14 Scenes From Amazon Web Services Re:Invent Customer And Partner Conference

Cranking Up The Buzz Machine

Amazon Web Services is king of the public cloud market for many reasons, and not all of them have to do with its multiyear head start on the competition. AWS is an obsessively competitive company that has been aggressive in rolling out new services, and it's not shy about muscling its way into markets where its partners operate.

But that's not dampening the enthusiasm of AWS partners that build features and functionality around the cloud giant's offerings. At AWS' annual re:Invent conference, held in Las Vegas in early October, the expo hall was even more action-packed than it has been in previous years. Indeed, there was almost a carnival atmosphere this year, as AWS partners showed off their latest and greatest stuff.

CRN walked the AWS re:Invent expo hall and here presents some of the most memorable sights we encountered.

Built For Speed

CloudPassage, a San Francisco-based startup that sells Software-as-a-Service-based cloud automation technology, lured attendees with this sleek-looking race car. But that's not all: CloudPassage also gave away the prize of a racing class with Skip Barber, the legendary retired American race car driver.

AWS is built for speed, and now it's obvious that some of its partners have also adopted the mentality that faster is better.

Retro Arcade Games In The House

Remember Skee-Ball? When was the last time you played, 1947? At the conference, attendees could relive the blissful days of their youth, before cloud computing started dominating every single business discussion. However, these diversions were a welcome departure from the hard-driving marketing going on all over the expo hall.

Trend Micro Re:Invents Elvis

Security vendor Trend Micro hired an Elvis Presley impersonator for its expo hall booth, and it was rare to see someone not posing for a photo during the event. But we have one minor quibble: This guy doesn't really look like Elvis at all. That's fine, it was still fun to have him there, but come on, Las Vegas probably has more Elvis impersonators than any other city in the world.

Stuck On A Plane

Rackspace, a one-time AWS rival that is now a managed services partner, brought a real BK1 light sport aircraft to its expo hall booth and permitted attendees to sit in it and have their photo taken. Of course, if you were among the many AWS re:Invent attendees whose flights were delayed getting into Vegas by inclement weather, the idea of sitting in yet another cramped airplane seat probably didn't have much allure.

Hybrid Cloud Superhero

Cloud vendor RightScale is all about the benefits of hybrid cloud infrastructure, where customers use a mix of private and public clouds to handle their IT needs. Just in case that message didn't resonate, RightScale had its very own superhero on hand to help customers understand why hybrid is the best path forward.

A Whole Area Just For Startups

AWS started out in 2006 with a heavy focus on startups and developers, and over the years that has helped build buzz and put AWS in the conversation for larger customers, too. At re:Invent, there was a whole pavilion dedicated to startups running their infrastructure on the public cloud giant, saving tons of money in the process.

High Stakes Jenga

An AWS representative gives a talk to attendees at the startup pavilion. Notice the giant Jenga game set up on a stool in the foreground. Apparently, anyone who knocked this thing over had to eat 25 hot buffalo wings in five minutes. Oh wait, no, that was the AWS Tatonka Challenge wing-eating contest.

Cloud-Scale Foosball

This gigantic foosball table seemed analogous to the vast computing power available on the AWS public cloud. Attendees shown here were getting quite the workout running back and forth to keep the game in motion.

Shooting Some Hoops

Ever tried one of these things? It's not as easy as it looks, as the hoop is basically just large enough to accommodate the basketball. AWS, as a business, has been "nothing but net" so far, but several attendees were observed displaying skills that were in desperate need of polishing.

Which IT Superhero Are You?

Cloud storage vendor Avere asked a question that every company asks itself at one time or another. The cloud makes some tasks easier, but there's still a need for visionary thinking -- and sometimes, for superheros to bail you out of potentially disastrous situations.

Real Sumo Logic

Sumo Logic, a startup that sells log management and analytics software, had actual Sumo wrestlers at its AWS re:Invent expo hall space. In so doing, they kind of stole the show. It didn't happen, but it would have been interesting to see Sumo Logic's competitors try to push these guys around.

AWS In China

AWS is facing competition in the Chinese market from Alibaba and its Aliyun public cloud subsidiary, but that doesn't mean AWS hasn't managed to attract partners in the Middle Kingdom. Here, ChinaNetCloud, an AWS Managed Services partner, shows off its stuff.

Whac-A-Mole At AWS

Whac-A-Mole is, of course, a famous game where players try to bash small creatures as they pop up from holes on a table. But you could say AWS is playing Whac-A-Mole with the rest of the cloud market. Because every time other vendors think they're catching up to the cloud giant with unique services, AWS rolls out new services that send them back into hiding.

Startup Vibe

AWS is on a $7 billion-plus sales run rate, but in some ways it still thinks like a startup -- particularly its lack of aversion to bean bag chairs as part of its decor. Here, conference attendees are seen taking a break from the intense activity on the expo hall floor.