Fear and Loathing on the re:Invent Show Floor of ‘21 with Aaron Booth

Episode Summary

When Corey went to the 2021 re:Invent, Corey made a surprising discovery. One of those was Aaron Booth, Cloud Product Consultant at Embue LTD. Aaron was making his first trip to the US just for re:Invent, and somehow managed to survive it and Vegas. Despite the miasmic nature of it all, Aaron walked away with some stories under his belt. Aaron talks about his prep work for re:Invent, which included watching “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” But, more importantly, Aaron discusses what he is most excited about following his trip and all the announcements. Aaron also offers some takes on sustainability and the cloud, and provides some hopeful perspectives on a topic that is so steeped in cynicism.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

About Aaron
I am a Cloud Focused Product Management and Technical Product Ownership Consultant. I have worked on several Cloud Products & Services including resale, management & governance, cost optimisation, platform management, SaaS, PaaS. I am also recognised as a AWS Community Builder due to my work building cloud communities cross-government in the UK over the last 3 years. 

I have extensive commercial experience dealing with Cloud Service Providers including AWS, Azure, GCP & UKCloud. I was the Single Point of Contact for Cloud at the UK Home Office and was the business representative for the Home Office's £120m contract with AWS. I have been involved in contract negotiation, supplier relationship management & financial planning such as business cases & cost management.

I run a IT Consultancy called Embue, specialising in Agile, Cloud & DevOps consulting, coaching and training. 


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Transcript
Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Chief Cloud Economist at The Duckbill Group, Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.


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Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by our friends at Rising Cloud, which I hadn’t heard of before, but they’re doing something vaguely interesting here. They are using AI, which is usually where my eyes glaze over and I lose attention, but they’re using it to help developers be more efficient by reducing repetitive tasks. So, the idea being that you can run stateless things without having to worry about scaling, placement, et cetera, and the rest. They claim significant cost savings, and they’re able to wind up taking what you’re running as it is in AWS with no changes, and run it inside of their data centers that span multiple regions. I’m somewhat skeptical, but their customers seem to really like them, so that’s one of those areas where I really have a hard time being too snarky about it because when you solve a customer’s problem and they get out there in public and say, “We’re solving a problem,” it’s very hard to snark about that. Multus Medical, Construx.ai and Stax have seen significant results by using them. And it’s worth exploring. So, if you’re looking for a smarter, faster, cheaper alternative to EC2, Lambda, or batch, consider checking them out. Visit risingcloud.com/benefits. That’s risingcloud.com/benefits, and be sure to tell them that I said you because watching people wince when you mention my name is one of the guilty pleasures of listening to this podcast.


Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I’m Corey Quinn. So, when I went to re:Invent last year, I discovered a whole bunch of things I honestly was a little surprised to discover. One of those things is my guest today, Aaron Booth, who’s a cloud consultant with an emphasis on sustainability. Now, you see a number of consultants at things like re:Invent, but what made Aaron interesting was that this was apparently his first time visiting the United States, and he started with not just Las Vegas, but Las Vegas to attend re:Invent. Aaron, thank you for joining me, and honestly, I’m a little surprised you survived.


Aaron: Yeah, I think one of the things about going to Las Vegas or Nevada is no one really prepared me for how dry it was. I ended up walking out of re:Invent with my fingers, like, bleeding, and everything else. And there was so much about America that I didn’t expect, but that was one thing I wish somebody had warned me about. But yeah, it was my first time in the US, first time at re:Invent, and I really enjoyed it. It was probably the best investment in myself and my business that I think I’ve done so far.


Corey: It’s always strange to look at a place that you live and realize, oh, yeah, this is far away for someone else. What would their experience be of coming and learning about the culture we have here? And then you go to Las Vegas, and it’s easy to forget there are people who live there. And even the people who live there do not live on the strip, in the casinos, at loud, obnoxious cloud conferences. So, it feels like it’s one of those ideas of oh, I’m going to go to a movie for the first time and then watching something surreal, like Memento or whatnot, that leaves everyone very confused. Like, “Is this what movies are like?” “Well, this one, but no others are quite like that.” And I feel that way about Las Vegas and re:Invent, simultaneously.


