I attended Tech-Ed Africa twice before this year, the last time in 2003. Much has changed since then – some good, some not so great.
I felt like I got more out of this year, technically speaking, than I ever did before. It may be that I have matured in my thinking, and that the experiences I have had since my last Tech-Ed have shaped my thoughts, but the bottom line is that I feel I gained more technical knowledge this time round.
I have also become more focused, tech-wise, which means I kept to one track, making the ability to absorb knowledge much easier.
There were a couple of presenters that were absolutely brilliant. One that stands out for me, personally, is Nick Beaugeard. Vastly knowledgeable and incredibly funny, I learnt more from his sessions than any other, not just about SCOM, but also about good coding practice and a variety of other topics. I will most definitely make an effort to attend sessions presented by him in future (and, of course, I will now be reading his blog *grin*)
It was also great to see more females at this year’s event (apparently, 14% of delegates were female), and I look forward to seeing even more in coming years. There does seem to be a drive in the industry to attract more females, so it is entirely possible to see this figure grow tremendously over the next couple of years.
I could not fault Tech-ed on much this year, other than the venue. When it was held at Sun City in previous years, it felt contained. There was no need to rely on shuttles and services to get around, as everything was in one location. Being in Durban, delegates were spread over whatever accommodation they could find, and had to rely on the shuttles to and from the conference venue. These shuttles also only ran in the morning and late afternoon, which meant that, if you wanted to return to your hotel during an open session, you had to walk, or make use of other transport.
Additionally, conference fees this year did not include accommodation, and the transport costs also added to the overall cost to companies, meaning that some may have missed out on an important training opportunity due to cost. I accept that there were more delegates this year, but I cannot help but wonder how many more would have attended, had it been held in or closer to Gauteng.
Of course, I learnt a lot about SCOM, and the System Center suite as a whole – how it works, how it integrates and all that good stuff. But I also learnt other things, not just from the sessions, but, as I mentioned in a previous post, also from the conversations I had with people.
I also got to speak to some thought leaders on these topics, and it was nice to have my views challenged again, and to see where I am on the right track. It was also good to know that the mistakes we make are often not unique.
In my day to day dealings with techs, I generally don’t get to meet many of them that play with tech after hours, and most ops people tend not to dabble in the newer technologies, such as Web 2.0. That is always considered to be in the realm of the dev guys – but even the dev guys I know don’t really delve much into these techs. So, it was refreshing to meet some like-minded people who also Twitter, blog and use social networks for more than just social networking.
Systems Management (SM), whether with the System Center suite or other product sets, is most definitly the space to be in going forward. Even developers have to start thinking about their code in context to SM, and be sure to instrument their applications in such a way that it can be monitored, managed and maintained by the techs.
Powershell got off to a rocky start, and was initially not received very well, but it is the basis for most of the new server applications, from Exchange to System Center. I was reluctant to learn it, initially, but it is simply so powerful that I can no longer ignore it. This will be one of my big personal learning goals for the next several months, even if I cannot use it with MOM 2005 yet (but I believe there is a way to do so, and I will be sure to start finding those ways).
I also forgot, for a while, how to think outside the box, and I had some stark reminders of that over the past couple of days. I have always lived by the rule that nothing is impossible, especially if you haven’t tried it. It is important not to become too entrenched in a specific product suite or way of thinking, simply because it is comfortable. It is also important to allow one’s views to be challenged, in a constructive way, and to set up personal monitors to keep track of personal progress in line with the way the world is moving.
I am sure I will remember more thoughts over the coming days, but these were the most important ones I wanted to get out.