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AWS re:Invent 2014: Highlights and analysis

Last week a trio of brave SilverStripers ventured to the harsh wilds of Las Vegas...

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Last week a trio of brave SilverStripers ventured to the harsh wilds of Las Vegas to attend the annual Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference.

The largest cloud conference in the tech industry, the event hosted over 13,000 attendees, 400 speakers and 200 sessions. In a conference of that size, and with the number of announcements made, no blog post can hope to capture the event completely. With that in mind, here’s five key impressions that stuck with me from AWS re:Invent, and how they relate to SilverStripe.

1. Docker is suddenly serious business

What was on everyone’s lips as a whisper has suddenly become a chorus. Docker, the containerization solution that aims to make the software deployment lifecycle simple and standard, had it’s 1.0 release less than 6 months ago. Yet all three major cloud providers (Google, Microsoft and now Amazon) have now announced docker-based initiatives. This is a massive success for a technology still in it’s metaphorical infancy.

And it’s no wonder - docker has already passed 50 million downloads and shows no signs of stopping, and our developers are constantly talking about how it will improve their lives. Here at SilverStripe we’re already looking at ways to integrate Amazon’s EC2 Container Service (available in preview now at into our platform products, and we’re excited by the possibilities it presents for making deploying the same site into dev, test and live environments easy and reliable.

2. Amazon wants you to encrypt your data

Amazon has always had security at the forefront of it’s offerings, but to a certain extent we’ve had to just trust them when it came to data security. Though at-rest encryption has been available in AWS for a while, managing the keys necessary to use this was awkward enough that most people didn’t follow best practice.

But with their new AWS Key Management solution (available now at they’re providing us with the tools to lock down our data so that no-one, not even Amazon themselves, can get access to it. Or at least, not without logging that access.

This sort of key management has traditionally been super expensive and fiddly to get working, so it’s fantastic to see this becoming a commodity service. We see this as an significant step in reducing the sorts of concerns that often result in data sovereignty issues dictating hosting solution selection.

3. Insight and configuration management are the hot battle spaces for cloud computing support services

re:Invent wasn’t just for Amazon to show off it’s new features. There were plenty of other companies showing off their solutions for making cloud computing easier, more manageable, more powerful or just cooler.

Two of the more contentious battlefields were definitely insight/analytics tools and configuration management, both spaces for making it easier to manage cloud at scale.

While we aren’t going to have a punt on a likely victor here, the vibrancy of the competition in these spaces means we’re all likely to win. And it shows that Amazon isn’t cannibalizing other providers in their pursuit of growth, but instead is making the field larger for all players.

4. Intel have designed a CPU exclusively for Amazon

 Seriously. A whole piece of silicon, just for AWS. I’m not sure what that says about the scale of AWS that this makes financial and business sense, but it sure does say something.

5. Amazon knows how to have fun

AWS Replay Team shot

Left to right: SilverStripe Co-founder and Platform Product Manager Sigurd Magnusson, SilverStripe Marketing Manager Nicole Williams, SilverStripe CTO Hamish Friedlander and AWS Ecosystem Solutions Architect Richard Busby

It should have been obvious from the selection of the venue (ah Las Vegas, where the closest thing to fresh fruit is a plastic yard glass full of frozen strawberry daiquiri), but re:invent wasn’t just about learning. Connecting with other professionals both for mutual gain and just to celebrate the success of the world’s largest public cloud was an important part of the event. Rounding out three amazing days, re:Play was easily the best party I’ve been to in a long, long time.

We’d like to thank Amazon for helping organise this trip, if you get the opportunity we strongly recommend you make the journey next year.

About the author
Hamish Friedlander

Programming since childhood, Hamish has dedicated his life to technology. 

Hamish brings with him more than a decade of industry experience and a comprehensive knowledge of open source frameworks and languages. As SilverStripe CTO, he uses that experience to ensure SilverStripe remains applicable to the evolving way humans use the internet, technologically advanced without becoming technical and future-focused without losing sight of the present. 

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