5 events you don't want to miss at AWS re:Invent 2013

Ahead of our live coverage of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference that starts in Las Vegas on Tuesday, we put together a list of the events, talks and workshops you don't want to miss. There are going to be over 8,000 people at the conference this year, and some seriously cracking events. We don't want anything slipping off your radar, so make sure to check out these highlights.

The day one Hackathon

Tue - 9:00 - 23:59

Everyone knows a hackathon is not something you want to miss: the atmosphere, the tension, the cutting edge workarounds and contestants thinking and coding on their feet. And when it's at one of the biggest tech conferences held in the States, you'd be foolish to miss out.

Join developers, AWS engineers and other cloud ninjas for the first AWS re:Invent Hackathon, as they hack around set tasks, and raise money for good causes while they do it.

In round one, for instance, hackers will create an app that helps smartphone users turn their bad behaviour into positive change, and in another, they'll use data from a pair of planetary satellites to create a visualisation of the changing earth climate, weather and topology. Coffee, pizza and beer will be provided for competing hackers!

Tom Soderstrom, chief technology officer at NASA: "Small steps in visual analytics for NASA's big data"

Wed - 11:00 - 12:00

If you thought your company's data was reaching stratospheric levels, imagine what the guys at NASA have to deal with. Unsurprisingly, exploring the cosmos for the better half of a century has generated voluminous stores of varied data, and it's down to guys like Tom Soderstrom to help the agency make sense of that avalanche.

Soderstrom, the IT chief at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is going to take us through the kind of mysteries that have been solved by using Earth-based clouds performing complex data analytics, and how NASA has dealt with the vast amounts of data produced.

Now the agency is taking small steps to unleash cloud tools on that data, educating and enabling its engineers to "best tackle the future with a data-driven understanding of the present."

We'll also hear about the role that cloud infrastructure is going to play in future ambitious space missions. I, for one, am going to geek out seriously hard.

Ruslan Meshenberg, director of platform engineering at Netflix: "How Netflix leverages multiple regions to increase availability"

Wed - 16:15-17:15

Ruslan Meshenberg is going to walk us through the journey that Netflix underwent to redesign and operate its service in order to increase availability beyond the capabilities of a single region. Under its current model, even if one region fails, another can quickly take its place. He also promises to explore Netflix's "Isthmus" architecture, a "stepping stone toward full active-active deployment where only the edge services are redundantly deployed to multiple regions."

Meshenberg's going to cover real-world challenges Netflix had to overcome. They've also rather engmatically promised to show us how they discovered "a whole new breed of monkeys we created to test multiregional resiliency scenarios." Intriguing!

Fireside chats with Werner Vogels, AWS Chief Technology Officer

Thurs - 13:30-14:30 & 15:00-16:00

So this is cheating slightly, as these are technically two events - but I couldn't choose between them. The two breakout sessions will explore how the cloud is affecting the startup community; the first session being a fireside chat with three leaders in the start-up community.

AWS CTO Werner Vogels will sit down with Eliot Horowitz, CTO of MongoDB, to discuss how MongoDB sees the cloud evolving and its role in the AWS ecosystem; Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, to discuss how Twilio uses, manages, and measures APIs and how the cloud helps; and Valentino Volonghi, Chief Architect at Adroll, to discuss the role of DynamoDB in building an advertising business that bids more than 10 billion impressions per day.

In part two, Vogels will host three influencers in the startup community: David Cohen, Founder and CEO of TechStars, will discuss the impact of accelerators and the Cloud on the startup ecosystem, and the role of the cloud both as infrastructure platform and as delivery channel for new products; Albert Wenger, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures will tell us how he thinks the cloud should evolve to make it even easier for startups.

Whether there will actually be a fire or not, only time will tell.

James Hamilton on "why scale matters and how the cloud really is different"

Thu - 16:15 - 17:15

James Hamilton is the Vice President of AWS, and one of its most distinguished engineers, so it's no surprise that his breakout session talk on how the cloud has changed the landscape of the IT industry has drawn the most interest among conference-goers.

More attendees have added this talk to their favourites on the AWS site than any other, making it a definite one to watch. Hamilton promises to take us behind the scenes on Amazon's cloud infrastructure, and explain how "the cloud fundamentally changes application deployment speed, economics, and provides more and better tools for delivering high reliability applications." Not one to miss.

One more thing...

Most importantly, don't forget to check in on ITProPortal's live coverage of the AWS re:Invent conference. We'll provide minute-to-minute coverage so even if you can't be in Vegas this week, you still don't have to miss a thing.

Image: Flickr (shoebappa; blueforce4116)