In the grand expo hall, over 500 sponsors showcased their products and services, and of course, handed out swag. My favorite was Runscope, and the company’s Everything Is Going to Be 200 OK® t-shirt was by far one of the best pieces of swag in the expo hall. I spent quite some time around the startup pavilion, where various mentors and venture capitalists talked about their experience in working with startups. I got to see things like a new statistical visualization engine from a company whose founder designed a new way to show data that is more intuitive and tailored to the needs of each case.
I found newly announced services AWS Inspector and AWS WAF to be particularly useful to this startup community. These tools find security holes in an application. Hackers are constantly seeking means of breaking into systems and retrieving private information or spamming users. With Inspector, you can run a baseline test on an infrastructure, and it will generate a report suggesting what should be improved. It holds a library of security standards, knows the common exploits and will help you avoid security holes. Amazon researchers continuously update the database of known hacks and defenses so developers don’t have to. Similarly, AWS WAF takes direct action against exploits. It plugs the security holes, ensuring that no content is left un-escaped, no secure connections fall back to SSLv3 and services cannot be spammed to drive up costs. As an app developer, I felt that these two services would provide great relief in building a complex backend application. I wouldn’t need to worry about managing my own firewalls, or searching my own code for security fixes. AWS will alert me of issues and block malicious invasions.
Putting a Bow on the Conference by Passing Certification Tests
There were many certification tests available to take at re:Invent—you could become a certified developer, SysOps admin or solutions architect. I originally had a slight fear that I would walk into the exam room and fail the test. I thought it was only accessible by professionals with years of experience and weeks of training. However, I took a test for the developer associate level, and a managed to pass! The exam included questions ranging from DynamoDB write capacity to REST response codes. Because I had coded applications with these Amazon APIs, it seemed relatively simple. Plus, taking a pre-exam bootcamp certainly helped. There were large rooms filled with workstations, each providing free access to AWS and dedicated to testing. They truly offered everything they could to teach incoming architects and developers. After using AWS for quite some time, just like studying anything in university or in practice, it comes with ease.
All in all, I had a marvelous time seeing the new technology that was released, and learning AWS in more depth. Alongside that, it certainly was a great opportunity to network with people, including my new friends at Runscope. I hope to return next year to meet people and see the next iteration of AWS’ developer services.
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