AWS Summit in Berlin

We’ve had two days of holidays in Poland at the beginning of May: Work Day on 1st of May and Constitution Day on 3rd of May. Most of the people used this time to visit families, make grill and so on; I decided to take 2nd may off and go to the Berlin to Amazon Web Services Summit.

AWS Summit was held in Berliner Congress Center at Alexanderplatz.  This is the same place which hosted Chaos Communication Congress for many years so it brought back some memories.

Again there was a queue for the entrance, although it was shorter than before Congress. On the other hand there was no Heart of Gold, nor blinking lights in the window. BCC looked professional. Also, there were security guards checking our bags during entrance. I wonder what they were looking for…

Inside there were again some similarities, inevitable at the event with over three thousand people (as organizers have not published official attendance numbers, I am estimating based on how crowded lecture rooms were): there were long queues to the WC, queues for food, people eating in all the places (on the stairs, etc.). Because this was computer event, most of the people were not very social, eating on their own, not trying to make contact; this changed after closing event, when there was beer provided 😉

As AWS Summit was professional event, not hacker congress, there were differences.  Food court looked empty, even boring, without blinken lights: it became yet another place to have your lunch. Instead of Engels there were hostesses; the good part was that they were nicely dressed (not underdressed like the ones at Confitura 2012).

I would never thought that I would say this but I somehow missed Nick Farr shouting from the stage to raise hand if someone has free seat; I had less feeling of community, less eagerness to make more room for fellow hackers to have place to sit down and listen to the lecture.  But the talking with people during breaks and after closing were as interesting as during other conferences.

Oh, the lecture rooms… Just like during CCC there were problems with more people wanting to listen to the lecture than could fit into the room. People were waiting in the queues, and some were not let in for the few interesting talks due to lack of space. Someone (I do not know who – there was too much crowd) joked that “they should just instantiate another room to have talk during such high demand”. Yeah, this shows that clouds cannot solve limitations of physical world. The difference from CCC was that there was no streaming of talks so those of us who failed to have a seat did not have a chance to watch it.

Organizers wanted to count attendance. They did not used Sputniks; instead our badges had barcodes printed on them and poor hostess had to scan all people entering the room. It was not foolproof – e.g. I entered lecture room earlier (during lunch break) to have place to sit, so I was not counted as attending that talk.

Most of the talks were about technical details of AWS.  I will just mention few interesting thought from keynotes.  Werner Vogel, CTO of amazon.com, mentioned something along the lines “just like Human Resources employs people when they are needed and reduces them during lower demand you can do with your computing capabilities”.  I do not want to be treated as commodity (or resource to be managed for that matter), and I repeat after The Prisoner: “I am not a number!”.  I believe that treating people, employees, as commodity, is part of the problem with economy today.  This is specially ironic when told on 2nd May, day after May 1st, the International Work Day.

On the other hand Nikolai Longolius, CEO of Schnee von morgen Web TV, made me feel old. He used the phrase: “we started with the cloud in 2006, so we are grandfathers”.  Other speakers were also using phrases “it is old way of computing, used in 1990s or 2000s”. Hey, I know that in computers time flows faster, but it might be good idea to stop from time to and look whether the past offers us some important lessons.

In summary, I’m glad I attended the Summit. I learned a lot, and talking with people responsible for example for Glacier helped me understand it better and fix some of my scripts. I met some interesting people attending Summit.  It also helped me see Congress from different perspective and changed my expectations about OHM 2013. I am waiting for it impatiently as it’s only 3 months from now!

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