Last week I attended Tech Field Day for the first time. Well, to be clear on that it was my first FULL Tech Field Day experience. I previously attended Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld earlier in the year, so maybe I already had half a notch on my belt.
For those of you who don’t know, Tech Field Day was started 9 years ago by Stephen Foskett. It is an IT influencer event that brings together independent (non-vendor) professionals from around the world to sit on a panel that major players in the IT industry present to. Many of these companies are the Cisco, Dell, and VMware’s of the world, while many are actually smaller start ups that are looking to get their product out there. Regardless of the specific company or tech, each presentation goes WAY beyond your typical marketing high level stuff and gets into the gory details from a technical perspective. The presentations are live streamed and the whole operation is top notch, so it certainly is a great resource for any IT professional looking to stay up on the latest and greatest in the IT world. Since it’s inception, Tech Field Day has also expanded into specific focus areas, with Storage, Cloud, Security, Networking and Mobility Field Day.
There are a lot of other “first timer” posts out there from past delegates, so I’m not going to do a complete deep dive on my experience from the week. As someone who was only recently introduced to the world of Tech Field Day within the last couple of years, I was truly blown away by the scope of the delegate experience. The vendor presentations are broadcast for the world to see, but the delegates have a lot of “behind the scenes” activities to stay busy for the entire trip.
For Tech Field Day 17, we toured the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and spent an evening at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. We also got to mingle with some past delegates and other members of the TFD family during a 9th anniversary reception. Our final side trip was a visit to Apple Park, which was pretty incredible. As a recent first time iPhone owner, I was actually more excited than my previous frumpy Android fanboy self would have been. We got to follow up that visit with a trip to the infamous Philz Coffee, which did not disappoint. One of the best parts of the week honestly was just being told where to go and driven around in style by the TFD limo, which means navigating the Silicon Valley traffic without a care in the world.
I also got to participate in my very first podcast! Stephen is also the head of Gestalt IT, which produces the On-Premise IT Roundtable podcast. Keep on the lookout, as before long they will post the episodes that were recorded at #TFD17, including the roundtable I sat for on “Should you host your own website?”
When it comes down to it, the vendor presentations and excursions are great, but the best part of being a delegate is really about the people. Stephen and team really pull out all the stops, and getting to meet such fantastic people from all over the world truly puts everything into perspective. This #TFD17 crew leaned very heavily from international delegates, with people from Canada, England, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Malaysia, Italy and Turkey. The next best thing to traveling the world is getting to meet people from different parts of the world, especially ones that share similar interests and professional experiences. Fellow first timer, Emre Ozensoy, brought a special gift from Turkey for all of the delegates, and others brought some regional treats that we shared among the group. Now I just have to find an authentic way to brew Turkish coffee, because I feel like running that through a Keurig machine might be a good way to never be gifted anything nice again.
The overall TFD experience really was amazing for me. I realized how far I’ve come over the past couple of years, and at the same time it helped me understand how much further there still is to go. There were definitely some discussions that went way over my head, and I had more than a few moments of impostor syndrome creep up, but I’m so thankful for the whole experience. Not only did I make some new friends, but it left me with a renewed sense that I am on the right track, and that if I just keep doing what I’m doing and reaching for new levels, great things are sure to come of it.
If all of that sounded really cool and you think you may want to sign up for something like this in the future…you should! Fill out the How to become a TFD delegate form and you could be writing a post like this in the future. And oh yeah, there were also presentations from Hammerspace, Cisco, Dell EMC Protect, Oracle IaaS and DriveScale! Some very cool and cutting edge technology was presented to us, all of which you can catch on the TFD YouTube page. The amazing thing to me was how every single one of the presentations touched on some aspect of AI/ML. A handful of years ago, “cloud” and “hci” were big buzz words in the IT world, and only somewhat recently have they been making the big splash that everyone expected. AI/ML seems to be that new shiny object, and vendors are proving that it isn’t just buzz anymore. I certainly have my work cut out for me on that end, so keep your eyes peeled for some tech related posts in the near future.