The Blog

Last Year in AWS

Calendar Icon 12.29.2021
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It’s time for me to summarize what happened over the course of this very strange year. Welcome to my attempt at “Last Year in AWS” focusing on things that I found interesting — or at least, worthy of comment.

We kicked off 2021 with a bang with an attempted coup at the US Capitol which was promptly met by AWS (and every other reputable company) booting Parler off of their platforms and out into the snow. I talked about this in Parler’s New Serverless Architecture which I really should have taken as a harbinger of how the rest of the year was going to go. Sadly, I’m not that smart.

I went on to kick the metaphorical dragon in a lengthy post that attempted to explain AWS compensation. I learned a lot from the responses to this; AWS absolutely does make exceptions for people (many of who are unaware that they’re an exception!), but far and away my favorite emails said things like “this article pissed me off so I went out and interviewed elsewhere. It turns out you were right and I just got a 50% raise in my new job.”

Then came February. Nearly as momentous, Jeff Bezos declared that he was tired of selling cloud computing and wanted to instead focus on making himself iteratively more unlikeable. This coincided with Andy Jassy’s long time dream of selling more underpants and fewer computers, so Andy Jassy became the new CEO of Amazon later in the year. At the time there was no announcement as to who the new CEO of AWS would be. My money was on Matt Garman, but as we now know, I was wrong because I’m bad at predicting the future.

I spent the rest of February and most of March being absolutely insufferable because I was profiled in the New York Times. I can’t even think of a good snarky way to describe that, just because almost a year later I’m still flabbergasted that this really happened.

Amazon finally had to step in and bring me back to reality at the end of March by loading some random VP up with entirely too much booze and turning them loose on Twitter to shitpost at sitting US senators about easily disprovable things. Suddenly it was no longer a mystery to me why Amazon PR generally takes a vow of silence as a part of their new hire paperwork; it doesn’t go so well when they don’t.

Around this time former AWS exec Adam Selipsky was tired of his gig as Tableau’s CEO (he presumably got tired of selling something with a good user interface) so he came back to run AWS as the new CEO. I took it upon myself to be his onboarding buddy and explain what had happened in his absence interim. Fun fact, he left AWS only a few months before I wrote the first issue of Last Week in AWS.

I pointed out on Twitter at one point that there were 17 ways to run containers on AWS which I turned into a blog post detailing each of them. Later I wrote a second blog post about 17 more ways to run containers on AWS, which led to the absolute best email I’ve ever gotten from an Amazonian pointing out that one of the ways I pointed out was technically a subset of another way, meaning that there were only really 33 ways to run containers on AWS instead of the full 34. I STAND CORRECTED!

In July Andy Jassy became the new CEO of all of Amazon, and announced two new Amazonian Leadership Principles. “Success and scale bring broad responsibility” was the first, while the second was “Strive to be Earth’s best employer.” That second one is an easy answer in any Amazon job interview. “Tell me about an example of a time you X.” “First, can you tell me about a time you were Earth’s best employer?”

AWS Infinidash was launched on Twitter as a running joke about a fake AWS service that doesn’t really exist. It was a great joke that taught us a lot, but when a journalist reached out for help understanding it, it was time to pack it in before someone got too confused.

Forrest Brazeal went from “voice of the AWS community” to “head of content at Google Cloud” because someone at AWS slept on the “Hire and Develop the Best” leadership principle, and we’re all the poorer for it over on the AWS side of the world. I MISS YOU, FORREST.

AWS re:Invent was in person again, and attending it was certainly an experience. My seminal re:Quinnvent virtual event was a hit. A particular bright light of the entire event was when I got to sit for half an hour with Rachel Thornton (AWS’s actual CMO) and talk to her about how she saw her role. It was incredibly thought provoking and if I’m being sincere for a change, one of the highlights of my year.

No sooner had that enormous conference wound down when I aired a combination birthday gift / attack ad for my dear friend Matty Stratton whose revenge will no doubt be absolutely legendary. I suspect that’s going to be a 2022 thing.

And then us-east-1 exploded, taking with it an awful lot of trust that had unfairly accrued to AWS’s architectural decisions, and that was just a hop skip and a log4j crisis away from the present day.

Bring it on, 2022. I’m going to be louder next year.

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