I’ve been to both U.S. and EMEA NetApp INSIGHT events for the past three years. With a baker’s dozen under the belt, I can say each year it doesn’t disappoint. NetApp INSIGHT, first and foremost, is a tech conference combined with a lot of fun. With a certain amount of foresight, this year promises to be just as informative and exciting as years past. If you only attend one event this conference season, make sure it’s NetApp INSIGHT.

A few key changes for this year’s events

This year, NetApp slimmed down on the number of sessions offered. In previous years they offered up to 340 individual sessions covering a huge breadth of topics. This year is a much more refined offering, with 250 sessions focusing on the major areas of cloud and AI/ML. The good news is that you are still likely to catch various members of the NetApp A-Team popping up at many sessions. We even have a few of our own, like 3009-2 Ask The A-Team – Building A Modern Data Platform. And when we’re not doing sessions, we’ll be hanging out at the Social Media Hub on the expo floor, next to the GMC Vandura from the A-Team TV show.

 

This year, something new called Mega Sessions are rolling out. These are designed to be more engaging and interactive than your standard breakout. If you only attend one, make sure it’s 7006-1 ALL ACCESS: Innovation Faceoff with Matt Watts and Greg Knieriemen. It’s going to be a very interesting way to learn where NetApp is headed in the next twelve months. Add it to your schedule before it fills up—I will see you there!

 

Other new breakouts include the “Jam Sessions”, (sadly, no Paul Weller) designed for attendees to interact and provide feedback on NetApp technologies. Then there are Data Fabric Experiences where you can hear from actual customers and talk to them about their data fabric. It’s a really good way to gain helpful knowledge to assist you on your digital transformation journey. There are also loads of other sessions featuring a wide variety of NetApp products and technical topics, including APIs, automation and Ansible, privacy, compliance, zero trust and RBAC, Cloud Volumes ONTAP and Cloud Volumes Service, SaaS backup, FAS, AFF, MAX Data, public/private/hybrid cloud, the list goes on and on.

 

NetApp INSIGHT provides attendees with the unique opportunity to talk directly to presenters and have real, honest conversations about technology and our industry. NetApp is interested in what you have to say about their products and solutions, especially if you’re a customer or partner. I always look forward to the announcements and keynotes then going back to the booths to get a deeper understanding of what’s new, or getting up close with the hardware—something you can only do if you are there in person, rather than watching the presentations several weeks later. One big change this year is that there is only one, one-hour keynote, so be sure to get there early and get a good seat—you won’t want to miss it!

Come for the learning, stay for the fun

NetApp INSIGHT is not just about the technical sessions. There’s lots of fun to be had, as well as important opportunities for you to network and advance your career.

 

  • Customer Appreciation Party. This one is always a good time, filled with food and drinks and usually some sort of great entertainment. It’s a great opportunity to network and catch up with industry peers from around the world.
  • Celebrating Women in Tech Session. Any opportunity to celebrate the contributions and importance of women in our industry is extremely worthwhile. Last year’s event was one of the highlights of the week for me. This is another popular breakout so make sure it is one of the first things to go into your schedule or you may miss out.
  • Certifications via NetApp University. NetApp INSIGHT is one of the best places you can go to get certified in a variety of topics or to re-up your existing certifications. You can take as many as you want at no additional cost. Be sure to block time in your schedule to get certified. If you haven’t gotten your NetApp Certified Technical Associate certification yet (something that became a partner pre-requisite this fiscal year), I highly suggest you do that at NetApp INSIGHT. Read more about certifications at NetApp INSIGHT in this blog by my fellow A-Team member, Scott Gelb.

The agenda and website are being updated constantly, so keep checking back to find out more about what’s happening this year at NetApp INSIGHT.

NetApp INSIGHT pro tips

If you’re a European like me and attending the Las Vegas conference, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

 

  • Living the Vegas life. One of the nice things about the Las Vegas event is that the conference and hotel are on the same site. You can stay at one of five different hotels and not have to go outside to go to the conference, which is nice as the Vegas weather is quite hot and dry. That being said, they have air conditioning pretty much everywhere, so being inside is a plus. Be sure to drink more water than you normally would due to the drying effect of the A/C. You are there to learn, after all, and proper hydration is a key factor to maintaining optimum brain function.
  • “Bacon” means something different in the U.S. than in Europe. Americans seem to like their bacon cooked to a crisp (practically cremated in certain establishments, which they actually like). It’s also worth noting that it is only streaky (side bacon) and not the far tastier back bacon stuff we have. On a plus, it’s practically everywhere.
  • …oh, and so does “coffee.” The American definition of coffee can vary from flat-baked, flavorless, lukewarm, brown water all the way through to a smooth, complex, full-bodied cup with a good crema. So be careful where you purchase your wake-up juice.
  • Be on time. Change your watch to Vegas time when you board your first flight. The time delay can mess with even the most seasoned traveler, so it’s good to get on the time zone asap. Making fists with your toes is optional.
  • See the sights! I have argued for many years that NetApp INSIGHT is a “work hard and play hard” conference. So I would also suggest that if you have decided to make the trip across the globe, it’s worth squeezing in some tourist activities, whether that be hiring a car and driving out to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon or going to see a show like David Copperfield or Cirque du Soleil. Even just heading down the Strip a bit to see the Bellagio fountains or historic Fremont Street is a great investment of time.

Looking to catch some of the NetApp INSIGHT 2019 action but can’t make it to Las Vegas? Good news: NetApp INSIGHT has gone global! You can attend any of the regional events in Tokyo, London, Paris, and Berlin in 2020, or the roadshow events in Taipei, Seoul, Busan, and Osaka.

 

Of course, I highly recommend you join us in Las Vegas, because after all, who doesn’t want to stay current with NetApp’s advancements whilst hanging out with the NetApp A-Team.

Ruairi McBride

Ruairi is a Technical Account Manager and Team Leader for Arrow ECS based in the United Kingdom. His main focus is enterprise storage, particularly the NetApp portfolio.

When he’s not sitting in front of a keyboard, Ruairi can be found cycling the roads of Hampshire near his home.