Aaron: I mean, talking about movies, before it came to the US and before I came to Vegas, I was like, “Oh, how can I prepare myself for this trip?” I ended up watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And I don’t know if you ever seen it, with Johnny Depp, but it’s probably not the best representation, or the most modern representation what Vegas would be like. And I think halfway through the conference, went down to Fremont Street in the old downtown. And they have this massive, kind of, free block screen in the sky that is lit up and doing all these animations. And you’re just thinking, “What world am I on?” And it kind of is interesting as well, from a point of view of, we’re at this tech conference; it’s in Vegas; what is the reason for that? And there’s obviously lots of different things. We want people to have fun, but you know, it is an interesting place to put 30,000 people, especially during a pandemic.


Corey: It really is. I imagine it’s going to have to stay there because in a couple more years, you’re going to need a three block long screen just to list all of the various services that AWS offers because they don’t believe in turning anything off. Now, it would be remiss for me not to ask you, what was announced at re:Invent that got you the most, let’s call it excited, I guess? What got you enthusiastic? What are you happy to start working with more?


Aaron: I think from my perspective, there’s a few different announcements. The first one that comes to mind is the stuff of AWS Amplify Studio, and that’s taken this, kind of, no-code Figma designs and turn into a working front end. And it’s really interesting for me to think about, okay, what is the point of cloud? Why are we moving forward in the world, especially in technology? And, you know, abstracting a lot of stuff we worry about today to simple drag-and-drop tools is probably going to be the next big thing for most of the world.


You know, we’ve come from a privileged position in the West where we follow technology along the whole of the journey, where now we have an opportunity to open this out to many more regions, and many more AWS customers, for example. But for me, as a small business owner—I’ve run multiple businesses—there’s a lot of effort you put into, okay, I need to set up a business, and a website, and newsletter, or whatever else. But the more you can just turn that into, “I’ve got an idea, and I can give it to people with one click,” you’ll enable a lot more business and a lot more future customers as well.


Corey: I was very excited about that one, too, just from a perspective of I want to drag and drop something together to make a fairly crappy web app, that sounds like the thing that I could use to do that. No, that feels a lot more like what Honeycode is trying to be, as opposed to the Amplify side of the world, which is still very focused on React. Which, okay, that makes sense. There’s a lot of front end developers out there, and if you’re trying to get into tech today and are asking what language should I learn, I would be very hard-pressed to advise you pick anything that isn’t JavaScript because it is front end, it is back end, it runs slash eats the world. And I’ve just never understood it. It does not work the way that I think about computers because I’m old and grumpy. I have high hopes of where it might go, but so far I’m looking at it’s [sigh] it’s not what I want it to be, yet. And maybe that’s just because I’m weird.


Aaron: Well, I mean, you know, you mentioned part of the problem really is two different competing AWS services themselves, which with a business like AWS and their product strategy being the word, “Yes,” you know, you’re never really going to get a lot of focus or forward direction with certain products. And hopefully, there’ll be the next, no-code tool announced in re:Invent in a few years’ time, which is exactly what we’re looking for, and gives startup founders or small businesses drag-and-drop tools. But for now, there’s going to be a lot of competing services.


Corey: There’s so much out there that it’s almost impossible to wind up contextualizing re:Invent as a single event. It feels like it’s too easy to step back and say, “Oh, okay. I’m here to build websites”—is what we’re talking about now in the context of Amplify—and then they start talking about mainframes. And then they start talking about RoboRunner to control 10,000 robots at once. And I’m looking around going, “I don’t have problems that feel a lot like that. What’s the deal?”


