AWS re:Invent 2016 In Review

Rackspace at AWS re:Invent

If you’re like me, the week following the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas is a busy time, often more so than the week of re:Invent itself.

For me, it’s a time to decompress, recover and sift through all of the announcements, presentations, videos and content presented during the conference itself, and prioritize for review in the coming weeks and months.

Conference week is hectic and as hard as I try, I can never quite make it to all of the sessions I would like. The sessions I’m interested in are often booked at the same time as others, or held in different venues. Instead, I find it easier to just add them to my to-do list and watch post-conference. Honestly, I think this is the best way to digest all of these sessions and this information, after the fact, from the comfort of my desk, or better yet, my recliner.

Werner Vogels re:Invent
AWS CTO Werner Vogels introduces new AWS features during his keynote at re:Invent 2016

In keeping with tradition, AWS announced and launched many new services and features during this year’s re:Invent. Both AWS CEO Andy Jassy’s and CTO Werner Vogels’ keynote sessions were frequently accented by new service announcements that set the massive tech crowd to their feet, myself included.

In the table below, I’ve captured each of the new services and features announced at AWS re:Invent 2016 and provided links to both product pages and re:Invent videos (if available):

New Services/Features

Family Service/Feature Links


Amazon Athena is an interactive query service that makes it easy to analyze data directly in Amazon S3 using standard SQL. Product, Video
AWS Glue is a fully managed ETL service that makes it easy to move data between your data stores. Product
Application Services AWS Step Functions makes it easy to coordinate the components of distributed applications and microservices using visual workflows. Product, Video
Artificial Intelligence



Amazon Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. Product, Video
Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech. Product, Video
Amazon Rekognition is a service that makes it easy to add image analysis to your applications. Product, Video







Amazon EC2 C5, F1, I3, R4 and T2 are new and updated instances, including hardware accelerated FPGA-based instances. Product
Amazon EC2 Elastic GPUs allow you to easily attach low-cost graphics acceleration to current generation EC2 instances. Product, Video
Amazon Lightsail is the easiest way to get started with AWS for developers who need a simple virtual private server (VPS) solution. Product
Amazon Batch enables developers, scientists and engineers to easily and efficiently run hundreds of thousands of batch computing jobs on AWS. Product, Video
Amazon EC2 Systems Manager is a management service that helps you automatically collect software inventory, apply OS patches, create system images and configure Windows and Linux operating systems. Product
C# Support on Lambda Product
Lambda@Edge allows you to run code at global AWS edge locations without provisioning or managing servers, responding to end users at the lowest network latency. Product
Containers Blox is a collection of open source software that enables customers to build custom schedulers and integrate third-party schedulers on top of ECS. Product, Video
Database Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL Compatibility adds support for PostgreSQL databases to Aurora. Product, Video
Developer Tools


AWS Codebuild is a fully managed build service that compiles source code, runs tests, and produces software packages that are ready to deploy. Product
AWS X-Ray helps developers analyze and debug production, distributed applications, such as those built using a microservices architecture. Product



AWS Greengrass is software that lets you run local compute, messaging and data caching for connected devices in a secure way. Product, Video
AWS Snowball Edge is a 100TB data transfer device with on-board storage and compute capabilities. Product, Video
VMware on AWS Cloud will be a new solution that makes it easy for customers to run VMware workloads on the AWS Cloud. Product
Management Tools


AWS Personal Health Dashboard provides alerts and remediation guidance when AWS is experiencing events that may impact you. Product, Video
AWS OpsWorks for Chef Automate provides a fully managed Chef server and suite of automation tools that give you workflow automation for continuous deployment, automated testing for compliance and security. Product
Migration AWS Snowmobile is an Exabyte-scale data transfer service used to move extremely large amounts of data to AWS. Product, Video
Mobile Amazon Pinpoint makes it easy to run targeted campaigns to drive user engagement in mobile apps through the use of targeted push notifications. Product, Video
Security Amazon Shield is a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that safeguards web applications running on AWS. Product, Video

Check out Rackspace Chief Technology Officer John Engates’ interview on AWS’ “the Cube,” live at re:invent 2016:

My Short List

Here’s a brief list of some of the cooler things I saw while at re:Invent this year:

  • Athena is one of those services I didn’t know I needed until it was announced. And now, I’m not sure how I’ve gone without it this far. I can’t wait to point it at all of those ELB and VPC flow logs I’ve been collecting.
  • I’m really excited about the new additions to the T2 family. This burstable family of instances has turned out to be very practical and economical and these new additions provide for a broader range of customer use cases. Can’t wait to try them out.
  • Maybe it’s just the Computer Engineering degree (bought and paid for), but I’d love to try out the new FPGA. I doubt I’ll find the time, but it’s fun to imagine all the possibilities these new instances bring to the table.
  • Hats off to the DevOps team at AWS and their continuing efforts to improve our ability to build and operate applications at scale. I can’t wait to try out both the new CodeBuild and X-Ray services!
  • One of the most common requests I hear from AWS customers (often daily) is for DDOS protection. AWS Shield is a timely and welcome addition to the AWS ecosystem.
  • I can imagine the comments when an AWS Snowmobile rolls up to the office, particularly when you meant to order a Snowball instead. Oops 🙂
  • A shout-out to my friend @dsballantyne and AWS Batch Product Manager at AWS. Well done!

That’s it for now. I’m sure my “short” list will grow as I discover new sessions and talks but this is a good start and will likely keep me busy for a while. As always, visit Rackspace to find out more about our managed services for AWS.

Jerry Hargrove is a Senior Solutions Architect on the Fanatical Support for AWS team at Rackspace. He works with Rackspace customers, helping them architect and implement super scalable and highly available solutions in the AWS cloud. Prior to joining Rackspace, Jerry worked as a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services and as a software architect and developer. Jerry brings more than 20 years of software architecture and development experience to the Rackspace team and has worked in a broad cross-section of the software industry in a variety of settings. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid hiker, climber and back-country skier.



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