AWS Summit 2022


Lilly Helbling

Main presentation floor


This was the first time I managed to go to a convention in my professional career. In this post I'm reflecting on my experience, what I most appreciated and what I would do differently next time. This being a massive event, there was too much to cover in one day, or write about. Use the navigation to the side/above to skip to the relevant section.


I was relatively early to arrive, so the images shown below are probably as empty as it was for the entire day. On the bottom layer, there were 2 floors, and most of the interesting stands to me were below where I stood along one big wall.

Expo floorMain presentation floor

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw they had cloakrooms available. As I was staying in a hotel the night before so the backpack I was carrying with me was quite heavy.

With the relatively tight schedule between the different talks, getting around the venue and accounting for a lunch break I found myself running out of time before I could pay a proper visit to all the stands. My main intention this year was to just find out what there is to see, how these things run and try to learn as much as possible. If I wanted to visit particular stalls I would make sure to visit them first thing in the morning, but this year I just wanted to see what companies there are even about. For example, I didn't even consider that there is a whole market for cross-cloud networking providers or logging/monitoring solutions (à la Splunk, Datadog or Instana). So I certainly achieved in resolving as many "didn't know what I didn't know about" and I'm now more convinced than ever that I know absolutely nothing.

The areas that I found the most interesting, even though I don't have a use for them yet, were the "Ask an architect" sections where, if you had any questions on how to implement something in AWS you could talk directly with staff, and the startup quarter which is effectively the same but more business orientated.

Talks Attended

Most talks, even if they were rated for a more advanced level, basically consisted of:

  1. Intro
  2. How to implement this in AWS
  3. Talk from a successful customer or a demonstration
  4. Conclusion

which is incredibly approachable. I wouldn't expect a talk that would be almost elitist in knowledge. AWS is very aware that its product offering is massive, and most talks were focused on how to get to the cloud, rather than why. By design, this makes most talks approachable, and I would argue that unless you have plenty of experience with a certain technology, no matter your expertise, you will learn more about the cloud and have the inspiration to take that new knowledge and start working on a demo project.

Reduce your operational burden to deploy containers

A talk about monolithic architecture, how to break it into micro-services, and how to manage your containers. They even gave a demonstration of using Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). I already have experience with using a Kubernetes cluster, so while I was already familiar with most of the content, I did get to have that validation that I was using it correctly and got a run-down that was much more approachable than any training materials I covered on Pluralsight and AWS' training resources.

Migrate your database to AWS with ease

This talk was effectively my vindication of a conversation I had with my manager. In my research, I stumbled across AWS Data Migration Service (DMS) which fits the bill perfectly for a task that we had to do. Because we decided against using DMS, we had to manually convert our schema, build a data import/export tool ourselves and had to manage all the inconsistencies ourselves.

EDF shared their success story of migrating a 15TB database in 28h (with practice runs of course). So given that the one in question for us was a fraction of this, I certainly feel like my gut instinct was right but got restricted by the scope of the project, my own experience and confidence.

Fullstack web and mobile development with a cloud-based backend

This talk has blown me away, but it was also the biggest disappointment. We got introduced to AWS Amplify. While not of the most use to existing companies, this would be fantastic for a startup.

Effectively, you can take an existing mockup from Figma, and Amplify will turn it into a ReactJS application for you. As a developer, you only need to be concerned with the front-end. Amplify will build a whole pipeline with different environments for you so you can develop, perform QA and eventually deploy to production without ever having to go near things like Jenkins or CodePipeline. You can use an SDK to abstract the entire database away from you, so you can just directly store your JS objects and retrieve them from a datastore. Under the hood, Amplify will set up a DynamoDB database for you. So while it is important to know what Amplify will do under the hood, it can still reduce the Time to Market significantly as a lot less setup and therefore maintenance is required.

The only real disappointment was when they brought an existing client out on the stage. They built their business using Amplify and were already expanding internationally. Sadly, they didn't even think to localise their marketing video. Showing a video at the end of your presentation is rarely a good idea, let alone when it's a generic video with subtitles - I've not seen this many people walk out of a talk all day.


A first for me, my employer was covering all travel, and accommodation expenses. I was allowed to travel to London the afternoon before so that I could be well-rested for the big day.

A busy DLR station

The fact that I got paid did make the overcrowding a lot more bearable. Sneaking just around peak travelling times was the best decision I made. The LNER to London was relatively quiet, and after eating dinner in Islington I managed to get to the hotel without much trouble.

However, after the lovely receptionist of the hotel kindly placed me in the "quiet" area of the hotel - with a Royal Mail distribution centre just outside my window... After a short 4 hours of sleep and a Mcdonald's breakfast, I got to join thousands of commuters on their morning routine towards central London. While the Stratford tube station was relatively quiet when I hit Canning Town for the DLR to the Excel I wished I would have walked or cycled. The station was so overcrowded I had to miss 3 trains before I managed to get on board. As I later realised other expos were happening on the same day at the other end of the Excel, adding to the overcrowding even more (see picture).

My advice for anyone having to travel to the Excel in the future would be to either stay at a hotel close enough in walking/cycling distance, or one that is further down the tube line so that you would be travelling towards central London.

Lessons learnt

For my first time at a convention, I feel like I have done as good as I could have expected. Bringing a separate bag with me, anticipating where the busy areas will be as more people start coming in, and having a basic introduction ready before talking to the first person will be my main considerations.

A bit of advice to anybody, do bring water with you. There might be all the options around you, but when you're in the middle of a crowd of people and your mouth is starting to dry up, having the option right there is priceless.

I went with a friend from University, and while I didn't manage to do a lot of networking at the main event this did give me a lot of security and if I went by myself I feel like I would have had a lot less confidence and would have probably burnt myself out. I will be sure to visit conventions with at least one other person in the future.