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I analyzed 327 booths at re:Invent - here are the DevOps trends for 2023

Updated: Jan 3, 2023


AWS re:Invent is one of the premier events for cloud technology, and this year's conference featured over 190 booths showcasing the latest and greatest in cloud innovation.


In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the standout technologies and trends that were on display at re:Invent, and explore how they are set to shape the future of the cloud.


With this article I hope to democratize access to the cutting edge of our industry, more specifically:

  • I hope technical folks who could not attend get to see what happens in the wider ecosystem, not just the live-streamed AWS talks

  • I hope marketing folks can learn from this year’s booths and create an even more engaging experience next year


Method

I took photos of every booth. If it was a 3D booth, I took multiple photos to cover all sides.


I extracted the words from them, but only looked at the most prominent words, mostly measured by their size. Printed words were prioritized over digital ones as printed words have a higher commitment.


Because not every word was counted, especially at large booths that sometimes featured elaborate explanations, the average of 19.7 words per booth says almost nothing.


For a deeper understanding I suggest you better look at the images and see for yourself. I have published the images of the booths (see end of this post).


Trends

Notable things:

  • There is nothing surprising about the ‘cloud’ and ‘data’ focus, as well as the strong connection to ‘Amazon’ and ‘AWS’.

  • The prevalence of words like ‘modernize’ suggests that vendors were targeting not just the Netflixs and Stripes of this world but also legacy organizations.

  • ‘Faster’ was mentioned twice as often as ‘cost’, either pointing towards a focus on speed - or a slow adaptation to the current economic situation.

  • ‘Business’ being the #9 shows that re:Invent is not just about cool tech.

  • No mentions of ‘day’, ‘hour’, ‘minute’ or ‘second’, which was a common sight at KubeCon 2022 is surprising. Maybe the wider audience at re:Invent leads to less specific messaging (and more buzzwords).

  • ‘Kubernetes’ was only named 6 times.

  • ‘Attack’, ‘ransomware’ and similar negative security-related words suggest companies have understood to move from just pitching the solution, to also naming the problem.

Here is another way to look at the data, by # of booths mentioning the word once or more. A total of 327 booths were present.


Buzzword ratio

Booths need to convey messages fast. But there is a risk in using generic buzzwords: nobody knows what a company is actually doing. Some popular buzzwords in the industry include "innovative", "secure," and "first". So yeah, we created a buzzword ratio. Take it with a grain of salt 😉.


There are two main categories of buzzwords:

  • Useless adjectives (trusted, faster, modern, anywhere, cloud-native) which are used to describe without evidence.

  • Generic nouns (automation, community, innovation, performance) which are meant to sound cool and modern by obfuscating a more boring truth.

Company

Buzzword ratio

Booth text

78%

cloud data management; modernized protection; accelerated recovery; optimized costs

70%

balance enterprise modernization with tech rationalization; optimization intelligence automation innovation;

67%

world's first devcrm

67%

identity-native; infrastructure acess; faster. more secure.

67%

unified observability to transform what's next

57%

docker business enables enterprise-scale management and security for businesses.

57%

design, deploy, and manage your cloud solutions

50%

ai for app modernization

45%

accelerate business; transformation with intelligent automation from ss&c blue prism

44%

software modernization assured; modernize the code keep the brilliance

...

...

...

8%

intelligence cloud orchestration; save up to 80% on your amazon ec2 costs

8%

real-time analytics database built for the cloud; sub-second queries at 50% less compute

8%

evolving threats call for evolved thinking; prevent; harden security inside and out; detect; see attacks instantly; respond; disarm within seconds; heal; restore back to health

7%

service level up; service level objectives; 50+ integrations; actionable alerts; get started in minutes

6%

break free from hours of manual data hunting; data catalog & discovery; data governance; auto-documentation; column-level lineage

0%

are your cloud resources properly tagged?; 86% of cloud companies have poor tag hygiene

0%

auth. built for devs, by devs.

0%

loki for logs; grafana for dashboards; tempo for traces; mimir for metrics

0%

finding security bugs before your security team...done; application security training for developers

0%

RTFM; Same $#!t requests different day; Please provision ...; I need access to ...; How much did we spent on ...; My service is not working ...; Why did my pipeline fail?; Not seeing my code ...; Where can I find my logs?; How do we do xyz?

Notes: ";" stands for new line


Take a look at the actual images, some of the texts above don't make much sense without the graphics.


There were a lot more bad and great examples of buzzword usage, I just focussed on the outstanding ones. It is interesting though, that a few booths were saved from 100% buzzword ratio by filler words ('the', 'and') and their own company names being sprinkled in-between.


What's even more interesting than buzzword usage is correlating this with funding rounds:

The Uptime buzzword ratio used above has a correlation of 0.33 with funding size. If you take out the one big exception of Grafana Labs, the correlation is 0.57. Do with this what you will.


Best booth design

Some companies just had more creative ideas than others. If you are featured, good. If you aren’t: time to learn. If I missed you, send me a pic of your booth to jan@uptime.build


Company

Image

1) Crowdstrike


Yes, it's like 5m / 16 feet tall



2) LaunchDarkly



The light at the end of the (very instagrammable) tunnel



3) Databricks



Well, yeah - lakehouse 😜



4) Datadog



Stonehenge-like design



5) Stripe


Going minimal




Best giveaways

There were lots of giveaways. Some had raffles, others just had queues. We picked the most interesting ones to serve as inspiration for next year. Customizing something on the spot is the winning theme. And ideally you connect that process with your product (SquaredUp's LEGO Jedi configurator used their product) and leave enough time in the ordering process to pitch yourself.

Company

Image

1) SquaredUp



Custom-built LEGO Jedis



2) Clumio



Custom printed tshirts



3) Arpio



Best raffle design (there were tons of raffles, this is just the best example)




Best interactive element

I especially liked interactive content that was multiplayer (like PluralSight) and or incorporated the company's product or mission. There were tons of other booths with arcade games - but if they just slapped a logo onto a generic game which won't drive interest or relevant engagement.

Company

Image

1) PluralSight



Multiplayer interactive game on a gigantic screen



2) Cohesity



Catch the gold, refuse the ransom.


Multiple companies had this game where you had to stand inside and catch pieces of paper - but none was as on-brand as Cohesity's



3) Onica



Have an AI measure your lightsaber skills



4) Snowflake



Skiing simulator



5) Veeam (again)



Custom-made Veeam arcade game


The booth also featured other games, but this one stood out.



6) Splunk


Racing game



6) Wiz



More arcades - the entire booth featured this design style



Most creative re:Invent promotion

Just the things that did not fit the categories above. Enjoy!

Company

Image

1) BigID and Cequence Security



Showing current world cup soccer match -> yes, reacting to current events can pay off



2) Veeam



A magician offering a mind game and the chance to win 2,000$ - but understood psychology well enough to not lose the game. Also pitched the company between rounds.





4) Kubiya



Entertaining stickers in the bathrooms - capturing everyone at a moment when nobody else does




Next steps

Did you find this interesting? Send it to someone who'd like it, too! Also, I'm always looking for feedback -> jan@uptime.build


Want to see the raw images?

You can now take a look at the raw images here. This is what the raw material database looks like:


If I caught you accidentally in one of the photos and you wish to be removed, just email me at jan@uptime.build. You can also write to me if you want to use this material for your own analysis or other reasons.

To see the re:Invent 2022 vendor exhibit floor plan, check it out here.


We've also analyzed all the booths at KubeCon 2022

If you found this interesting, leave your email below and you’ll get the article “I analyzed 290+ booths at KubeCon - here are the DevOps trends for 2023” in your inbox right away.

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