a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

Always Be Conferencing. TR Dispatch v2n14

The TechReckoning Dispatch. Vol. 2. No. 14. September 24, 2015. In this issue: The Reckoning 2015, new podcast: Chat with Champions, and VMworld vs the World [View in Browser]

The Reckoning 2015 was an amazing experience. Thanks to all who came, and thanks to our sponsors Cisco, Zerto, SimpliVity, Ravello Systems, and Nutanix who made the whole thing possible.

You can see most of The Reckoning 2015 on-stage action over at YouTube. Watch the overview video on this link or by clicking on the image over on the right. It was a really interesting mix of community and the special career challenges that tech folks face and we loved mixing people from different communities together.

I’m here at SpiceWorld 2015 in Austin, TX, this week, recording podcasts for the Geek Whisperers. We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled links next week, including your thoughts on VMworld (see below).

Chat with Champions

One new project I’m producing is a podcast in conjunction with the venture capital fund Mayfield. It’s called “Chat with Champions,” and the lineup of interviews with successful serial entrepreneurs coming up is great, and I think the insights are spot on. The episodes so far:

People Make Products: Ep 1 with Navin Chaddha.¬†I interview Mayfield Managing Director Navin Chaddha, who is the host and interviewer for the rest of the series, about his career journey and lessons learned. Navin’s first company, right of out grad school, made the product that became Windows Media Player.

Staying True To Your Vision: Ep 2 with Phil Fernandez. Phil is the CEO of Marketo, and that company is really a realization of his 10-year vision. He also talks about navigating through the downturn of 2008 when his gut was against all the advice he was getting.

Starting a movement: Ep 3 with Ben Golub. The Docker CEO is insightful and articulate as he talks about culture, setting goals, and the fragile conditions necessary to start a movement.

Always Read The Comments

We asked (before VMworld) if you’re going to VMworld or some place else now was your go-to conference.


Going to VMworld. Looking to soak up as much as possible on NSX and DevOps. And not be too hung over.

I am not going to VMworld this year. I was going to say that the next ‘it’ conference for me, was the biannual OpenStack summits but on second thought I have a different answer because even that is becoming too big for some.

I think the big conferences have become too big. there are too many people, too much to see and too much to choose from.

If I were to have to choose, it would be the smaller events like DevopsDays, DockerCon, that is where the future is and where I would like to invest my future focus.

The singular focus on any one single technology – is becoming a bottleneck for some – so for me the places where I can get exposure to a wider range of solutions and varied technologies – is where I would prefer to go.


I believe that the new IT conference is none of them. Large conferences are dead, and the ones that aren’t dead are zombies, at least when taking the long view. I say that as a person as actively involved in the Interop conference as I could possibly be shy of working for it full-time.

Here’s why I think IT conferences are the walking dead. People don’t want to travel, and/or can’t get permission or budget to travel. And why should they, when so very much excellent information is available online? Admittedly, finding the truly good stuff is hard. In an ocean of information, a Google search does not provide a clear syllabus to achieve a particular knowledge goal. Curating content when starting from a point of ignorance is a paradox.

Perhaps what the world needs is not another (or a new) conference, but an organization of the existing data so that information consumers have a way to find topical information in an organized, curated way. I suggest that’s what’s lacking. A conference used to be a path to rich information shared by brilliant minds. Now, conferences are often meant to be a lead-gen factory funded by vendors trying to fill a sales pipeline. The information, by and large, is already out there — if only we could find the truly valuable “good stuff.”

That said, boutique, small conferences that emphasize interpersonal relationships are more valuable. Perhaps. The content must be strong. And participants must interact to make the most of the opportunity. And that travel thing is still a problem. The annoyance of metal tubes and meatspace will never go away, which is, I suppose, why so many conferences are held in Silicon Valley. Travel is minimized for many potential participants.


The people. At any conference, it will always be about the people. Good people make the conference worthwhile while bad people make it energy sapping with vendor fluffed content and the same old song & dance. As I’ve said before, technologies, processes, and vendors in the lead change; but people will always be the constant for better or for worse.

You’ve already mentioned the “It” conference — And I completely agree that AWS re:Invent is the hot ticket at the moment. Other conferences you can’t snooze on are DockerCon, OpenStack Summit, Black Hat, and surprisingly MSFT Ignite was quite interesting indeed!

