AWS re:Invent 2023 — My Selection Of Serverless Sessions

Ran Isenberg
15 min readSep 4, 2023
AWS re:Invent 2023

In this post, you will find my opinionated list of breakout sessions, workshops, builder sessions, code-talks, and chalk talks that I found relevant to serverless and Python developers.

As there are several hundreds of sessions, I might have missed a couple of sessions, so please let me know via if I should include another session.

The complete catalog can be found at:

Session Types

As described here:

Breakout sessions — lecture-style and run 45 to 60 minutes. Often includes 10–15 minutes of Q&A.

Builders’ sessions — These one-hour hands-on sessions have ten attendees and one AWS expert per table. Each builders’ session begins with a short explanation or demo of what you are going to build. There is no formal presentation. It’s just you, your laptop, and the AWS expert.

Chalk talks — highly interactive whiteboarding sessions with AWS experts. Expect a lively technical discussion, centered around real-world architecture challenges, with a small group of experts and peers. These sessions run for 60 minutes.

Workshops — a two-hour interactive sessions where you work in small teams to solve real problems using AWS services. Each workshop starts with a short lecture (10 to 15 minutes) by the main speaker, and the rest of the time is spent working as a group. Don’t forget to bring your laptop to these workshops.

Code Talk — Engaging, code-focused sessions with a small audience. AWS experts lead a live coding discussion as they explain the why behind AWS solutions.

Session Levels

There are four levels: 100, 200, 300, and 400.

The 100–200 (Foundational & Intermediate) levels are excellent if you are a serverless beginner.

If you build serverless applications daily, target the 300–400 (advanced & expert) levels and only go to 100–200 for sessions in unfamiliar subjects (perhaps containers, data-related, or machine learning).

Let’s go over the recommended sessions.

My Breakout Session

OPN305 | Breakout | The pragmatic serverless Python developer

I’m thrilled to share that I will be co-presenting a breakout session at AWS re:Invent 2023 in Las Vegas alongside the brilliant Heitor Lessa from AWS Lambda Powertools.

If you’re keen on ramping up your productivity and yearning for an insightful serverless session with real code best practices learned from running serverless in production, this is for you.

What to expect:

  • An opinionated guide to Python project setup, testing, profiling, deployments, and operations.
  • Dive deep into a plethora of open-source tools, most notably the Powertools for AWS Lambda — a game-changing toolkit designed to uplift serverless best practices and fast-track developer velocity.
  • Real-world patterns and tools tailored for impactful serverless development using Python.
  • A GitHub repository with all the code, ready for deployment.

Levels 100–200

CON202 | Lab| AWS Fargate or Amazon EC2: Which launch type should I be using?

While I preach for serverless first, there are times when serverless does not fit, and you resort to using a container. In that case, you might opt for the more serverless & managed Fargate instead of EC2. But is that always the best case? This lab will help you make the right decision.

SVS201 | Workshop | Building a serverless web application for a theme park

An excellent intermediate-level workshop that introduces you to core serverless service while building both a backend and a single-page frontend application.

SVS204 | Breakout | Building Serverlesspresso: Creating event-driven architectures

This is the classic breakout session from top AWS serverless advocates. This session is an excellent introduction to a genuine service on a subject I enjoy, espresso! The session discusses architecture pros and cons, cost, and other serverless design patterns. Be sure to check the workshop variation of this session: API201 | Serverlesspresso: Building event-driven applications from the start.

TNC218 | Breakout | Developing serverless solutions

A good introduction to SNS, EventBridge, and Kinesis. Includes a demo of a CI/CD pipeline that deploys these services.

API205 | Builder Session | Decoupling your data-driven applications with Amazon EventBridge Pipes

Learn about EventBridge pipes, the relatively new capability (with tons of potential!) that allows you to connect sources to targets with configuration instead of Lambda functions. I hope re:invent brings exciting news to the service, such as better debugging capabilities and more straightforward means to configure a pipe via SAM and CDK. Bring your laptop to participate.

