It's Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas, the first real time I've had to myself since arriving Sunday afternoon.
Undoubtedly, there is a lot to be written about what was discussed and learned here. Seriosuly, I've got enough for dozens of blog posts.
But, in the afterglow, I thought I'd start by sharing 10 of my personal impressions.
EMC World Is Big .. And Getting Bigger
Technically speaking, EMC World is the smallest of the three big events we're involved in -- the other two being the RSA Conference and the ubiquitous VMworld.
But EMC World is no slouch when it comes to size ...
By any measure you choose, this was a significant event. Over 10,000 attendees. Thousands of our partners. Dozens of major announcements. 500+ technical sessions, and so on.
It was physically big as well. Most of us ended up walking so much our feet hurt -- I guess that's the norm for big shows. That being said, I found the logistics exceptional well done -- I rarely felt crowded, or forced to stand in long lines.
Even the WiFi was pretty good as shows go. Congrats to the event organizers for a job well done!
EMC World Is Surprisingly Diverse
Lest you think this is some confab solely comprised of uber-storage wonks, the topical landscape at EMC World is becoming surprisingly diverse.
If technology is your thing, there's plenty of it: from the aforementioned storage to all aspects of virtualization, security, GRC, data protection, archiving, information management, content management, application development, orchestration, etc.
If you like the Big Technology Buffet, this show is for you.
For those of you who prefer infrastructure pre-integrated, there were plenty of Vblocks at the show. As I quipped in a recent tweet, it seemed that just about everyone fell into two camps: they either had a Vblock, or wanted one.
We could have handed out "I've Got A Vblock And You Don't" t-shirts.
Looking further, there were serious discussions about the evolution of IT skills and org models, as well as plenty of new Cloud Architect certifications. If you prefer to consume your IT as a service, there were dozens of service providers to evaluate as well.
EMC World Is Crazy Intellectual
There is no shortage of scary smart people at EMC Word. But it's getting to be more than just a techno geek-fest: we're starting to attract a more diverse set of perspectives. And that's a good thing.
This year, it was the new Data Scientist Summit. These are an important new class of folks that create fascinating insights from big data; they really don't care so much about how the plumbing works. Their insights and creativity are truly amazing.
And, yes, many of these people are out to change the world in a meaningful way.
On a more traditional note, we held a second edition of our CIO Summit at the event -- with plenty of thought-provoking discussion about an industry in transition and what IT leadership is becoming to mean in today's world.
And all of that is *before* we get to the VEX Robotics Competition. There were some pretty smart young adults there doing their thing -- and it was pretty clear that many of them were younger versions of ourselves.
There's more, but you get the idea -- if you like mixing it up with people who not only are potentially smarter than you, but also have an entirely different perspective -- EMC World delivered that this year, and we'll undoubtedly see more in the future.
EMC World Is About Doing Things vs. Talking About Doing Things
Sure, there's a little blue-sky, where-is-it-all-going stuff at any show like this, but the people here were primarily focused on getting things done and making a difference vs. debating the fine points.
As an example, it turns out that Interop was down the street at roughly the same time, and a number of people I spoke with spent time at both shows. When I asked one person about a comparison, he offered "at Interop they're talking about the cloud, at EMC World you meet people who are actually doing it".
EMC World Was All About Customers -- And Partners
Despite its title, EMC World is not about EMC -- it's about the people who depend on us to deliver IT capabilities and the world they live in. We're not there to sell stuff (although a lot of stuff does get sold in the process), we're ultimately there to educate and learn from the people we exist to serve -- our customers.
Sure, EMC World has always been about customers, but -- more recently -- it's also become about our partners as well. From how we structure the event to how we measure success -- we are doing everything we can to make the event be as impactful for our valued partners as we see it for ourselves.
This year in particular, several EMC partners came up to me and went out of their way to acknowledge just how much effort we had invested in this aspect of the show, and how much they appreciated it.
No, guys, thank you!
