AWS Summit 2024: A Day of AI, Free Swag, and Countless Opportunities

“I went to the AWS Summit and all I got was a free lunch and a pair of socks …

… oh, and a choice of 200 breakout sessions, hands-on labs and access to over 150 industry stands including Cloudflare, Datadog, Elastic, GitLab, HashiCorp, Neo4j, RedHat and Snowflake.”

April 23rd saw the AWS Summit at the ExCeL Centre in London.  Unsurprisingly Machine Learning, AI and Generative AI in particular featured heavily in the breakout sessions (and everywhere else for that matter).  Serverless and Security were also recurring themes.  

After downloading the official app a few days before the event and making a first pass at what looked interesting I found I’d tagged 48 breakout sessions – time for some serious pruning.  In the end I settled on …

Evolving Serverless Architectures

Generative AI for decision makers” – unfortunately this was in one of the smaller locations and filled up with a number of us still in the queue.  It looked like everything was filmed so hopefully the recordings might be available at some point.

Supercharge you development with AWS generates AI developer tools

FMOPs/LLMOps: Generative AI from idea to production on AWS

How Knowledge Graphs Are Shaping the Future of Generative AI

Accelerate your Generative AI journey with Amazon SageMake JumpStart

Arriving at the ExCeL Centre on a bright and sunny Wednesday morning along with thousands of others and heading to registration the scale of the event started to dawn.  The registration area was huge with thirty booking desks each with two terminals and it still took 30-40 minutes to finally get my attendee’s lanyard with its unique QR code used each time you attended a breakout session. 

 

The breakout sessions were spread across twenty-five different locations ranging from the four thousand seater Auditorium and the main Theatres which could accommodate around a thousand people each, down to the smaller venues with a hundred or so seats.  Audio was delivered via individual headsets which worked well with only the odd one here and there starting to lose power after a full day’s operation.

Being my first AWS Summit one thing I hadn’t appreciated was the trade show side of the event and the number of companies who would have stands.  This photograph is just the smaller right hand section of Expo Hall (top right on the plan above).  The concourse at the back of the photo led to another area of the show with fifteen smaller break out rooms used for some presentations and the coding labs.

There were many companies whose products I know and have used over the years such as LaunchDarkly, Snyk and Kong but I wonder what other tools I might have discovered if I’d spent more pursuing stands rather than focusing on breakout sessions.  Maybe next time I’ll balance my time a little differently. 

I ended up having quite a heavy AI slant on the breakout sessions I attended as that’s the hottest topic in IT at the moment and not one I yet have much experience in, so getting some basic introductions to the AWS tools available seemed sensible.  One area I am very familiar with is development and infrastructure so I can really appreciate the potential of some of the features of Amazon Q Developer that were highlighted in the “Supercharge your development with AWS generates AI developer tools” session presented by Bindu Chinnadurai and Matt Laver from AWS.

Amazon Q Developer is a generative AI conversational assistant for building on AWS.  The underlying model powering it is hosted on AWS Bedrock and it has been trained on seventeen years of documentation, patterns in the AWS Well-Architected Framework and solution implementations.  It has a free tier version with some restrictions and limitations, and is available in a number of locations within the AWS ecosystem. 

Bindu first talked about Amazon Q Developer in the AWS Console where you can have conversations about the features of any of the AWS services, even asking about specific tasks in particular programming language and it will provide sample code.  You can also ask questions about the account itself such as “what is the most expensive service in this account” and (in limited regions for now) get help with the diagnosis and resolution of errors.

Moving on to demonstrate Amazon Q Developer within the development process, Matt then took the audience on a walkthrough of a number of common IDE based tasks using Visual Studio Code (JetBrains IDEs are also supported) :-

Code-generation based on a comment describing a task, or full feature generation via the conversational interface by describing a desired feature, including unit tests.

Java language upgrades from 8 or 11 to 17 (with .Net support coming soon).

Machine-generated explanations of highlighted sections of code.

Vulnerability scanning of code (not available with the free tier of Amazon Q).

On the command line, Amazon Q Developer adds completions to CLIs such as git, npm, docker and aws, and can generate shell script snippets from a natural language instruction such as “copy all files in the current directory to Amazon S3”.

This application of generative AI definitely has the potential to help Developers, DevOps Engineers and Testers to become more efficient in the same way that code completion and scanning has done over the last couple of decades.  There’s clearly more to come, but the integration with core development tools, rather than being a side conversation with a separate application such as ChatGPT, and that it has knowledge about your AWS account, makes the tool worth trying now.

Ultimately there was far too much to see and hear in a single day, so if your company is able to, it would be worth sending a few people to attend a wider range of events with perhaps someone to look at the partner ecosystem too.

Thank you to AWS for hosting this and to the many speakers who gave up their time and knowledge to share their insights.  Roll on 2025.

Update: The event recordings are now available at 2024 Summit EMEA.

By Jeremy Gosling, Consultant at Estafet

 

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