Aaron: I think even just, like you said in perspective of re:Invent is like, when you go to an event like this, that you can’t experience everything and you probably have a very specific focus of, you know, what am I here to do. And I was really surprised—again, my first time at a big tech conference, as well as Vegas and the US is, how important it was just to meet people and how valuable that was. First time I met you, and you know, going from somebody who’s probably very likely interacted with you on Twitter before the event to being on this podcast and having a great conversation now is kind of crazy to think that the value you can get out of it. I mean, in terms of over services, and areas of re:Invent that I found interesting was the announcement of the new sustainability pillar, as part of the well-architected framework. You know, I’ve tried to use that before in previous workplaces, and it has been useful. You know, I’m hoping it is more useful in the future, and the cynical part of me worries about whether the whole point of putting this as part of a well-architected framework review where the customer is supposed to do it is Amazon passing the buck for sustainability. But it’s an interesting way forward for what we care about.


Corey: An interesting quirk of re:Invent—to me—has always been that despite there being tens of thousands of people there are always a few folks that you wind up running into again and again and again throughout the week. One year for me it was Ben Kehoe; this trip it was you where we kept finding ourselves at the same events, we kept finding ourselves at the same restaurants, and we had three or four meals together as a result, and it was a blast talking to you. And I was definitely noticing that sustainability was a topic that you kept going back to a bunch of different ways. I mean previously, before starting your current consulting company, you did a lot of work in the government—specifically the UK Government, for those who are having trouble connecting the fact this is the first time in America to the other thing. Like, “Wow, you can be far away and work for the government?” It’s like, we have more than one on this planet, as it turns out.


Yes, it was a fun series of conversations, and I am honestly a little less cynical about the idea of the sustainability pillar, in no small part due to the conversations that we had together. I initially had the cynical perspective of here’s how to make your cloud infrastructure more sustainable. It’s, isn’t that really a “you” problem? You’re the cloud provider. I can’t control how you get energy on the markets, how you wind up handling heat issues, how you address water issues from your data center outflows, et cetera. It seems to me that the only thing I can really do is use the services you give me, and then it becomes a “you” problem. You have a more nuanced take on it.


Aaron: I think there’s a log of different things to think about when it comes to sustainability. One of the main ones is, from my perspective, you know, I worked at the UK Home Office in the UK, and we’d been using cloud for about six or seven years. And just looking at how we use clouds as an enterprise organization, one of the things I really started to see was these different generations of cloud and you’ve got aspects of legacy infrastructure, almost, that we lifted-and-shifted in the early days, versus maybe stuff would run on serverless now. And you know, that’s one element, from a customer is how you control your energy usage is actually the use of servers, how efficient your code is, and there’s definitely a difference between stringing together EC2 and S3 buckets compared to using serverless or Lambda functions.


Corey: There’s also a question of scale. When I’m trying to build something out of Lambda functions, and okay, which region is the most cost effective way to run this thing? The Google search for that will have a larger climate impact than any decision I can make at the scale that I operate at. Whereas if you’re a company running tens of thousands of instances at any given point in time and your massive scale, then yeah, the choices you make are going to have significant impact. I think that a problem AWS has always struggled with has been articulating who needs to care about what, when.


If you go down the best practices for security and governance and follow the white papers, they put out as a one-person startup trying to build an idea this evening, just to see if it’s viable, you’re never going to get anywhere. If you ignore all those things, and now you’re about to go public as a bank, you’re going to have a bad time, but at what point do you have to start caring about these different things in different ways? And I don’t think we know the answer yet, from a sustainability perspective.


Aaron: I think it’s interesting in some senses, that sustainability is only just enter the conversation when it comes to stuff we care about in businesses and enterprises. You know, we all know about risk registers, and security reviews, and all those things, but sustainability, while we’ve, kind of, maybe said nice public statements, and put things on our website, it’s not really been a thing that’s, okay, this is how we’re going to run our business, and the thing we care about as number one. You know, Amazon always says security is job zero, but maybe one day someone will be saying sustainability is our job zero. And especially when it comes down to, sort of, you know, the ethics of running a business and how you want that to be run, whether it is going to be a capitalistic VC-funded venture to extract wealth from citizens and become a billionaire versus creating something that’s a bit more circular, and gives back as sustainability might be a key element of what you care about when you make decisions.


