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Ask Slashdot: Good Technology Conferences To Attend? 131

SSG Booraem (2553474) writes I've recently been hired to a IT supervisor position at a local college. My boss wants me to find some technology conferences that I'd like to attend and submit them to her. Since I've worked in IT for 18 years but usually done scut work, I don't have any ideas. I'd appreciate suggestions with personal experiences.
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Ask Slashdot: Good Technology Conferences To Attend?

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  • I'm a network (Cisco) guy, so Cisco Live! is my go-to conference. YMMV. DEFCON sounds like the most fun to attend, as long as you keep your gear powered off.
  • If only... (Score:2, Informative)

    by bengoerz ( 581218 )
    Perhaps there is a way to find ideas for this on the interwebs?
    Ah yes! https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=information+technology+conference [google.com]
  • You need to find better ways to cover your tracks after browsing them freshmen girls mobile photo. If boss asks about the name, just tell them it's a reference to Harry Potter, and the black hat is for wizardry

  • There are no good technology conferences, my friend.
  • by VTBlue ( 600055 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:44PM (#47607837)

    Dreamforce and TechED get my vote, sadly TechEd will no longer be around, but they are recorded and very interesting.

  • Congratulations! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pumpkin Tuna ( 1033058 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:45PM (#47607843)

    I work on the instructional side of technology in K-12. I would suggest the yearly ISTE conference. It rotates around the country in late June. Next year it will be in Philly, I believe. It is massive and has sessions on instruction, administration and pretty much anything else you can imagine. The vendor area usually draws the latest heavy hitters in software, services and hardware.

    You may also want to check and see if your state has an ISTE affiliate group. They often hold quality state conferences as well. Here in North Carolina, we have NCTIES in March. It's good for a state conference.

    • The League for Innovation also does conferences. Educause may be good.

        Both of these are education focused, but there is plenty of technology going on as well.

    • While I was a K-12 admin I never got to attend the conferences, but I had always wanted to visit ITSE... And I live in PA which seems to do a lot of ITSE workshops in various parts of the state. However I was 'to valuable to let attend' right up until they replaced me, so I never got to go...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Chaos Communication Congress [wikipedia.org] is an annual conference in Hamburg, Germany (previously in Berlin, Germany). It is held between Christmas and New Year. You can review previous schedules and download recordings. [events.ccc.de] Most talks are in English, some in German. There are also workshops and podiums.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Figure out which vendor software you will be supporting and go there. Also look for a local users group so that you can meet people that may have already solved the tricky problems. (Or with 18 years experience you can offer *them* solutions. Your boss will love the exposure your department will get.)

    • This. When I used Kbox, Kace Konfrence was great. Now that I use Casper, JAMFNation is great. The vendor specific events seem to have a lot more meat to them.
  • by skydude_20 ( 307538 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:51PM (#47607887) Journal
    When you find a few, rotate through them over the years. Most conferences I find don't change/update enough in subsequent years. Plus you get a diversity of tech/people.
  • by traveller9 ( 951983 ) <traveler@mountaincloud.net> on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:55PM (#47607913)
    This should get you started. USENIX https://www.usenix.org/confere... [usenix.org] VMWorld http://www.vmworld.com/index.j... [vmworld.com] OSCON (must wait until 2015) http://www.oscon.com/oscon2014... [oscon.com]
    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      If VMWorld is the one I am thinking of, then I actually would recomend against it. It was a few years ago but I went to a "conference" put on by VMWare that was one of the most useless experiences of my career. Maybe my standards were set high by Usenix, but, I was not expecting every single "talk" to be some salesman in a suit giving me the dog and pony show on his product.

      Wasn't a single presentation on anything useful, nothing on research projects, nothing but dogs and ponies.

      Maybe I am mistaken and this

  • More info? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darth Twon ( 2832799 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:56PM (#47607917)
    Without knowing your interests or area of expertise, there are some big ones like:

    Spiceworld [spiceworks.com]
    Various Microsoft conferences: Exchange [msdn.com], SharePoint [msdn.com], TechEd [msteched.com]
    Some Cisco stuff [cisco.com]

    And Probably a whole host of others. Choose a vendor/specialty and search for their conferences.
  • SCALE [socallinuxexpo.org].

  • Hard to travel to. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:58PM (#47607933)

    If I were you, I'd go quickly.

    Most of them are back in the nineties.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      If I were you, I'd go quickly.

