The Business of IT Blog

Complete Guide to AWS re:Invent

Laura Shiff
7 minute read
Laura Shiff

Each year, Amazon Web Services re:Invent takes the conference scene by storm and this year will be no different. Spanning seven different buildings in the fabulous Las Vegas, with attendance expected to top 40,000 people, it is definitely an event that will exceed all of your expectations. However, something of this size can quickly become overwhelming.

We have put together the complete guide to AWS re:Invent 2018 with all of the important information you will need to know, including conference topics, how to get around, general logistics, where to stay, and info on all of the fun extras that make re:Invent stand out from most of the other tech conferences of 2018.

Keep checking back as this guide will be updated as the event gets closer!

The Guide

In order to help you find what you are looking for, we have separated the information in the guide into three distinct categories:

  • General information
  • Learn
  • Play

Each of these categories are broken down further, providing everything you will need in order to plan your trip.


AWS re:Invent 2018 is the Amazon Web Services annual user conference. Covering a wide variety of AWS products and services, the event focuses on cloud strategies, operations, security and developer productivity, and IT architecture and infrastructure.

While the details of what is being held where are still to be announced, it is known that the conference campus has expanded to seven different properties:

  • Aria
  • Bellagio
  • Encore
  • MGM Grand
  • Mirage
  • Vdara
  • The Venetian


Registration for this year’s event opened on May 15th and tickets are still currently available. You must be 21 years old to register and you have to be fully paid and registered for the conference before you can book a specific conference hotel (which is highly advised). These hotel rooms are in ideal locations and come at a special rate so hurry and grab one before they are gone.

Along with the seven campus properties, the reserved hotel rooms also include blocks at:

  • Park MGM
  • MGM Signature
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Linq
  • Harrah’s
  • Treasure Island
  • Wynn

Shuttles are provided from hotels to conference sites as well as transportation services around the re:Invent campus.

Along with registration for the conference, this is also the time to sign up for any of the additional activities (described further in the Play section) you may want to take part in, including boot camps, fitness events, and hackathons. They have limited availability and sell out quickly so claim your spot as soon as you can.

Special Accommodations

In order to fit the unique needs of a diverse audience, AWS has planned special services in order to make all guests as comfortable as possible. Seats are reserved in keynotes and sessions to accommodate ADA requirements along with ADA transportation at shuttle stops. In order to arrange these services, you must reach out to prior to the event.

Translations services are offered for all of the keynotes in the languages of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Translation services will not be provided for other sessions or activities.

As for dietary restrictions, the menus do cater to common food allergies and aversions that impact a great portion of the population. If you have a more restricted diet, such as halal or kosher, it is recommended that you consider dining in one of the local establishments for a higher amount of variety.

Safety Precautions

In order to prevent unauthorized badge use, all guest photos will be printed on re:Invent badges. Also, the event features a substantial security team that partners with local, state, and federal agencies on the ground ‎in Las Vegas.


re:Invent 2018 is expected to bring deeper technical content, an abundance of hands-on learning opportunities, and more access to AWS experts than ever. The possibilities for learning, both in a group and individual setting, have returned, including two-hour workshops, the hackathon program, chalk talks, and builder sessions, to name a few.

2018 re:Invent Session Topics

As with previous years, you will find that the conference covers a wide variety of topics with sessions such as databases, analytics, big data, security, compliance, enterprise, machine learning, and compute. All of these topics can be cross-searched in the general session catalog so you will be able to pinpoint the sessions that are most relevant and intriguing to you.

Session Content Levels

All sessions have three different levels, so you can choose what proficiency will be the most beneficial to you in each topic:

  1. Introductory (200)- Sessions at this level provide an overview of AWS features and services while assuming that all attendees are new to the topics. They typically highlight basic use cases, functions, benefits, challenges, and features.
  2. Advanced (300)- These sessions will dive deeper into each topic while assuming attendees are familiar with basic concepts but may not have direct experience with it.
  3. Expert (400)- Sessions at the expert level are only for attendees who are deeply familiar with the topic, are comfortable with how the technology works across multiple services, architectures, and implementations, and have implemented a solution on their own already. Presenters will dive into code, explore future developments in the technology, and cover advanced tricks.

Extra Session Options

Due to general demand and the large number of attendees, all of the most popular sessions in every venue across campus will be repeated, giving you the opportunity to attend all of those that are especially important to you. All of the most popular sessions will also be shown in overflow rooms both in the venue where they take place as well as in other venues across the campus, giving you more flexibility to plan your day. Late night sessions, chalk talks, and workshops will be offered at late night sessions for your convenience, as well.


