Monday, June 29, 2015

Amazon AWS Summit in Tel Aviv in Review

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I attended the Amazon AWS Summit event in Tel Aviv the other day and it was a very impressive roadshow event.

How many roadshow events gather over 2,000 people to them in your country?

This being a startup capital not surprising to see so many people in attendance.

Embedded image permalinkThere was a 2 hour keynote given by Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO and the local Israel Territory Manager Harel Ifhar. Werner has been here a few times, this is not your typical CTO, hard not to like a guy that wears a suit with a Ramones T-Shirt and says they need to hire more techies over the next year and a half. And then changed his shirt to a Rage Against the Machine one later on.

My favorite lines from Werner, "Friends don't let friends build data centers", "Hybrid IT is part of the Journey, NOT the Destination" and "Fighting Cloud is like fighting Gravity".

The overall message was sales and growth(102% and 93% growth of EC2 YoY and there are over 1 million active users), features (516 new major features and services added to AWS in 2014) and 2 or 3 new bits added to the AWS stable. AWS Elastic File System was one of the main new offerings and another was machine language is picking up interest and AWS has offerings in that space now too. We also heard from 4 companies using AWS. Glide, Yes, Comverse and the gaming company Gamefly.

Gamefly, during his testimonial, had a live game playing on screen, sounds and all to prove how well AWS handles streaming and live gaming. I felt it took away from his speaking as everyone was mesmerized, but hard to deny the proof was in front of us that the AWS cloud provides some great efficiencies.

Also saw a few friends there unexpectedly, and an AWS Architect I know that was speaking later in the day who I happen to see a year and half ago when I was visiting and spent a day at eBay hearing about their Hadoop architecture.

It is odd to go to event as an attendee and think, "so that is what it is like when I am working and doing my sessions". Nice to see it from the other side for a change. Are we all usually so rushed? I apologize to anyone I may have passed and not caught up with again, but you usually find me after hours and I always have time after my session.

In the exhibition hall were about a dozen or so AWS partners plus an Amazon station where you could get technical help, learn about the user groups, ask about the 100+ jobs on offer and also get certification. A mix of document management, log/monitoring and education/support companies were on hand to help everyone get more from their part of the AWS cloud.

A REALLY nice thing Amazon did was they had one color, bright orange, for their technical teams that were there to help everyone. Made it very easy to find them. Business AWS people wore a more common black, but at least you knew the sales people when you saw them.

What you all want to know about was the swag, and aside from some devops t-shirts, there were many stickers. Laptop tattoos as you might call them. Some favorites were the No SQL one, the beer mug and the AWS Israel one. And won me over by having keychains with bottle openers. I'm easy to please.
A stress ball and a beach paddle game were also given out. But I was not there to use anyone's services so I was happy with my laptop stickers.
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Amazing food awaited everyone for breakfast and lunch, candy, snacks, drinks, popsicles and beer. I did not wait in line for the beer, VERY long line, as you can imagine. I realized afterwards, having been to so many conferences over the last 2 decades, I almost never have been able to eat the food and realize just how well everyone else has been eating. Nice to get fresh kosher food at a conference, another benefit of living here in Israel.

Unfortunately I did not get to stay all day for the tech tracks int he afternoon due to previous work requirements. If you get the chance to catch the AWS Summit in your city you should go and experience it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Startups Against Blogging

Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. The better ones, pack their blogs early for that flight into the stratosphere.

Hubspot as an example, plans for a methodical path and even break out their blogging into 4 or more parts!

Groupon started out as a blog and became the app/platform that is now common.

Blogs can be powerful, but they can also be an albatross.

The power lies in the long  term view of indexed information about your company or business. The more you put into the SEO and links and unique search terms for your business, the easier you will be found. And your blogs live forever, or at leas as long as you keep them online.

The albatross which people don't think about upfront is the "I need to write a blog post now/today" nagging in their head. So many more important things to do, it will wait. NO, it won't!

But one day rolls into two and then three. Before you know it, a week has passed, and then another, and your blog is like a ghost town. Where will your magical viral audience come from...if no one ever hears about you?

In no specific order these are the usual reasons startups do not blog:

  • No time busy writing it or manufacturing it or building it
  • No resources (hint: early on it should be from the founder because no one else has their vision or passion for the project) available to write it
  • Language barrier for non-English speakers
  • What platform should we use (analysis by paralysis)
  • No money to hire marketer
  • Poor English grammar
  • No idea what to write
  • We will, later on (after what?)
  • That is the CEOs or marketing role
  • Our product speaks for itself (I hear this one a lot)
  • We pay for ads

There a tons of reasons not to do it, few of which have any merit.

Why should you be blogging and telling your  story, in your words?

Some basic reasons:

  • The difference between manual actions and automated ones is not obvious to people.
  • You love your app, but no one uses the best part (in your eyes).
  • You built the app for teachers, yet corporate HR is using it more than teachers.
  • If people like what you are doing, they will read your posts (blog, newsletter, email, tweet) and give you feedback.
  • Get on people's follow/email/RSS/ lists
  • Content is king
  • It lives online forever

You want PR, you need customers, you want people to find you and love you....but you never write, you never care, you just sit there and wait for them to come to you. Never going to happen.

Stop Tweeting, and Facebooking, and just get writing.