We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled program to ask a very important question!

I’ve looked a few times, and there are precious few “SysAdmin” conferences. Most of them are very *nix centric. I’m also very interested in Networking, Windows, emerging technologies and all of that fun stuff.

What I have found happens in reality is there are vendor or developer focused conferences with a SysAdmin type track that you can follow. Which when I think about it for a while is probably a good thing. In my mind it allows me to sneak off the beaten path and go check out what the devs are doing. I feel it’s important to not only stay abreast of sysadmin developments, but also keep up with technology in general.

I’ve been to some really good smaller conferences run by vendors that seemed like they would be just one big sales pitch (ok, maybe they were) but they turned out to have some really great breakout sessions run by some really smart people. On the other side of the equation I’ve been to some large conferences that were just awful, where I didn’t pick up anything that wasn’t already general knowledge and everyone just sat there looking bored out of their minds.

So I wanted to run a little informal poll of you, the Great All Knowing Internet.  What conferences to you look forward to going to year after year?  What do you like about them? Also in a more general sense, what are the pros and cons of going to conferences at all? I want to harness this internet power for nothing but good I swear!

Right now Kyle and I have a short list of conferences we would really like to attend:

Also, in addition to conferences you get excited to go to every year, are there any you are especially excited about this year? Let us know over on this Server Fault question: http://meta.serverfault.com/questions/1089/conferences-to-go-to-2011-edition

Please let us know in the comments what conferences you attend every year – maybe we’ll see you there!

  • Chopper3
    • errr.. is that a sysadmin conference? 😛

      • Yes jeff it is … can we go 🙂

      • Chopper3

        I’d never heard of it but I work in IPTV and like it or not there’s a market for adult stuff so someone I work with is genuinely getting a paid-for trip to it shakes head, we were just discussing it when George posted this blog entry, though it was funny.

  • In the past, Novell’s BrainShare has been surprisingly good for Linux-centric issues. That’s not likely to continue in light of Recent Events though.

    The LISA conference put on by Usenix (http://www.usenix.org/event/lisa10/) had some very interesting tracks, but also suffers from a significant lack of non-POSIX focus (apparently Windows has cooties).

  • If you’re on the west coast, there’s a very PICC-like conference called Cascadia IT Conference, at http://www.casitconf.org/ in Seattle. It’s LOPSA-sponsored as well, and should end up with a very similar feel to PICC.

  • LISA is an excellent conference, and in my opinion isn’t as *nix centric as it might seem. At LISA’10 I attended several sessions that weren’t even OS/technology specific at all, such as sessions on Time Management, Project Management, IPv6, DNSSEC, SANs, network analysis, etc. I’m more of a network engineer these days then a unix admin, but I still find value every year.

    Regarding the pros of conferences. People, people, people! The number one reason I go to conferences is to get exposure to what my peers are doing. Sometimes I’ll see that there are ways to solve a problem that haven’t occurred to me. Or I’ll see that we’re solving problems in the same way as others, but nobody likes that solution. Or maybe discover we’re actually following a defacto best practice. And the contacts you make at conferences may turn into valuable resources in the future.

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  • I’d also appreciate tips on confs in the EU.

    • Assuming that UK satisfies your definition of EU, I can’t speak too highly of the UKUUG conferences (they have a LISA conference in spring and a Linux-specific one in the summer). They have a very academic look-and-feel, to the point that some speakers still use LaTeX to do their slides; I’ve found them very cutting-edge, with a lot of stuff coming out of academia well before the commercial market wakes up to it; and they’re extremely cheap by professional conference standards.

      I try to go to one every year, and spoke at one of the 2009 conferences (an experience I very much enjoyed).

      I’ll post this to the 2011 thread too, with pointers to their 2011 conferences; I hope that’s OK.

  • bdha

    Surge was excellent last year, and focuses on scalability, operations, and recovering from failures. Definitely looking forward to attending again this year.