Ahead of the conference, our experts had high expectations for announcements on topics including serverless machine learning and cloud security – and they were not disappointed.
"We want more customers to unlock the power of ML," said Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky in his keynote speech on 30 November. The company has vowed to make machine learning (ML) more accessible, and this was addressed with several announcements, including the launch of Amazon SageMaker Studio Lab. A free service, it enables any user to experiment with ML, without the need for an AWS account. “It’s super interesting for us, and for any small groups of data scientists, to be able to access these kinds of resources to try new things,” says data engineer Marwen Taleb.
In addition to keynote speeches, presentations and Chalk Talks, the conference offered several workshops to enable attendees to test best practices in real-world scenarios. For example, they could try out ‘Chaos Engineering’ with a new tool that was presented during the conference. “I’d never tried it before,” Marwen says. “The idea of Chaos Engineering is to create a ‘fail’ in a software system—for example, by turning off a machine that should be functional—and see how the system reacts to an unexpected event.” AWS Software Partner, Gremlin, offers a Chaos Engineering tool, which has 12 attack modes, or ‘Gremlins,’ to enable different Chaos Engineering experiments.
There may have been an absence of ground-breaking announcements, but there was no shortage of interesting improvements to existing infrastructures. For data scientist Hamza Benchekroun, highlights included the addition of SageMaker Canvas, another tool that makes ML more accessible. “The service enables you to create business applications using drag-and-drop, meaning it can be used even by people who don’t have experience in data science, coding or machine learning,” he says. Thousands of IT professionals from around the world attended AWS re:Invent 2021 online and in-person, to stay up-to-date on the latest innovations and trends according to Amazon. However, while the event is usually known for wow-factor announcements, this year’s attendees found a more subdued ambience, with a focus on incremental product improvements rather than breakthrough innovations. Still, the overall impression was a very well-organised event announcing a host of welcome improvements to AWS’s solutions.