SVS205 | Breakout | Getting started building serverless event-driven applications

Learn about the process of prototyping a solution from concept to a fully featured application that uses Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, Amazon EventBridge, AWS Step Functions, and Amazon DynamoDB. I think the main focus here will be working with Application Composer and building a serverless application visually and iteratively.

API203 | Chalk Talk | Thinking asynchronously: Integration patterns for microservices

A chalk talk is a different experience (so I’m told) from a breakout session, and it encourages more crowd interaction, so I suggest you’d go to at least one. This talk will discuss how end-user clients can communicate using synchronous APIs while using asynchronous communication for processing.

NTA203 | Breakout | Using serverless for event-driven architecture & domain-driven design

AWS customer CES identified a need for an efficient tool to manage branch inventory. By using serverless technology, CES was able to harness the power of EDA and DDD principles to achieve quickness and agility in their development process. Prominent AWS Community builder Lee Gilmore is part of this talk, so I expect it to be quite good. I love hearing about real use cases and serverless implementation journeys coming from a real need and requirements.

Level 300

OPN301 | Workshop | Accelerate your serverless journey with Powertools for AWS Lambda

If you choose only one serverless workshop, this should be it. About a third of my articles discuss Powertools for Lambda one way or another, and for a good reason. Powertools are a set of utilities that must be a part of every serverless service.

CON320 | Breakout | Building for the future with AWS serverless services Join Holly Mesrobian, VP of Serverless Compute at AWS, to hear about the innovations AWS is making with serverless compute and containers to help organizations achieve superior outcomes for their business. Learn about new advancements and recent launches in AWS Lambda, Amazon EventBridge, AWS Step Functions, Amazon ECS on AWS Fargate, and more.

API308 | Chalk Talk | Accelerating event-driven architecture with domain-driven design

I’m a big believer in domain-driven design. I’ve discussed it briefly in my CDK best practices post. The abstract mentions, “Learn about a general framework that uses domain-driven design to think through, design, and build cloud-native event-driven architectures.”

API309 | Breakout | Advanced integration patterns and trade-offs for loosely coupled apps

Integration between services has always been a challenge. You face issues such as whether to expose an API, SNS, or SQS interface, how to share interface schemas, and how to handle authorization and authentication. There are many options, with each having its pros and cons.

DAT324 | Breakout | Amazon Aurora HA and DR design patterns for global resilience

The title says it all, a deep dive into Aurora’s best practices for resilience and performance. Check it out if you are invested in Aurora or plan to. However, note that this session pays extra attention to global tables, so make sure it’s relevant to you.

FSI301 | Chalk Talk | Architecting critical multi-Region, active-active financial systems

I’ve discussed RTO and RPO in this post before. It’s an important matter that needs more exposure. This talk takes it to the next level with a multi-region active-active design example for complete and swift data recovery in case of a crisis.

NET307 | Chalk Talk | Ask the experts: Edge compute with Amazon CloudFront

CloudFront advanced topics. Topics for discussion include CloudFront cache, AWS Lambda memory, URL redirects or rewrites, Amazon CloudFront functions, Lambda@Edge, authorization, A/B testing, and SEO-related HTTP redirection and new CloudFront features.

DAT301 | Builder Session | Build and deploy a globally distributed app with Amazon DynamoDB

I’ve used a global DynamoDB table before, and it’s like magic. This session will discuss best practices for managing data globally and maintaining a consistent application state across all Regions. You must bring your laptop to participate.

SVS301 | Breakout | Building APIs: Choosing the best API solution & strategy for workloads

The session considers the features and benefits of Amazon API Gateway, AWS AppSync, Amazon VPC Lattice, and other options. Also, learn more about API design and management strategies that can be applied to the API ecosystem. This is a meaningful subject that needs to be discussed more, including the new VPC Lattice service.

