Although this was my first time attending an AWS event, it is one I have been looking forward to for a few weeks now. Amazon Web Services or AWS has been a platform I have started learning a lot about recently, especially AWS Workspace and EC2 instances, however, attending the AWS Summit was a chance to enhance my knowledge and to see what else AWS offers that may benefit our customers.

The Summit is split into two very different days. The first day (which was today) is what I would call a “tech day”, and very much aimed at technical IT professionals at different levels of AWS knowledge. During the registration process there were several different “tracks” you could pre-register for, including:

AWS Start-up: aimed towards companies who are new start-ups or an existing start-up looking for ways to grow their business and learn something new in AWS

AWS Builders day: Aimed towards new developers will learn about some of the hottest topics in cloud computing and experienced developers who can deep dive into newer AWS services

AWS Public Sector Pre-day: As the name suggest this was based around Cloud in the public sector with multiple panel discussions featuring leading-edge AWS customers in areas including public safety, health and human services, education and smart cities.

Alexa Skills workshop: All day workshops for beginners and Advanced technical people based around Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa.

AWS Well-Architected Workshop: An advanced-level hands-on day that helps AWS customers get a deeper understanding of AWS best practices, run a Well-Architected review on their workload, identify areas of improvement, and build a plan for remediation.

AWS Security Jam: All day Security based workshop or ‘Jam’ where technical customers work in teams and complete real-life scenario-based tasks and fix security issues within AWS

As you can see by the above there was a variety of topics and levels of AWS knowledge being covered which made for a really interesting first day. With security being one of my passions I decided to register for the Security Jam, and although my exposure to AWS up until now has not been anything to do with security in AWS I was looking forward to the challenge and prospect of learning some new technologies.

The session did not start until mid-morning, so after registration, I decided to head down to the Partner and Solutions Expo to see what was on offer. There were the usual suspects such as Veeam and NetApp, but the standout solution for me was a Cloud Monitoring/Analytics based product which you may have heard of called DataDog. This is a product that seamlessly aggregates metrics and events across the full DevOps Stack, including SaaS and Cloud providers, Automaton tools, Monitoring and instrumentation, Source Control and bug tracking, Database and common server components. I was lucky enough to have a 15-minute demo on the product, and although the demo covered its integration with AWS in the most I was impressed with the number of features it comes with ‘out of the box’. By this I mean it is ready to use with very little configuration required.

For me the long-term future of IT is going to be Cloud, however, the immediate future is Hybrid with customers wanting to have Infrastructure both on premises as well as the Cloud. With this being said, it is platforms like DataDog’s that are ideal for Monitoring and Analysing performance for the Hybrid Infrastructure.

After a quick coffee stop, I made my way to the Security Jam where upon entering I was given a small card with a table number and some initial login details for the workshop. What I liked about this format was that as well as getting to work with new technologies I was also going to get to interact and work with other technical professionals from different sectors with different experiences and levels of ability.

As I mentioned earlier, my exposure to the Security aspects of AWS is minimal, but luckily I was in a team of ‘techies’ I was able to learn and work with. Throughout the day we worked on a number of tasks that included working with services such as AWS CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail and Athena as well as services I was more accustomed to favour EC2 instances, ESB and S3 instances. The format of the ‘Jam’ was innovative for me and in all the events I have been too, I have not experienced anything like it. The whole day was spent working on different level difficulty tasks with specific objectives. Once completed, points were given to the team and at the end of the day the team with most points was declared the winner! Unfortunately my team came up short, however, the information and knowledge gained in this day made it so everyone involved had come away with something.

The main takeaway for me was how impressed I was with the amount of Analytics and alerting/monitoring that can be done using services like AWS CloudWatch, CloudTrail and Athena.

Thanks for reading and keep an eye on my twitter @shabazdarr for live updates tomorrow on day two!

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