Five Key Takeaways from Amazon AWS re:Invent

It often takes a couple of days to sleep off “the Vegas” after attending a conference in the hyperactive desert, but, after an event as innovation-packed
as AWS re:Invent, take even a single day’s rest after it’s all over and you’ll hear your competition blazing by you.

For those who weren’t lucky enough to attend AWS re:Invent, I’ve condensed four days of notes, conversations, polls, keynotes, sessions, demos, and datasheets into a top-five list of the issues, concerns, and focuses that dominated the week.

1. Speed

Software, well, quality software, really is all about speed, isn’t it? Amazon’s announced plans to expand the number of their worldwide datacenters impressed attendees representing global businesses. Lee Orrick at F5 told me how by virtualizing their training, they’ve rapidly sped up the time it takes their people on the ground to learn about F5’s new products. And at the Skytap booth, we spoke with countless developers, testers, and IT directors who were interested in learning how we could help them ramp up the speed of developing and testing enterprise software applications.

For all the cloud’s promises of alleviating the headaches and costs of hardware maintenance, there are many users who are simply focused on getting themselves, their data, or their products from point A to B as quickly as possible.

2. The Shift of Enterprise Apps to the Cloud

Skytap CTO Brad Schick gave a session at AWS on this topic, but he’s hardly the only one making and validating this prediction. During his keynote address, Andy Jassy specifically mentioned the benefit of moving dev/test environments to the cloud due to the added ability to collaborate and therefore speed up the time to delivery. In a recent interview with ITworld, IBM Cloud Services vice president Ric Telford gave a list of reasons for migrating enterprise app environments to the cloud.

This area of cloud computing is getting a lot of coverage lately, and as organizations jump on board, I only expect to hear more about it.

3. Agile Development is Alive and Well

I polled AWS attendees throughout the week, and my first question really set the tone for the entire survey—and the conference as a whole. When I asked, “What type of software development methodology does your organization primarily use?” and then gave the responders a choice of agile, waterfall, Scrum, or other—agile was chosen, quickly, nearly every single time.

Not one person polled responded with “waterfall.”

This wasn’t surprising; it was inspiring. Those who are moving to the cloud, and those who are already there are the forward thinkers of this development age, and those who are “doing” agile are no different. I’ve attended conferences in the past where agile experts do everything in their power, sometimes in vain, to try and convince their session attendees that agile is the way to go.

If your organization is interested in building better software faster, then becoming agile, embracing DevOps, and moving to the cloud should all come naturally and without fear. Skeptics, or those stuck in the dark ages don’t tend to attend powerful conferences like AWS.

4. Security Is No Longer a Major Hurdle

This was another poll question of mine, where I asked people what concerns their organization had about adopting cloud services, and “none” was the resounding winner. There were a few who chose “security,” but when I asked if this was still a concern of theirs, nearly all said that early on it was, but not any longer. Admittedly, AWS is predominantly attended by those already in the cloud—not those still on the fence.

For those that haven’t made the move yet—IT directors in particular should gain peace of mind in the security measures in place to help their organizations stay compliant.

5. Dev/Test Environments Rule the Cloud

Forgive me for forgetting the source, but a while back, I remember hearing the saying, “If you’re not a software company, you will be.” At the time, I thought to myself, “Come on, not everyone will one day develop software,” but you know what? Today I’m thinking that those that don’t could very well cease to exist. Perhaps the saying should be, “If you’re not a software company, you should be.”

The cloud makes developing and testing software much easier than it used to be. From the ability to spin up dev/test environments in seconds, to the impact this has on sharing and collaboration between your teams, to the reduced dependence on bulky, costly hardware—all of this leads to every company’s goal: providing greater success to your customers.

This is what developing software enables you to do. This is what the cloud enables you to do. Government agencies, large enterprises, game developers, line of business owners, and cloud service providers like ourselves—we all came to AWS with a common goal, and we’re all achieving that goal using a similar strategy. The cloud has given new speed, new capabilities, and new hope to all of us, and I encourage you to come on board if you haven’t already.

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