SVS302 | Workshop | Building distributed data processing workloads with AWS Step Functions

A StepFunctions & Lambda workshop. The workshop covers use cases, best practices, and resources that can help you accelerate your data processing journey.

API301 | Workshop | Building event-driven architectures

A workshop that includes SNS, EventBridge SQS, and Lambda. Find out how to choose the right AWS service for the job and how you can optimize cost and performance.

SMB301 | Breakout | Building inventive customer experiences with data, AI, and serverless

Combining serverless and AI into a session that improves your customer experience? Yes, please. This session can be a great introduction to the world of ML with SageMaker.

API302 | Breakout | Building next-generation applications with event-driven architecture

Discover how to use AWS messaging services to connect microservices and coordinate data flow using minimal custom code and best practices. The session also covers idempotency, an issue I tackled in this post.

API305 | Chalk Talk | Building resilience in decoupled applications with dead-letter queues

This session covers SQS best practices for dead letters queue and redriving messages. This one is exciting, as I’ve just posted my SQS best practices articles covering this area in the third part of the series.

API306 | Chalk Talk | Combining Step Functions and EventBridge: Use cases and best practices

In this chalk talk, learn about common integration patterns combining Step Functions and EventBridge, real-world use cases, and best practices.

DAT312 | Chalk Talk | Cost optimization for Amazon DynamoDB

In this chalk talk, learn how to model your DynamoDB table, measure costs, and discover cost optimization tools that can help you along the way. As a heavy DynamoDB user, I’m happy to reduce my costs.

SVS314 | Chalk Talk | Is your serverless application production-ready?

In this chalk talk, get specific best practice guidance for a serverless reference architecture. I’ve written a post about a serverless productization list. It would be interesting to see how much the two correlate.

SVS311 | Chalk Talk | Optimizing cost and performance for AWS Lambda-based workloads

This a critical subject as serverless costs scale and add up. In this chalk talk, discover the latest strategies and best practices for ensuring your AWS Lambda-based applications remain cost-efficient and highly performant.

SVS319 | Chalk Talk | AWS Lambda performance tuning: Best practices and guidance

In this chalk talk, learn about opportunities to optimize your serverless applications built with AWS Lambda. Discuss optimizations in the function configuration and within your function code. I suspect the talk covers the sound powertune library.

BOA304 | Breakout | Using AI and serverless to automate video production

In this session, learn how to use Step Functions to build workflows, automate different processes, and use Amazon EventBridge to handle real situations. The session mentions the new Amazon Bedrock service used for generative AI, so it should be very interesting!

SVS321 | Chalk Talk | Designing your serverless API workloads for massive scale

This chalk talk discusses vital design principles for Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and Amazon DynamoDB to achieve massive scale. See a demo of how asynchronous processing, caching, rate limiting, and performance optimization can help you architect workloads to withstand large bursts of traffic.

SVS316 | Chalk Talk | Building generative AI applications with serverless and Amazon Bedrock

In this chalk talk, explore design patterns and see demos of how to build generative AI applications using Amazon Bedrock and AWS serverless services. Serverless and Bedrock? Yes, please!

NET312 | Chalk Talk | Connecting and securing services with Amazon VPC Lattice

An interesting session about using VPC lattice to securely connect your Amazon EC2, Amazon EKS, Amazon ECS, or AWS Lambda microservices. Explore everyday use cases like multiple account/VPC connectivity, service-to-service authentication and authorization, load balancing, blue-green/canary deployments, and more.

SVS322 | Code Talk | Demystifying idempotency with Powertools for AWS Lambda

Having AWS Lambda powertools in the title is a good enough reason to attend this session, and idempotency is an important subject that needs more attention.

You will learn to implement and answer these questions: can your production serverless API handle duplicate transactions? Is it resilient to failure or message tampering? These are real-world challenges that legacy and modern systems must handle at scale.

