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Where is AWS going? 3 Trends From AWS re:Invent 2021

I had the privilege of being able to attend AWS re:Invent 2021 in Las Vegas. It was a whirlwind experience and with it wrapping up I thought I would provide some observations on where Amazon Web Services (AWS) is going. 

Just a heads up, the re:Invent conference is massive, and I could only see so much of it. So these trends may be slightly biased based on the talks I want to, but with the keynotes, I think I have a good idea of AWS trends.

I discovered three broad trends at re:Invent this year: 

  1. Machine Learning
  2. Ease of Access
  3. Cloud Training

Machine Learning

Machine learning has been a hot tech for a few years now and growing rapidly. I think the Wednesday keynote by Swami Sivasubramanian said, and I paraphrase, “ML services have grown at twice the rate cloud has.” Not only has it grown quickly, but it's quickly hitting the point where you no longer need to be a large tech company or bleeding edge startup to use it. In fact, it's at the point that if you aren’t using machine learning, you are putting yourself and your company at a strategic disadvantage. 

In the past, I’ve seen AWS operate machine learning at two different levels. 

Now AWS has released processors that are designed for training ML models and making inferences from the models. This goes beyond low-level training, a model to a hardware commitment to improving speed and cost with machine learning. 

In addition, AWS has announced a whole new list of services for machine learning. The one that is really exciting is SageMaker Canvas. This leads to my second observation. 

Ease of Access

AWS has made another push for making the cloud accessible to everyone, not just large tech companies or programmers. The latest announcement of SageMaker Canvas shows their commitment to creating NoCode tools for everyone to get into not just machine learning but building sites. That along with Amplify Studio shows a commitment to expanding accessibility. 

It’s more than just No/Low Code tools that make AWS target ease of access. It's the philosophy of how they create services that makes it easy to use. During Werner Vogels' keynote on Thursday, he mentioned AWS builds primitives and not frameworks. This is a profound declaration that has lots of impacts, as any developer can tell you. For those who aren’t developers, let me expand a bit.

If AWS was a framework, and not a collection of primitives, to use EC2 you would need to learn how RDS worked, how Lambda worked, how AWS Connect works. It's a lot of burdens to know everything especially on a platform like AWS that has so many new features. 

Instead, AWS makes primitives, which means if you want to use EC2 you really only need to know EC2. If you want a database, just look up RDS. Sure there are some overlaps between individual services like Security Groups or VPC, but by breaking it down into primitives, you can stitch them together as you learn them to make truly amazing applications. 

Training

The more subtle trend I saw this year is AWS’s commitment to training. Let me preface this by saying I’m AWS certified. Over the years, I’ve used AWS Training, CloudGuru, Cloud Academy, Udemy, and probably a few others. All have their pros and cons. But at no point have I seen AWS roll out so many new training options. I can’t find the announcement blog post for these but here is a list of just some of what they announced, AWS Gameday, AWS Skill Guild, AWS Cloud Quest, AWS Jams, AWS Builder Labs, AWS ReStart, AWS SageMaker Studio Lab. 

These services are out or will be out shortly. The sheer number of services coupled with the new training portal and curriculum. To cater to different learning styles and needs shows AWS’s commitment to helping people.

Importance

So there are three trends. Why are these important? As tech keeps growing, it is constantly changing the world. For both good and bad. The only way we can ensure the changes are for the good of all is that everyone can get a seat at the table. Everyone should be able to learn these skills and improve their lives and the lives of everyone.

I’m happy to see that AWS is taking steps to help everyone learn more about tech and make technology like machine learning accessible to everyone.

Date posted: December 3, 2021

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About the Author

Nathan Wilkerson, VP of Engineering

Nathan started building computers, programming and networking with a home IPX network at age 13. Since then he has had a love of all things computer; working in programming, system administration, devops, and Cloud Computing. Over the years he's enriched his knowledge of computers with hands on experience and earning his AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional.

Recently, Nathan has transitioned to a Cloud Operations Manager role. He helps clients and internal teams interface with the Cloud Team using the best practices of Kanban to ensure a speedy response and resolution to tickets.

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