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AWS re:Invent re:Cap – A Vendor’s View Growing Up in the AWS Cloud

By Hoover J. Beaver 20 Nov 2014

A ton has changed at AWS re:Invent over the last three years. I’ve read some great write-ups of this year’s event that covered Amazon’s 12 product announcements, the market impact of those announcements (anyone want to talk about cloud pricing?), and of course the #Vogelisms that spread virally when AWS CTO Werner Vogels gets on stage and simultaneously excites vendors and scares them to death. Here are the best summaries I have seen:

But I haven’t read a good re:Invent recap of what’s changed over the years from the eyes of a vendor. This year there were more than 250 sponsors, companies like us that are ‘growing up cloud’ and building their own cloud-based business around the ever-growing AWS universe that Amazon provides. With Loggly having attended, sponsored, and presented at these events, I thought I’d share my perspective on how cloud businesses—and the developers who work for them—have grown up.

re:Invent in 2012 – Cloud is here in a big way

The first year of AWS re:Invent was filled with early-adopter developers at start-ups looking to invest into the next big thing. These AWS risk-takers (if you will) were by and large individuals. The  conversations we had with them centered around:

  • Why logging in the cloud makes sense (“No, seriously!” we would exclaim. All the cool kids are doing it!”)
  • How we are able to take in logs from everywhere without agents (we use what you have!)
  • And of course, a few hundred questions about our Mascot, Hoover… who stole the show by walking around the expo floor handing out swag (and was the impetus for the no-mascot rule) at subsequent events.

The market for cloud-based log management was still in its infancy, and the majority of people at the booth were rolling their own log management systems and losing sleep and sanity as a result. Or they’d ask, “How are you different from Splunk?”

We talked to over 200 people in the first 3 hours of the show at the booth and when questioned, “When do you look at your log files?” we’d ask. The response “Only when things go wrong” only lost out to…. “never”.

re:Invent in 2013 – The Rising Cloud lifts all Companies and Careers

By 2013, people’s job titles had elevated (web developers became directors, directors became CTOs, and their roles got more creative). We started seeing job titles like “Director of AWS Cloud.” People from name-brand companies were introducing themselves proudly by saying, “I’m leading a cloud-only initiative.” We still had major media and gaming companies (names redacted to save embarrassment) come to the booth and sheepishly whisper, “I’m not doing anything with my log files today.” But by and large, the vision of log management as a cloud service was not only accepted but embraced.

Attendees were arriving as a team, often with cross-department representation (Ops, Support, BI) and each with a handful of questions:

  • “Do you integrate with PagerDuty?” (yup!)
  • “Can I track traffic from mobile apps?” (Certainly!)
  • “Can you help me spot and solve issues with transactional tracing?” (Definitely! Earlier this week we elaborated on exactly how we do it)

And again we’d hear Splunk mentioned religiously, albeit with maturation, “Ahhh, I see… Loggly is like Splunk for the cloud”.

Just ahead of AWS re:Invent 2013, we had launched our Gen2 system. Not only were we swamped fielding questions about what it could do and giving demos of it but also we were asked to speak at AWS re:Invent on how we put it all together. That session filled a 1,200-seat room, and it still remains the most-watched non-keynote presentation on the AWS YouTube channel and most-downloaded Slideshare presentation of the entire event. Fun times!

re:Invent in 2014: The Cloud Has Tipped

Like watching a child transition from taking her first steps to mastering an endless run, the level of growth visible at re:Invent in a year was remarkable.  The event sold out WAY earlier than expected. Gone from  the crowd were the early adopters, replaced with a more “business as usual” audience who has seemingly grown up and into their shoes by leveraging the now limitless service menu that the cloud offers. But more importantly, people no longer consider it a new way of business; it’s the ONLY way of business. We talked to 1,000+ people in our booth alone, and I couldn’t recall a hint of hesitation when we outlined how our log management model works seamlessly with their service or how we consume log files at line speed… and as expected, the lines for coffee grew even longer.

In 2014, t-shirts were still the predominant clothing choice, complemented with AWS hoodies from 2013 that proved your cred. Toting the 2012 messenger bag was an extra badge of honor to identify the inaugural attendees.

The people visiting our booth represented even larger companies with more dispersed teams, often global and using re:Invent as a company meetup. And we were amazed by the increase in demand of log file data by… marketers!

Surprisingly, pair of attendees from a very large hotel chain came with the question, “How are you different from Tealeaf?” (After nearly four years working for Tealeaf and spreading the gospel of Customer Experience Management to revenue-driven marketers, I was happy to outline just how Loggly complements the browser-based visibility and replay that Tealeaf provides. It’s one thing to SEE your signup page failing, replaying the session for an executive team to cringe at the experience and the value of the abandoned carts it caused. It’s another to uncover the exact reason WHY the signup page failed, identify the server, the release and the specific lines of code checked in by the author, how quickly ops responded to the alert… all to speed resolution before the issue bubbles up to the CEO and CMO.)  I digress, but the message was clear. Marketing’s interest highlights that big data means big business and that even bigger budgets are now being applied to surface insights from log files.  The universal truth of application and network health is in the logs and best served across all lines of business.

We still happily field questions about Splunk, but those are maturing too. The theme from 2014: “Splunk just announced 2,000 new features… but there are only 20 that I care about. How can you help me focus my team’s time better?”

I’ve preached it before: A dollar invested into DevOps is worth more than that same dollar invested into Marketing. I’m confident that more people are already seeing the light and that AWS re:Invent 2015 will demonstrate an even bigger maturation of cloud business practices than we saw over the last year. I can’t wait. If you want to be sure to be there, here’s the date: October 6 – 9, 2015.

Of course, we will be there in 2015 with some fun roadmap items I can’t share… but if you haven’t seen what we have been up to, take a test drive of Loggly with a 14-day, full-featured free trial.  See you at their next show!

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Hoover J. Beaver

Hoover J. Beaver