SVS210 | Code Talk | Just run code: Build serverless applications quickly with AWS SAM

Learn to use AWS SAM CLI to create, develop, and deploy serverless applications. Additionally, learn about AWS SAM CLI features that can help you build deployment pipelines, test your code in the cloud, and effectively manage resource access.

Level 400

API401 | Breakout | Advanced workflow patterns and business processes

This session is targeted at experienced serverless developers building with AWS Step Functions. In this session, learn about architectural best practices and repeatable patterns for making workflows and cost optimizations, and discover handy cheat codes that you can use to build secure, high-scale, high-performance serverless applications. I like the promise of real production scenarios illustrating the benefits.

DAT401 | Builders Session | Applied data modeling with Amazon DynamoDB

Turn a new business idea into a fully functional data model in Amazon DynamoDB with an optimized schema design. Requires a laptop.

SVS401 | Breakout | Best practices for serverless developers

It is one of the more advanced sessions about Lambda, and I expect it to be hard to attend. This session provides architectural best practices, optimizations, and valuable shortcuts experts use to build secure, high-scale, high-performance serverless applications.

Heroes/Community Track

This year the community track consists of AWS Heroes’ breakout sessions.

I included all twelve breakout sessions here because they provide tremendous insight and value. Hearing from proven community leaders who share their real production knowledge is an invaluable asset.

COM301 | Breakout | Advanced event-driven patterns with Amazon EventBridge

Asynchronous communication and event-driven architecture are core to building distributed applications. Amazon EventBridge, a fully managed serverless event bus, helps to coordinate distributed and loosely coupled microservices to accomplish business functionality. In this session, gain an understanding of the characteristics of EventBridge and how it plays a pivotal role in serverless architectures. Learn the primary elements of event-driven architecture and some of the best practices. With real-world use cases, explore how the features of EventBridge support implementing advanced architectural patterns in serverless.

COM204 | Breakout | Seamless scaling: Amazon Aurora sharding & traffic management on Kubernetes

As a cloud RDBMS, Amazon Aurora excels in delivering high performance and availability for various business scenarios. However, when dealing with massive queries requiring low latency in demanding read or write scenarios, traditional monolithic MySQL, PostgreSQL RDS, or Aurora setups can become cumbersome. In this session, learn how Apache ShardingSphere can automate data sharding, read-write splitting, and query traffic management both on premises and within Kubernetes environments. With its flexible deployment architecture, applications everywhere can effectively use the database service for low latency, improved throughput, and availability.

COM203 | Breakout | Unlocking your full potential with the power of generative AI on AWS

Generative AI, a groundbreaking field of artificial intelligence, empowers machines to generate diverse content and ideas. AWS brings the transformative potential of generative AI to your fingertips by harnessing the capabilities of large-scale, pre-trained models known as foundation models. In this talk, learn how Amazon SageMaker and Amazon Bedrock help developers, researchers, and companies to easily incorporate generative AI into their applications. Discover how these services empower you to utilize generative AI models with your own data, unlocking new dimensions of creativity and reshaping the future of your business.

COM306 | Breakout | “Rustifying” serverless: Boost AWS Lambda performance with Rust

Rust, known for its performance and security, offers significant advantages when used with AWS Lambda. This session delves into deploying Rust functions using AWS SAM and cargo-lambda, enabling streamlined development right from your own computer. Learn strategies to expedite local builds for Lambda deployments, with a spotlight on tools like mold and sccache. Dive into how Rust can enhance Lambda functions, from developing Lambda extensions to seamlessly integrating Rust into existing Python and Node.js Lambda code without necessitating a complete overhaul. Also, gain insights on methods for reducing binary sizes using Rust.

