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AWS re:Invent 2021 – Hot Takes from The Serverless Edge

AWS re:Invent season comes every year and disrupts the market. Automatically your is system more efficient (if you build things correctly). And fear seeps into non-Amazon technical people as they realize how quickly public cloud really moves. It’s also in Las Vegas, which is the perfect place to spend four days indoors with no sunlight, no fun and endless hours in a meeting, talking and walking. Here are some hot takes from last year’s event from The Serverless Edge.

Las Vegas at night on The Serverless Edge
Photo by Parsa Mahmoudi on Unsplash

First of all here’s a word of advice for attendees. Usually, when new products are launched, the talks appear in the schedule that day. So it’s always important to check right after the keynote (or even during). Virtual attendees are fine, as there’s no capacity issues in the virtual talks. For physical attendees, capacity is a nightmare – it’s practically impossible to get into a hot talk at AWS re:Invent (in that case, best to watch it the week after as all talks appear online pretty quickly).


We have been on the sustainable technology trip for a few years now. Quite simply, if you build modern (serverless) applications on Cloud (AWS, GCP, Azure), then we believe this is the most sustainable approach for carbon burn. AWS provide sustainability guidance, telemetry and data to prove this;

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

HIT! Among the keynote announcements was the AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool and a new pillar was added to the Well-Architected Framework.- Sustainability.

Developer Experience

It’s a big talking point among developers. AWS need to improve the “Cloud Native” developer experience. Azure and GitHub have a very compelling offering – AWS have many of the same building blocks. But the general Developer Experience requires a boost:

Removing the foot gun option – The unexpected cloud bill can be terrifying and is very off-putting to anyone getting started in the cloud. When will we see a capped account that CANNOT exceed a predefined amount?

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

HIT! AWS Amplify Studio was launched, which is a further evolution of making it easier for developers. We also had a glorious slot in Werner Vogels’ keynote from Matt Coulter on CDK patterns and the Liberty Mutual Serverless First story.


With products like EventBridge and StepFunctions, it’s getting easier to create complex integrations with a serverless mindset. This is a way to create very complex business process flows that are well-architected and serverless-first. Also, these solutions will be cost-effective and quicker to build. Can AWS layer something on top of this to increase adoption in an already growing area?

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

MISS! There is plenty of support and great implementation stories, but no new announcements! We think this space is already pretty powerful, so certainly not a bad thing!

The split of modern applications

We see AWS bring in the container crew by providing options and control to run in the AWS environment. We also see a move the other way with Functionless services (serverless without Lambda – Managed Services talking directly to other managed services). AWS are clever and will promote both – customer obsession. We expect to see more innovation in both these areas:

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

MISS! – great messaging around building modern applications and transformation, but no new announcements! We did see the launch of AWS Migration Competency Partners and AWS Mainframe Modernization Platform – but we will be hard on ourselves and put this as a miss!

ML Everywhere

In 2019 we saw things like ML used for coding and security. Expect this to continue as AWS disrupts itself with ML. The ML offering itself will continue to be refined, but “ML as a capability” will continue as a trend.

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

HIT! – Lots of innovation including Amazon SageMaker Canvas, many SageMaker add-ons & a “Democratization of ML” rallying cry from AWS CEO, Adam Selipsky.

Security and Governance automation

Making the Cloud easier and more secure is a day one activity. Expect AWS to continue to enable customers, both old and new, by making it easier to secure and govern those precious workloads. With Azure’s recent security issues, will AWS extend its security lead?

  • ARC312 – Architecting security and governance in multi-account environments

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

MISS! – let’s be hard on ourselves. Many improvement announcements and great endorsement for CDK.

Chaos Built in

We love seeing the evolution of Continuous Resiliency capabilities in AWS and the growth of the Fault Injection Simulator (FIS) service. We wonder if Chaos capabilities will be built into the more AWS services, making running experiments even easier.

  • BOA310 – Resilient and well-architected apps with chaos engineering (Gunnar Grosch)

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

MISS! – no extensions to the already very innovative FIS service.

Improving the Cloud Narrative

Even though re:Invent is a technology conference, there will be many professionals that are not engineers – CFO, Sales, Product, Design, Public Sector, retail, you name it. AWS need to enable companies that are not technology companies to join the cloud revolution and innovate. We see seeds planted in “Digital Innovation” programs and “Art of the Possible”, a less-tech heavy narrative will start bringing the cloud into the mainstream for business people of every domain.

What happened at AWS re:Invent – were we right or wrong?

HIT! – The new AWS CEO, Adam Selipsky, positioned much of his keynote around “path finding” and transformation. This has lifted the focus up from migration. This excellent slot from Shaun Braun from 3M is a nice illustration.

The Serverless Edge will be at re:Invent this year, so look out for posts, photos and scoops. We are really looking forward to the keynotes this year and hopefully, there will be some synergy to what we like to talk about and our book The Value Flywheel Effect!

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