Not to sound like a broken record, but I want to talk about perhaps the most important part of going to NetApp Insight…education! But it’s not all about certifications and sessions. Insight gives you the opportunity to grow more than just your knowledge about data management and IT—it helps you grow your career, sometimes in ways that you don’t expect.
I’ve been coming to Insight every year for the better part of a decade, and a lot has changed during those years. What hasn’t changed is that every year I come home having learned something new. When I first came to Insight back in 2010, I’d never been to a “storage-only” conference before. I’d gone to similar events put on by VMware, HP, and others, but I didn’t really know what to expect from Insight. I didn’t really even know that much about the NetApp portfolio, but my employer at the time saw Insight as an opportunity for me to get familiar with storage and NetApp’s roadmap, and I was eager to expand my skillset.
I quickly discovered that NetApp, even back in 2010, was not just a storage company. The things NetApp was doing around FAS, WAFL, Snapshots, etc., were unlike anything I’d previously worked on. It started to become clear why my boss had sent me: NetApp was on the cutting edge. Around day 2 of the conference, my bossed dropped another bomb on me and said I needed to go get certified. That really got me sweating. I thought, “How am I supposed to even pass this exam if I’m just now learning about all this stuff?” I hit the books, reading every white paper and technical report I could get my hands on. I signed up for a few exams, and wouldn’t you know it, I passed (by the skin of my teeth)!
Looking back, this was one of the best opportunities I had in my career to get trained up on NetApp. Nowhere else was I able to get such a detailed crash-course on a new technology and get certified all in the same event. And the certifications were free! Just by attending the conference, you get this incredible opportunity to expand your skills and improve your value to your company and your customers with industry-validated certifications. What more could you ask for? Well it turns out this was just the tip of the iceberg.
If Insight was only about attending sessions and taking certifications, the entire event would be a webcast. The reason they have it as a live conference is so you can get out and meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t interact with in your job. Technology professionals around the world come to Insight every year to discuss new ideas, talk shop, network, and share their affinity for all things NetApp. Back at my first Insight, I was more of a techie, just looking to get up to speed on cool new gear. But what I quickly discovered, as I spent more time talking with other attendees about how their business was using NetApp, was that I really enjoyed building new relationships and working with people. I was introduced to a whole new world of enabling partners, which is what I’ve been focused on to this day. Insight gave me an unexpected opportunity to take my career in a different, more fulfilling direction, and that’s something I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
As it happened, at my first Insight several years back, a peer of mine who was the NetApp advocate at our company suggested that I attend a very special session. He said that, among other things, there would be chocolate-covered bacon and refreshments. I decided to support him, but I really went for the bacon. He introduced me to Sam Moulton, the champion of the NetApp A-Team. I was eager to join, although at the time there were no available slots. But I never gave up! I reached out to Sam again the following year when my peer left the company, and I guess you could say the rest is history! These A-Team members are NetApp’s strongest advocates and some of the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Being a part of the A-Team has been an incredible experience, and it would not have been possible without Insight.
In a nutshell, Insight is a place for learning, but it’s also a place for personal and professional growth. My advice to both newcomers and Insight veterans would be to keep an open mind. If you’re more of a technical person, make sure to get out and meet new people. If you’re more of a sales or partner-focused person, take the time to get up to speed on the latest and greatest products and technologies coming out of NetApp—and maybe fit in a couple of certifications while you’re there (after all, they’re free!).
Also, be sure to attend the social media and alliance-sponsored events. Those are great opportunities to help you grow your contacts and expand your network of influence. You never know, you could become the next NetApp A-Team or NetApp United member! Insight is the perfect place to try new things and meet new people. It’s not just a “storage conference!”
Register Today for NetApp Insight 2018
NetApp Insight™ is the premier customer experience for data visionaries around the globe. Strategic leaders, IT executives, architects, administrators, and developers will discuss how the NetApp Data Fabric helps you inspire innovation with cloud, build clouds to accelerate new services, and modernize IT architecture with cloud-connected flash. Register today to learn how to transform your business and succeed with data.