Bootcamps are unique opportunities to dive deep into existing skills and learn different ways of working with AWS. re:Invent 2018 offers Technical Bootcamps, Partner Bootcamps, and AWS Certification Exam Readiness Bootcamps on Monday and Tuesday during the week of the conference. All attendees must bring their own laptop to the bootcamps.

Technical Bootcamps are for students that are responsible for the design, development, and implementation of cloud-based solutions on AWS. Experienced AWS instructors and solutions architects lead the sessions and share their extensive technical skills and real-world experiences.

AWS Certification Exam Readiness Bootcamps are open to all customers and partners preparing for an AWS Certification exam. These specific bootcamps go over the general structure of an exam and help you interpret and evaluate the concepts being tested.


Another opportunity for learning comes in the highly gamified events known as hackathons and Jam Sessions. Both of these events require participants to complete challenging tasks that educate on the use of a wide range of AWS services. These challenges are fun, engaging, and action-packed, providing chances to score points as a team while finding the best solution or answer.

Hands-on lab

AWS labs allow you to practice with AWS in a live sandbox environment on a first-come, first-served basis. Each lab allows you to work at your own pace, with topic levels ranging from introductory to expert.

Chalk talks

Chalk talks feature highly interactive content in a smaller group setting. Each talk begins with a short lecture delivered by an AWS expert, followed by 45-50 minutes of Q&A with the audience. The goal of these presentations is to foster rich, technical discussions while solving challenges to real-world problems. There are hundreds of different chalk talks at re:Invent 2018, so be sure to browse the topics to see which are most interesting and relevant to you.


The workshop sessions are team-based and extremely hands-on. At two hours in length, each workshop begins with a short lecture by the main speaker, then the rest of the time is spent working as a group on a scenario that encourages interaction and collaboration.

Builders sessions

Due to popular demand, builder sessions are once again back at re:Invent this year. These specialized sessions are an hour in length and also provided in a small group setting (5:1 ratio of customers to AWS experts). Each session starts with a short explanation of what you are going to build and then you will be left to experiment with your laptop and build with the AWS expert.


While re:Invent is known for its quality content and beneficial AWS sessions, it’s definitely not all work- there are tons of fun activities throughout the week that continue to make the conference stand out and prove to be an excellent time for all.

Midnight Madness

To start off the week, AWS is hosting a pep rally that provides an exciting sneak peek into the week ahead, complete with drinks, snacks, and plenty of AWS swag. AWS executives will provide a behind-the-scenes takes on AWS along with a band and dancing through the night. Midnight Madness is open only to the first 6,000 attendees.

Tatonka Challenge

As part of Midnight Madness, Amazon continues one of its quirkiest traditions- the fifth annual Tatonka Challenge. The challenge attempts to break the Guinness World Record of the largest chicken wing eating competition, so register if you want to take it on and be part of history.

4K and 8K Run


Re:Invent is once again bringing back the 4K and they are adding an additional 8K distance for those looking for an extra challenge. All proceeds from the 4K and 8K Charity Fun Run go towards supporting Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization which aims to increase the number of women in computer science. Both events are limited and you must register beforehand. Event cost is $45 for the 4K and $55 for the 8K Run.

Pub Crawl

One of the after hours networking opportunities is the Pub Crawl. This event takes place inside The Venetian, Mirage, ARIA, and Top Golf, where you will experience some of the top bars and restaurants in Las Vegas. Each hosted bar and appetizers are free of charge, so don’t miss your chance to mix and mingle.


Last, but definitely not least, is the re:Play party, which is an EDM concert and interactive extravaganza all wrapped into one. Each year, AWS books an epic musical guest with access included with your full AWS re:Invent pass. There is a chance to purchase an additional guest pass during registration for $300.

Every year, AWS re:Invent becomes bigger and better. Whether you are interested for the networking, the deep technical content, the small group talks, hackathons, builds, or all of the fun, you can rest assured that you will get what you are looking for. Keep checking back as this complete guide to AWS re:Invent continues to be updated and make sure to register so you don’t miss out on this ultimate event!

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Laura Shiff

Laura Shiff

Laura Shiff is a researcher and technical writer based in the Twin Cities. She specializes in software, technology, and medicine. You can reach Laura at or her website