Change is good? In this case, it surely was. With barely a week to go, the location for Barcamp Miami 2009 (http://www.barcampmiami.org/) was changed from Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to Anokha Miami. And, boy, was it good! Set amidst the trendy settings of CocoWalk & Mayfair mall, the 2009 edition drew smiling faces and eager minds from an exciting array of businesses in South Florida and startups from the West and East coast. BarCamp conferences are a great place to meet, interact and put a face to many of the familiar names in the IT circle.
Right after parking in the Cocowalk garage, I met Mark from scrapblog.com, a south Florida startup, who seemed equally confused on how to get to the venue from our parking spots. In no time, friendly organizers, a free t-shirt & wristband greeted us upon arrival.
The available space at the venue was divided into different session areas such as ”News and Innovation,” “Anokha Middle,” “Anokha Bar,” and “Courtyard,” etc. The adjacent Mayfair hotel was also kind enough to accommodate a few sessions, though I never had a chance to go see which sessions were held there. The day was divided into one half hour slots for each session. While the space was limited and the air conditioning systems struggled to keep up, they were minor inconveniences to the enthusiasm and involvement that is a trademark of Barcamp conferences. The signup board can be seen in the picture.
First up was the session on “Scaling Websites — Everything You Need to Know” by Gregg Pollack. One thing I loved about this session was that it was pretty technical and yet Greg was able to compress the contents nicely in the allotted time. It quickly reminded me why we love going to these conferences: to get a firsthand account of scalability and other technical problems faced by growing businesses.
The session on “Web Hooks for a Programmable Internet” by Ryan Teixeira was simply off the hook, shall we say. The content was mildly technical but I loved the way the talk was organized, bringing together the idea to bind various social networking platforms. The slides can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/ryantxr/webhooks-creating-a-programmable-internet
After a quick bite, I hopped on to the midday session on “Configuration management with Chef” and it easily became one of my favorites as did the session on “Web Standards for Skeptics” by Michael Montgomery. There was more than one instance when we had a high powered discussion on the practicalities of adhering to web standards with our friends from shopfiber.com and a few folks who serve on the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).
Next up on my list was “Scaling customer expectations” by Greg Gollet. Slides can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/gregrollett/scaling-customer-expectations-barcamp-miami
The talk involving the Ichiban Sushi joint taking orders over Twitter was very interesting. While I do not debate their final decision to discourage the customer from going ahead with the idea, there were some aspects of the customer interactions that I felt could have been handled in a better manner.
The late day session on “High scalability media distribution + caching (with CDN)” by Bryan Conzone (see picture) was very informative. In one day, it felt like I was involved in more sessions than we usually had in an entire week of engineering classes at the University of Florida and, lo behold, I did not fall asleep in even one of them. In fact, far from it. It was like we were on some kind of adrenaline rush all day (Geek… I know).
The days was filled with technical talks and friendly banter with friends from GrooveShark.com, Google and Mozilla, to name a few, and it was not unusual to hear many people introduce themselves first as their Twitter identity, e.g. @Montgomery rather than saying Mike Montgomery.
For a company like ours that lives on the cutting edge of technology, conferences like this are an excellent opportunity to not only spot bright talents for the future, but help hone our perspective on where the network and web related technologies are headed. This helps us anticipate and stay ahead of the curve by being ready with best in class data center offerings before the businesses need it. Sponsoring such events also allows us to give back to the community and help advance the current state of the open source technology, an arena from which we extensively draw mature technologies that bring unbeatable value to our customers in the way of innovative products and services. We look forward to our involvement and sponsorship of the upcoming Barcamp Orlando on Saturday, April 18, from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. More details can be found at http://www.barcamporlando.org/ . We hope to see you there.
I can be reached at rchaube -at- atlantic -dot- net or on twitter: @rchaube