AWS Partner Ambassador Meetup #1, Seattle, August 2019

The inaugural global meetup of the top partner engineers from around the world.

Another long overdue post from three weeks ago…

On the heel of the AWS Canberra Public Sector Summit 2019, and after some 24 hours at home with my family, I joined my fellow AWS Partner Ambassador at Modis – Steve Kinsman – and we started to wend our way across three flights to get to Seattle, departing a few minutes after midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning.

That guy behind me better not kick my seat! 😉

Our flight path from Perth, to Sydney, to Los Angeles, and then up to Seattle was 4 + 13.5 + 3 = 20.5 hours, plus 2 layovers, delivering us on to the Seattle Link Light Rail around noon on the same Saturday we left on, but feeling much worse for wear!

James & Steve at Pike Place Markets, Seattle

We were quick to dump bags in hotel rooms, and start walking around the CBD, trying to adjust to the time zone, wandering past the renown Seattle Pike Place Market, home of the 1st Starbucks coffee (one of 66 within spitting distance), and ending with us taking a walking tour of the underground history of Seattle. Fun fact: spite mounds, when Seattle was re-levelled.

James on the moon?

Sunday we first became card carrying locals with our mass/public transit Orca cards, and then managed to get to the Museum of Space Flight, a distance south of the city. This was huge, and very much worth the trip.

Soyez re-entry vehicle

What started with a few artefacts in one building, continued into the other side of the road with a plethora of buildings, and the actual Apollo 11 re-entry vehicle.

Scarred form re-entry, this went to the moon.

Surrounded by moon rocks, and the history of the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo missions it was a great to see the time lines, experiments, and lessons learnt from the race to the moon.The Amazon Spheres,

The Amazon Spheres, or “Jeff’s Balls”, aparently

Later Sunday we wandered back though down-town Seattle, past the Amazon Spheres, past the Amazon 4-Star shop, and then into one of the now-15 Amazon Go stores.

Go Store: Just leave.

I’d previously seen friends (Mike Cuneen) visit the store, but going in and seeing only one or two staff members (generally preventing alcohol in one section from being picked up by minors), picking up a few items, and then just walking out, effectively destroying the long held ceremony of departing a store by chatting with clerks/checkout staff, or negotiating a checkout machine, was different. One felt guilty in not even having to make eye contact to profess one’s honesty that you had paid was weird, but reassuring a few minutes later a receipt pinged my phone, and it was 100% correct with what I had picked up.

A real boo store, at Washington University Mall

Later that afternoon I wandered to grab some bits for my family, and came across a real bricks-and-mortar Amazon Book store.

By now, some of the rest of the25 Partner Ambassadors were arriving, and drinks on Sunday night involved sharing of war stores, successes, warnings, and everything else that the best engineers in the region recount.

Monday was also spare, and the majority of the Australian contingent went on a trip north from Seattle to visit the working Boeing factory, a site employing some 35,000 people, and operating for many decades. Despite being open to the public, cell phones were not permitted on the tour, instead being sealed in lockers before we were taken through the largest single building in the world, churning out the 747, 767, and 787s. A long line of completed planes lined the Boeing runway, painted and shining in the sun. New engines, cowlings, landing gear and other components stood around the facility, waiting to be brought into the assembly line as it slowly marched around each bay of the 4 storey construction building.

Get ready…

Tuesday morning was the start of the event we’d travelled around the world for. Pictures stopped after this, as the NDA presentations, group discussions, friendly debates and other activities took place. As this was under NDA, there nothing here I can add, save for a pic with Jeff Bar.

Half a decade since I’d last chatted with Jeff

Some 55 people had gathered for this Inaugural Partner Ambassador Meetup, from 44 unique partner organisations and 13 countries. Extreme contribution to the public knowledge and understanding was recognised by participants; in the APAC region, Arjen Schwartz topped the pack with 23 public blog posts in the preceding 12 months.

That Tuesday evening, after a long day of deep-diving on technical topics, the Amazon crew had organised a lovely boat ride on Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Seattle from Lake Union

It was lovely to get some time to then move around and talk to more people, and catch up with friends.

Greg Cockburn and James; we’re on a boat

The second day continued again from 8am, and continued through until 5pm, cover a bunch more deep dives, a talk from Adrian Cockcroft (who was remote on Video Conference during he Ambassador event, but 7 days later was in Perth and I met briefly face-to-face), and then, with a quick stop with the Lego Ninja in the foyer, it was back to the airport.


Lego Cloud Ninja

Many thanks to Matt Taylor, Gerardo Estaba, and the AWS team for organising this meetup, and for the flights to get there from the “far side” of Australia for Steve and myself. I’m personally thrilled to still be considered part of this group, the most elite engineers and contributors to the cloud ecosystem in partner organisations in the AN/Z region.

If you’re wondering why there’s not more technical content in the above, well, that’s the Non Disclosure Agreement of participation. But what I can tell you is this group helps shape (amongst other indicators) the service offerings, refinements and priorities of changes that are coming; this group also looks after critical national infrastructure, banking, health, defence, and some of the largest industry heavyweight companies around the world.


James and Steve travelled to Seattle as guests of Amazon Web Services, as representatives of Modis (https://www.modis.com/).

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