For AWS users and engineers, no conference is bigger than AWS re:Invent. It’s a massive event with keynotes, learning sessions, and chances to earn your AWS Certification onsite. Not to mention the re:Play afterparty. Traditionally, AWS re:Invent has also been a platform for huge announcements. Last year, AWS announced the launch of elastic GPUs, the Lightsail VPS service, and Athena for running database-style queries on S3. If the past is any indication, this year’s conference will play an important role in shaping the future of AWS.

Because AWS re:Invent is so large, it can be difficult to see everything the event has to offer. This year promises over 1000 breakout sessions, and attendees are already scrambling to figure out a gameplan. If you’ll be one of those in Las Vegas this November, you’re in luck. We’ve put together this guide on how to get the most out of your time at AWS re:Invent.

1. Register for sessions in advance

With so many breakout sessions to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which ones will be most helpful. Luckily, the sessions are listed ahead of time so you can register to ensure you have a spot. These sessions fill up fast, so once you’ve figured out which ones you’d like to attend, book them as soon as possible.

Breakout sessions are classified as either introductory, advanced, or expert. So depending on your role, or how familiar you are with a topic, this can be a good place to start planning. Also remember that sessions may be located in different buildings, so be sure to give yourself enough time to travel to the next one. As a rule of thumb, try to give yourself 10-15 minutes to get through the crowd if your next session is in the same building. If it’s at the other end of the strip, you’ll probably need closer to 45 minutes.

2. Have a backup plan

That great breakout session you’ve been looking at is probably being viewed by thousands of other attendees like you. If you’re not able to register in time, you could end up missing it. Let’s face it – this will probably happen for at least one of your top choices. If you can’t get into one session, make sure that you have another one to go to.

What’s great about AWS re:Invent is the sheer number of options. In addition to a staggering number of breakout sessions, there are also labs, bootcamps, and an expo hall full of vendors and AWS partners to visit. The sessions are sure to be helpful, but this leads us into our next tip…

3. Don’t limit yourself to breakout sessions

The 1000+ breakout sessions aren’t the only way to learn at AWS re:Invent. If you’re a hands-on learner (like we are), you may want to check out the hands-on labs and bootcamps.

Hands-on labs are an opportunity to practice with AWS in a live environment. If you find more value from doing rather than just listening to a talk, this is a perfect way to get some real world experience using the AWS platform. Most hands-on lab sessions will be first-come, first-serve.

Bootcamps are a bit more advanced. If you attend a bootcamp, you’ll spend a half or full day diving into specific AWS services and learning from experienced instructors. There is an additional cost, however. Each bootcamp costs an extra $225-600, but if you’re willing to pay, they’re sure to be worth a look. Bootcamps do require additional registration.

And if you’re looking for even more hands-on learning opportunities, be sure to stop by our booths (#737 and #738).

We’ll be hosting a session of our own at the Encore, in which you take the Cloud Assessments Challenge for a chance to win some cool prizes! Registration details can be found here.

4. Get Certified at re:Invent

If you’re already planning to take a Certification, you can sit for your exam at re:Invent. While you may want to spend your time elsewhere, getting Certified at the year’s biggest AWS event certainly makes for a great story.

The benefits don’t end there, of course. If you get Certified at the conference, you’ll get a designation on your name badge as well as a free AWS gift. And those are just the official rewards. Stop by our booth after you pass your exam and we’ll make sure you don’t leave empty-handed.

If you do plan to sit for your exam, register early since seating is limited. And don’t forget to study! We’re always available for questions, so let us know how we can help you take this important step in your AWS journey.

5. Bring plenty of business cards

AWS re:Invent is sure to be full of learning opportunities and exciting announcements, but it’s also a great networking opportunity. During the event, Las Vegas becomes the place to be for AWS professionals. And where there are large groups of talented people, there are businesses looking to hire them. If you’re looking for a new job, this is arguably the best chance you’ll have to find it.

Even if you’re not looking, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet some awesome new people. AWS re:Invent attracts people of all skill and experience levels, so whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll be able to find someone you can learn from. Conferences can be exhausting, but make sure to take advantage of this great opportunity to network.

6. Whatever you do, don’t miss the keynotes

The Keynotes are arguably the most important events at AWS re:Invent. These talks are where big announcements happen, and if you want to be the first to know what the future of AWS holds, they are a must-see.

This year’s keynotes are sure to be no different. Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services, will be speaking at 8AM on Wednesday at the Venetian. Werner Vogels, the CTO, will be speaking at 8:30AM on Thursday at the MGM Grand. There are a lot of predictions floating around, but AWS always delivers at least one surprise. Last year, they announced their Snowmobile service by bringing a full-size truck out on stage, so expect this year’s keynotes to be just as big.

Make sure you arrive early to get a spot. Live streams will be available, but who wouldn’t want to watch the future unfold in person?

7. Wear your comfiest sneakers

This might seem silly, but I’m totally serious. This year’s re:Invent is spread out over 5 locations along the Las Vegas strip, and at some point, you’re going to have to walk from one to another.

