Back from Tech Field Day - Overview

Date August 16, 2011

And boy are my arms tired. And my back, and my butt, and my legs, etc etc

Seriously, this Tech Field Day really did a number on me. I think it's probably because this was the first event that I had both attended AND helped organize, which means that I was pulling double duty. I had an amazing time, but I'm really glad to be at home vegging on my couch right now.

I'll be talking about some of the things I saw at Tech Field Day in the coming weeks, but I wanted to provide an overview of what we did and saw.

The Tech Field Day proper started out with us visiting Solar Winds, a company that deals with mid-sized enterprises. We learned about some of their newer offerings, both developed and purchased.

After Solar Winds, we headed to the Symantec office to check out some of their Netbackup and Backup Exec solutions. They're launching a new hardware appliance for mid-sized businesses that has some interesting features that I can't wait to talk about.

Pretty much the entire reason we had the event in Austin, TX was because Dell Storage wanted to be a big part of Tech Field Day this time. If you're interested in Dell, Austin is the place to be. There are over 17,000 Dell employees in the area, and they have several campuses, including the global corporate HQ.

Over the past few years, they've gone from being essentially a reseller for EMC to being a bonafide enterprise storage company. The primary way they've done that was to buy more and more companies that invented cool technologies. They're now in the process of merging the technologies together in modern storage solutions, and the more I learn, the more interesting it is. I'm not a HUGE storage guy, but I'll share what I know - the future of storage is going to be crazy.

Finally, Veeam came to visit from my home of Columbus, OH. They are a backup company that historically did VM-level backups of VMware ESX(i) guests. Their big news was that they're now going to be supporting Microsoft's HyperV. We had some pretty in-depth round-table discussions about that, mostly wondering about the motivations. Those round-tables should be available in video later.

Because companies want to make a good impression on us, they typically give us little trinkets. It's nice of them to think of us, and it really isn't any different (usually) from the kind of things you get from trawling a trade show floor. Nevertheless, according to this really boring FTC document, I've got to disclose what the vendors gave me so that you know I'm on the up and up.

For the record, I don't really care how many flash drives you throw at me, I'm still going to tell the truth about what I thought of your presentation.

Anyway, here we go.

From Dell, we got some little backpacks full of goodies. They had insulated cups with straws, t-shirts with a very cool Tech Field Day 7 logo on the front and the back, a propeller-head beanie with a Dell logo on it (don't ask) and a nice set of small wind-up earbud headphones that I'm currently using to listen to Spotify. Also, for our use at our desks, they gave us very nice metal pens and one of the nicest notebooks I've ever gotten from a vendor. It's a small Dell-logo-embossed hardback Moleskine notebook that I have every intention of using as often as possible.

From Symantec, we got cute little plastic robots with built-in 4GB USB sticks (housing their promotional PDFs, of course, which I think is actually a great way to do it). We also got a nice pen and notebook set from them (which my wife has claimed, mostly because I told her that she couldn't have the moleskine). They also gave us nice Symantec-logo polos much like their employees wear.

Veeam brought us two really cool presents - the first is a Veeam polo with our twitter names printed on the back. I'm so geeky that I think this was really cool. :-) Many moons ago at my first Tech Field Day, EMC gave me a small travel optical mouse with a self-retracting cord. I've been using that ever since, but Veeam managed to replace it - they gave us a Microsoft Arc mouse, something I didn't even know existed. It folds up tiny, is wireless, and is pretty much exactly what I wanted in a mobile mouse. So thanks very much for that, Veeam!

And this brings us to Solar Winds. If you've ever seen them on a trade floor, you probably noticed that their booth was awash in stickers and buttons - this was no different. Seemingly every surface was covered in stickers that we were encouraged to grab. But they went far above and beyond the call of duty. They gave us not just the best freebie of Tech Field Day, but maybe one of the most thoughtful gifts I've received from anyone outside of my family.

A few weeks before the event, they emailed Stephen and I asking for headshots of all of the delegates. We sent them over links to the pictures because, hey, sponsors ask for weird things. Maybe they just wanted to recognize us on sight. As it turns out, not exactly.

When you become an employee of Solar Winds, you can get yourself "geeked", where they have a professional artist recreate you as a cartoon. Everyone there really loves their cartoon selves, and they look great. Well, they had their professional artist do the same for us, and it was simply amazing:





These are the framed hand-drawn cartoons, while in our email sat a high-resolution scan, a colorized jpeg version and a vector-graphics version able to be blown up to any size we need:

It's really awesome. I've got the framed version ready to hang in my house. I can't believe they went to the effort of making those for all of us. It was really great, and I want to thank Jodi Bart (best foodie blog ever) and her coworkers at Solar Winds for getting those set up. Just amazing.

So that's what I got on my summer vacation. I'm getting started on Tech Field Day 8 in Silicon Valley, coming up in September. Watch this space for more info coming up soon!

If you have any specific questions about the technologies I saw, drop me a comment and let me know. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find out for you!

2 Responses to “Back from Tech Field Day - Overview”

  1. Jodi said:

    Matt -- it was a pleasure working with you and hosting you and the rest of the super kind Tech Field Day delegates. Thanks for helping us carry out our cartoonish plan. Also, thank you for linking to my blog!! Hope to see you again soon :-)

  2. Tech Field Day 7: The Links said:

    [...] Back from Tech Field Day – Overview (Matt Simmons) [...]

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