I was on the fence about VMworld prior to working for a vendor, as I’ve become a bit blas√© about the conference due to years of attendance and the repeated mixed quality of the content. My focus remains roughly the same this year – create content for the community via vBrownBag / VMworld sessions / birds of a feather discussions, network with my peers to learn new tips and tricks, and catch up with those that I rarely get to see in person. However, is there ever going to be an “it” conference? That seems like saying there’s an “it” flavor of ice cream. Conferences do seem to be fragmenting into smaller and more focused groups, which is both great (increased frequency of meeting with peers, less of a sardine can feeling) and also saddening (there’s something attractive about a huge conference, and vendor budgets scale appropriately). But every conference has things that are attractive to some and not to others. In other news, the world seems to be going conference crazy. Every topic and vendor seems to have a conference these days. It’s like having Aeron chairs back in the dot-bomb days. :)
Yes, I am heading to VMWorld (as well as The Reckoning). The one thing I am looking forward to at both events is the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals. People who can break down a complex system into the simplest parts and then explain how those simple building blocks are going to be what has the greatest impact for end users.
Sadly skipping VMworld this year for the first time in 6 years or so. I’m letting others lead the charge now. As for the next tech conference, I would have said AWS a few years ago but I actually don’t think it is now. As someone who spoke there before, the “behind the scenes” of the event is really hard to digest and AWS is so big brother about everything (can’t use certain words like hybrid cloud, all presentations are combed over and scrubbed, someone from AWS sits in on your session to make sure you follow the rules) that I just can’t enjoy the show anymore. I would say the replacement event for me is now DockerCon. I was at the event in May and the vibe was awesome and people genuinely excited about new tech and the “next thing”. Really looking forward to DockerCon EU.
I’ll be at VMworld this year working on and off in the VVOLs booth this year. Would love to meet you in person this year. You and I have spent a lot of time together albeit a bit one sided with me listening and you talking.
I last went to VMworld in 2010, but this year I’m back. What am I looking for? If SmartOS can run Linux containers natively and Windows has a runC compliant API in Server 2016, maybe other OSes will come to the OpenContainer party too? Also looking for more on LightWave (which solves a problem many probably don’t realise they have yet) and other security related things. Look forward to seeing some old friends!
I’ll miss VMworld this year. I’ll be in Lost Wages for the Cisco sales kickoff along with 17,000 of my closest sales friends.
@drummonds recommends a book from¬†last time’s talk on AWS:
Interesting reading for you: a $1.99 book on Kindle called ‚ÄúNo Exit‚ÄĚ by Gideon Lewis-Krauss. ¬†Central thesis: the startup culture in the valley (and the peninsula) is the modern day equivalent of sweatshops. ¬†Long hours, very low pay, and all for a chance at the ‚Äúdream‚ÄĚ. ¬†Of course the dream in the 19th century was living in America. ¬†Now it’s IPO.
@mvVme on Security from¬†last time’s talk on security:

I want to comment on the security stuff.  I used to do security stuff Рphysical Рin the army Рand also in the IT space too later on as a system engineer on a security team.  I believe it will get worse, and there will be more exploits and embarrassment.  But, it will reach a point where customers will start listening to their security people a little better.  And better security people will be more around by then.  It will be sort to like a reset.   Security is not all firewalls, and IDS / IPS stuff.  It is more importantly Рalmost Рabout educating your people so they are part of and support the security.  It is when security people and developer work together at the beginning and not at the end of the project.

This will not happen everywhere, but it will happen.  And then things will improve.  Not everywhere but in some key areas and then it will move quicker Рbut there will likely still be loud and embarrassing exploits but at least not in too many of the typical businesses.  But I am concerned that we may sink pretty far before the change occurs.

But you have some very good points in your newsletter, the times are interesting!  When you look at how Apple is moving to the point of protecting its customers better then the government protects them it is interesting.  Plus the Apple Watch is pretty darn good, and when you start seeing apps run there I think that might start things over again with the watch.

Just Hit Reply

VMworld – what did you think? Both VMware news and anything from the ecosystem show flow. As always, just hit reply or shoot me an email.

The TechReckoning Dispatch.¬†Archive.¬†Subscribe.¬†Email me. Mahalo. Until next time, which we always hope will be sooner than last time. You’re so pretty. I love your shoes. “Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more. There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. ¬†There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted. ¬†In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack–the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers. The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle–you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?”