13 Weird, Wacky And Downright Funny Sights From The AWS re:Invent Conference

The Weird And The Wacky

Amazon Web Services, the Genghis Khan of the public cloud market, isn't sitting on its considerable head start in the space. And neither are its partners, who range from ISVs to system integrators to born-in-the-cloud types that are constantly finding new ways to add value to the AWS platform.

At Amazon's annual AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week, many of these partners sought to attract attention with wacky stunts, creative signage, cool T-shirts, and sometimes, by just shouting and jumping up and down.

CRN walked the expo hall at AWS re:Invent in search of products and services that were both interestingly presented and which showcase tons of innovative thinking. Here's what we found.

The Doctor Will See You Now

Cloud Technology Partners, a Boston-based cloud consultancy that works with AWS, Google and Rackspace, had the most daring and bizarre booth on the re:Invent show floor.

The company had an actor playing Sigmund Freud, inviting passersby to recline on a couch and share their cloud problems. No, really, they did that. The best part: Dr. Freud, in conversations with conference attendees, never broke character, maintaining a grave, somber demeanor the whole time.

This was one of the weirdest things we've seen at a tech conference in some time, and it was awesome.

Medicine For Cloud Problems

Cloud Technology Partners' Dr. Freud didn't just dispense verbal wisdom; he offered his "patients" these pills to cure what ailed them, as well as tissues in case their cloud problems became just too much and they needed to have a good cry.

Ice Sculptures Galore

Iron.io, a San Francisco based AWS partner that sells tools for cloud developers, co-sponsored a party at re:Invent along with vendors Airbrake.io (error monitoring) and Copper.io (cloud development tools) and Storm Ventures.

This majestic ice sculpture looked even better against the backdrop of the Las Vegas desert, stretching into the distance as far as the eye could see.

Netflix's Chaos Monkey

Netflix is one of AWS' biggest and most technologically advanced customers, and they were on hand at re:Invent to share the latest details on how they're running their services more efficiently. One way they achieve this is with Chaos Monkey, a service running on AWS that terminates instances and tracks what happens, to help customers determine how to respond to unforeseen glitches. It's an example of an AWS customer and partner building their own innovation on top of the AWS platform.

Back To The Future

Ruxit, a Waltham, Mass.-based startup that does web application peformance monitoring technology, had Dr. Emmett Brown from Back To The Future on hand to explain how its software helps keep cloud infrastructure up and running. This was probably the second most creative schtick at AWS re:Invent, and another example of how cloud marketers are coming up with zany stunts to attract attention.

It's A Jungle Out There

Druva, a cloud backup startup based in Sunnyvale, Calif., painted a picture of the world outside the firewall that frankly terrified the heck out of people. Everyone knows data isn't safe out in the wild, but when you see it presented in such a graphic way, the message really sticks. If this guy would look up from his smartphone, he might see the lurking dangers.

Cloud Mythbusters

Avere Systems, a Pittsburgh-based enterprise cloud storage startup, was on hand at re:Invent to dispel some of the fallacies about cloud that have sprung up in the minds of customers over the years. At their booth, they held "classes," where students were shown the realities of the cloud and why they shouldn't believe everything they hear about what the cloud can and can't do.

Fuzzy Animal Hats

VividCortex, a Charlottesville, Va.-based startup that sells a SaaS offering for MySQL database performance monitoring, was giving away these cool fuzzy animal hats. It's not clear what significance this marketing tactic had with regard to cloud computing, but it didn't matter -- no one was trying to decipher that.

Break From The Action

One thing about AWS re:Invent is that it's markedly different from traditional enterprise vendor conferences, which (let's face it) can be a bit stodgy. Here, a couple of attendees took a break to determine who's the better ping-pong player. This has nothing to do with the cloud, but it did show that the culture of cloud startups leaves room for people to have a little fun.

Win Your Very Own Drone

CloudVelox, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor, gave away a drone to one lucky AWS attendee who stopped by to hear about its hybrid cloud software. CloudVelox's cloud migration technology is attracting attention for its ability to solve touch tech challenges. At re:Invent, everyone passing by wondered to themselves, 'If I win, how am I going to get that thing home?' Turns out the company will just ship it to the winner, so no need to worry about getting the drone through airport security.

Your Best Friend In The Cloud

Everyone loves dogs, and DataDog, a New York-based cloud monitoring startup, is trying to gain similar status in the minds of technology buyers. Its product gathers metric and event data from servers, databases and apps, and analyzes it to make sure infrastructure is running at top form.

Cloud Wheel Of Fortune (And Misfortune)

GreenSQL, an Israel-based database security and compliance startup, had this cloud-themed version of Wheel Of Fortune, which attendees could spin to see what can happen in a poorly planned cloud deployment, and the benefits to be gained from thinking things through.

Meet The AWS Cloud Experts

AWS experts were on hand to help attendees figure out how all these partner-developed tools and services can fit with its public cloud. With a multiyear head start, AWS has been able to maintain its edge over the years by listening to customers and partners and their pain points. That feedback gets processes, and features added to the platform, and customers stay happy.