COM202 | Breakout | Building an AI comic video generator with Amazon Bedrock

Learn how AWS Machine Learning Hero Agustinus Nalwan built Owly, an AI-powered bedtime storyteller that crafts personalized comic videos with music. In this session, discover how to use the Amazon Bedrock large language model to generate comic scripts. Learn how to fine-tune the Stable Diffusion model with the help of Amazon SageMaker JumpStart to eliminate character inconsistencies and personalize the comic video with your kids’ beloved toys as the main characters. Dive deep into the prompt engineering technique and learn to blend two images together with the Stable Diffusion model.

COM307 | Breakout | Seamless observability with AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry

In the past, collecting data from your applications running on AWS could be challenging. AWS support of OpenTelemetry (OTel) via APIs and AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry (ADOT) has dramatically simplified the developer experience for observability. Learn how to instrument your applications and send data to any compatible backend using Amazon CloudWatch and Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, ADOT agents, OTel’s Kubernetes agent on Amazon EKS, and the OpenTelemetry Lambda layer. Also learn about best practices for data generation, pipeline management with the OTel collector, and schema management with the OTel semantic conventions for AWS.

COM304 | Breakout | Composable architecture using Amazon DynamoDB and domain-driven design

Enterprises building software often face multiple setbacks in the software lifecycle due to domain complexity, unclear application boundaries, and a disconnect between business needs and implemented software. Following domain-driven design (DDD) practices can help you navigate complex business domains and avoid common pitfalls. In this session, learn the core DDD concepts of ubiquitous language, aggregates, and bounded context and how the Amazon DynamoDB single-table design process fits into recommendations of aggregates.

COM305 | Breakout | Demystifying and mitigating AWS Lambda cold starts

Whether you’re new to AWS Lambda or a serverless expert, you’ve probably heard about cold starts. Maybe they’ve even made you think twice about using Lambda in your architecture. This session dissects the Lambda initialization process at a microscopic level. Examine benchmarks comparing common architectural patterns, and then benchmark various RAM configurations and payload sizes. Next, measure and discuss common mistakes that can increase initialization latency, explore and understand proactive initialization, and learn several strategies you can use to thaw your AWS Lambda cold starts.

COM303 | Breakout | Automating a 20 TB file server migration

Learn how AWS Community Hero Dave Stauffacher moved a 20-terabyte file system, with more than 1 billion files, to Amazon FSx for Windows File Server with only 2 hours of downtime. See how Dave automated the process using AWS DataSync, Terraform, and some command line magic. Also hear the valuable lessons learned during the migration.

COM302 | Breakout | Advanced AWS CDK: Lessons learned from 4 years of use

Released in July 2019, AWS CDK has become a powerful infrastructure-as-code tool to help companies build complex systems on AWS. Its greatest strength, using general purpose languages to define your infrastructure, can also be its greatest weakness. This is because there are many different ways to write your code. Should you use a single stack or multiple? How can you use external data to define your infrastructure? How do you test your code? In this session, learn best practices, patterns, and workflows developed over the last 4 years of using AWS CDK.

COM308 | Breakout | Serverless data streaming: Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and AWS Lambda

Need a serverless near real-time data streaming architecture? Just connect Amazon Kinesis Data Streams to AWS Lambda. Simple! Is it, though? What happens in the real world? In this session, explore the intricacies of creating scalable, production-ready data streaming architectures using Kinesis Data Streams and Lambda. Delve into tips and best practices essential to navigating the challenges and pitfalls inherent to distributed systems that arise along the way and observe how AWS services work and interact. Also discuss embracing failures because, as Dr. Werner Vogels likes to say, everything fails, all the time.

COM201 | Breakout | Building a cloud-backed generative AI game in 60 minutes

Generative AI has captured the imagination of developers, companies, and creatives alike. ChatGPT is just the tip of the iceberg. Generative AI can enable novel and creative user experiences that delight the imagination. In this session, see a demo of how to build a generative-AI-powered game using Amazon Bedrock, Amazon API Gateway, and AWS AppSync. The game will involve the player guessing the title of a movie or book from an emoji summary of the plot, generated and scored by Amazon Titan.