It’s that time again. Tens of thousands will invade Las Vegas next week for AWS re:Invent 2019. AWS packs a lot of information and activities into the week. If it’s your first time attending AWS re:Invent, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Even if you’re a seasoned re:Invent pro, there are key things to remember and plan for in order to make it a successful event and get the most out of it.
Granted, I’ve only been to two AWS re:Invent conferences myself. However, I’m a seasoned veteran of conferences in Las Vegas in general. I have been attending Black Hat, and B-Sides, and vendor events in Las Vegas for over a decade.
I’m also just a fan of Las Vegas. It’s not for everyone. It is audacious. It is ostentatious. It is decadent. It is also often loud, and crowded, and chaotic. I enjoy a little gambling now and then. I’m not going to retire on my Vegas winnings any time soon, but I can hold my own at a Blackjack table and manage to leave the table with my money most of the time. At the very least, it will take me a few hours to lose my money, and I consider that an acceptable cost for a few hours of camaraderie and entertainment. The array of fabulous restaurants and mind-bowing shows is also something you can’t find elsewhere—at least not in such a dense, tightly packed area like the Vegas strip.
That said, here is my advice for you if you’re making the trek to AWS re:Invent:
- Wear Comfortable Shoes – You will get your steps in. Even if you only attend sessions and events in the hotel you’re actually staying in and never leave the building all week, you will get your steps in. Las Vegas has very long hallways and an uncanny ability to assign every visitor to a room that feels like its half a mile from the elevator. The elevators are always in the middle of the building—forcing you to walk through the casino gaming area to get to virtually anything—and the conference center and meeting rooms are typically tucked away in the back somewhere in what feels like it must be another zip code from the main hotel.
- Use the Shuttles – AWS re:Invent is spread out up and down the Vegas strip with sessions and activities going on simultaneously in multiple venues. Thankfully, AWS provides a free shuttle service to get you from Point A, to Point B, over to Point C, and back to Point A. Keep in mind, though, that the shuttles are not magical. They are still constrained by the laws of physics and Vegas traffic, so it generally takes 30 – 45 minutes to get where you’re going. Make sure you factor that time into your schedule any time you plan to take a shuttle.
- Crowds and Lines – With over 55,000 visitors flooding Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent, you can expect to encounter crowds and lines just about anywhere you go. This is especially true at any Starbucks facility—especially first thing in the morning—and at restaurants during lunch and dinner hours. It doesn’t help that many vendors at the AWS re:Invent host private company events, so the restaurant you want to eat at might not be available at all.
- Register for Sessions – The number of sessions available at AWS re:Invent is mind boggling. You might think that with so many sessions you don’t need to worry about getting in, but you would be wrong. Many of the sessions are booked beyond capacity, so take the time to go through the session catalog and pre-register for the sessions you really want to attend. There are two important caveats to this. First, you can still walk up and attend a session without registering, but walk up seating is limited so you need to be at the front of the line, or you probably won’t get in. The other caveat, however, is that many sessions are repeated multiple times and at different venues. So, make sure you look for all of the available days and times for a given session and find the one that works best for you.
If you follow these tips, you should get the most out of your week at AWS re:Invent. I also recommend that you find time to take part in some of the many extracurricular events that take place, like the 4K / 8K Run, Movie Night, Board Game Night, and especially re:Play. I also highly recommend stopping by booth 2334 to meet with the Alert Logic team. Learn about protecting your workloads in data on AWS and find out why working with Alert Logic gives you peace of mind that your AWS environment is secure.