Are You Heading to AWS re:Invent in 2023? I Am; Here’s Why I’m a Fan

Some people seem surprised that I’m heading to AWS re:Invent 2023 in Las Vegas this year. Even if they know that I’ve been to every single re:Invent since it started back in 2012, they’re also aware of what’s going on in Israel. 

While many of my friends from home won’t be able to attend, I feel it’s more important than ever to be there. For one thing, it’s essential to stick to normal routines as much as possible—both for Israel’s economy and for our own mental health. More importantly, this is an opportunity to host a small Israel advocacy event, speaking up for my country at a time when it needs all the voices it can get.

My last conference—Oracle CloudWorld, back in September—was also in Vegas, but the mood was completely different. I had to ditch my geeky T-shirt for a business suit, so I’m looking forward to once again geeking out at AWS re:Invent.

Looking at AWS’s performance as we head into re:Invent, there are a few good reasons this is the absolute best conference for any serious cloud techie. In this post, I’ll share some of the biggest AWS developments I’ve been tracking so far in 2023, along with some exciting news for AWS partners looking to up their content creation game.

High Volume, High Margins: AWS Remains the 500-lb Gorilla

IT is so huge. It is several trillion dollars a year of spend that it’s easy to quickly see that most of the migration has yet to happen.” Adam Selipsky, AWS CEO on an interview with The Verge

First, there’s the fact that AWS continues to dominate the cloud scene. Not just in terms of market share, which is holding strong at 32%, according to Statista. 

There’s also the fact that despite lackluster performance through early 2023, Amazon has managed to turn out surprisingly strong revenue growth and profitability for Q3 with revenue up 12% YoY to $143.1B net sales

AWS remains the company’s most profitable business (though AWS returns for Q3 were a bit mixed overall, at $23.1B). Looking at the phenomenal growth of the AWS business, I’ve always maintained that the so-called “high-volume/low-margin” advantage that AWS leaders talk about is IMHO actually “high-volume/high-margin” (like this prediction from back in 2018). AWS dominates the market, running the largest IT environment in the world and renting out its vast IT infrastructure to the largest public websites, global enterprises, and government agencies. So it’s not surprising that with an operating profit margin of 29%, AWS is the company’s most profitable segment; nor that when an AWS region goes down, it takes with it dozens of major sites such as McDonald’s and Delta Air Lines.

More importantly, despite being the biggest player out there, AWS hasn’t lost its agility and is constantly extending its offerings to meet customer needs. In the next couple of sections, I’d like to share some of the areas that have impressed me the most so far in 2023—even if I’m excited to see what further surprises they’re going to pull out of their hat for us at re:Invent.

Anthropic and AWS: Heavy Commitment to the AI Future

Probably the biggest area where AWS needs to move quickly is in AI, and no wonder—tech competitors like Google, with their Vertex AI; and Oracle, with its acquisition of Cohere, are pushing aggressively forward on this front.

To establish its edge, AWS has made a massive investment (up to $4B) in Anthropic announced in September 2023. Looking over the outline of this deal, it’s clear that it’s a win-win-win (for AWS, Anthropic, and AWS users):

Bedrock helps developers build generative AI applications by making pre-trained foundational models from AI startups, like Anthropic’s Claude (thanks to the new deal) and Stability AI, easily accessible via an API.

With Bedrock, AWS is poised to go head-to-head with Azure OpenAI. For the time being, while OpenAI offers access to a range of GPT language models and fine-tuning capabilities, Bedrock’s advantage is a wider range of foundational models (including AWS’s own Titan and Falcon), along with tighter integration with other AWS services.

AWS in 2023

Beyond AI, AWS is constantly introducing groundbreaking services and features to empower customers in solving their most complex challenges. Here are just a few examples from 2023.

Maturing Data Management

Succeeding with data in today’s world really requires taking the end-to-end view of your data and not looking at point solutions along the journey, Selipsky Said

AWS is constantly introducing new and expanded data offerings, like Amazon Aurora I/O Optimized, which provides better I/O performance so applications can handle more data with greater speed, and AWS DMS Serverless, which simplifies database infrastructure migration.

In addition, AWS doesn’t stop to ensure that all its databases are fully compatible with the most recent database versions or to build native integrations between, for example, Amazon Aurora MySQL ETL integration with Amazon Redshift.

On one hand, Amazon is deeply committed to supporting its clients; on the other hand, it also recognizes the strength of its business by keeping data operations running on its cloud infrastructure. This lets AWS leverage data gravity, meaning the tendency of data to attract and accumulate related applications and services. This can be a powerful tool for customer loyalty. By offering more data services, AWS makes it harder for its customers to switch to other cloud providers. This strengthens recurring revenue and cements AWS’s overall cloud dominance.

Cloud Security

There are a number of open questions circulating in the industry about whether Amazon is planning to beef up its security offerings to begin competing with some of the third-party vendors out there such as Palo Alto Prisma Cloud and Orca Security. 

While AWS currently offers its Security Hub, which features excellent integration across a wide range of AWS products and services, it has never quite been considered a fully fledged platform, since it lacks the total flexibility and automation capabilities of most modern security suites. That’s why industry insiders are wondering if we might soon see EDR, vulnerability management, and SIEM solutions to create fully comprehensive security coverage.

It seems as if AWS is moving in this direction with its release of Amazon Security Lake, which enables more effective threat identification and investigation by storing all logs and other security data in a single location, making it easy to access and analyze.

