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Best of AWS re:Invent 2021

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December 5, 2021

It’s a wrap!

AWS re:Invent 2021 was a welcome return to in-person events, packed with product announcements, high calorie presentations and customer engagement. It was especially fun for Element to participate this year as a foundational launch partner for AWS IoT TwinMaker, a new service making it fast and easy for developers to create digital twins.

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky’s keynote emphasized a more industry-specific strategy, a welcome shift that was on display throughout the event. AWS has historically been what ZDNet’s Larry Dignan describes as “sneaky vertical.” By tailoring industry-specific solutions for power and utilities, automotive, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other industries, AWS customers can more easily and quickly build, deploy and scale up new services that add business value.

Adam Selipsky re:Invent 2021 keynote presentation

AWS isn’t the first major tech player to embrace “industry cloud” as a strategy pillar, and some would argue they’re behind. That changed this week as AWS reset the industry cloud landscape with industry-specific use cases coursing through re:Invent, grounded in the quiet competence of customer stories, and mostly avoiding marketing hype. AWS’ industry focus expands opportunities for partners like Element to deliver customer value by collaborating with AWS industry and product teams, and other, similarly focused partners.

Of the many new product introductions and event sessions, several unpacked the emerging industry focus while others showcased some amazing new stuff. Here’s my Best of re:Invent 2021, with links to recorded sessions (free registration required):

Best Show me the Beef Session

In Powering Edge-to-Cloud, Bill Vass provided a Cook’s Tour through multiple services and domains being integrated edge-to-cloud, including edge devices, robotics systems, digital twins, software-defined vehicles and a new 5G offering, among others. The coherence story unfolding across the diverse AWS and partner offerings being integrated together came alive through customer stories from Ghost Robotics, Coca-Cola bottler CCI, Siemens, Blackberry, Dish Network and Riot Games. There’s a high rate of innovation happening in edge-to-cloud within the AWS ecosystem to keep your eye on.

Best I’ve Glimpsed the Future and it Works Session

Centrica: Balancing the Grid with Innovative Technology covered next generation DER (Distributed Energy Resources) management, including how digitally enabling high-consequence equipment, like compressors, can be paired with renewables-fed battery storage systems as dispatchable grid nodes. Centrica’s Alexandra Coleman and AWS’ Mary Wilson helped us imagine how deploying these solutions at scale, with tens of millions of new dispatchable grid nodes, can represent new value streams for plant operators who partner with power and utility companies and, importantly, contribute to achieving sustainability, decarbonization and resiliency outcomes.

Best New Product Announcement.

AWS IoT TwinMaker is a new AWS service that makes it faster and easier for developers to create digital twins of real-world systems like buildings, factories, industrial equipment and production lines. Element participated as a foundational launch partner, announcing an integration between Element Unify and AWS IoT TwinMaker to enable highly contextualized 3D scenes and digital twin applications with IT/OT data. Customers can realize business value across a range of use cases.

AWS IoT TwinMaker example from Github repo samples

Best Brave New World Presentation

Get More Information from Graphs using Amazon Neptune ML. Unfortunately, this chalk talk by AWS’ Dave Bechberger and Soji Adeshina wasn’t recorded so I can't share it with you. Amazon Neptune ML uses Graph Neural Networks to make predictions on graph data, leveraging Amazon Neptune graph database service, AWS Sagemaker and Deep Graph Library. Neptune ML has been shown to improve the accuracy of most predictions by 50% vs. non-graph methods. We're pretty deep into graph technology (relatively new) and graph theory (~300 years old) at Element. Element Unify builds a Knowledge Graph by connecting complex IT/OT data relationships across thousands, even millions, of sensor streams with dozens of other IT/OT data sources. This makes it faster and easier for customers to apply their connected data to digital twins and other analytical applications.

I’m interested to see what’s possible by applying the powerful ML-based inference capabilities in Amazon Neptune ML to the graph building and graph analytics work we're doing at Element. Watch for developments in this area to emerge in the years ahead to become data management and ML best practices that can unlock massive value for customers.

Finally, the opportunity to meet face-to-face, mask-to-mask, with customers at re:Invent was the biggest winner of all. Being able to dig deep into their challenges and aspirations to achieve cleaner, safer, healthier and more profitable industrial operations by applying their IT/OT data to modern analytical systems was a refreshing substitute for sitting behind a Zoom screen.

I can’t wait to see what progress we’re all able to make together by re:Invent 2022.