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The Ultimate Guide to AWS re:Invent 2021

Mark Nunnikhoven
Mark Nunnikhoven

This guide will grow as we get closer to the show. Please check back regularly for updates! Ping me if you spot a problem or if something is missing @marknca. As always, the event site is the ultimate source of truth (though I try to provide more context here). The site is available at


A Little Bit of History

I’ve written this guide year after year and it’s an interesting way to track how AWS re:Invent has evolved over the years.

Here are the guides of AWS re:Invent past:

As you would expect, the show has grown in scale and ambition every year as a reflection of the growth of the AWS Cloud and the larger community.

Last Year

Last year’s event was the outlier. With the global pandemic and widespread shutdowns, the event moved to a completely virtual format.

It was…different.

The session content was amazing but a lot of the things we all love about the event simply weren’t possible in a virtual version. That’s understandable, everyone has struggled with what a virtual event looks like compared to an in-person one.

The conflicted news? AWS re:Invent 2021 will be an in-person event with limited virtual aspects.

That means a very different feel to the show. Not only in size but also the demographics. Will there be a strong international attendance? What safety measures will be in place? What will be the requirements to attend?

The short and simple answer: no one is sure.

The show is months away and if you look back to even a month ago, things were very, very different. There are a lot of questions about this year’s AWS re:Invent.

I have a strong feeling that this guide will change even more than previous years…and that’s saying a lot.

Code of Conduct

AWS re:Invent is all about learning and having a shared experience. The key to that is making sure that environment is inviting, safe, and supportive.

The AWS Community Codes of Conduct applies to both the physical and digital space surrounding AWS re:Invent…and to all other AWS events.

I would say that it’s all common sense and following the golden rule but with tens of thousands of people from around the world sharing the experience for the week, it’s best to call this out explicitly.


If you encounter an issue or problem that runs counter to the code or if you in any way feel unsafe, please reach out for help. Amazon Security can be reached at for live events. In addition, any one of the on-site staff or security can help resolve any issues.

No system is perfect but this is a great start at creating a safe, inclusive community at this fantastic event.

Need your team to be comfortable in an AWS cloud environment? ACG Hands-on Labs are self paced practice labs that put learners in environments that simulate real-world cloud challenges related to AWS.

Who Am I?

I’m an AWS Community Hero, a long time AWS re:Invent attendee (all of them!) and a big fan of the show.

I teach a few courses here on the A Cloud Guru platform (AWS Business EssentialsIntroduction to the AWS Marketplace, and Mastering the AWS Well-Architected Framework), tweet regularly, and generally nerd out about all things cloud and security.

I write this guide every year to help the community get the most out of the show. Also, if I’m being 💯 honest, it helps me keep track of everything that’s going on so I can get the most out of the show. 😉


Registration for AWS re:Invent 2021 is open now. The cost is $1,799 USD and virtual access is free.

If you were curious, registration officially opened on Tuesday, 15-Jun-2021.


In keeping with the process over the past couple of in-person shows, hotel rooms at discounted will be available as part of the registration flow and after you’re registered.

These rates are always very good and the blocks of rooms are at properties hosting the show. In past years, these room blocks went very, very quickly.

So quickly in fact, that AWS expanded the “campus” to include a number of hotels that weren’t hosting any of the event, just ones where discounts were made available.

This year’s campus is again spread out across a number of venues;

  • Venetian / Palazzo remains the center fo AWS re:Invent. This year it’ll host breakouts, AWS Certification exams, the lounge(s), Content Hub, the Expo, keynotes, leadership sessions, registration, self-paced labs, and SWAG
  • MGM Grand for Bootcamps, breakouts, Content Hub, meals, GameDays, and labs (self-paced and AWS Spotlight)
  • Caesars Forum for breakout content, Content Hub, and meals
  • Encore for 😴 and bookable meeting space
  • Mandalay Bay for breakout content, Content Hub, meals, and the Quad
  • Wynn has breakout content, meals, and will host the Jams

Venues included in campus but not hosting events;

We’ll get more information closer to the event (as always!) but it looks like most of the content is going to take place at the Venetian/Palazzo, MGM Grand, and Caesars Forum.

That’s a bit of a shift from previous years.

The ARIA has dropped its activities in favour of Caesars Forum. That actually makes a lot of sense. Most activities will be taking place near each other (Venetian/Palazzo and Caesars Forum) and the rest up the back road at the MGM Grand.

This should make moving between venues a lot easier during the day and give you more flexibility in where you decide to actually stay.

