Tuesday, July 18, 2017

.next 2017 in DC

Just a few observations on the Thursday keynote and a few sessions at the .next 2017 conference in Washington, D.C.

Location, Location, Location

The conference organizers picked a great spot for the event. The Nutanix .next conference is a young tech conference, and doesn't yet pull the massive crowds that established events can pull. But that's not a criticism, it's a compliment: VMworld and CiscoLive have grown into such massive events that it's easy to get lost in the swag-seeking throngs and never establish a connection with anyone. And yes, I know that many people will share their opinion that conferences are just opportunities, and taking advantage of these opportunities is ultimately up to the attendee. True, mostly. But I've always preferred a small group of similarly interested parties over 25,000 people bouncing from vendor party to vendor party.

The Gaylord National easily accommodated the group, albeit it with more than a few trips up and down the escalators. And as a resident of the greater Baltimore area, I found getting to and from the event to be surprisingly reasonable. One of the reasons I don't attend more of these events is less about the cost of attending and more about the time commitment. But I don't feel guilty about spending a long day or two learning and networking.

Finally, D.C. gets very few events like this that I'm interested in attending. So kudos to Nutanix for serving the tech community of the DMV.

VM... who?

It's no secret that the relationship between NTNX and VMW is wrought with years of competition and, in some cases, exceptionally crude name calling (tweeps, you know what I'm talking about). But since the Nutanix IPO, they're toned down their messaging, which is a very welcome change. I admire the tech of both companies, and have good friends who are committed to each. The vitriol was approaching "us vs. them" territory. But at .next 2017, VMware was only mentioned as a supported platform and partner for VDI solutions. I heard no back-handed compliments or snarky remarks. Instead, the focus was on the features of ACH, Xi, and Calm. We all know that certain individuals at Nutanix love to go competitive whenever they have the chance. But it's my opinion that customers and tech enthusiasts don't care for the sniping, and would prefer a conference that focuses on the strengths of a product, not the comparative value of solutions.


I don't attend many conferences these days due to my schedule, and it's rare that I can take an entire week off of work to fly out of town and rack up $5,000 or so in total attendance costs. But the .next organizers offered day passes, which turned out to be perfect for me. I was able to review the agenda before determining which day would be most relevant to my work, and buy a pass for that day alone. I caught some great sessions (including Chris Wahl's session on vester and automation in general), bumped into a few old friends (Saddler!), and only ducked out twice for work-related conference calls. The is a great option when the event is within a reasonable drive from home.