      Most of them are back in the nineties.

      He only has to go 88 mph to make them, then!

  • by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @01:59PM (#47607941)
    It's fun and can be informative if you know what you're looking for. Try to stay late and leave a few days after interactive is over so you can experience part of the music festival. The whole deal can be overwhelming however.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a very balanced conference with tracks for just about all job types from programmer to managers and administraitors. This year it's being hosted in Portland Oregon. Their website lists the details http://www.highedweb.org/

  • by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @02:06PM (#47608001)
    to know exactly what you're doing. IT supervisor is about as generic as consultant.

    Do you run the helpdesk?
    Are you in charge of the student hourlies?
    Do you have a cadre of minions running the data center?

    If you don't know that, what would get you fired in 2 seconds?
  • I've been to the Rational Innovate conference (http://www-01.ibm.com/software/rational/innovate/) a few years back, been trying to go again. The conference is chock full of software development / software engineering related topics from the companies that have the heritage, between Rational, IBM, and all of their partners. The location doesn't hurt, either, as flights are inexpensive and you can spend as little or as much as you'd like for the hotel.

    • But aren't company sponsored events just a marketing opportunity. Where will you find people at that conference who think it's all snake oil, or show you alternatives that are cheaper and better or more relevant?

      • by m3000 ( 46427 )

        Yes, but if you're already invested in that technology, then those types of conferences can be really beneficial to get far more indepth knowledge and trade tips/horror stories with other users of said product.

        It's not like you're changing your key vendor every single year. At some point it'd be nice to get into depth into one of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The USENIX Annual Technical Conference is quite good.
    Then probably all of the USENIX conferences. Check them here https://www.usenix.org/conferences

    You also have LISA SIG (the Large Installation Systems Administration Special Interest Group) conference. https://www.usenix.org/lisa

    If you work with Electronic Arts, try to get to EADC, it's great.

  • If you're a former grunt, then you've seen the after effect of these conferences. At best, it gets your bosses out of your hair for a few days. At worse, they come back revved up to implement the newest buzz work...for a week, until they see the cost, then it's like it never happened.

    Take my advice; choose based on location and work up your justification from there. Myself, Vegas is always an attractive option, but by no means should you limit yourself. Be imaginative. /jaded and tarnished.

    • My suggestion would be "counter" to yours, which is, go to conferences for stuff you are or are already about to implement. It is usually a much better option to make use of the technology you have fully, before adding in more "Stuff" to manage. I've seen enough halfway implemented technology that ends up being an albatross later to need more than two hands and two feet to count.

      As supervisor, your job is to make sure the technology and people you have are adequate, and manage the transition if they aren't.

      • Decent advice, but it's been my experience that you don't get valuable information from conferences, just more sales contacts.

        Guess it depends on the tech in question.

        • I have been to conferences that were "sales" and those that were "user based". Even "sales' conventions can be good, if you're wanting exposure to a variety of Tech that you may not be aware of . But User based (centered) Conferences usually have a ton of breakout sessions for learning how to use particular tech, and meeting people who use the tech, often in ways you may can employ that you haven't considered.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've had great luck with Brainstorm [brainstormk20.com], held in Wisconsin Dells every year. It's primary focus is K-12 but it does apply to college level as well. Vendor expo is pretty good, and the technical talks were great.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @02:14PM (#47608049) Journal

    Which ever one is in Las Vegas.

    • DEF CON - https://www.defcon.org/ [defcon.org]

    • Sadly, most conferences feel like just a way to extract some vacation and entertainment money from the bosses, or a way to network so that they can more easily hop jobs.

      Remember, that's a week of time during which you get no actual work done. Which is fine if you don't mind cheating the employer, but someone even halfway honest should at least attempt to acquire some value at the conference, learn something that's utterly unlearnable on the web or from a book, discover the solution to the vexing problem at

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @02:17PM (#47608073) Journal
    For example, I adore the Web Afternoon [webafternoon.com] conferences I've attended, but unless you work on websites, then there might not be a lot of useful content there for you.

    A lot of tech conferences can also be sorted by industry. Medical tech is huge, for example, and has its own set of regular gatherings. [eventsinamerica.com]
  • As others have already said, the original question is really vague since there is little information about what corner of IT work will be done. But since it is at a college, there is a good chance that it will fall under the area that SIGUCCS conference tries to cover.


