13 Scenes From Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2016

AWS re:Invent 2016

Amazon Web Services’ annual conference is expanding almost as rapidly as is the size of its cloud business. More than 30,000 attendees descended on the Venetian in Las Vegas last week to hear a flurry of product and partnership moves from the world's leading public cloud provider.

AWS used the event to unveil a number of virtual machine instances designed to drive specialized workloads, increase efficiency and add flexibility to empower a broader set of use cases. It also demonstrated new services that enable artificial intelligence, serverless computing and tighter security. If that wasn't enough, a large-scale data migration product was showcased (on the back of a big rig.)

Here are 10 companies that displayed their cloud-powering wares, plus a few other interesting sights that were found on the re:Invent pavilion floor.

Partners Old And New

AWS brought its partner relationships front and center at this year's re:Invent, at many points during the conference highlighting both the solution providers that are bringing its cloud products to market—companies like 2nd Watch, Cloud Technology Partners and Rackspace—and a new batch of enterprise technology alliances.

Highlights included AWS CEO Andy Jassy saying that business software powerhouse Workday had decided to adopt Amazon's cloud infrastructure for its accounting and human resources management portfolio — a strategic deal that came on the heels of alliances with Salesforce and VMware. Also, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels revealed a commercial partnership with Chef that involved a minority investment from Amazon in the configuration management startup.

2nd Watch

2nd Watch has dramatically scaled its business in the past five years on the back of Amazon's cloud, becoming a key example of AWS channel success. Since its founding in 2010 as one of the first AWS implementation partners, the Seattle-based solution provider has gone on to handle some of the largest and most complex migrations and managed services engagements for Amazon's enterprise customers.

Maybe to simulate its annual surge in revenue, the company had one of those grab-the-flying-bills phone booths at its outpost on the exhibition floor.


Cloud Technology Partners, a systems integrator with expertise in delivering cutting-edge solutions in Amazon's cloud, delivered multicolored M&Ms to visitors of its booth. The cloud solution provider based in Boston looked like it had enough chocolate to go around.


Two years ago, this installation would have been unthinkable in the re:Invent pavilion. Now Rackspace—once a staunch Amazon competitor—is one of the largest AWS managed services partners out there, and the recently privatized San Antonio-based company had a significant presence at re:Invent.


Like Rackspace, a VMware booth on the re:Invent exhibition floor once seemed unthinkable. But vendor partnerships are the new norm in the industry, and the world's largest public and private cloud providers decided this year that they couldn't ignore each other any longer. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger joined AWS CEO Andy Jassy on stage during Jassy's re:Invent keynote to discuss the upcoming VMware Cloud for AWS.


The networking giant came to re:Invent to display the mult-cloud management technology it obtained from its CliQr acquisition. The platform developed by the San Jose, Calif.-based startup now goes by the name Cisco CloudCenter, and allows partners to automate deployment of applications to Amazon's public cloud.

Trend Micro

Security giant Trend Micro had a striking display on the re:Invent exhibition floor that invoked the sensation of soaring through the clouds—without hitting any turbulence.


Intel let visitors to its booth escape the conference and all its hustle-and-bustle through virtual reality headsets. The game they were playing looked to involve avatars for the players running around a server room, so maybe it wasn't such escapist relaxation after all.


Amazon scored a coup many months ago when Salesforce declared AWS its preferred public cloud. The CRM leader set up shop on the re:Invent pavilion floor under a log cabin with some outdoor-themed displays and backdrops.


CloudHealth offers a popular platform for managing complex cloud deployments. The Boston-based company provides a comprehensive view of an entire cloud ecosystem and enables policy-driven management and governance.

Those capabilities can be transformative for enterprise cloud customers running heterogeneous environments, which may or may not be why some Transformers greeted customers to the company's booth.


Chef enjoyed a star turn at this year's re:Invent.

In his keynote, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels introduced AWS OpsWorks For Chef, a fully automated Chef server users can directly provision through AWS. It was the only new AWS product that involved a commercial partnership, and the companies later revealed Amazon had made a minority investment in the Seattle-based leader of the configuration management market.


At last year's re:Invent, AWS introduced Snowball, its 50-TB box for shipping data by snail mail to the nearest Amazon data center. This year, AWS Snowball saw its memory doubled, and compute capacity added, making it more hyper-converged infrastructure than data-packaging crate.


Yes, the leading public cloud has a new product that comes in the form of a tractor trailer. And yes, that product, all 18 wheels, drove onto the stage while Jassy delivered a keynote.

For customers looking to migrate data volumes approaching the exabyte level, it would take thousands of AWS Snowballs, or many years by high-speed network, to send all their data to AWS. But a few Snowmobiles can roll up to any data center, extend fiber lines that rapidly ingest massive data volumes, and drive all that information wherever it needs to go.