AWS User Group UK Meetup #12 – re:Invent re:Cap

By | December 1, 2014

The twelfth meetup of the AWS User Group UK took place in London last Thursday evening. As usual, here’s a short write of the event for those of you that might have missed it for some reason. The theme of the event this time around was the recent AWS global customer education event, re:Invent, that took place in Las Vegas from 11th to 14th November.

Our hosts for the event last week were News UK Technology. You might recall from my write up from the first AWS User Group UK that I attended in March that they hosted us at their building in Wapping back then, which was a great location. The leaders of the AWS User Group UK wanted to be a bit quicker in running a re:Invent themed event this year and we had been working on planning this event for a little while before re:Invent took place.

Panoramic view of the city of London

Looking North from News UK HQ to the City of London

For this year’s re:Invent update, we were hosted by News UK Technology again and this time around they were hosting us in the event space on the 17th floor of their new headquarters near London Bridge. This was a fantastic venue with amazing panoramic views of London on three sides of the event space and the usual high quality AV system in terms of display and audio kit that we were so spoilt with at a the previous event hosted by News UK. The User Group leaders and I are very very grateful for their continued sponsorship and support of the AWS User Group in London.

We had a packed agenda for the meetup this time around. Trying to condense even the two keynotes from re:Invent into one evening event really isn’t that easy, but the organisers also had a talk from Darius Aliabadi from News UK on his impressions from re:Invent to fit in, plus a couple of examples of breakout sessions to include in the agenda so that we could give the attendees a taste of re:Invent content beyond the large show-case keynote sessions.

AWSmetup copyThe evening was opened by Chris Birch, the IT Director from News UK. This was a very quick intro, but Chris gave a quick overview of how News UK are using AWS as well as using his sponsors priviledge to mention that News UK are looking to hire more AWS skills to help them further progress and accelerate their usage of AWS. If you’re interested in this, please take a look at the News UK Technology hiring site, which you can find here.

IMG_0300The next speaker on the agenda was me! I was lucky enough to get over to re:Invent this year as I was asked to help support one of the AWS Hackathon events and too cover the two keynote talks for the @AWSreInvent twitter account. We use this account to keep AWS share announcements and updates with customers around the world that might not be able to make it over the re:Invent, as well as keep people that might be at the event up-to-date with everything that’s going on around the venue. If you were watching the keynote updates on @AWSreInvent during the event, thanks for catching up with AWS via this channel :)

For my talk at the user group, I gave a quick overview of re:Invent as an intro, recapping the scale and structure of the event and then for the main part of my talk, I recapped the new services that were launched and announced during the two keynotes at this year’s re:Invent. You can the slides from my talk embedded below. If you’re interested in finding out more about any of the services that were announced, please take a look at this post on the AWS Blog, which includes links to all the relevant announcements, AWS Product Detail Pages and other reference documentation.


Darius Aliabadi from News UK

The next speaker was Darius Aliabadi from News UK. Darius was over at re:Invent on behalf of News UK and presented a summary of his key takeaways from the event. As usual (and I’ve seen Darius present quite a few times now) this was nothing less than awesome with plenty of laughs and a just a little bit of close to the wire content. There were plenty of good takeaways for the attendees in his presentation too, including spotting the obvious link between the recent announcement of Halflife 3 and the new AWS Lambda service, which I rather embarrassingly have to admit that I had missed :) Check this out, and the rest of his slides of course in the embedded presentation below. This seems to have problems rendering on certain browsers, so you can also also click the link underneath to see the slides.


Darius Aliabadi from News UK Technology
(Use arrow keys in the frame to navigate)


Chris Pitchford from News UK

The last two presentations at this meet up were from two members of the AWS Solutions Architecture team that assist AWS customers here in the UK with architecture and adoption of AWS services – Andreas Chatzakis and Shaun Pearce. Andreas was also joined by Chris Pitchford from News UK for his talk on ‘Best Practices for Scaling WordPress on AWS’, which was made all the more amusing by the fact that Chris doesn’t really like WordPress very much. This made for a really entertaining talk :)


Shaun Pearce from AWS

Shaun also focused on scaling in his talk, but this time the topic was the popular open source eCommerce platform Magento and how you might overcome some of the scaling challenges if you run a popular, high traffic, eCommerce site based on this technology, including strategies for caching with Varnish and an architecture for improving the behavior of Varnish under certain failure conditions.

Rather than just include the slides from the User Group meetup for these talks, I have embedded the YouTube videos of the full 45 minute long sessions from re:Invent itself, as we have these available.

This concludes my summary of the event. I would encourage anyone that’s interested in learning more about AWS to join a local AWS User Group and get involved in the AWS User Community. There is a global directory of AWS User Groups around the world on the AWS Web Site at

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