Corey: The challenge that I find as well is, I don’t know how you can talk about the relative sustainability impact of various cloud services within the AWS umbrella without, effectively, AWS explaining to you what their margins are on different services, in many respects. Power usage is the primary driver of this and that determines the cost of running things. It is very clear that it is less expensive and more efficient to run more modern hardware than older hardware, so we start seeing, okay, wow, if I start seeing those breakdowns, what does that say about the margin on some of these products and services? And I don’t think they want to give that level of transparency into their business, just because as soon as someone finds out just how profitable Managed NAT gateways are, my God, everything explodes.


Aaron: I think it’s interesting from a cloud provider or hyperscaler perspective, as well, is, you know, what is your USP? And I think Amazon is definitely not saying sustainability is their USP right now, and I think you know, there are other cloud providers, like Azure for example, who basically can provide you a Power BI plugin; if you just log in with your Cloud account details, it will show you a sustainability dashboard and give you more of this information that you might be looking for, whereas Amazon currently doesn’t offer anything like that automated. And even having conversations with your account team or trying to get hold of the right person, Amazon isn’t going to go anywhere at the moment, just because maybe that’s the reason why we don’t want to talk about it: It’s too sensitive. I’m sure that’ll change because of the public statements they’ve made at re:Invent now and previously of, you know, where they’re going in terms of energy usage. They want to be carbon neutral by 2025, so maybe it’ll change to next re:Invent, we’ll get the AWS Sustainability Explorer add-on for [unintelligible 00:15:23] or 12—


Corey: Oh no.


Aaron: —tools to do the same thing [laugh].


Corey: In the Google Cloud Console, you click around, and there are green leafs next to some services and some regions, and it’s, on the one hand, okay, I appreciate the attention that is coming from. On the other hand, it feels like you’re shaming me for putting things in a region that I’ve already built things out in when there weren’t these green leafs here, and I don’t know that I necessarily want to have that conversation with my entire team because we can’t necessarily migrate at this point. And let’s also be clear, here, I cannot fathom a scenario in which running your own data centers is ever going to be more climate-friendly than picking a hyperscaler.


Aaron: And I think that’s sort of, you know, we all might think about is, at the end of the day, if your sustainability strategy for your business is to go all-in-on cloud, and bet horse on AWS or another cloud provider, then, at the end of the day, that’s going to be viable. I know, from the, sort of, hands-on stuff I’ve done with our own data centers, you can never get it as efficient as what some of these cloud providers are doing. And I mean, look at Microsoft. The fact that they’re putting some of their data centers under the sea to use that as a cooling mechanism, and kind of all the interesting things that they’re able to do because they can invest at scale, you’re never going to be able to do that with the cupboard beyond the desks in your local office to make it more efficient or sustainable.


Corey: There are definite parallels between Cloud economics and sustainability because as mentioned, I worship at the altar of Our Lady of Turn that Shit Off because that’s important. If you don’t have a workload running and it doesn’t exist, it has no climate impact. Mostly. I’m sure there are corner cases. But that does lead to the question then of okay, what is the climate sustainability impact, for example, of storing a petabyte of data and EBS versus in S3?


And that has architectural impact as well, and there’s also questions of how often does it move because when you move it, Lord knows there is nothing more dear than the price of data transfer for data movement. And in order to answer those questions, they’re going to start talking a lot more about their architecture. I believe that is why Peter DeSantis’s keynote talked so much about—finally—the admission of what we sort of known for ages now that they use erasure coding to make S3 as durable yet inexpensive, as it is. That was super interesting. Without that disclosure, it would have been pretty clear as soon as they start publishing sustainability numbers around things like that.


Aaron: And I think is really interesting, you know, when you look at your business and make decisions like that. I think the first thing to start with is do you need that data at all? What’s a petabyte of data are going to do? Unless it’s for serious compliance reasons for, you know, the sector or the business that you’re doing, the rest of it is, you know, you’ve got to wonder how long is that relevant for. And you know, even as individuals, we could delete junk mail and take things off our internal emails, it’s the same thing of businesses, what you’re doing with this data.