EMC World Is About Intense Discussions
You might think I spent my time flipping slides for one audience or another during the show -- doing the presentation thing. No, not really.
About half of the space at EMC world this year was devoted to meeting rooms -- places where you can gather a small group together and really dig into the topics that matter. I didn't use slides once.
And the gamut was challenging -- old customers, new customers, big customers, not-so-big customers, resellers, system integrators, service providers, consultants, analysts, etc. etc. A standard talk-track doesn't work here -- you've got to be agile and adaptable with everyone you meet. They've got things on their mind, and you're there to talk about what they want to talk about.
I love that stuff.
A personal highlight for me was moderating our first-ever Big Data Storage Summit. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us in the room. And I can't wait to share what we learned in future posts.
These meetings aren't about pitching products, it's about listening and engaging. And I get more of it in a shorter time here at EMC World than anywhere else.
EMC World Is About Connections
Most of us are pretty social people: if not in person, then certainly in an online sense. We all know each other and frequently follow each other online.
I, for one, really like meeting all these people in person. We all share a common bond around interests and passions -- and anytime you can hang with people who like the same things you do, it's a blast.
But there's more -- we want to know how each other is doing, what's working, how is it going, what are you seeing, and so on. It's a community in the truest sense of the word. And you get a lot of useful perspective from that community really quickly by hanging out at, say, the Bloggers' Lounge.
EMC World Is About Insight
The people you meet here aren't usually interested in technology for technology's sake (although there's some of that), they're much more interested in what does it mean, what does it enable, how does this change things going forward?
Sure, there are plenty of sessions that explain how one thing or another works, either alone or in combination with other technologies. But the real conversations happen when people go "aha!" and now see a new opportunity or make a new conceptual connection that helps them get something important done.
By the end of the show, those "aha!" moments are the dominant theme -- ask people what they got out the show, and the responses will usually gravitate in that direction. That's cool, if you ask me.
EMC World Is About Having Serious Fun
Make no mistake, even though EMC World covers serious topics, it's a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, probably because many of us don't take ourselves too seriously, either.
As a result, there was a continual stream of hijinks, stunts, pranks, etc. at a continual and predictable pace. There was always something a little outrageous going on.
Although the fun can get crazy at times (I'm thinking about the Chad's World Live episode that is *not* to be missed), it certainly livens things up. People were genuinely enjoying themselves.
Even me, who tends to be a more serious sort :)
EMC Is About Passionate People
I know that I'm passionate about what I do, and I certainly prefer the company of people who are the same. Well, there aren't many passive people walking around at EMC World.
This year for some reason people seemed to bring an extra dose of passion to the event. I don't know whether it's the improving economy or the fact that the entire IT industry in in transformation -- you could see the fire in people's eyes. Even when they were dog tired.
For me, it all came together on Wednesday night.
I was at the EMC World Customer Appreciation Event. Imagine a huge room with 10,000 people all wearing hats with strands of blinky LEDs. Huge buffets of good food and adult beverages. Very cool lighting and decorations. A strange party energy hanging in the air.
The Barn Dogs (one of EMC's house bands) just got done playing their opening set, with Joe Tucci doing rhythm guitar on the last two songs. I was in the EMC VIP area, beer in hand, way up front against the stage. The band members were high-fiving everyone, and Joe was getting his picture taken with anyone who'd care to ask.
The Fray had just started their first number. I looked back and saw a vast sea of brightly colored LED-heads in the darkness, starting to sway and blink in rhythmic time to the music.
I then looked around and saw all the people around me who I'd worked with for so many years: Joe, Pat, Howard, Frank, Bill S., Bill T, David, Sanjay, Brian, Rich, Jeremy and the rest of the EMC senior leadership gang. I just couldn't imagine a better team of people to work with -- period.
Cue surreal, out-of-body and deeply-reflective moment. I realized that I had somehow landed in the right place, at the right time -- and with the right people.
And I considered myself very lucky indeed.