    I went and presented 5 or 6 years ago and found it to be an OK conference. I did not get a lot out of it from the technical presentations, but it is a really good place to get an idea of what y

    • I went to SIGUCCS once. I was pretty disappointed in the technical presentations. I went to one on dual boot Macs, which I was interested in as the organization I was with at the time we had deployed Dual Boot Macs to all our classrooms. Wanted to see what others had done. Ended up being a very vague overview, as the presenter had never done it in practice. I ended up getting roped into a bunch of discussion. Later that day I was approached by one of the organizers asking me to present the next year but I d
  • None (Score:2, Troll)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

    Don't travel to conferences. Waste of time, money and other resources. Far better to use discussion groups, forums, webinars, email, etc. Physical conferences are dinosaurs. Most have died off. Some just don't know they're zombies but will soon fall apart. This is particularly true for tech conferences. We don't need to be in a place to communicate and techies know that better than anyone.

    What is particularly obscene is the conferences by politicos and ecos to solve world hunger, solve pollution, solve glob

  • I'm a datacentre guy, so the one I go to is Datacentre World - unless you have migrated every single system to the cloud the chances are you have a shedload of infrastructure to look after, and seeing what's out there to keep it safely powered and cooled is always useful.

    The swag may not be as good as some of the vendor conferences, but the information can be really useful.

  • by ardmhacha ( 192482 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @02:47PM (#47608249)

    select conference_name
    from all_conferences
    where conference_location = 'HAWAII'

  • and work for a "nonprofit". Corporate IT budgets have dried up for this sort of fluff long ago. Good for you landing a job where there's free taxpayer money.

    • Hmmm, I work for a non-profit, and I don't have the money for conferences. I'm currently doing some training (the first I have been OKed for, for years) and I get 1 month to cram in as much as I can.

      Not all non-profits are money sinks. When I worked in the corporate world, we had trainers coming to us a few times a year.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Corporate IT budgets have dried up for this sort of fluff long ago. Good for you landing a job where there's free taxpayer money.

      Yup... all the conferences I've attended in the past several years are just filled with public sector employees, and devoid of anyone in the corporate world. I myself work in the public sector.

      Noo.. wait... sorry. That's not true at all. What was I thinking? I work at a corporate job, and the vast majority of people at conferences work in corporate America. Public sector p

  • LabMan (more technical) SIGUCCS (more procedural) MacIT (if you have a lot of Macs) EDUCAUSE Might be some more regional stuff, there's some smaller things that go in the midwest. I generally prefer these sorts of gatherings, less pomp, less cost, more networking, more technical meat.
  • ... anything held in Las Vegas concurrently with the AVN [wikipedia.org] expo.

  • If by chance you're using Drupal, I'd suggest Drupalcon in L.A. next year. You can view year's videos, which may give you an idea about the conference, or save you a trip. While mostly focused on the topic, I brought back a lot of non-Drupal info. There were lots of folks representing the .edu space.
  • OSCON [oscon.com] is held every July in Portland, Oregon, and focuses on open source solutions to all sorts of IT needs. They have specific tracks for public sector and education. Plus, there's good beer.
  • I leave for DEFcon 22 tomorrow...

    Yes it's a hacker convention & not an IT convention, but it's the best conference I've ever been to. I get exponentially more out of DEFcon ($220) than I got out of RSA (over $2,000). If money was no object I'd still recommend DEFcon. It makes you think about technology in ways you never have before. It trains you to think about bending technology to your will however you can (the classic definition of hacking), not just security related exploits.

    My management usually se

    • I think all IT professionals should attend some sort of security conference on a semi regular basis. DEFcon has it's pluses and minuses. It seems to big and unwieldy to me but there are some very good talks. My favorite hacker con is SummerCon http://summercon.org/ [summercon.org]
  • LISA Conference (Score:4, Informative)

    by sentiblue ( 3535839 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:14PM (#47608415)
    I go to this conference at least once every 2 years https://www.usenix.org/confere... [usenix.org]
  • by plsuh ( 129598 ) <plsuh.goodeast@com> on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:23PM (#47608471) Homepage

    In chronological order looking forward:

    MacTech Boot Camps - http://www.mactech.com/bootcam... [mactech.com]
    Small, local, inexpensive. Check to see if there's one close to you.

