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Victor Oliveira, director of engineering for Concrete Solutions, a Rio de Janeiro consultancy, poses for a selfie with the huge arch at the conference's entrance. (Dan Richman/GeekWire)
Victor Oliveira, director of engineering for Concrete Solutions, a Rio de Janeiro consultancy, poses for a selfie with the huge arch at the conference’s entrance. (Dan Richman/GeekWire photos)

LAS VEGAS — Easier-to-understand pricing. Best practices. GovCloud enhancements.

Those are some of the topics the roughly 28,000 people pouring into the Venetian, Encore and Mirage hotels want to learn more about here at re:Invent, the fifth annual Amazon Web Services conference, which is getting underway with preliminary activities today.

Many of those attending have stood in long lines first to register and then to pick up their swag, which includes a sweatshirt and an Amazon Echo Dot. People are having fun taking selfies in front of a 40-foot wide, 15-foot tall swirling lighted archway near the 10,000-seat theatre where the keynote addresses will take place.

Conference-goers began gathering here as early as Sunday night, though the main proceedings don’t start until Wednesday. Earlybirds are here to take full-day educational bootcamps and workshops on various AWS topics Monday and Tuesday. Live-streamed keynotes by AWS CEO Andy Jassy and CTO Werner Vogels will take place Wednesday and Thursday mornings, respectively.

Abiade Adedoyin, a senior manager in Expedia’s finance division who works with the company’s cloud team, said she came in from near Seattle to better understand the costs of migrating to and using the cloud. “It’s a little tricky to understand where the costs are coming from, so to the extent AWS can provide simpler visibility into the costs, it would be very beneficial,” she said.

A conference-goer at re:Invent 2016 stops to inspect the lighted archway.

Daniel Tzidony, operations team leader at Earnix, a maker of financial-services software, flew in from Israel to learn more about best practices. Earnix already has most of its production loads on AWS, and “even though we’re very happy with the current state of AWS, we’d always like to have more managed services so we can offload our technical teams,” he said.

Matt Worsham, AWS’s enterprise support lead for commercial cloud services, works closely with U.S. Government agencies and said many of them, including the CIA, are at the conference “to learn more about when some of the services we offer commercially are going to be available in GovCloud,” a specially isolated region for sensitive data and regulated workloads.

Paul Ortiz, a solutions architect at business-process outsourcing firm Informatix in Sacramento, said he’s seeking to learn how to move from a “substantial” on-premises computing load into the cloud. “We’re downsizing our computer room and moving all that infrastructure into AWS, plus all our development now is in AWS,” he said. He said he wants to learn more about GovCloud and how to best serve public agencies.

During the conference, AWS is likely to debut a new, easier-to-manage version of the popular PostgreSQL database for its cloud customers. It’s anticipated that AWS will take the open-source PostgreSQL database, which already runs on its cloud service, and then produce its own version to offer as a managed service, available to rent by the hour. As Fortune noted, AWS did the same thing with MySQL, another popular open-source database, when it released Aurora. AWS claims Aurora has been its fastest-growing service.

AWS is also likely planning to announce new Alexa-like machine-learning tools for developers. And there could be announcements about a new, more flexible option for of Amazon’s basic cloud computing service, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), that lets customers add or delete memory or processor cores to fit their needs.

A report that AWS will unveil a video-conference product, possibly based on technology acquired when it bought Biba Systems, now seems unlikely. An AWS spokesperson declined to comment on any products to be announced.

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