The Amazon AWS Summit is a global event series that visits most capital cities every year. On May 16th it was Stockholm's turn so we headed to Stockholmsmässan to catch up on the latest AWS news and have some impromtu discussions with Swedish users.

The first thing that hits you about the AWS Summit is the size of the event and the number of attendees. The recent spell of very hot weather seemingly didn't do anything to affect the numbers with, according to Twitter reports, around 3700 people in attendance.

The AWS team have got the set-up fine-tuned to perfection and got the rush-hour queue processed and into the venue in about 20 minutes, ready for the morning sessions and keynote address.

The venue itself was ideal with plenty of room for all the attendees, the sessions and the companies presenting their offerings. Along the side and separate from the event, there was plenty of seating and quiet-space for discussions. As a nice touch, the snacks and refreshments were fully stocked throughout the day and packaged in an eco-friendly manner with something for everyone.

The pre-keynote presentation was held by Guido Bartels who runs the AWS business in the Nordics and Baltics, and shared some key facts:

  • AWS started 12 years ago with huge growth - 49% year-on-year growth
  • Heavily driven by customer feedback - 90% of services are started in response to customer requests
  • New AWS region (Stockholm) opening during 2018
  • Sweden has one of the highest outputs of renewable energy which was a big reason to setup a AWS region with Amazon's strategy to use renewable energy in their data centers
  • The Sweden region will deliver super low latency to all Nordic capitals (in the single figures during pre-testing)

Guido concluded that AWS and the Nordics will be a significant part of the AWS story.

Keynote and theme of the summit

The keynote kicked of the day and was held by Werner Vogels, the Amazon CTO who oversees all AWS products and the shopping platform. Werner brought the energy level up a notch or two and had a fantastic stage presence from the go.

The theme of the event was set - this was not a sales pitch, rather an open discussion with AWS - some things are great, some things are a challenge.

  • AWS mindset is providing tools to builders
  • More than 125 AWS services available at last count
  • The "old" and classic diagram of blocks of software - databases, web servers, application servers worked fine in the early days But now the lines are blurring
  • The example of the Roomba infrastructure - modern architecture that has no server rather a series of AWS services connected together with Lambda
  • Roomba does not sell after-market services so cost is crucial - by invoking services on-demand with Lambda, Roomba only pay for what they use - no EC2 instances running constantly
  • The tools have to change to reflect the change in design - services loosely coupled together
  • All great platforms have a defacto IDE - AWS have Cloud9
  • Cloud9 is cloud-based based so pair programming and testing Lambda functions all work well
  • Amazon Sagemaker makes machine learning easier to adopt and learn
  • Soili Mäkinen as a guest speaker from Cargotec who use AWS extensively and use machine learning and AI to improve the flow of cargo - intelligent cargo handling
  • AWS has a levelling effect - IT is no longer a differentiating factor by itself rather "data is the core of competition towards the future".

On the theme around importance of data:

  • Amazon Aurora is the fastest growing Amazon product - MySQL and Postgres compatible database-on-demand service
  • Backtrack on Aurora is a new service that lets you rewind back to a specific transaction in a database
  • Multimaster makes copies of the master Aurora instance across regions and datacenters
  • AWS Glue connects all data sources together - pooling everything for analytics
  • S3 Select and Glacier Select allow only subsets of data objects to be retrieved for analytics - improves efficiency
  • Guest speaker Christine Stanley from WuXiNextCode on how they use Amazon for analysis of genomes - a massive undertaking

On the theme of devops and efficiency

  • Seemingly small things like forgetting to renew a certificate can effectively bring down even the best setup - tools like AWS Certificate Manager and AWS Secrets Manager help with this
  • Guest speaker Heikki Verta from Supercell (think Clash of Clans..) on how they use Amazon for managing a huge numbers of players with minimal overhead
  • Key facts from Supercell: 5000 servers, 600 database instances, 100 M DAU, 4M concurrent users, 5 TB of data per day
  • 250 employees, 20 members per game team, 3 server developers per team

Wrapping up:

  • Overall theme "servers to serverless"
  • Containers are the right tool to run your services
  • "Builders want to build, not manage clusters"
  • The Nordic user group is a great place for questions and further discussions
  • Security is everyone's responsibility

The sessions and panels

The separate sessions covered most major topics but of particular interest was the startup panel discussions which mixed some of the leading Nordic investment groups and entrepreneurs sharing their experiences.

Amazon's dedicated startup account manager, James Wood, shared some insights and best-practices from Amazon's own innovation process and provided some "work backwards" practical advice on streamlining architecture.

AWS Summit dedicated a large section of the floor to startups with an area for startups sharing their experiences with AWS and the challenges they had in balancing cost, performance and scaleability.

In summary

The biggest take-away from the AWS Summit was the breadth and range of AWS services and, as the Divio platform is built upon AWS, the new services and innovations are invaluable to help us improve and evolve our platform.

How do Divio fit into the picture with AWS ?

The Divio platform provides an extra layer of usability and efficiency through developer-friendly tools, pre-configured templates and add-ons and expert support. By focusing on Django and Python, we can mix the best of the AWS building blocks with our own services to create a platform we think provides an ideal environment for running your Django and Python projects.