alexa Skills Kit

Aaron: “One of the final sessions of the day introduced us to the Alexa Voice Service, which powers Amazon Echo. We were shown in a demo how simple it is to create skills that enable customers to interact with devices in new ways. Good design of the Voice User Interface seems essential for creating a successful skill. We feel that the API might be a little bit too restrictive at the moment and Amazon Echo is currently only available in the US, but we are impressed with the innovation happening around voice interaction and how Amazon are helping to fuel this innovation with initiatives such as the Alexa fund.”

Expo Area

The expo area was great for networking and discovering third party services that work well on AWS. There were also plenty of free T-shirts and other giveaways :) Tina even won a quadcopter from Cloudability!

“Cloud on a stick” from KCOM

“Cloud on a stick” from KCOM!

“IoT bike challenge” from KCOM

“IoT bike challenge” from KCOM!

Conclusion

The AWS Summit was a great conference, especially for the zero price tag. We all learnt a bit more about the services we're using on AWS, and other third party stuff we could use on top.