News/Trends, Tech/Engineering

The AWS re:Invent 2017 Experience

AWS re:Invent is a show with its head in the clouds. It’s a very different show in a lot of ways, but if you’re interested in cloud computing, it’s the place to be right now. This is the first time I’ve attended the show, and I thought it was quite impressive. As a new member of the Druva team, I was interested in seeing how companies are using AWS to solve their real-world business challenges.

The Attendance

Over 40,000 AWS technologists, business leaders, and cloud enthusiasts flooded the venues I visited, which created a chaotic but engaging experience. The Sands Expo was the main venue because that’s where the Expo Hall was located and where the keynote speeches were presented. Other sessions were held at a variety of local venues, including The Mirage, Aria, MGM Grand, and Encore.


I spent most of my time in the Expo Hall and The Venetian, because my schedule did not allow for the 30-minute shuttle ride to the other venues. Based on what I saw, many of the attendees did the same thing. Those that did brave the voyage back and forth were met with long lines and overbooked sessions. The farthest distance between venues was 2.4 miles, which doesn’t seem very far until you try and move a few thousand people all at the same time. It seemed as crowded in the Sands Expo as I’ve ever seen it, having attended many shows there.

The types of attendees varied widely, but developers made up the majority. The other prominent groups were administrators and DevOps people from companies that are (or will soon be) using AWS for IT. My fellow Druva team members and I spoke with many people from such companies and uncovered some interesting perspectives and use cases across a variety of industries.


The Content

I didn’t see much of the content firsthand, as my responsibilities took me elsewhere, but there was a dearth of it to be sure. Those curious about AWS could participate in the hands-on labs, and those seeking certification could get that as well. Those already certified could try something interesting in the Alexa Hack Your Office sessions and/or help nonprofits in a hackathon. There were over 250 different sessions for all interest levels, which could have potentially made the show even more overwhelming for anyone trying to take it all in.


The Buzz

A lot of people were talking about VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS, which allows you to run VMware workloads on AWS bare metal infrastructure. Many I heard from have been interested in expanding their workloads into the cloud but were unsure how to do so without retooling and having to learn an entirely new infrastructure world. VMC allows customers to continue to use the tools they know and love in a new place where they don’t have to worry about hardware and rightsizing.

And, of course, everyone was saying how awesome it was that we had “Commander Data” from Star Trek (Brent Spiner) at the Druva booth and party! There was a line stretching around the block to get a photo and autograph with him. He couldn’t have been nicer to our attendees, and they loved spending time with such an icon. I’ve met many of the Star Trek: The Original Series crew, but Brent is the first cast member I’ve met from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Finally, Backup and Data meet.


Cloud Washing

There were multiple vendors at AWS re:Invent that were “cloud washing” their products. This is evidence of how popular AWS is. If vendors bend over backward to prove that they work in AWS, it’s probably pretty popular — or at least there is a perception that it is.

What is cloud washing, you ask? It’s when a vendor says they run in the cloud, but what they’re really doing is just certifying that their product runs as a VM in AWS. How do you know if you’re cloud washing? I say the following in my best Jeff Foxworthy voice:

 If you require a customer to purchase an AWS cluster that costs over $100K before you install a single piece of software, you might be a cloud washer.

If your customer has to maintain their own VMs, and deal with the intricacies of how Amazon bills things, you might be a cloud washer.

If your customer is paying for storage before they use it instead of just paying only for what they consume, you might be a cloud washer.

If your customer is paying to run VMs that aren’t currently doing anything other than being ready to run the next backup, you might be a cloud washer.

When it comes to cloud, you either do, or you do not. There is no try. Druva was born in the cloud and lives in the cloud, and we’re happy to explain how public cloud backup and data management makes a huge difference for our customers. I honestly didn’t understand how important this was until I came here, but I definitely understand it now. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re curious.

If you want to learn more about the Druva cloud-native story, visit our AWS for Data Management Solutions page.