Episode 20: The Wizard of AWS

July 25, 2018

Today, we’re talking to Jeff Barr, vice president and chief evangelist at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He founded the AWS Blog in 2004 and has written more than 2,900 posts for it and another 1,100 for his personal blog. As chief evangelist, Jeff strives to explain the benefits of Cloud computing and Web services to anyone who will listen.

Jeff is the voice of AWS. He does what he does best - exploits his superpower of explaining technology in ways that people can understand it. Jeff tries to be the same person all the time. He loves to meet people and go out of his way to say “Hello.” So, if you see him at re:Invent, say “Cheese” and take a selfie with him!

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • Jeff uses AWS Workspaces for his blog; one of Jeff’s blogging principles is to not take anybody else's word for anything to the absolute best of his technical ability
  • Zero Client: Jeff has no rotating hardware, disk drives, just a zero client; wherever he is, it's the same workspace
  • AWS has something for everyone; it build things in response to customers’ questions, requests, and feedback
  • Naming Services and Products: Is it helpful? Is it descriptive? Does it have any hidden meanings?
  • Amazonian DNA and Dog Friendly Workspace: Jeff went from super fearful to accepting, to now thinking of dogs as incredible creations because they add fun and excitement to the office
  • As part of hiring, each interviewer is assigned Amazon leadership principles (LPs) to ask questions that measure a candidate against those LPs
  • What is the secret to getting hired at Amazon? Study the LPs to understand what they're about and be able to express your philosophies and history with LPs
  • re:Invent makes sure customers understand services - What is it? What does it do? How do they put it to work? What are the best use cases for it?
  • Things can never be too simple; you start from zero, put a lot of different things in there, and then you need the feedback to build in simplicity
  • AWS is following a more on-demand approach than traditional reserve instances; it opens the door to being used in a lot of ways
  • AWS does a lot of work before a launch to make sure it’s got infrastructure, scaling, monitoring, and capacity in place
  • If you are a customer, talk to AWS and let them know what they're doing right or wrong; write a blog post, tweet about it, share it with them in some way
  • Is the breadth of product offerings from AWS too vast? Is it offering too many things? 
  • AWS was not explicit about where it was going with Cloud computing or do analyses or projections about it; it simply launched SQS and let it speak for itself
  • Customer feedback shapes what Amazon works on; customers share and then AWS re-prioritizes to make sure it’s delivering the right thing at the right time
  • Remember: It's not just bits and bytes, it's about the organic life form

Links:

Jeff Barr on Twitter

Jeff Barr on LinkedIn

AWS

AWS Blog

Jeff Barr’s Blog

Amazon Machine Images

Zero Client

AWS Workspaces

AWS Lambda

Amazon Leadership principles

re:Invent

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Serverlessly Storing My Dad Jokes in a Dadabase

Days Until re:Invent

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