I have returned from the F5 Networks 2011 MVP Summit and my brain is full of ideas from talking with F5 folks and fellow MVP’s.

Let me first start off with saying how much fun I had.  Getting to attend an event that is hosted like this is more fun than going to Six Flags for me!  Anyway, as I was saying…

This year our gracious host set us up in a very plush and idea inducing location about a mile from the loop in Chicago.  I have to admit that I was starting to get worried as we were driving to the meeting location.  The neighborhood looked a little sketchy in places, plus I didn’t have “Kim” with me because of the insane Chicago anti-gun laws.  To top it off I think our cab driver was under the impression that he was trying out for the Indianapolis 500, but once we got there the building was just awesome.  I am going to include a few pics below but you can also go out to the Thinkubator web site and check it out yourself here.

Needless to say we enjoyed the nice furniture, the iCade, the Xbox 360, the good food and there may have been an “Adult Beverage” or two.  They had several cool freebies for us MVP’s to!  A nice pen, a shirt and a very nice TSA compliant messenger bag made by Timbuk2.  I even tried my hand at a Kinect game, but got schooled by Joe and George, but I’m pretty sure I owned Jeff though… hahaha!  Yea, I think I just threw an iron gauntlet on a glass table!  Still, I think my hands were built more for slinging guns and working on F5 gear, not playing kinect games.

Now as fun as all of that is, the real fun came from the conversations that we had.  We had several presentations given to us by core F5 Networks people and each and every one was fantastic.  They held nothing back and spared no detail, I loved it.  To top it off even the MVP’s were even provided the opportunity to get up in front of everyone and speak about what was on our minds.  I am happy to say that is exactly what they did, sharing their success stories, identifying issues and they gave real world examples of how they leveraged F5 gear to solve some major problems.  It was really something.

The next day we were provided the opportunity to attend an Agility Event of our choosing and I chose the Application Security Manager and APM Labs.  Both labs were entertaining and very informative.  We were set up with accounts on BIG-IP’s to our own instances, given guidance/instruction on new features and then actually went through and configured things ourselves so we could have some real hands on experience with TMOS version 11.

I would have to say the coolest things that I saw in the ASM lab were the new policy builder, the AJAX protection capabilities and some awesome GUI enhancements that really help clarify things.

The APM stuff was completely new to me so I don’t have anything really to compare it to.  I did like the interface for it, but I think there is a bit of a learning curve required to configure that module.  Rather than run at the mouth about things I don’t have much experience with, I will redirect you over to the F5 Networks web site where you can find more information.

I want to take a second to say thank you to everyone at F5 Networks for all the hard work that you poured into making this event so great.  It was really great, the atmosphere was relaxing and I thought that really lead to a lot more openness and sharing of ideas than you get at a more corporate location.  I also wanted to thank the other MVP’s for being so friendly and willing to share your vast knowledge.  I hope that you all continue to give to the F5 Networks/DevCentral community whatever you can whenever you can, as I know that we will all be better for it.  I certainly feel better for knowing all of you and having shared this experience with you.

I look forward to contributing content myself and look forward to hopefully seeing you all at the next event!

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