Reflections on ReInvent 2016

Posted by on January 7, 2017 at 1:16 pm.

Looking through some old things I had written I found the following:

“Last year [ReInvent] felt like a large conference, but compared to this year, it was almost intimate in scale.  Everything was bigger this year–the keynote hall, the number of sessions, the vendor showcase, the giant RePlay party.”

This was a comment about ReInvent 2014–with about 12,000 attendees–reflecting on ReInvent 2013, with about 6,000 people.  I suspect I might start any future ReInvent review with the same comments, as it was just as accurate this year as it was two years ago.  As James Hamilton said in his keynote “There are are 32,000 people here at ReInvent.  Do you think this cloud thing is going to happen?”
In a nutshell, that’s probably the best takeaway from this year–this cloud thing really is happening.  And it is happening at massive scale.  AWS is not just the service for ramen-eating kids with a dream who can’t afford real servers.  Not only a service for early stage start-ups that can’t yet afford their own datacenter.   Not merely the playground for web developers who aren’t running “real” applications.  Not an edge case for web-scale businesses who are only doing one very focused thing.  Not the land of non-technical, trend-chasing CIOs who don’t really get how complex Enterprise IT is to run.


No, AWS is now the place where mainstream IT–from start-ups, small and medium businesses, all the way up to global enterprises and massive government agencies–runs, or at least wants to run, their computing workloads.  As I heard from several presenters, the goal is no longer to be “cloud first,” the goal is to be “cloud only.”  And while I had a feeling when I first went to ReInvent in 2013 that this was where we were heading, not many people would say that publicly.  And now it was becoming just another trope repeated by everyone, a short three years later.