A map of AWS re:Invent locations

Conferences can be tiring both mentally and physically, and the last thing you want is sore feet slowing you down. In fact, make sure everything you’re wearing is comfortable. AWS re:Invent is an incredibly busy event, and if you follow our guide, your week is sure to be booked solid. You’ll probably be out and about all day, and you want to be able to concentrate on the events without worrying about sore feet.

Here’s a quick list of other things you definitely don’t want to forget:

  1. A backpack – You’ll be getting a TON of swag, and you don’t want to carry it around in your hands all day
  2. Chapstick – No one wants to walk around all day with chapped lips, and Las Vegas is known for its dry climate
  3. Ibuprofen – Headaches are the worst, so make sure you have something to take if one pops up
  4. Cash – Remember, the locations for the events are mainly casinos. ATM fees will be ridiculous, so if you prefer to pay with cash, get some before you arrive

8. Don’t forget about the Expo Hall

There are so many sessions and talks that it can be easy to get caught up and forget about the vendors. The Expo Hall will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the Venetian. Whether you’re looking for a particular service or product, or you just want to network with AWS leaders and professionals, this is the place to be.

Many people shy away from vendors and sponsors because they’re not in the market to buy. Most of the people in the Expo are excited to play a part in shaping the future of AWS, so they can be a great resource for answering your cloud questions and talking tech.

Of course we’ll be there as well. Stop by booths 737 and 738 to meet our team, grab some swag, and find out why we’re so excited to be a part of the cloud community.

9. Have some fun

It’s not only education that makes re:Invent so popular – there are also plenty of ways to let loose and have some fun while you’re there. After all, learning can be hard work. If you’re going to the biggest AWS event of the year, you’ll want to find some downtime that doesn’t involve a computer screen.

On Sunday, there’s a Harley ride that offers two routes on either a motorcycle or a slingshot. Tuesday is the Welcome Reception, which is a great way to connect with other professionals in a less formal environment. Wednesday is a big night, with two informal events. First, there’s the Pub Crawl, which is a tour of some of the best bars and restaurants in the city (don’t worry, Amazon is picking up the tab!). There’s also the Tatonka Challenge, a buffalo wing eating contest.

There are also a number of fitness events, like a 5K and the Spinning Challenge, throughout the week. If you participate in the eating contest, this is a perfect way to burn off those extra calories.

And finally, the week ends with re:Play, a huge party for those who want to relax after a long week.

10. Get real-world AWS experience

We’ve already talked a lot about the breakout sessions and keynotes, and those are definitely important. But if you really want to test your skills, you’ll have a chance to do that as well.

This year’s re:Invent includes Jam Sessions, Gameday, and a Non-profit Hackathon. Each is slightly different, but the ideas are the same. You’ll be able to test your skills with real systems and see how your skills match up against others at the event. The breakout sessions are great, and the Keynotes are sure to be a highlight. But if you want to get your hands dirty, so to speak, these are the events you’ll want to check out.

If you do plan on participating, registration for all of these will launch in mid-October. In the meantime, you can practice your skills with our Quests and Challenges.


This year’s conference is set to be the biggest yet, and we can’t wait to see what the future of AWS holds. If you’re going to be at the big event this November, it’s best to start planning as early as possible. And if you follow our guide, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your time at AWS re:Invent.

Excited for re:Invent? So are we, and that’s why we’d love for you to join us!

Linux Academy and Cloud Assessments are giving away a trip to AWS re:Invent 2017. This includes:

  • A full conference pass – You get access to each keynote, breakout session, hands-on lab, and more.
  • 5-night hotel stay – You’ll stay at Harrah’s, located right on the strip and walkable from all conference locations.
  • Flights – We’ll cover your airfare from any city in the continental United States.
  • Lunch with Anthony James – Meet our founder and CEO, and ask him all your cloud questions!

We’re incredibly proud to be a sponsor at the biggest AWS event of the year, and we want to share that experience with one of our students. To enter, fill out the form here. After you submit it, complete 5 of the 10 entry options shown, and be sure to check back for more chances to enter each day. That’s it!

This offer is only open to those 18 and older, within the United States. No purchase necessary. The contest closes October 31, 2017, we will notify the winner November 1, and announce them November 3.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for AWS this November, and we’d love for you to come with us to find out. Good luck, and we hope to see you there!

Win a trip to AWS re:Invent 2017

 

About This Author

Phil Zona is a technical writer for Cloud Assessments. When he's not writing, he enjoys web development, cooking (and eating), and watching videos of animals behaving like humans.

26 thoughts on “How to get the most out of your time at AWS re:Invent

  1. What a mystery! Does anyone know what the “free AWS gift” is if you get certified in the Re:Invent? 😛
    By the way, great article, thanks!

  2. woot! good tips. I totally agree with the comfortable shoes and plus enough space in your suitcase for the vendors’ gifts 🙂

  3. Good points. Regarding the keynotes though, give yourself plenty of buffer after the keynote to get to your next break-out session. It can take a lot of time to get out of the keynote hall and also there are quite a few obstructed views (at least at the Sands Expo Hall). Watching the keynotes livestreamed so you can get to your next break-out session may be worth it.

    1. Great tip, Jeff. I’ve heard others recommend showing up an hour or more ahead to get a seat at the keynotes, but I hadn’t thought about the extra time when leaving. Makes a lot of sense!

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