But it is interesting, when you look at some of the specific services, even just the tiering of S3, for example, put that into Glacier instead of keeping it on S3 general. And I think you’ve talked about this before, I think cost the same to transfer something in and out of Glacier as just to hold it for a month. So, at the end of the day, you’ve got to make these decisions in the right way, and you know, with the right goals in mind, and if you’re not able to make these decisions or you need help, then that’s where, you know, people like us come in to help you do this.


Corey: There’s also the idea of—when I was growing up, the thing they always told us about being responsible was, “Oh, turn out the lights when you’re not in the room.” Great. Well, cloud economics starts to get in that direction, too. If you have a job that fires off once a day at two in the morning and it stops at four in the morning, you should not be running those instances the other 22 hours of the day. What’s the deal here?


And that becomes an interesting expiratory area just as far as starting to wonder, okay, so you’re telling me that if I’m environmentally friendly, I’m also going to save money? Let’s be clear people, in many cases—in a corporate sense—care about sustainability only insofar as that don’t get yelled out about it. But when it comes to saving money, well, now you’ve got the power of self-interest working for you. And if you can dress them both up and do the exact same things and have two reasons to do it. That feels like it could in some respects, be an accelerator towards achieving both outcomes.


Aaron: Definitely. I think, you know, at the end of the day, we all want to work on things that are going to hopefully make the world a better place. And if you use that as a way of motivating, not just yourself as a business, but the workforce and the people that you want to work for you, then that is a really great goal as well. And I think you just got to look at companies that are in this world and not doing very great things that maybe they end up paying more for engineers. I think I read an interesting article the other day about Facebook is basically offering almost double or 150 percent of over salaries because it feels like a black mark on the soul to work for that company. And if there is anything—maybe it’s not greenwashing per se, but if you can just make your business a better place, then that could be something that you can hopefully attract other like-minded people with.


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Corey: One would really like to hope that the challenge, of course, is getting there in such a way that it, well, I guess makes sense, is probably the best way to frame it. These are still early days, and we don’t know how things are going to wind up… I guess, it playing out. I have hopes, I have theories, but I just don’t know.


Aaron: I mean, even looking at Cloud as a concept, how long we’ve all worked with this now ranges probably from fifteen to five, and for me the last six years, but you got to think looking at the outages at the end of last year at Amazon, that [unintelligible 00:21:57], very close to re:Invent, that impacted a lot of different workloads, not just if you were hosted in us-west or east-1, but actually for a lot of the regional services that actually were [laugh]… discovered to be kind of integral to these regions. You know, one AZ going down can impact single-sign-on logins around the world. And let’s see what Amazon looks like in ten years’ time as well because it could be very different.


Corey: Do you find that as you talk to folks, both in government and in private sector, that there is a legitimate interest in the sustainability story? Or is it the self-serving cynical perspective that I’ve painted?


Aaron: I mean, a lot of my experience is biased towards the public sector, so I’ll start with that. In terms of the public sector, over the last few years, especially in the UK, there’s been a lot more focus on sustainability as part of your business cases and your project plans for when 
you’re making new services or building new things. And one of the things they’ve recently asked every government department in the UK to do is come up with a sustainability strategy for their technology. And that’s been something that a lot of people have been working on as part of something called the One Gov Cloud Strategy Working Groups—which in the UK, we do love an abbreviation, so [laugh] a bit of a long name—but I think there’s definitely more of an interest in it.


In terms of the private sector, I’m not too sure if that’s something that people are prioritizing. A lot of the focus I kind of come across as either, we want to focus on enterprise customers, so we’re going to offer migration professional services, or you’re a new business and you’re starting to go up and already spending a couple a hundred pounds, or thousands of pounds a month. And at that scale, it’s probably not going to be something you need to worry about right now.


Corey: I want to talk a little bit about how you got into tech in the first place because you told me elements of this story, and I generally find them to be—how do I put this?—they strain the bounds of credulity. So, how did you wind up in this ridiculous industry?


