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AWS re:Invent 2021. Hiro chat with (AWS) Heroes. Interview w/ Chris Williams

Hiro CloudForecast

Hiro Nishimura

1 Feb, 2022
5 min read
AWS re:Invent 2021. Hiro chat with (AWS) Heroes. Interview w/ Chris Williams150

Hello, all! This is Hiroko Nishimura, an AWS Community Hero, founder of AWS Newbies, and Technical Instructor at LinkedIn Learning teaching “Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers” series! While re:Invent 2021 was technically my second re:Invent as an AWS Hero, I was sadly unable to attend in person (last year’s was, as you may recall, 100% virtual thanks to a certain virus).

Tony Chan of CloudForecast and I were having re:Invent FOMO from our couches, so I asked five different AWS Heroes from five different countries to chat with us about re:Invent 2021! Let’s call it… “Hiro chat with (AWS) Heroes” series! (I didn’t clear this with Marketing. I don’t know if it’ll go through.)

Chris Williams: AWS Community Hero from USA

Today, we’re back with an AWS Community Hero (the BEST KIND of Hero, according to him, and I have to agree ) from good ol’ US of A, Chris Williams! Chris is an Enterprise Architect for World Wide Technologies , chatting with us from New Hampshire. Apparently, they don’t shut down the state because of a few inches of snow. Imagine that. He’s been working with the AWS Cloud since 2012!

Hiroko: Thanks for taking our interview, Chris! So, what was your first IT job?

Chris: I was a PC parts salesperson for a small family shop in Alabama!

Hiroko: Nice, nice! I’ve been really enjoying learning about everyone’s first IT jobs. How many times have you attended AWS re:Invent?

Chris: I’ve been 4 times physically, 5 times including the virtual 2020 event with those awesome VR goggles!

Hiroko: Ah, the VR goggles. They definitely weren’t for me… My eyes would dry out so quickly, and I’d get a headache… Which is why I couldn’t hang out with you guys too much last year What was different about re:Invent 2021 from previous years?

Chris: It was a lot smaller and people were more serious about their interactions. I think that the extrovert folks were giddy from being pent-up for 2 years and the introvert folks were even more overwhelmed than they usually are. Because of this, people were more present when communicating with others.

Hiroko: Hahaha well I can kind of relate. A lot of people were saying it was much chiller, but I guess it depends on whom you were talking to!! What did you like about the changes at re:Invent 2021?

Chris: I’m really glad that AWS enforced a vaccination requirement & masks for the conference.

Hiroko: Yes! That was scary for me, so glad they did that. And seems like there wasn’t a massive breakout? At least nothing that made the news… Which is good.

What were the most exciting moments at re:Invent 2021 for you?

Chris: There were several :

  • Getting the Hero shout-out from Werner during his keynote!
  • Meeting all of the Heroes that I’d only seen on screen for the last 2 years
  • The MongoDB emerald lounge was amazing – having a spot right in the middle of the Venetian where I could grab a quick meeting, fuel up, record a podcast, or just get a drink was very cool
  • Found a new group to listen to thanks to Werner’s keynote – the Cattus Quartet

Hiroko: Ohhh I missed that! That is so cool… We can only dream to be as cool as you and get a Werner shout-out… And the lounge sounds ah-mazing…

Let’s get into some more nitty-gritties of re:Invent. Which announcement surprised you the most?

Chris: I’m really glad that AWS is putting more effort into sustainability. By creating the soon-to-be-released Carbon Footprint Tool and adding Sustainability as a pillar to their well-architected review – it looks like they are creating actionable ways to combat climate change.

Hiroko: You’re the second person to mention the new pillar!

You can check out the AWS Well-Architected Framework (now updated with the new Sustainability Pillar) here: https://aws.amazon.com/architecture/well-architected/

What was your biggest disappointment at re:Invent 2021?

Chris: I didn’t really have any truly disappointing things happen. There were several people that I wanted to sit down & chat with that I didn’t have an opportunity to… but that happens every year.

Hiroko: You mean me Sad face. Which announcement was your favorite?

Chris: I’m a gamer at heart so I really liked the New World announcement . I’m excited to see where they go with that & how big the distributed systems become. The architecture behind it is fascinating!

Hiroko: Oh I missed that one! I’m looking into it and it seems super cool! I bet there’s a different level of appreciation and excitement when you can understand the architecture behind these cool innovations!

You can check out Amazon’s “New World” and some cool screenshots here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/amazon-new-world-mmo-dev-interview/{:target=”blank”}

Let’s get into our dreams. What were you hoping would be announced, but wasn’t?

Chris: I wanted to see more about what AWS is doing to address AI bias & ethics.

Hiroko: Those are definitely topics we as society need to start seriously tackling, because it seems to be getting worse every year…. Ok, if it’s not a new service completely, what’s a service upgrade that you wish they’d announce?

Chris:

  • An easier way to connect existing corporate AD into IAM
  • Improvements to mass-auto tagging resources when you have more than 10,000 taggable services/instances

Hiroko: Onto the most important question… If a newbie is looking to attend AWS re:Invent for the first time next year, what’s your biggest advice?

Chris:

  • Pace yourself – this is a marathon, not a sprint. If you go all out the initial 2 days, you will be too worn out to enjoy the last 2 days
  • Drink a LOT of water – go to the local Walgreens & buy several liters of water for your hotel room.
  • Get 6-7 hours of sleep.
  • Wear very comfortable shoes – you are going to walk more than you expect.
  • Leave space in your luggage – you will get vendor swag & that can add up quickly. I try to leave 40-50% of my luggage empty going to Vegas.
  • Attend events that aren’t being recorded (other than the keynotes) – I skip sessions because I can always watch them afterwards on youtube.

Hiroko: Ah yes, all great advice. I was surprised there was basically no way to easily get water outside of the conference venues, so I made sure to fill up my water bottle before I left for the evening, but just buying some (or bringing some from home) seems like a good idea!

Sleep, hydrate, pace yourself, eat snacks, and keep space open in luggage…

Thank you SO much for the good, bad, exciting, and boring of AWS re:Invent 2021, Chris! And you can find him on social media here: Twitter!

Hiro CloudForecast
Hiro CloudForecast

Hiro Nishimura

Hiro Nishimura, M.Ed. is a Special Education Teacher turned Systems Administrator turned Technical Writer. 24 Villages, LLC was founded in 2019 as an EdTech Consulting and Technical Writing Company.

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