This year I attended AWS re:Invent representing the Chicago AWS User Group I run. I also went with my client project in mind – I’m working as both a cloud engineer and a security architect with my BreakFree Solutions coworkers and clients on a DevOps team using AWS.

My client engagement is focused on a DevOps transformation. We are helping a large organization improve the way they plan and deliver technology by actually building and joining cross-functional Scrum teams. We’re also helping them navigate new technologies including some AWS services.

First things first: re:Invent updates and announcements are absolutely overwhelming. Luckily, there are full-time AWS reporters, bloggers, and trainers who all have great lists of updates and hot takes.  The sessions I attended have led me to a few deep thoughts on AWS:

  1. AWS is delivering more breadth than depth now with new service announcements.
  2. AWS Partner efforts are finally maturing.
  3. AWS was made for the builders. While they still promote the developer/builder capabilities, there is clearly a demand for dashboard views.

Overall AWS is maturing and growing at an amazing pace. With 51.8% of worldwide market segment share, they are still larger than all other cloud providers combined. With age comes maturity, and some growing pains. Here’s what I see happening:

1. AWS is delivering more breadth than depth with new service announcements. 

My team is hoping to use AWS QuickSight to get business analytics views from data in RDS, S3, and Redshift. After tinkering around a few months ago, we discovered QuickSight has independent user roles (either ADMIN or USER) and do not integrate with the existing IAM roles we set up on our S3 buckets. Unfortunately for us, we can’t use QuickSight without a major rework of our IAM policies or S3 bucket set up, or until AWS rolls out IAM integration for us. QuickSight is an exciting tool but not fully baked.

On an upside, AWS does not just roll out services and then ignore them. S3, IAM, EC2, and database services are constantly updated. A re:Invent release that’s already helping my team is Cloudwatch Log Insights. My colleague, David Haworth, put it to work and already discovered an S3 policy mismatch (and typo) causing a connection issue.


2. AWS Partner efforts are finally maturing.

In the past year or two, I have seen AWS make more efforts to acknowledge the role partners play in the AWS ecosystem. They created “competency” partner programs to showcase companies that specialize in things like containers or consulting and just revamped the tiers. I suspect 2019 will have more joint offerings from AWS and partners like the Security Hub announcement. There is no guarantee AWS won’t introduce a new service that cuts into partner business.


3. AWS was made for the builders. While they still promote the developer/builder capabilities, there is a clear demand for dashboard views.

Security Hub, Control Tower, Lake Formation, the Well Architected Tool, and License Manager are a few of the management services AWS announced this week. AWS loves to talk about supporting the builders of the cloud and moving fast. There is also an obvious demand for management level views to track services, products, tools and now hardware from AWS.

The Well Architected Tool is a whitepaper that has a life of its own. Starting in 2015, AWS wrote up best practices for using all the layers of their service offerings. As AWS services and customers grew, they incorporated the Well Architected Framework into more parts of AWS, including the APN partner review process. AWS teams must be conducting so many “WARs” that they automated the thing. I could have used this a year and a half ago!

Many of the updates and services at AWS re:Invent are very relevant to me at the moment – hello data lakes! For me, the pace of innovation for AWS services proves that the cloud provider is still a good fit for clients just starting out or experienced in the cloud – even if their products might not offer all the features we need yet. Thankfully AWS is listening to customers with broader sets of capabilities and additions to core AWS services.