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AWS re:Invent Day 1

Day 1 of re:Invent has come and gone and it was an epic start to the week. I’ve often heard it said that re:Invent is a marathon and not a sprint and that’s a very true statement. If you are reading this and are at the conference, pace yourself. And if you are at home watching virtually, do the same, but perhaps more mental pacing than physical.

Let’s dig into Day 1 of AWS re:Invent 2023.

Day 1

Just a quick recap, if you missed Day 0, no worries. Head on over to that link to gain some insights into the pre:Invent festivities that I took part in this year. Don’t worry, this recap will still be waiting for you when you are done!

Alright, onto Day 1.

Meeting up with friends

My Day 0 sort of went late into the night on Day 1 but that didn’t stop me from waking up and having breakfast with Adam Tran and Logan Schmidt. I might be getting old, but I don’t remember breakfast being included until Tuesday morning, so it was a nice surprise to see fruit, pastries and granola provided at the MGM this morning. Adam and Logan are first-timers, so I had a chance to share some tips, many of which are documented here.

Being at a distributed company, it’s always a treat to have a meal with your co-workers and friends. And re:Invent gives me a full 5 days to do that multiple times. Their excitement for the week is something that I feed off of and being able to chat live is such a nice bonus.


I kept it light on registered sessions today because I was invited to attend an Executive Life Sciences Symposium. More on that below. But the one session I did attend was at 8:30 AM and was titled DAT329 | Data modeling core concepts for Amazon DynamoDB

DAT329 | Data modeling core concepts for Amazon DynamoDB

Data modeling in DynamoDB seems to be a two-phase learning experience at a very high level. Phase 1 is: wow I can put whatever I want in this table, look it up by keys and stuff up to 400KB into each item. This phase lasts different lengths for different people. Then at some point, they transition into Phase 2 which is, oh wow, I get charged per WCUs, RCUs, Indexes are a second table that is managed for me and I need to be thinking about access patterns up front!

This talk did a nice job of setting some great foundations for thinking about modeling in DynamoDB. I don’t have many DDB talks I’m attending this year as I feel pretty spoiled by having access to so many wonderful personal resources, but this one was certainly enjoyable.

Upon completion of this talk, I walked my way over to the Cosmopolitan where I had an afternoon of Life Sciences at the Healthcare & Life Sciences Executive Symposium.

AWS Healthcare & Life Sciences Executive Symposium

AWS hosts executive symposiums throughout the year and I believe at least 2 are focused on Healthcare & Life Sciences. This one however was the first that I attended. It’s taken me a while to embrace being a CTO. I tend to like to view myself as one of the team and if I’m honest am sometimes embarrassed with the title because I first and foremost like to be a creator. However, by working my way up the ranks, the title was never what I was chasing. And today it felt good to be amongst those that share some of the same responsibilities steering a technology organization.

A few things I came away with.

  1. I’m glad I work in a smaller organization. Big company problems might be fun at first and if you are in a pod, then it’s probably fine. However, working on Enterprise problems at massive companies can be beyond challenging. The trade-offs seemed too many to count and good enough was well good enough.
  2. Curantis is doing a lot of things right. Our enterprise data strategy is more than directionally accurate. Our use of AWS tooling seems to be spot on and the choices we’ve made were validated. Lastly, I love being so connected to the AWS product teams. We get to help make the products better and in turn, reap the goodness that comes out.

Bottom line, it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to attending one in the future.

Conference Badges

Monday Night Live

Peter DeSantis keynoted in his usual spot during Monday Night Live. My key takeaways from the keynote.

  1. I first thought the crowd seemed underwhelmed by the discussion and announcements. There were some product drops but there was a lot of discussion about the innovation and engineering they did to solve some really hard problems. I for one enjoyed it. I honestly don’t “need” amazing and new services, I just want a little more performance, a little better cost and a few more features on the ones that exist. Serverless WAS the theme though
  2. The opening cover band was incredible. Enjoyed the heck out of them warming things up.
  3. Quantum computing … the advancements are coming along. I don’t know personally what I’d do with it, but the engineering again is pretty astonishing.
  4. Data is continuing to move Serverless
    • Caspian seems pretty awesome layered on top of the hypervisor
    • With Caspian, Aurora Serverless can now be auto-shared yet configured for true scale-up and down capabilities
    • This same functionality was leveraged in the new ElastiCache Serverless
    • Many performance improvements were announced for Redshift Serverless as well

All in all, the magic for me is more about tradition and doing Monday Night Live. Peter is a good, but not great showman but he gets into the nuts and bolts in a very disarming way which I enjoy listening to. So I’d give the keynote a solid B+.

Night time Wrap

This year, the AWS Community team has rented out Buddy V’s Restaurant for the week as a home base for the Community Builders, Heroes and Ambassadors. After the Symposium I made my first stop of the week where I met my community leader Albert for the first time in person. I just can’t say it enough. It is so much fun to meet people you only know online.

After a short stop at the hub, I joined up with some fellow community members and hit the expos. My favorite booth stop tonight was hands down the Serverless Guru’s booth. Ryan and his team are super nice and knowledgeable. Check them out if you are at re:Invent this week.

After the expos, it was dinner time. I had the opportunity tonight to have 2 dinners. This is not super uncommon during re:Invent week. There are only so many nights, so you sometimes eat multiple times.

DataDog Ambassadors

I had the chance to meet some of the DataDog developer relations team tonight at Sushi Roku for the first time in person. We had some good conversations, got to know each and hung out and enjoyed some killer sushi. This is such a new program for DataDog that it’s fun to be a part of the very beginning and be along for the ride as they make it bigger and better. If anyone is interested in learning more about DataDog APM, Observability or the Ambassadors program, I’d love to chat with you. I feel very fortunate to be a small part of such a cool company and set of products.


Dinner part 2 included time with Adam and Logan at one of Gordon Ramsey’s 6 Vegas restaurants. We didn’t eat a ton, but had some oysters flatbreads and a few beers to cap the evening off. I mentioned above at breakfast, any chance I get to spend time with my team and friends, I’m super happy. Tonight was no exception to that.

I didn’t have any late-night parties planned tonight which is probably a good thing because the next 3 nights should be fairly late evenings and I’ll call tonight a “rest” night.

Day 1 ++

Up next … I’ve got a busy day planned enjoying another Keynote and hanging out with the Community Builders tomorrow night. I think I’ve got a couple of sessions reserved so I’ll be mixing those in as well!

If you at re: Invent and would like to meet up, here’s my contact card. Drop me an email or text me. I’d love to chat!

Until next time and happy building!

Published by Benjamen Pyle

Benjamen is a genuine and resourceful technology creator with over 20 years of hands-on software development, team building and leadership experience. His passion is enabling technology teams to be their best by bridging modern technical design with outstanding business problem-solving. Recognized as an AWS Community leader in the areas of Event-Driven and Serverless Architecture, he brings multiple years of pragmatic experience designing and operating modern cloud-native and containerized solutions. When Benjamen doesn't have his head in the clouds, he's either playing golf with his wife and 2 boys or they are outside with their 12 paws.