    MacTech Conference - http://www.mactech.com/confere... [mactech.com]
    Larger, both sysadmin and developer tracks

    MacIT - http://www.macitconf.com/ [macitconf.com]
    Larger, multiple tracks and levels of knowledge

    WWDC - https://developer.apple.com/ww... [apple.com]
    The granddaddy of them all, but next to impossible to get into these days. Mostly developer focused. May not be useful if you don't already have a deep knowledge base.

    MacAdmins - http://macadmins.psu.edu/ [psu.edu]
    The most education-focused of the conferences. Very knowledgeable presenters.

    FWIW, I've been a presenter at MacTech Boot Camps, MacIT, and WWDC.


  • by Meeni ( 1815694 ) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:24PM (#47608473)

    You should try these 2: USENIX and SuperComputing. They are the most enjoyable for a non-academic to attend.

  • by JVSIP ( 3776083 )
    I would recomend the super computing conference ( http://sc14.supercomputing.org... [supercomputing.org] ). The location changes from year to year. It is in New Orleans this year. It is a large conference and it will be easy for you to find activities of interest to you and your boss.
  • I recommend all Star Trek Conventions. You'll have to flash back a century in order to flash forward a few millennia, but its worth the head trip.... . Of course, attendees are not prone to having sex with actual women, in person.
  • Despite "tech" being your profession, be DAMN sure to give them a temp or fake email address. Because you WILL be spammed for the remainder of your life. I know... I was trusting once.

  • I believe I heard that VMworld [vmworld.com] is now the largest IT infrastructure conference in the world. If you are already steeped in virtualization, it's a wonderful conference to learn stuff and meet people. If you're not already steeped in virtualization, it's a wonderful conference to learn where the IT world is moving, and in fact has largely already moved to.

  • Sometimes, you find the best stuff outside the heavy lifting tech world. I've been going to South by Southwest Interactive for the past 5 years. It's been a nice counter balance to nuts and bolts tech conferences. I get inspiration and some notion of Good Things to Do. There are plenty of smart people, and that's a major refreshment for me. The focus isn't on tech as much as interesting ways to use it.

    There's now an education conference under the SXSW umbrella. That may be worthwhile to you, and easier to

  • You might consider http://www.sans.org/ [sans.org] training classes/conferences. They're mostly focused on security, so that has to fit for you, but I've learned a lot in both of the classes/conferences I've attended with them.

  • You need training on how to communicate, because you provided precisely zero information on which to base a useful answer to your question.

  • There is an ACM interest group for colleges, I have been to it several times. It's called SIGUCCS. It's held yearly always in a different city. Check it out.
  • IT in Education conferences I would have you look at include Educause, and ACUTA. Educause is the 1,000 lbs gorilla, and everybody is there. ACUTA is much smaller, so you tend to build really good relationships with your peer institutions.

  • I help organize NCDevCon (ncdevcon.com)

    We're a small, two day web/mobile/tech conference in Raleigh, NC. This is our 6th year.

    This area also hosts:

    * http://allthingsopen.org/ (Open source conference)
    * http://hopscotchdesignfest.com/ (design festival)

    Good area for conferences, tech (RedHat, RTP), beer and BBQ.

  • Of services that IT provides within your organization.
    Next write down a list of 'what you are supporting with those services'.
    Next write down a list of the most important software you use in the organization, for example: operating systems, application servers... E.g. "Linux" "VMware" "Microsoft Exchange" could be some examples.

    Probably, each one of these has a conference.

    Next write down a list of your job roles.... for example: what tasks do you on a daily basis.

    Job roles have conferences....

  • I like NANOG (http://www.nanog.org) for network engineering topics. It's geared towards large service provider networks, not so much enterprise/small business, but still quite informative and great for networking of the social variety as well.

  • Or any other community run/focused conference. LCA is great bang for the buck, and despite the name is mostly about F/OSS in general - not just Linux.
  • Security is the future. Blackhat, Defcon, B-Sides, RSA, take your pick.
  • http://lanyrd.com/ [lanyrd.com] is a pretty good repository of conferences in general and has a good listing of technical conferences as well. As everyone mentions, it depends what your actual responsibilities are.
  • There are *no* conferences on Good Technology.
  • Great list of speakers/sessions lined up for the next conference.

    From the NotepadConf site: http://notepadconf.com/ [notepadconf.com]

    NotepadConf: the textiest conference you'll attend! See the latest technological advancements in plaintext editing. Meet the luminaries of the market and some sneak peaks at what's coming next!

    NotepadConf is the premier technology conference for Notepad.exe users and text enthusiasts.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky