Over the last few months I have been spending a lot of time attending meet-ups and user groups for DevOps, AWS, Startups, etc. It is all tied into the several projects I am working on outside of my Network World writing. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural meeting of the Boulder/Denver AWS Meetup Group.
The meeting was held at the JumpCloud offices in Boulder, as they founded the group and were gracious enough to volunteer their offices and supply the food and drink. JumpCloud has created an automated cloud server management service and the majority of their customers are on AWS. So of course it made sense for them to be involved. When JumpCloud CEO Rajat Bhargava told me they were having the meetup, I was happy to come out and attend.
All told, about 50 people showed up, which is pretty darn good for a first meetup. Actually, more people showed up than the number who RSVPed, which means people who did RSVP probably brought others with them. Pretty impressive.
What really knocked my socks off, though, was where these people came from. Some came from as far away as Colorado Springs, which is quite a drive to Boulder. Many were from South Denver, which is also an hour away. This was during rush hour and with snow and ice on the ground. I know in South Florida, we are lucky to get people from anywhere more than 10 miles away, if that. But I guess that speaks volumes to why the startup and tech scene in Boulder and Denver is what it is.
Anyway, the meetup group started with the obligatory "who we are" around the room. It turns out it was a good mix of people who are hip deep in building and operating AWS-based infrastructure, people who help people like them with tools for AWS, and even some students from CU's IT team.
The presentation for the night was on AWS security from Gerrit Padgham of Electric Alchemy. It was very technical and very deep, just the way the audience seemed to like it. Gerrit also did a hands-on demo setting up a secure AWS, instance which had many people taking notes and talking among themselves.
For me, the real fun was in speaking with some of the people before, during, and at the wrap up of the meeting. I am constantly amazed at the breadth and depth of what people are building on AWS, how they are using DevOps tools, and philosophies to tackle the complexities that AWS poses and just how strong this community really is. Whether you are in Boulder or Miami, Austin or New York, there are people who are building exciting new products and services using AWS and other cloud infrastructure.
In watching Gerrit and some of the other folks talk and work around the AWS interface, I was thinking to myself about how far this has come in such a short amount of time. It is almost like watching evolution in real time before your eyes. The settings and customizations they were making last night in setting up an instance all had to be learned and refined, but now they are almost mundane.
I thought to myself, if this is what it is now, what it will be like in two, three, or five years? As we add more functionality and have more time to refine, innovate and learn, how much more will be possible? It boggles the mind.
In the meantime, though, I find attending these meetup groups informative and invigorating. If you want to see firsthand what the bleeding edge is doing and what the next big thing is, there is no better place to visit.