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March, 2013

Varrow Madness 2013 – The Roundup!


WOW!  What a day.  You made it to Varrow Madness last week, right?!  Well, if not here’s a recap that should show you why you need to attend next year.  If you did attend or want to see more pictures here is the photostream from the event.

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The conference was kicked off by our founders, Dan Weiss and Jeremiah Cook.  To get things underway we filmed a little video talking about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the workplace.  Yes, we have a throne in our Greensboro office.  And yes..we own all these costumes.  And…sigh..yes…I do own a Nexus 7 Android device but in my defense it was a Christmas gift from my mother (that I asked for).

Here is the video.  Next year Jeremiah said he’d double our budget to $150! 😉


After the video some actual entertainment started.  The end of the video merged in to a surprise act…  iLuminate!  If you haven’t seen them on TV (America’s Got Talent) or in person they are GREAT and the effect is very good.  Here is a sample of their work…though this isn’t the same routine (couldn’t find it).


The technology behind what they do is pretty cool.  Most people don’t realize the suits are controlled by someone back stage and it’s all done via wifi.  We actually had to cut the wifi in the main room for the morning session to keep it from interfering and then asked people to put their phones in airport mode for the afternoon session.


So if you were there and wondered why Jeremiah asked that…there you go.  They probably don’t run in to that at most other venues…but this IS an IT conference after all and we’re all pretty much walking /29 networks at this point.


After iLuminate was the morning keynote presented by Jesse Lipson, founder of Sharefile.  A quote that we liked:

“Don’t try to predict the future, spend your efforts focusing on speed and agility, then move quickly once the future arrives” -Jesse Lipson

If you’d like to watch the keynote it is available here.  Note you’ll need to fill out a simple form but we won’t spam you.  If we do you let me know!


Throughout the day attendees could visit the main room with sponsor/vendor booths or go to sessions.  We had many sessions running throughout the day.  I think the final number was 48, counting a few of the labs.


Being Varrow Madness, there is obviously a lot of tie-in to college basketball’s March Madness.  To enter drawings for some pretty cool prizes attendees could “fill out” their bracket in the main room.  We had TVs showing the games throughout the day.


Cheerleaders from area schools greeting attendees.


Brian Calfo…being Brian Calfo.


Throughout the day we also had two rooms of labs going.  One was a Varrow built VDI lab showing VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop.  These were running on a VarrowBlock sitting in the lab room made up of Cisco UCS, EMC VNX5300, Cisco Nexus, and VMware vSphere.  We used vCloud Director to spin up pods for each student.


Here is Dave Lawrence (left) and Phillip Jones (right) in the VDI lab.  I built the base stuff (vSphere, vCD), they did the hard part.


The other lab was hosted by Chris Horn of EMC using VMware’s Project NEE labs.  The cool thing is that not only did attendees get access to the full library of labs at the show, they also can continue to access it after the show from home.  If you attended and don’t have access go to the link for NEE there and tell it you forgot your password.  You should be able to reset and get in.


This is before…they were busy during the day! 🙂


After a lunch of fried chicken (more on fried chicken in a minute…) and bbq we had our second keynote.  This time it was Frank Hauck, President of VCE.  My apologies on the confusion about whether Frank was going to join us.  He had an abrupt change in his schedule and we thought he wasn’t going to make it..but he did and we were very happy to have him.


Frank did a great keynote on VCE, leadership, and your career.  As above you can watch his keynote here.  Just fill out the simple form.  I believe that video also shows the second iLuminate routine as well.

Varrow Innovation Award

The Varrow Innovation Award was an annual contest announced last year at Varrow Madness 2012 by Jeremiah.  We are doing it to promote innovation within Varrow customers.  The idea is for customers can submit innovated solutions and projects they are deploying or using within their environment.

The top three finalists were:

Click each one if you want to see their videos on the entries.  The winner was….  Alamance Regional!  Each finalist got iPad Minis and the winner will be sent to the conference of their choice.  Alamance chose Citrix Synergy.

Thank you to everyone that entered!

Social Media at Varrow Madness

There was a flurry of social media activity during Madness.  We had some fun with our defacto Twitter hashtag of #VM13 when a soccer player, Victor Moses..number 13….became popular on Twitter.  Thankfully the time zones offset for the uses so during the day it wasn’t bad.  Just shows what can happen in an open world like Twitter…


Amy Lewis of Cisco also spent the day doing several Engineers Unplugged and a Cloudcast podcast.


The podcast included me (center), Rusty Buzhardt of Cisco (left), and Elijah Stukenborg of Chiquita (right).  We talked about buzzwords, cloud, SDN, VMware’s public cloud offering, education and social media..and whatever.  You can find that podcast here along with many other good ones from the Cloudcast.


Bill Gurling (left) and Rob Hoover (right) did an excellent Engineers Unplugged on Citrix Netscaler, load balancing, and SSL offload.  These guys are great and I’m really glad they did it.  That one isn’t up yet…but should be here when published.


Yes, that’s chicken and waffles.  Dame’s Chicken & Waffles to be exact.  Several of us went to dinner there the night before Madness.  One of the attendees is AJ Kuftic, who as you may or may not know, is a big foodie.  He gave us his dissertation on chicken and waffles and how Dame’s compares.  This is AJ:


Anyway…  As you also may or may not know Amy Lewis is a great cook and foodie as well.  Her other blog is The Practical Cook.  She took a bit of offense to AJ’s comments so I told them to settle it on their own Engineers Unplugged.


So they fought it out on the Waffleboard.  That one is can see it here.  At one point while filming this on the main hall I said:

I’m standing here in the main hall of Madness filming two people whiteboarding about chicken and waffles.  For most people this would be an odd thing…but not me.  Not at Varrow.  And people wonder why I can never answer the question “So…what do you do for a living?”.  -Jason

Next Year We’ll Do It Again!

That’s it for Varrow Madness 2013….  But we’ll be back next year!  We love feedback on the event.  I’ve already read every comment card we got back.  If there is something you forgot, didn’t get a chance to say, or didn’t want to put on a comment card PLEASE let me know.  Good, bad, or whatever I want to hear it and I won’t hold it against you..promise!  Just email me.  My address is jason at varrow dot com.

If you attended thank you.  We really appreciate it.  Hopefully you got to see the fun side of Varrow.  It’s a great company with great people and we care deeply about our customers.


This picture amazes me..and it’s not everyone.  Several of us had a dinner right after and many were still tearing down.  But when I started at Varrow almost 5 years ago we were in the low teens on employees.   Now we’re at 90+ and it’s like a big growing family.  See you next year!

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