Citrix Synergy 2014 Recap: Part 1, The People
by DJ Eshelman, on May 15, 2014 11:07:29 AM
Last week I had the pleasure of attending Citrix Synergy—the yearly conference held to bring together Citrix the company with dozens of vendors, partners (like GTRI, who is a Platinum Partner), distributors, and of course customers who actually USE Citrix products. Sure, there were sales-oriented people there, but mostly this week was focused on bringing solutions and new ideas to everyone.
Now, I have to confess here that this is actually my first Synergy, believe it or not. I’ve always been on-site with customers or not able to attend for various other reasons, but this week GTRI made it a priority for me to be there. I’m glad they did; it was good to be more than just the tech guy/Architect/Engineer for a week, though I did find I couldn’t truly escape that part of my life.
Synergy involved more than 10,000 people—most of which were gathered in Anaheim, California—but about one-third were attending virtually. If you missed Synergy 2014, most of the key sessions are now available to view on-demand here.
I feel like there were five P’s that made Synergy worth it for me: People, Partners, Products, Presentations and Purpose. For the first part of my three-part wrap-up, I’ll focus on the People.
Synergy was a very interactive experience. I was secretly afraid I would spend four days attending sessions and hearing all about stuff I already knew about. But I found that not to be the case. Just as Citrix has always been all about the experience, Synergy is all about the people!
I was able to re-connect with quite a few of my customers – most of whom were from my days working with Citrix Consulting Services (CCS) all over the country. It was fantastic to hear their stories about how their environments are now, what they’ve accomplished and even what has not gone well. Valuable feedback, and overall it was great to hear “Hey, DJ!” from someone walking by or across the room. Some of them I shocked when they didn’t recognize me at first (I used to weigh about 60 pounds more than I do today). I’d say hello and they would have that classic look of “why do I know this person???” Then once they’d recognized me they were always so happy to see me. Amazingly, many of these people I’d only been in contact with for a week-long assessment and we still remembered each other. It is simply awesome to have that level of impact in people’s lives, and it’s one of the things I love about my career. I love that Synergy let me experience that.
I met new people as well, not only in sessions or just walking around, at the various events, etc., and not just to give out my business card (though I certainly did that a lot), but to connect with people from around the world. In fact, one of the people I ended up hanging out with the most all week is originally from New Zealand (one of my favorite places on the planet), and is now working with Cancer Research UK (read the Citrix article here).
I even met some people whom I felt GTRI could help and was able to invite several people out for a beverage and discussions of what they were doing and how we can help. After all, I’m all about the solutions. There are some real challenges out there, and I’m hoping that GTRI can help you with them—not just because it’s my job, but because it’s my commitment!
Lunch Table Tech Chats
Another pleasure of mine was to sit down to lunch with directed topics each day. These Lunch Table Tech Chats gave me the opportunity to discuss topics such as Mobility, Citrix User Groups, and Virtualization. In all of these sessions I took away ideas and was able to contribute ideas. I loved it!
For example, in a few weeks I intend to talk more about the Mobility dilemma; it’s a product that has more “It Depends” than ever. I was exposed to new ways people are using or would like to use XenMobile (or Mobility as a general concept) in both Public and Private sectors. As a person who designs to meet needs, I’m salivating at the chance to do more of this!
Citrix User Groups was one of the lunchtime topics. As a socially connected person, it’s important for me to have environments to share experiences and ideas. Citrix User Groups are that opportunity and one of the things that could be improved. There was some great feedback from what people like to see (honesty, fresh ideas, and common experiences) and don’t like to see (pressure, sales presentations). I look forward to contributing my efforts to that end very soon!
And of course virtualization, the never ending story of servers, applications and now going beyond into things like NVIDIA Grid. These tables were packed with people and ideas, and it was great to see so many takes on what people were doing to meet the challenges. The long and short of it is, if you’ve done it, chances are you’re not alone!
I was also able to connect or re-connect with a lot of my peers—Architects at CCS who I had worked with for years, as well as people in sales, education and others. It was great. Breakout sessions made it possible to interact with many of my fellow Engineers and Architects. It was great to swap stories, successes, even failures with people who “get it.”
Let’s face it, people like me are opinionated. I love that Citrix doesn’t shy away from opinions or frank criticism. Plenty of that was to be had at Synergy, and I think Citrix really does bring us all together in that way.
Twitter, Facebook, GroupMe… I was thankful for the extra batteries being handed out by several vendors and the charging stations, but I’ll be honest: I felt like my head was looking down at my phone so much that I had an interesting visit to the chiropractor yesterday. It all shows that Citrix is right—we’re a mobile culture, and the solutions need to be centered around it!
However, from live Twitter feeds during the sessions and all throughout the conference at the Social Media Hub came one of my highlights of the week: On Day 1, out of hundreds of tweets, mine was chosen as the favorite of the day. I was doted upon with praise and gifts!
But my favorite people moment is something we’ll be talking about in part three (Purpose) a lot more, and that is when my co-worker Craig Jeske and I actually met Citrix CEO Mark Templeton.
I shouldn’t brag about this, but my post to GroupMe after this was “I just made Mark Templeton cry.” We both teared up a bit, honestly, because during the Day 1 keynote, Mark said something that is at my core belief, and something I feel that GTRI represents. He talked about leaving the world better than we found it. This is basically my purpose statement in different words (mine is that I want to enable people to be better than they are now). So, I thanked Mark for that and explained a bit about why that means so much to me.
I’m proud to be a part of GTRI. I’m proud to be a Partner with Citrix. And I’m proud to have associated myself with Citrix for 10 of the last 25 years!
In part two of this series, I’ll discuss the Partners from Citrix Synergy 2014.