Wow! Varrow Madness 2012 was AWESOME! I’m a bit late on my post-Madness post here but last week was crazy catching up along with the end-of-quarter crunch. It’s amazing how much work goes in to an event like this….WAY more than I would have thought.
The Varrow Madness “Command & Control” Center
Much of the planning for this year started right after last year’s Madness. Sponsors, speakers, venue, logistics, labs, abstracts..on and on have to be done well before the event. We also wanted to take any feedback from last year in consideration for this year. But then…it was time.
The registration tables
The turnout for our second annual event was VERY good and exceeded expectations. At one point we had to fall back to manually signing people in and creating badges.
Charlotte Lady Cats welcoming guests (Trip Smith..Varrowite)
The Charlotte Lady Cats greeted the attendees and helped validate parking..which can be worth a lot in downtown Charlotte!
The calm before the storm in the main room
The venue for this year was the Westin in downtown Charlotte and it looked GREAT. The main room for the keynotes and booths was very well done with our logo as well as the logos of many sponsors projected on the walls. The event began with the morning keynote….but before that a flash mob burst out. My video of that is here.
Flash mob to open Varrow Madness 2012
Once the dancing was done it was time for the kickoff and morning keynote.
Jeremiah (Left) and Dan Weiss (Right) kickoff Varrow Madness
Jeremiah and Dan, the two Varrow founders, started off Varrow Madness and welcomed all of the attendees and thanked the sponsors. If you haven’t met Jeremiah and Dan they are great people and you quickly see the foundations for the Varrow culture and our engineering-focused mentality.
Jeremiah giving the opening keynote
Jeremiah gave the opening keynote and I think he did an AWESOME job. Very unscripted…very unPower Point. It was about some lessons Jeremiah had learned and things he observed while participating in one of the Startup Weekend events. It was based in things that Jeremiah did and experienced in his youth…and it was the start of the Varrow Cloud Innovation Contest. I’m going to post a lot more on that here VERY soon.
After the keynote and throughout the day attendees could go to sessions, labs, or visit the sponsor booths.
The EMC vSpecialists ran a lot of really cool labs throughout the day. They were “cloud hosted” and worked very well. The list of labs included:
- Intro to vSphere 5
- Nexus 1000v
- UIM 3.0
- VSI Plugins
- VAAI for VMware
- VNX for VMware
- VNXe for VMware
- Avamar Backup for VMware
- RSA Security for VMware
During lunch Chad Sakac from EMC gave the afternoon keynote. Chad did a really great job last year with the morning keynote and we were thrilled to have him back. I’ll be honest here. I didn’t see one second of Chad’s keynote… Sorry Chad! I really did try but I got stopped about 15 times between checking in on the UCS labs and getting to the main room. I hear it was great, though!
Varrow Managed Services table
Many great sponsor booths! Attendees could also enter to win NCAA tournament tickets by getting their “bracket” stamped at different tables. One thing we try to do is limit our sponsors to those that offer technologies, products, and services we believe in.
Attendee checking out the VCE booth
What else? Well..keynotes, labs, sponsor booths…flash mobs…Lady Cats…oh yeah! Sessions! We had four different rounds of breakout sessions on all different cloud, storage, virtualization, security, management, etc topics. This is one area that I focus heavily on when planning Madness. My primary goal is to make darn sure that Madness is educational and informative. It’s not a place to sit through 45 minute marketing slide decks. We’re looking at ways at making it even better next year and if you attended, or just have good ideas, please let me know. No Power Points? Whiteboard only? General discussion sessions? Group chats? Let us know!
Varrow Madness breakout session
Then finally, at the end of the day we gave away a bunch of NCAA tournament tickets and other sponsor gifts. I even gave away a copy of my Cisco UCS course to someone that attended the lab.