I have had the pleasure and honor of attending the DevCentral MVP Summit that was held in Chicago over the last few days and I am just blown away at how awesome it was.  Even the picture on the right doesn’t do it justice!

Whew!

The folks over at F5 Networks did an amazing job of putting together an outstanding series of events and the DevCentral folks put together one heck of a summit for all of us MVP’s.  I had such an outstanding time I want to extend my thanks to all of you involved and to all of my fellow MVP members.

Now to break things down a bit.  After flying up via American Airlines from Fort Worth to Chicago, I was finally able to locate my ride to the Chicago Swissotel.  We had a very pleasant conversation on the way to the hotel, the driver having previously driven Nelson Mandella around Chicago.  So we talked about that some and we talked about the downsides to film making, as they were currently shooting scenes for the movie “Transformers 3″ on the route that we needed to use to quickly get to the hotel!  I believe one MVP member saw Optimus Prime going down the road at one point and Colin mentioned looking out of his cab and seeing a guy with a high powered rifle crouching by some shrubbery!  I am sure the first was Transformers 3 related, the other well… we will assume it was to.

Upon arriving at the hotel I was really amazed at how nice the place was.  It was easily the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at and the veiw from my room was incredible.  I didn’t get any pictures of the room, but I did take several pictures of the surrounding buildings and landscape.  I will try to get a few of those uploaded sometime soon for everyone to check out.

The next morning we kicked off the MVP Summit close to 8:00 A.M., even though it was scheduled to begin at 8:30 A.M.  We were all pretty eager and excited and no one minded one bit.  We then proceeded to have deep dive technical conversations with all sorts of people.  We covered everything from the guts of the physical hardware, to the guts of the software responsible for squeezing every ounce of performance out of those units.  I can tell you without a doubt that F5 Networks is commited to delivering the best product that can be delivered on the market today.

We weren’t given sales presentations or anything remotely close to that.  We were given introductions to the very people responsible for doing the motherboard and chip designs, the folks responsible for creating new attack signatures for the ASM module and even the folks responsible for programming TMOS!  They came in, gave us intro’s to who they are, what they do and then it was an open floor to discuss EVERYTHING we and they could think of.  Can you imagine having unfettered access to tweak the brains of the folks creating the technology that you interact with daily?  To say it was exciting, fun and technical would be a severe understatement.  What really stood out beyond the all of this to me though was the fact that these very people were intensly interested in our feedback on their ideas.  I don’t know how many times we would break up into small side conversations where we could take turns extracting tidbits of information from one another.

Yes, there is more (like the fun little contests we had in between each major discussion) but most of it is covered by a NDA agreement so I can’t spill the beans about it.  It’s safe to say F5 Networks has a good future ahead of it and not just because of the plans they have already laid.  I walked away from the MVP Summit that evening feeling much more knowledgable and I have no doubt that several of the F5 folks walked away feeling the same way and making plans in their minds to tweak things based on things we discovered in our talks.

Then as it turns out, they had more surprises in store for us that evening!  We scored some awesome loot earlier at the MVP Summit, thanks again guys for the gear it is all fantastic (and will be featured in another post!).  So after we carried our loot upstairs we all walked over to a local pizza place and into a nice area that F5 Networks had reserved for us all to grab an adult beverage and chow down on some authentic Chicago style deep dish pizza!  The food was great and so were the conversations.  I am certain a good time was had by all.

The next day was just as great.  We were provided access to customer sessions, I met all kinds of people from F5 Networks and I even got a few compliments on my cowboy hat!  Hehehe… Each of the MVP’s also had a chance to do an interview and George from F5 Networks was kind enough to interview me.  You can check that out here:  http://devcentral.f5.com/weblogs/dctv/archive/2010/08/04/f5-customer-summit-ndash-nathan-abbott.aspx

The customer sessions “Meeting Users’ Needs”, “Managing Scale and Growth” and “Security and Control” were all very good that afternoon.  I can’t say that I saw them all, but I did hear from others that they were generally quite exceptional.  I bounced around a lot that afternoon talking with different people so I did miss out on some workshop goodness I guess, but I just couldn’t help myself.  Later that evening we where all jumped on a bus, a few busses actually, and went to The Field Museum Chicago.  F5 Networks reserved the whole museum so we had free run of the place!  I really enjoyed walking around talking about BIG-IP stuff, looking at mummies and Sue the T-Rex!

Two interesting facts I picked up at the museum, Sue’s head is actually on display on the second level of the building because it was just to heavy to mount with the rest of the skeleton.  Her head alone weighs over 600 pounds!  Second, they are still using Mac OS 9 on some of the interactive kiosks in the museum and I will leave it at that….

To cap the evening and the whole experience off, F5 Networks brought in reknown blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray.  I am not really into music, I do enjoy some classical and country music on occasion, but Robert Crays performance was outstanding.  We happen to be coming out of one of the exhibits as his keyboardist was just shredding it and it was great getting to see him tear it up.  The band was into it, the crowd was into it and it just made for a great time all around.

The last day finished up with a great general session for all.

That pretty much sums up my experience there at the DevCentral MVP Summit.  I do want to mention that on the plane ride home I happened to end up sitting by very nice fella that is a Product Manager for Alcatel-Lucent.  I apologize for not remembering your name, but I remember you said you would check out my blog and I wanted to tell you thank you for the great conversation!

It was mentioned at a few different points during the summit that we will hopefully get to perhaps hold another summit sometime in the future.  I certainly hope that I am lucky enough to be chosen to participate when the time comes.  Again, to all of you folks there at F5 Networks, the DevCentral Team and my fellow MVP’s, Thank You. My hat is off to you for making this such a grand MVP Summit!

For those of you wanting to view more pictures please feel free to go over to my Mobile Me gallery for more: http://gallery.me.com/nathanabbott/100130

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  1. Nice post! I agree, I had a total blast at the summit and I really enjoyed meeting you and logging that much great conversation with you and the MVPs. The pictures are great too – thanks for taking them.

    -Matt Cauthorn

  2. Thanks so much for the kind words and the awesome review. I had an absolute blast getting to know you, and all the MVPs, a bit better. It was absolutely fantastic to get to share ideas, pic your brains, riff on possibilities and get into the nitty gritty about technology that we all use and love.

    I now I personally had a fantastic time but the entire DC team has been buzzing all week about how amazing it was and how great the MVPs all are, so thank you yet again for the effort you put into making DevCentral what it is. Without a great bunch of folks working with the technology and being gracious enough to share your acquired knowledge, we wouldn’t have nearly the community we do today.

    Keep at it and hopefully I’ll see you soon!

    #Colin