Personal growth

This Is NOT A Re:Invent Recap

This Is NOT A Re:Invent Recap

Last week was AWS re:Invent. I’m going to spare you the recap because you’re about to see 100 of them roll out in various forms over the next few weeks. I’ll be featuring select recaps in my newsletter, so you don’t need another one from me.

As exhausting as re:Invent is, it’s also one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s a chance to meet with friends I’ve only interacted with online or ones that I’ve only seen since the prior year. We catch up, talk about some personal stories, talk about work, and meet our friends’ friends. For socialites - this is incredible. For introverts - this can be a bit intimidating, but ultimately worth the few days of leaving your comfort zone.

As a content creator, I love hearing about what people are working on and what they are concerned with. I like seeing who gets excited about what feature releases and how they expect to build with them. The whole conference is an idea tank. I always leave with a glimpse of what to focus on in the next year so I can align better with the community and do some forward-thinking in relevant areas.

Re:Invent is a global technology conference where the best minds in the industry get together to share stories and demonstrate best practices. But it’s also centered around community. Now, I’ve spoken about community both in my blog and on my podcast. I genuinely feel like it’s the most important component of a successful career in tech. I realize that’s a bold statement, so let’s talk about it for a second.

Community vs No Community

My first in-person re:Invent was in 2021. This was before becoming a hero and really before I had any active community engagements at all. I didn’t know anyone, let alone have the courage to talk to the famous people I’d seen online. I attended as many sessions as I could, learning about theory and case studies, but mostly kept to myself.

I had a great time and walked away with lessons I could potentially use in my day job. Naturally, I had tons of questions with regard to what I learned, but that was something I knew I needed to take back and research in my own time. Overall I viewed re:Invent as a launch point for many learning sessions (which I’m always a fan of). It was fun and an overall good use of money.

Fast forward to last week and my experience couldn’t be more different. Pretty much everything I do these days revolves around the tech community in some way. Writing blog posts, interviewing community leaders for my podcast, assembling content and crediting authors for their outstanding work in my newsletter, and engaging in discussions on social media are activities I do every week. This has led to making a ton of new friends, most of whom come to re:Invent where I get to meet in person for the first time.

As a result, the conference has completely changed for me. Instead of attending sessions and keeping to myself, I’m engaging in one-on-one conversations the entire time. I’m connecting with people personally and learning about what they do, how they approach problems, and what they are concerned about. Outside of keynotes, I didn’t attend a single session this year. But I learned so much. I got into the nitty-gritty of builds that worked and ones that didn’t. I learned what to look out for when building in certain ways. I got answers to my targeted questions which accelerated my understanding significantly. Plus, I got to interact with my favorite AWS service teams and offer some feedback.

The connections I made on Sunday before the conference even started was worth the price of the whole week. The lessons, relationships, and memories every day after were icing on the cake.

The Best Community Party Ever

I’m still in disbelief that I was one of the hosts of the best re:Invent after party I’ve ever been to. Khawaja Shams, Farrah Campbell, and I hosted Momento’s #believeinserverless party on Wednesday night and to say it was epic would be an understatement.

Throughout the night, we had over 600 people from the serverless community join us for dancing, chatting, and community appreciation. Just about every person you see on X, LinkedIn, and anywhere else who talks about serverless came through the doors and joined us in celebration of each other. Being surrounded by ALL of your friends in an environment about your friends is truly an indescribable feeling.

I can’t think of a better way to describe the community than this party. Hundreds of people were there and we all knew each other. We talked about everything you can imagine - from what new releases we were excited about to how our dogs were doing. These people aren’t just colleagues - they are friends.

The serverless community is unlike any other social group I’ve ever been a part of. We want to help, we take genuine interest, and we’re willing to do what it takes to get you past any hurdles you might have.

Big, big thank you to all the sponsors of the event: MongoDB, CloudZero, Serverless Guru, and AWS. This party wouldn’t have happened nor been as complete without you 💙

Key Takeaways

Among all the mischief of the week, I had a few key learnings and realizations. It’s not all fun and games!

Y’all Are Awesome

First and foremost: making the community my full-time job was the best move of my career.

Back in January, I switched roles from an 11-year tenure as a developer/tech lead/dev manager/architect to a community-focused position. I still code, much more than I used to (oddly enough), but I get to prioritize problem areas I see and hear about in the community. As a result, I not only get to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest tech has to offer, but I can directly relate with my friends I only get to see in person one time a year.

And the friends! Oh my goodness as I walked around the Momento party I had no idea where to start. I had so many friends there that I hadn’t seen for a year or was meeting for the first time. If you’re big into getting to know people - it’s a dream come true 😍

Full disclosure - I was extremely nervous leaving my last job. It was my first tech job out of college and I was leaving it for something I only ever did on the side. The stress levels led to a lot of inward reflection and ultimately a leap of faith. But you guys make it worth it. My sincerest thank you goes to everyone I connect with on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. You make my job the best job I could ever ask for.

2024 Will Be Different

It’s pretty obvious that generative AI has taken a strong foothold on software. Every other conversation I had was about it in some way or another. We seemingly have made 5 years of progress in this space in a single year. With the lessons of 2023, I can only image that 2024 will be even more crazy.

Here’s the problem: end-user expectations have never been higher. Things have to be snappy, responsive, and engaging. Generative AI is…. not that. So we (the developers) need to find a way to keep users distracted and thinking things are moving when in reality they are waiting for 30 seconds to a minute for content to generate.

My prediction is that we’ll see a big push for full-stack serverless next year. Service providers will be bringing serverless capabilities down to the browser to make things faster, scale better, and offload some unnecessary back-and-forth with trusted sessions.

Before you say “no way, that’s too much of a security risk,” or “that means you’ll be reimplementing business logic in the front-end” - hear me out. I’m not saying everything will be coming to the browser, but I do think that shared, read-only services will become more and more relevant. Momento has a caching service that can be scoped to read access for individual items. So you can write to a cache in the backend as part of a standard data flow and have it immediately available in the front-end to users with the right credentials.

Connecting backend services to browser sessions is going to be a thing. Things will be faster, on-demand, and shared everywhere (in a good way).

What’s Next?

I’m still collecting my thoughts from last week. It was a total whirlwind in a good way. This was the best re:Invent I’ve ever been to.

My focus is going to stay directly on the community. I want to connect with more of you and build with you. Let’s learn together and bounce ideas off each other. Ready, Set, Cloud is going strong and I want to develop it to be more community-focused. I’m opening the doors in 2024 to other authors to help share the platform I’ve built over the past few years. So please, if you’re interested in getting involved reach out to me.

Be on the lookout for full-stack serverless popping up. It’s already here and I expect it to surge in popularity over the next year. I’ll be giving several talks on the topic in 2024 and hope to see you there.

I look forward to reading your re:Invent recaps in the coming weeks!

Happy coding!

Allen Helton

About Allen

Allen is an AWS Serverless Hero passionate about educating others about the cloud, serverless, and APIs. He is the host of the Ready, Set, Cloud podcast and creator of this website. More about Allen.

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