No Code/Low Code

Another area where insiders are watching AWS eagerly is in the low-code/no-code (LCNC) wars, which promise vendors faster time to market along with potentially better agility and security.

AWS is already in the LCNC space with products and services including Amazon Honeycode, Amazon AppFlow, and Amazon SageMaker Canvas that help users build and deploy applications, automate workflows, and analyze data without needing to write code.

Now, they’ve added an enterprise tier to Amazon CodeWhisperer, an effort to retain dominance of GitHub CoPilot and other offerings to come from the major players, all aiming to claim their share of the enterprise-scale development world. Another move in this direction has been the acquisition of Fig, a utility that adds AI to the command line—an often overlooked interface that’s still gamely holding its own with serious developers against today’s slick GUI environments.

AWS Global Expansion 

AWS was initially lukewarm on the idea of global expansion, focusing on building robust cloud infrastructure within the United States. In 2008, they slowly began expanding with the European launch of EC2; they started picking up pace only a few years later, with expansion into Asia-Pacific, South America, and India.

This strategic shift was driven by several factors, like market opportunities based on AWS’s ability to deliver lower latency and improved performance; an evolving regulatory landscape with guidelines for data privacy, security, and residency—especially for government agencies and protected industries—and a growing need for data sovereignty, meaning many jurisdictions are now specifically legislating that sensitive and protected data be subject to the laws and governance structures of the country or region in which it is located.

Today, AWS serves 32 regions. In 2023 alone, they’ve expanded into:

  • Asia Pacific (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Asia Pacific (Jakarta, Indonesia)
  • Israel (Tel Aviv)

And more expansions are planned for 2024 into a number of new areas such as Malaysia.

(Image Source: AWSGeek)

Beyond regional expansion, AWS has also demonstrated their commitment to expanding operations in the EU with the announcement of “sovereign cloud” capability to meet the strict regulatory requirements that users’ metadata be stored in the EU; it will also allow users to have greater control over data residency, with a completely separate billing and usage metering system.

I’m also impressed by AWS’s commitment to boosting tech capabilities in developing areas, like with their new global fintech accelerator programs for Africa and Latin America. 

All the trends I’ve mentioned point to the single biggest reason I believe AWS continues to lead the pack: They are very good at listening. They listen to users and then introduce offerings that prove their ongoing commitment to serve a range of business types and sizes—all the way from startup to enterprise scale.

If this all sounds like I’m a fan—well, I’m a fan. And despite my excitement about all of the growth I’ve mentioned so far, re:Invent is still a big part of the reason why.

AWS re:Invent: The Cloud Computing Event of the Year

Every year, I head to re:Invent knowing I’m going to be seeing the best of the best. But still—every year, AWS manages to pull surprises out of its sleeve; surprises that shape the evolution of cloud tech for the coming years.

Just a few reasons I’ve attended every single re:Invent since its inception in 2012, and intend to keep on going…

  • Community: re:Invent is the largest gathering of the cloud computing community, attracting over 50,000 attendees worldwide.
  • Innovation: How can I pass up the chance to witness firsthand the latest cloud innovations, keynote presentations from AWS luminaries, breakout sessions covering a diverse range of topics, and hands-on demonstrations of cutting-edge AWS services?
  • Learning: There’s always room to grow, especially through re:Invent’s wide array of training sessions and workshops.

Networking: re:Invent has always helped me connect with the global cloud community through networking and social events and interacting with AWS experts, partners, and fellow cloud professionals.

#StandwithIsrael at re:Invent

This year, our team has one more reason to show up for re:Invent—because Amazon has shown up for tech professionals here in Israel. 

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and AWS CEO Adam Selipsky have both expressed shock and distress over the October 7th Hamas massacre, and both Amazon and AWS have continued to support their employees in Israel throughout the conflict.

We invite you to stand with Israel at this time with T-shirts, bracelets, and flags, sharing Israel advocacy and speaking out against terrorism. Get in touch with me so we can connect if you’re planning to be there.

Co-Marketing: Getting the Most Out of Your AWS Partnership

I’ve saved one of the best things about AWS for last: their rich and well-developed partner ecosystem. With a network comprising 100,000 businesses worldwide, partnering with AWS offers a range of resources and opportunities, like financial benefits—including co-marketing. 

The promise of co-marketing is too tantalizing to resist: AWS will provide its partners with cash or credits to promote offerings and solutions built around AWS.

But I also know it can be difficult to create the kind of consistent, high-quality content that meets AWS’s standards. And that’s where I’m pleased to offer IOD’s services.

My incredible team at IOD has already been working with AWS for over a decade. That means we understand the co-marketing process from the inside. We know what AWS is looking for and can help accelerate delivery of content that meets their needs and yours so you can get through the approval process faster.

Our content aligns with Amazon’s marketing standards, so you can join cloud leaders like Microsoft, Check Point, Veeam, and NetApp, who have all trusted IOD with their content production needs.

With all the excitement we’ve seen here around AWS’s journey in 2023 and some exciting announcements likely to come at re:Invent and beyond, we’re excited to be once again on our way to re:Invent in Vegas this year, so stay tuned for our coverage from the show floor!

Planning to be there? We’d love to meet you there to talk about AWS, its pivotal role in shaping the landscape of cloud computing, AI, and ML, as well as your strategy when it comes to content production to meet your market’s needs.

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