It looks like you’re going to be heading to one of these three hotels (and maybe all three) every day of the show.

Virtual Attendance

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of this show. This year will be great but it won’t be the same. The world has changed.

If you aren’t comfortable or cannot attend in person, there is a limited virtual component. I’ll be honest, as an international attendee, I’m disappointed in this aspect of the show.

As it currently stands, the keynotes and leadership sessions will be live streamed. Breakout sessions will be available on-demand after the event.

Given the virtual infrastructure in place for AWS re:Invent 2020, I’m assuming that will all take place on that platform (vs. say, YouTube).

This approach isn’t any different than previous in-person years. 😔

How to re:Invent

Season four of the show, “How to re:Invent” has already kicked off!

This year, Annie Hancock returns with a new co-host, Kelley Schultz.

This show brings you tips and tricks about the conference and gives you an inside look as we get closer to the show.

Stay tuned for each episode as they are always chalk full of great info.

Leadership Sessions

AWS has also announced an expanded “leadership sessions” series. These were introduced a couple years back to serve as “mini-keynotes”.

I like the idea as the sessions are typically delivered by a senior AWS leader in that area.

Here are the 2021 leadership sessions;

  • AWS Executive Panel hosted by Francessca Vasquez, Vice President, Technology
  • AWS Public Sector with Max Peterson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector
  • AWS Public Sector Partners by Sandy Carter, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector Partners and Programs
  • AWS Storage with Mai-Lan Tomsen-Bukovec who is the Vice President of Block and Object Storage
  • Rahul Pathak (Vice President, Analytics) is back with the leadership session for Analytics
  • The Cloud Operations session will be delivered by Bill Vass, Vice President, Engineering — Storage, Automation, Streaming & Management
  • David Brown, the Vice President of Amazon EC2, will deliver the session focusing on Compute
  • Containers gets covered by Deepak Singh, Vice President of Compute Services
  • The Developer session is brought to your by Ken Exner, Director of AWS Developer Tools
  • Bill Vass gets the double call this year, delivering the Edge session as well as the already mentioned Cloud Operations one
  • Enterprise/Migration will be covered by Todd Weatherby, Vice President of Professional Services
  • Mayumi Hiramatsu (Vice President, Amazon EC2 Networking) will deliver the session one Networking and Content Delivery
  • Stephen Schmidt (Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer) is back with another leadership session on Security, Compliance and Identity
  • David Richardson, Vice President of Serverless, has us covered for Serverless
  • Maureen Lonergan, Director of AWS Training and Certification, will deliver the final leadership session with a focus on Training & Certification

These sessions all follow the same general format. They review the biggest announcements from the past year for the theme. Then make a few announcements of either new services or features either launching immediately or coming soon.

These announcements are ones that are not quite main keynote level but still deserving more attention than just a blog post or documentation update.

The Quad

The Quad will feature emerging technology experiences this year.

Hosted at the Mandalay Bay, this area will feature;

The DeepRacer league has grown year after year. It’s always a blast to watch or race in. You can get started by reviewing the documentation online or watching some of the great content here on the A Cloud Guru platform.

The Builder’s Fair is basically a big science fair. Groups from schools, companies, and other organizations show off their projects with hands-on demos and interactive discussions. It’s a very cool way to see some different use cases for AWS technologies and their real world applications.

AWS Connected World is new to AWS re:Invent. This space provides an area to highlight IoT, AI/ML, AR/VR, robotics, and more. AWS experts and partners will be on hand to show how they’ve applied these technologies to solve interesting problems.

The Demo Theatre in The Quad is where AWS Partners and experts can showcase short (usually 15m) demos of various services and solutions. The casual nature of the theatre makes it easy to ask questions and learn more about specific solutions.

Midnight Madness

For the past few years, re:Invent has kicked off with this great event. Styled after a US college sports pep rally, the party always hosts the first product launch of the week along with fun activities, food, music…and maybe, just maybe, another world record!


The legendary conference party is back again for its 10th iteration. Every year makes the last seem small. Expect more dodgeball, office chair races, and of course amazing musical performances.

Other Social Activities

With most of AWS re:Invent 2021 taking place physically, there are going to be a host of other social activities. Stay tuned as more details are revealed. Rest assured, there’s always something for every personality type.

AWS does a great job of filling the calendar making sure that you can find something to suit. You definitely won’t be bored during the week!

Please check back regularly for updates! Ping me, if you spot a problem or if something is missing @marknca.


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