June 27, 2011

Synergy 2011

Last month I attended Citrix Summit / Synergy  in San Francisco.  It was a fast paced week of tech sessions, meeting Citrites and drinking the Citrix Kool-Aid.

A typical day started at 8:00 and included sessions, a keynote, and more sessions before finishing around 8:00 at night.  The hands-on learning labs were worth the price of admission. I got hands-on with previews of XenApp, XenClient, and Provisioning Server.  All of the products have great things in the works.

A central theme across the product line was image management.  Administrators care about image management because we spend an inordinate amount of our day patching, updating, and testing both desktops and servers.  Citrix seems to understand the importance of streamlining images and more importantly, --controlling those versions.  Image management left unchecked can result in excessive storage consumption as well as confusion when rolling back an update.  This point is equally important for local or hosted desktops as well as server images.  What if we could use the same process to update (or rollback) servers and desktops?  That would truly be a nirvana that administrators have been dreaming of for years.

Highlights from the conference:
  • “Start with Why” - Mark T showed a portion of Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk during his keynote.  It has a simple premise, why do people or companies do what they do?  He goes into a discussion on Martin Luther King Jr., Apple, and the Wright brothers.  I think the whole thing is brilliant.
  • SYN348: Getting from “Wow to How”, Part 4 – Design and deliver a delightful virtual desktop experience.  Dan Allen and Mike Schaeffer discuss the importance of the user’s experience.

  • SYN349: Getting from “Wow to How”, Part 5 – Lessons learned on the desktop transformation frontier.  Nick Rintalan and Thomas Berger do a great job pointing out the pitfalls of virtual desktop implementations. 

  • GroupMe – It is a free group messaging service / app that was extremely useful in spreading the word on good and bad sessions and a hilarious distraction during windy keynotes.  Trust me, this app is going to be a big deal.  Find more information on their site groupme.com or get the app from iTunes.com or Android Market.
  • There was time for fun that week.  Train did an admirable job of playing to a 99% dude crowd—something that they probably aren’t used to.  At one point in the show, the lead singer said he needed to get about six pretty ladies on stage to which he quickly remarked, “I think we can do this…”.  Grab their new album, “Save Me San Francisco” iTunes.com, amazon.com.

June 14, 2011

Boldly Go

I am not supposed to talk much about this month’s project but let’s just say it deals with some awesome  technology that boldly goes where no man has gone before.  Obviously, security in this type of environment is  important and taken seriously.  At one point, we had to halt our work because we noticed a bundle of new cables had red tape around them.  We weren't sure if the color of the tape was indicative of security or nothing so we worked around it for a few days until we got the confirmation that the tape just happened to be red.  As a consultant, I have worked in many companies that have varying levels of bureaucracy but this is the first time I have been stopped by literal red tape.

The term mission critical gets thrown around a lot in IT circles but I have a new respect for what it can really mean and accomplish.  Everyone on this project has been motivated, committed, and a pleasure to work with.  There is a lot of camaraderie throughout the organization that likely comes from such a highly visible and inspired goal.  I’m truly going to be disappointed to wrap this project up.