NetApp Insight and why it’s the best conference in the IT industry

As summer is ending, the season of annual IT events has already started with VMworld World US in last month. There will be other IT following, however for me one of the best will always NetApp Insight. NetApp Insight is an annual event organized by data management company NetApp. The first time I’ve been to the event was in 2015. Over the past few years, the EMEA version of event has been held in Berlin. As usual, this year’s US event is held once again in Las Vegas, but the European edition will be this year in Barcelona, Spain in beginning of December. This is a welcome change of location for me. Not that Berlin wasn’t good, but going to conferences is great opportunity to do some quick sightseeing.

NetApp Insight 2014

And after three visits in Berlin, it already feels very familiar like home town to me, and the thrill of the unknown is already missing. As you can tell, I’m excited about Barcelona is to say the least. NetApp Insight has fascinated me by how well organized everything is, every session is carefully selected, so the participants are never bored and can always learn more useful information and acquire new knowledge. Each year there are more than 100 unique breakout sessions featuring NetApp solutions, case studies, best practices, tools and innovations.Of course, the NetApp technology mentioned a lot, but it’s done in a nice discreet way, so you don’t get the feeling you are being brainwashed, as I felt at so many events run by other technology vendors, where the organizers are very pushy and everything is all about them. NetApp Insight is well known among attendees as a very technical, not sales-oriented conference in contrast to other similar conferences. Sessions are built around NetApp product in combination with technologies from alliance partners such as VMware, Microsoft, Veaam, SAP, Oracle and others. You can hear and learn about other technologies aside from NetApp, which always comes in handy, when working on projects. Furthermore, NetApp Insight is also a great opportunity for improving and test your skills with Hands-on-Labs, free of charge NetApp Certification exams and technical training sessions. For me personally, the best feature of NetApp insight are the keynotes -with very interesting speakers like NetApp’s founder Dave Hitz (@DaveHitz) and Matt Watts (@mtjwatts), Director of Technology & Strategy.

I will never forget Dave Hitz’ story about comparing water pipes with data and how he came up with a new technology for NetApp customers to use less storage.

Dave Hitz looking to the future…

This feature is now known as deduplication and NetApp was the first company to introduce deduplication running on primary storage. Many people thought that Dave will sink the NetApp ship by providing deduplication for free to every NetApp customer and NetApp will end up selling less storage. They were wrong and NetApp was selling even more of storage and also other vendors followed the Dave Hitz idea…

In the next year’s keynote, Dave explained how he come up with the idea that NetApp needs to develop a way for customers to able to move their data seamlessly from their storage to cloud, like using plumbing pipes. The idea is now called Data Fabric. Data Fabric is now days widely used over the world as a highway for shipping data to clouds. Matt Watts had one year very interesting speech about how role of IT is changing. I find key notes like this very inspiring and they show you the vision of NetApp for the upcoming years. Most likely this year’s focus will be on cloud, as the cloud opportunity is rapidly growing. NetApp is focused on cloud innovations to create more cloud opportunities for accelerating new services. I believe modernizing IT architecture with cloud-connected flash will also be a major topic this year at Insight. Aside from the great content, one of the best benefits of attending Insight are the networking opportunities to connect with great people. I’ve enjoyed a lot the evening activities, which are always well organized, fun and overly great experience to remember. For example, I truly enjoyed the last year’s visit to the Berlin

NetApp logo build with lego

Classic Remise depot, where classic cars and very expensive ones like Bugatti Veyron are displayed, as well as the appreciation parties at iconic venues such as the at Olympic stadium and the famous Tempelhof airport in Berlin. Last but not least, last year party was in an old Berlin underground station, was definitely one to remember, featuring an awesome cover band called RPJ, which was phenomenal and definitely rocked the party. I hope they bring them back once again in Barcelona. For me, personally the only downside to Insight is the conference pass price, which is a bit high. However, if you look at what the conference has to offer to you and your business it’s a great investment, especially considering the free certifications opportunity. I honestly promise you won’t be disappointed, just like one of my customers wasn’t when I took him to conference last year. Since then he’s been explaining how he thought it will be just another trip to Berlin, but he ended being amazed at the value of the conference and changed his mind completely. When we were on the way back from Berlin, he said that NetApp Insight is definitely a conference he will be coming back to next year.

I’m excited to be back to Insight this year in Barcelona and look forward to the keynotes and meeting with my fellow United members. I’m sure Petya Stefanova (@PeytStefanova), NetApp United coach will prepare something great for NetApp United members. Last year she organized a lot of activities (Pop-Up tech talks, hand football competition…) and I can not forget to mention a dinner with NetApp A-Team members and NetApp VPs, which was a very special start of NetApp Insight week.