Our CTO, Tony Rost, sat down with engineering manager Nathan Wilkerson to talk about his key takeaways from this year’s re:Invent: Chaos Engineering...
Adaptability, Reinvention, and Media Security
Our CTO, Tony Rost, sat down with Senior Product Manager, Julie Scott, to talk about her key takeaways from this year’s re:Invent: organizational adaptability, Reinvention, and Media Security.
Q: Tell me about AWS re:Invent. What are some of the sessions you went to?
A: Two sessions stand out to me. One of them is the keynote session: the first session by Andy Jassy. I’m always excited to see Andy Jassy because I admire his aggressive, customer-first approach to all of the products throughout Amazon Web Services, and he talks about it a lot. So I was excited, from a product perspective, just to hear what he had to say.
This year his session was particularly compelling. He started off with a really bold statement about diversity and the need for the country to embrace diversity, and to continue incorporating diversity in technology—and also throughout every aspect of business and life in America. I thought that that was a great opening statement. And the theme of his keynote this year was all about reinvention, which was a really nice tie-in to the actual theme: re:Invent. I really enjoyed it.
Q: And what was the other session that you had a big takeaway from?
A: The other session was on the state of media security. Just as it is with re:Invent when you’re there in person, a session name might not be super sexy—but when you sit down and listen to the panel of speakers, it’s actually really compelling.
I thought this one was particularly interesting, because the panel of industry leaders that were interviewed included somebody who works at Fox, Melody Hildenbrand. She was joined by HBO Max and somebody from MGM.
They had a great discussion around security and the need for innovation and bringing the two together. And how particularly important it was now—being a part of a broadcast organization and a streaming service like HBO Max—to start innovating and not be held back by things like security, for example. And then, incorporating security into the customer experience.
There was a great catchphrase, “securing the consumer experience,” that they all thought was fantastic, in the way that they’re moving toward the north star.
Q: Since you went to these re:Invent sessions, what are some of the ideas or concepts that you want to take back to our clients?
A: A couple of things really stood out for me. One of them was around agility and being able to adapt to changes. That was particularly important last year when so many companies foundered at the idea of remote work and everything digital.
Those people who are on the fence about moving into cloud computing—those enterprises that were still thinking about accelerating, or thinking about adding cloud computing to their timelines or their roadmaps—were actually forced into it. And forced into it in a way that wasn’t necessarily the best way to plan it out and be thoughtful around moving into the cloud.
So the idea of being adaptable, of building organizations around innovation and reinvention—I thought that was a great message from Andy Jassy. And we know that. When we work with clients, we do that all the time.
The message is really clear that, moving forward, enterprises will have to incorporate from the leadership down to the engineering teams, and product teams will have to introduce the idea of innovation and reinvention as a path forward.
A couple of examples and case studies that I really enjoyed: Andy Jassy mentioned Airbnb. Last year when travel all but stopped around the globe, they saw their value drop from $31 billion to $18 billion. They laid off a quarter of their workforce and were forced to think about, “Are we going down? Is this the end of Airbnb? Or are we going to reinvent?”
And so they cut all marketing spend and added a designation to their website around cleanliness on their properties—realizing that their customers actually wanted to travel but just didn’t want to get on a plane doing it. Staycations and staying close to home became an option for people. And Airbnb continued through 2020, IPO’d in December, and are now back to being valued at $31 billion.
They have a classic Amazon Web Services stack. They utilize all of the basic Amazon Web Services that you would think—EC2, S3, and CloudWatch, for example. So innovating for them was easier, because they had already moved completely into cloud computing.
I thought that was a great message: reinvention is a part of your culture moving forward. That’s something that I’ll definitely take, and make sure I have that in the back of my mind and talk about when we work with our clients.
Q: Great. Julie, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me today.
A: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure—happy to talk about re:Invent!
AWS re:Invent is one of the most informative conferences to attend for anyone looking to the future of business and cloud—and as an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, we look forward to it every year. For 2020, re:Invent was transformed into a free, fully online event packed with exciting sessions, and one silver lining of the remote event was that every Toad could attend!