Aaron: I mean, hoping as I explain them, you don’t just think I’m a liar. I have got a Scouse accent, so you’re probably predisposed towards it. But my journey into tech was quite weird, I guess, in the sense that when I was 16—I was, again, like I said, born in Liverpool and didn’t really know what I wanted to do in the world, and had no idea what the hell to do. So, I was at college, and kind of what happened to me there is I joined, like, an entrepreneurship club and was like, “Okay, I’ll start my own business and do something interesting.” And I went to a conference at college, and there was a panel with Richard Branson and other few of business leaders, and I stood up and asked the question said, you know, “I’m 16. I want to start a business. Where can I get money to start a business?”


And the panel answered with kind of a couple of different things, but one of them was, “Get a job.” The other one was, “Get money off your parents.” And I was kind of like, “Oh, a bit weird. I’ve got a job already. You know, I would ask my parents put their own benefits.”


And asked the woman with the microphone, “Can I say something back?” And she said, “No.” So, being… a young person, I guess, and just I stood back up and said, you know, “You’re in Liverpool. You’ve kind of come to one of the poorest cities in some sense in the UK, and you kind of—I’ve already got a job. What can I really do?”


And that’s when Richard Branson turned round and said, “Well, what is it you want to do?” And I said, “I make really good cheesecakes and I want to sell them to people.” And after that sort of exchange, he said he’d give me the money. So, he gave me 200 pounds to start my own business. And that was just, kind of like, this whirlwind of what the hell’s going on here?


But for me, it’s one of those moments in my life, which I think back on, and honestly, it’s like one of these ten [left 00:25:15] moments of, you know, I didn’t stand back up and say something, if I didn’t join the entrepreneurship club, like, I just wouldn’t be in the position I am right now. And it was also weird in the sense that I said at the start of the story, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life. This was the first time that anyone had ever said to me, “I trust you to do something, and here’s 200 pounds to do it.” And it was such a small thing, and a small moment that basically got me to where I am today. And kind of a condensed version of that is, you know, after that event, I started volunteering for a charity who—a, sort of, magazine launch, and then applied for the civil service and progressed through six to eight years of the civil service.


And it was because of that moment, and that experience, and that confidence boost, where I was like, “Oh, I actually can do something with my life.” And I think tech, and I think a lot of people talk about this is, it can be a bit of a crazy whirlwind, and to go from that background into, you know, working with great people and earning great money is a bit of a crazy thing sometimes.


Corey: Is there another path that you might have gone down instead and completely missed out on, for lack of a better term—and not missed out. You probably would have been far happier not working in tech; I know I would have been—but as far as trying to figure out, like, what does the road not taken look like for you?


Aaron: I’m not too sure, really. And at the time, I was working in a club. I was like 16, 17 years old, working in a nightclub in Liverpool for five pounds an hour, and was doing that while I was studying, and that was almost like, what was in my mind at the time. When it came to the end of college, I was applying for universities, I got in on, like, a second backup course, and that was the only thing to do was food science. And it was like, I can't imagine coming out of university three years after that, studying something that’s not really that relevant to a lot of industries, and trying to find a good job. It could have just been that I was working in a supermarket for minimum wage after I came out for uni trying to find what I wanted to do in the world. And, yeah, I’m really glad that I kind of ended up where I am now.


Corey: As you take a look at what you want your career to be about in the broad sweep of things, what is it that drives you? What is it that makes you, for example, decide to spend the previous portion of career working in public service? That is a very, shall we say, atypical path—I say, as someone who lives in San Francisco and is surrounded by people who want to make the world a better place, but all those paths just 
coincidentally would result in them also becoming billionaires along the way.


Aaron: I mean, it is interesting. You know, one of the things that worked for the civil service for so long, is the fact that I did want to do more than just make somebody else more money. And you know, there are not really a lot of ways you can do that and make a good wage for yourself. And I think early on in your career, working for somewhere like the civil service or federal government can be a little bit of that opportunity. And especially with some of the government’s focus on tech these days, and investments—you know, I joined through an apprenticeship scheme and then progressed on to a digital leadership scheme, you know, they were guided schemes to help me become a better leader and improve my skills.


