There are a few things that come up each year that I really look forward to attending. Gestalt IT's Networking Field Day (NFD) is one of those events. It's an opportunity for some of us who haven't talked in while to get together and throw ideas around, talk about what works well in workflows and blogging techniques, and to sit with select vendors and hear about what they believe is absolutely amazing. Really, the point of NFD is to get some of us technical people in front of the vendors technical people and talk about how things really work. And in my past opportunities to attend I have learned more about many of these vendors that I would have, had I not attended.
How it Works
There's a straight forward charm about how a Field Day works. First, you get notified that you have been selected as a delegate and asked if you can attend. If you are able to, a travel agent contacts you and arranges a flight for you. The hotel is automagically taken care of, and you never have to worry about food or drinks. Everything in regards to travel is handled.
The first day there is usually a welcome dinner or something along those lines. Beers with the other delegates in the lobby is the norm.
TIP: Don't overindulge on the first night- the day starts early and someone will knock on your hotel room door, wake you up, and tell you that you are going to be left behind.
The first day with with vendors gets rolling pretty fast. You're transportation and food is handled, but I recommend grabbing a cup of starbucks coffee before you leave the hotel.
Each vendor is coached so-to-speak, about presenting to technical people. If they stray from the technical and begin down a road of Gartner research, and fancy pie charts a unicorn dies. Ok, maybe a unicorn doesn't actually die, but I've heard they cry, someone collects bacon, and a few delegates seek comfort in their cloud security blanket. Oh yeah, and we yell at the Vendor, make faces at them, exhale loudly, and start side discussions until they get the point and go back to technical.
In my past attendance's there is an evening event somewhere cool, that allows us to have more one-on-one time with vendors, socialize with other delegates, do something cool (depending on where we are) and lube up with some intoxicating beverages. Once again, don't over indulge. You still have to wake up early the next day.
The Final Day
On the final day of the Field Day, after you visit all the vendors, a final meal, or "Last Supper" takes place. Some fly out early, and others just enjoy the last evening with just the group of delegates. After this meal you're on your own for beverages and food. This pretty much signals the end of the Field Day responsibilities. At this point Stephen Foskett lets down his hair, has a few beverages and dances on tables. Well, he's never actually danced on tables, and I don't think any of us really care to see that show, but he does have a few drinks, and enjoys the "stress-free" evening.
So Why Do We All Talk About It?
Because it's cool! And even the people who complain on twitter about it being an elite club only complain about it because it's cool and they would actually like to be there. If they thought otherwise they wouldn't say anything. However, it does make me think that Matthew Norwood needs another "personalities of twitter" video just to cover the field day personalties. Anyhow, all joking aside, the fact of the matter is that most people in networking would jump at the chance to break the daily routine and spend some time with our online friends and acquaintances while learning about products and technologies that we may not have otherwise given the time if day to.
Finding Out More
You can find out more on the Networking Field Day by visiting it's home page at http://techfieldday.com/2012/nfd3/.
This Networking Field Day's delegate list includes:
|Ethan Banks||Packet Pushers||@ECBanks|
|Tony Bourke||The Data Center Overlords||@TBourke|
|Brandon Carroll||Brandon Carroll
|Brad Casemore||Twilight in the Valley of the Nerds||@BradCasemore|
|Jeremy L. Gaddis||Evil Routers||@JLGaddis|
|Tom Hollingsworth||The Networking Nerd||@NetworkingNerd|
|Chris Marget||Fragmentation Needed||@ChrisMarget|
|Derick Winkworth||Cloud Toad||@CloudToad|
|Mrs. Y.||Packet Pushers||@MrsYisWhy|
Most of the names on this list are people you are familiar with. If not, take a moment to check out their profiles and give their blogs and tweets a look. Personally I think the lineup is great and I'm looking forward to the roundtables that we end up having, usually over beers in the Double Tree lobby.
While the list of presenters is not final you can certainly get a feel for what we might see. Solarwinds is always a strong presenter and will likely talk about what's new in NPM and UDT, however we might see some info on Server & Application Monitor since there was a recent update to what was once knows as APM. I'm not certain what we might see from NEC but after the open flow demo given last field day I'm sure it will be related and I'll probably like it. Infineta sounds like WAN optimization, Arista sounds like REALLY FAST SWITCHING, and some kind of magical presentation skills from VP of Marketing, Douglas Gourlay (Don't let the title fool you- this guy is a techie underneath it all). I don't know what to expect from Spirent because I'm not very familiar with them, and of course Cisco Borderless Networks will be filled with a lot of Kool-aid that likely Ivan, Greg, and Tom will complain is too sweet. I also foresee conversations on how Cisco can "adjust" the Kool-aid formula to entice their taste buds. Of course, I could be wrong, perhaps they, along with myself, will be amazed.
|Thursday, March 29|
|Friday, March 30|
You can keep up with the event by following the live stream which I've embedded below. You can also visit http://techfieldday.com/ for news and other Field Day events that you might be interested in, or follow the twitter list, http://twitter.com/techfieldday/nfd3-delegates.
Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like. I personally feel that the Tech Field Days are a great way to spark my thinking about Vendors, Products, Technologies, and the likes. It makes me a more aware and better educated networking professional and I'm privileged to be selected as a delegate.
Yes- travel, food, drinks, and such are paid for. But guess what? The vendors and Gestalt IT do not pay my hosting bill for my blog, my software tab for taking screenshots, managing posts, and upgrading RAM when my laptop chokes up. In other words, they are not Paying Me for any of this. I blog about these vendors and technologies on my own free will, and I do not take payments from vendors to write pretty posts about their awesome sauce software. I am an independent thinker and wish to remain such. If I dont fully understand the message, or if I dont buy into what's being shoveled at me I will not write about it. I also do not polish turds and post them on my site in an effort to help people sell stuff that I wouldn't even buy.