Pathfinders, the everywhere cloud and new worlds - takeaways from AWS Re:Invent 2021

15 Dec 2021

After a Covid-induced hiatus from hosting in Las Vegas in 2020, AWS’ annual flagship event Re:Invent returned to its regular home this year with a global audience of 100,000s attending online and in person to hear the major announcements for the AWS Cloud.


This year marks 15 since the launch of AWS in 2006 and 10 years of Re:Invent so it was an event of looking back to celebrate progress and looking forward to the innovations happening today and on the near horizon.

As AWS CEO Adam Selipsky noted, the concept of cloud computing was not a well known or understood concept back in the early days; today the landscape is very different with AWS now offering an ever growing 200 services, across 81 availability zones in 25 countries, serving millions of customers. The way businesses purchase and manage their infrastructure has also transformed, from a capital expenditure model to the cloud pay as you go approach, democratising innovation and driving the modernization and transformation across all verticals, from startups to global enterprises.

However, as anyone who knows the company’s culture will tell you, its “always Day 1 at Amazon” - the organisation has a startup mentality that keeps it agile, unafraid of failing fast and most importantly putting the customer at the centre of everything it does. 

The announcements kept coming fast at Re:Invent but what are the key takeaways that impact businesses as they try to adapt their processes, culture and organisations to become technology businesses, no matter what sector they operate in?


Hybrid has changed

As organisations demand more from their infrastructure, they need flexibility allowing them to work wherever their applications are stored and processed; whether that's in the cloud, in data centres or at the edge. The AWS edge enables high-performance applications to be processed and stored close to where the data is generated, enabling ultra-low latency, and real-time responsiveness.

Cloud is also being pushed out to the “rugged edge” where connectivity can be a challenge for instance oil rigs, factories, agricultural fields etc. with services and devices like AWS Outposts, AWS Snow Family and AWS Wavelength. To further improve connectivity, AWS announced AWS Private 5G, a new service enabling the management and deployment of a private 5G mobile network with pay as you go pricing and set up in days, not months. 


Modernisation is critical to innovation

Maintaining legacy code and old mainframes is expensive, complex and slows innovation. Customers want to move towards the cloud to become agile and enjoy the efficiencies and competitive gains the cloud can offer. AWS announced the new Mainframe Modernisation and Migration service at Re:Invent, providing a set of tools,  assessments and advice to understand a customer's readiness for migration and a plan for a smooth transition. 

Modernisation is not just about a simple ‘lift and shift’ however; to truly transform, customers need to modernise their applications to make them cloud native; once they have reduced their technical debt, they will be in a much better position to drive business transformation, enhance agility and improve customer experience.

An example of this is Liberty Mutual Insurance who transformed their business over 5 years by introducing a continuous learning culture, experimentation and world class automated guardrails to their AWS cloud operations. By modernising their applications and optimising with best practises they were able to reduce their core application from 1500 to just 14 lines of code.

As Matt Coulter, Technical Architect at Liberty Mutual Insurance explained,

“Code is a liability, not an asset. Every single line of code must have demonstrable business value. This has been core to our evolutionary architecture strategy - rapidly delivering business value in a well architected way “

Refactoring legacy code is critical to modernisation, but just as important is transforming the business processes to become agile and adapting to the changing needs of customers. The US money transfer business Western Union delivered a successful change management program with the support from partners and identified 3 lessons for making successful change:

Embrace the mess. Create a team of disrupters and balancers to drive new ideation and plan how to implement them. Create an environment where healthy debate is encouraged and have just enough chaos to spark new ideas. As Shelly Swanback, President, Product & Platform who led the program says:

“The biggest mess can create the biggest breakthroughs”
  1. Close learning loops. Regularly discuss learnings and how adjustments will be made to stay on track. Close any loops as quickly as possible to stop stagnation and keep progress on track.
  3. Make your technology strategy your business strategy. Technology is disrupting every industry so it's critical to have a tech savvy leadership team. It's not good enough anymore to just modernise existing legacy apps but looking at new ways of innovating with technology is the only way businesses will survive.

Data is the lifeblood of business 

Data is increasingly becoming the competitive advantage for businesses. Having a robust data strategy is critical to driving greater customer insights, delivering value to customers and a great customer experience. However, with more data being produced in the last 3 years compared to the previous 30, comes a greater need for compliance, security and scale. 

AWS is finding new ways to help customers reach their data and prepare, analyse and drive decisions. For example, in financial services NASDAQ is bringing cloud to the financial markets with their market matching platform, and Goldman Sachs in collaboration with Amazon FinSpace to offer their financial cloud for data, reducing the time and development resources to manage data and facilitate millions of trades per day.

Ensuring security and regulatory compliance for businesses that access and manage so much data is essential to maintaining well-architected and compliant operations. This is why Werner Vogels, VP and CTO of recommends customers must think about these key concerns from Day 1 to avoid costly (and sometimes fatal) remediations in the future as the business scales.


Be a pathfinder to drive 21st century architectures 

From Netflix revolutionising content streaming, to NASA landing a rover on Mars, pathfinders are continually pushing what is possible with cloud technology. At Re:Invent AWS announced how it is striving to be a pathfinder but also support millions to become pathfinders of the future.

With AWS services available in more locations than ever before, AWS is now exploring space with the announcement of AWS Ground Station, offering the fastest data transfer from satellites back to Earth at lightning speed.  Werner Vogels’ “everywhere cloud”, going above and beyond availability zones, sees the future happening today.

And with the launch of Amazon Games’ New World MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game connecting players in numbers never before deemed possible, AWS Is powering a totally new immersive experience powered by the cloud.

To maintain this level of innovation and give access to it across the world, AWS is investing in cloud skills; by 2025 they commit to train 29M people through their free AWS Skill Builder program of 500 online courses, and the Re/Start bootcamps that are now running in 95 cities in 16 countries. As a supporter of inclusion and diversity, it is great to see businesses and individuals investing in skills that will not only fill millions of tech role vacancies but will also over time deliver greater diversity in senior management, propelling greater innovation and creating the pathfinders of the future.


Partners are the key to accelerate your journey to the cloud

So how to get started? AWS sees the key to accelerating success on the cloud is through collaborating with partners like Codurance.  Modernising applications, building a cloud strategy, managing security and operations from day 1 - these are challenges that businesses across all industries and stages of growth are experiencing.  

This is why AWS invests in its partner ecosystem and has done so since starting the business back in 2006 - working with qualified AWS partners can help customers validate ideas and provide industry specific expertise across the entire organisation, building a deep and lasting trust partnership needed for successful transformation.

There are now multiple partner programs available across AWS services, sectors and domains where AWS customers can gain access to expertise and funding to support their cloud strategy. 

As an Advanced Consulting Partner, Codurance is perfectly placed to support you as you grow your business on the cloud. As Adam Sepilsky, CEO of AWS commented:

“10 years from now the partner ecosystem will still be vital to customer strategy.”

At Re:Invent there was a lot of looking back but mainly looking forward. It's exciting to see what the future holds for businesses and individuals and we’re looking forward to taking you on the journey to modernisation together.

Codurance is an Advanced Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network, supporting customers as they modernise and migrate to the cloud. We also hold the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program competency, delivering Well-Architected Reviews across the six pillars of operational excellence, security, cost optimization, reliability, performance efficiency and sustainability.