Top 5 best (off-stage) moments at AWS Re:invent

AWS re:Invent was a busy, busy show with some important news. Maybe we should have known that Amazon Web Services (s amzn) would get into desktop as a service, but I don’t think any of the pundits expected that. Anyway, here are my five favorite moments out of Las Vegas this week

1: The Eucalyptus cloud-in-a-backpack

Eucalyptus cloud pack

eucalyptus cloud packYou couldn’t miss the Eucalyptus guys – including CEO Marten Mickos – traipsing around with hard white plastic backpacks strapped to their backs. Here’s how Mickos described them via email: “They are custom-built by us. 12 cores. 20gig of storage. Fully self-contained. Batteries included. AWS-compatible private Euca cloud. Operated wirelessly from a kindle.”

They even got AWS’ senior tech analyst Simone Brunozzi to wear one (at right.)
2: OpenStack co-creator comes to the AWS show.

Chris Kemp at AWS showNebula founder (and one of the founders of OpenStack) Chris Kemp (in middle at right in my bad iPhone photo) manned his company’s booth to show off its OpenStack appliance. This really does make sense– Nebula’s appliance supports the major AWS APIs, as Kemp explained on our Structure Podcast a while back. But unlike some OpenStack cloud companies,  it doesn’t make a federal case out of it.

3: Cheesy Rackspace cowgirls. Nothing says Las Vegas trade shows like booth bunnies. But in this case there was no booth — just a half dozen or so Rackspace-identified women in hot pants, cowboy hats and boots, handing out invites to a Rackspace party somewhere else.

As one attendee tweeted: “Stay classy Rackspace.”

4: Citrix reaction to Amazon WorkSpaces. 

Watching Citrix chief evangelist Rueven Cohen gamely gritting it out while being grilled about what the AWS desktop-as-a-service means to his company, the leader in desktop virtualization. Note to Reuven: No one buys the whole “it validates our strategy” bit. But good effort.

5: Cloud Prize monkeys! Those Netflix(s nflx) folks sure know how to have fun. The Netflix OSS Cloud Prize dinner Tuesday night was pretty uproarious but it was great that the winners also got their due on the AWS re:Invent stage Thursday. Winners include IBM’s(s ibm) Andrew Spyker and Eucalyptus’ Chris Grzegorczyk (of the aforementioned backpack cloud) but others flew in from Poland, Germany, the U.K. etc., to accept their monkeys (oh and $10K in prize money and $5K in AWS credits.)