And I think I would have probably not gone to the same position if I just got the tech job or my first engineering job somewhere else. I think, if I was to look at the future and where do I want to go, what do I care about? And, you know, you ask me, sort of, this question at re:Invent, and it took me a few days to really figure out, but one of the things when I talk about making the world a better place is thinking about how you can start businesses that give back to people in local areas, or kind of solve problems and kind of keep itself running a bit like a trust does, [laugh], if only that keeping rich people running. And a lot of the time, like, you’ve highlighted is coincidentally these things that we try and solve whether it’s, like, a new app or a new thing that does something seems to either be making money for VCs, reinventing things that we already have, or just trying to make people billionaires rather than trying to make everyone rise up and—high tide rise all ships, is the saying. And there are a few people that do this, a few CEOs who take salaries the same as everyone else in the business. And I think that’s hopefully you know, as I grow my own business and work on different things in the future, is how can I just help people live better lives?


Corey: It’s a big question, and it’s odd in that I don’t find that most people asking it tend to find themselves going toward government work so much as they do NGOs, and nonprofits, and things that are very focused on specific things.


Aaron: And it can be frustrating in some sense is that, you know, you look at the landscape of NGOs, and charities, and go, “Why are they involved in solving this problem?” You know, one of the big problems we have in the UK is the use of food banks where people who don’t have enough money, whether they receive benefits or not, have to go and get food which is donated just by people of the UK and people who donate to these charities. You know, at the end of the day, I’m really interested in government, and public sector work, and potentially one day, being a bit more involved in policy elements of that, is how can we solve these problems with broad brushstrokes, whether it’s technology advancements, or kind of policy decisions? And one of the interesting things that I got close to a few times, but I don’t think we’ve ever really solved is stuff like how can we use Agile to build policy?


How can we iterate on what that policy might look like, get customers or citizens of countries involved in those conversations, and measure outcomes, and see whether it’s successful afterwards. And a lot of the time, policies and decisions are just things that come out of politicians minds, and it’d be interesting to see how we can solve some of these problems in the world with stuff like Agile methodologies or tech practices.


Corey: So, it’s easy to sit and talk about these things in the grand sweep of how the world could be or how it should look, but for those of us who think in more, I guess, tactical terms, what’s a good first step?


Aaron: I think from my point of view, and you know, meeting so many people at re:Invent, and just have my eyes opened of these great conversations we can have a great people and get things changed, one of the things that I’m looking at starting next year is a podcast and a newsletter, around the use of public cloud for public good. And when I say that, it does cover elements of sustainability, but it is other stuff like how do we use Cloud to deliver things in the public sector and NGOs and charities? And I think having more conversations like that would be really interesting. Obviously, that’s just the start of a conversation, and I’m sure when I speak to more people in the future, more opportunities and more things might come out of it. But I’d just love to speak to more people about stuff like this.


Corey: I want to thank you for spending so much time to speak with me today about… well, the wide variety of things, and of course, spending as much time as you did chatting with me at re:Invent in person. If people want to learn more, where can they find you?


Aaron: So yep, got a few social media handles on Twitter, I’m @AaronBoothUK. On LinkedIn is the same, forward slash aaronboothuk, and I’ve also got the website for my consultancy, which is embue.co.uk—E-M-B-U-E dot co dot uk. And for the newsletter, it’s publicgood.cloud.


Corey: And we will, of course, include links to that in the [show notes 00:32:11]. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I really do appreciate it.


Aaron: Thank you so much for having me.


Corey: Aaron Booth, cloud consultant with an emphasis on sustainability. I’m Cloud Economist Corey Quinn with an emphasis on optimizing bills. And this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice, whereas if you’ve hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice along with an angry comment that you will then kickstart the coal-burning generator under your desk to wind up posting.


Corey: If your AWS bill keeps rising and your blood pressure is doing the same, then you need The Duckbill Group. We help companies fix their AWS bill by making it smaller and less horrifying. The Duckbill Group works for you, not AWS. We tailor recommendations to your business and we get to the point. Visit duckbillgroup.com to get started.


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