I had the great honor and pleasure of being a speaker at MMS Miami Beach Edition at the end of October. It was the first speaking event I've had since 2019, largely due to the pandemic, and the experience was marvelous! The entire team behind MMS is outstanding, and their attention to detail really makes a difference in the experience both for attendees and speakers.
The Overall Experience
The speaker attire this edition was pretty rad: lots of flamingo gear!
The location was pretty awesome as well. Right on the beach in South Beach, with easy access to several food options and other entertainment venues, including the famed Ocean Drive...something that should absolutely be seen one time after dusk:
Not to forget the most important part: the sessions and presented content are absolutely top notch as usual! Everyone did a wonderful job presenting complex material.
I was involved with three sessions, each a unique topic. When I was first notified of session selection I had that moment of "oh, shit!" due to the disparate nature of the sessions, but after the initial excitement wore off and I started preparations (back in August) I actually really liked the difference between topics. A little bit of everything to talk about, instead of multiple sessions on a single thing. Variety, they say...
The Cabana Experience
One of my co-speakers, Rudy, and I were assigned cabana duty on the first morning of MMS. We didn't have much traffic at that time, but it was a good opportunity to talk through some session details and enjoy the experience. It didn't hurt that a view like this was what greeted us on the way to the cabana:
Configuration Items and Remediations Session
My first "real" session was on Configuration Items (and Remediations) with co-speaker Sherry. We had a small but super engaged audience and got to share some fun demos on crafty and practical things that we've accomplished with CI's and Remediations. My favorite story I shared on the topic (this iteration) is how I fixed an accidental conflict created by competing policies during a migration. The details of what happened don't matter, but I was able to use CI's to both scope the fix and address the problem. This was important because the CI quietly and quickly resolved the problem on affected machines, the number of which was unknown at the time.
Packaging & Deployment SLA Session
My second session with co-speaker Rudy was on all the "stuff" behind the scenes as it relates to what goes into packaging and deployment of applications. Not the technical part of how to package and deployment, but the technical bits and information necessary to understand before you build out a package/deployment. Much of the session was geared toward the things folks take for granted after they've been packaging for some time, but things that are super important to create a meaningful SLA for packaging, setting expectations with requesters, and actually documenting the effort behind what makes it all happen.
Again, we had a really engaged audience (especially for 8 a.m.), and the session was popular enough to be scheduled for the "big" room (see headline photo). We had great interactions with attendees both during and "after" the session in the Q&A, and the feedback from the session has been humbling -- folks really enjoyed it.
Git and Github for the Sysadmin Session
I was happy and excited to share my experiences with the first two sessions, but the session I was most looking forward to was the session designed to de-mystify the basics of working with Git as a solo user or sysadmin. There's a lot of cool stuff you can do as a sysadmin (or otherwise) once you understand how to work with Git, but it can be overwhelming to get started (it certainly was for me a number of years ago).
My co-speaker Andreas and I had a great session. Andreas had some incredible visuals to share and along with the live demos of the basic operations and functionality, and it was clear from both the engaged audience with great questions and the follow-up Q&A afterward that this topic also really "connected" with folks. The feedback has also been great and encouraging. When I pitched the session idea the target audience was exactly what we had in attendance, and they posed exactly the sort of questions I was hoping they would! I couldn't have been happier with the outcome!
The Community Angle
One of the things I've most appreciated about MMS from my first time attending back in 2016 is the sense of community and support. I knew things would be a little different as a speaker, and they were, but what is really special about the whole thing (speaker or not) is the real sense of community and support. Folks are genuinely interested and invested in helping others be that through formal advice, anecdotal "I had that problem too..." stories and advice, or just words of encouragement and friendliness.
As usual, I met and chatted with a number of new folks, and caught up with old friends and acquaintances. I didn't have a working MMS Retweet Bot anymore (thanks, X, for ruining API access), but this time I designed and printed keyrings to give away to folks I talked with, those who asked questions, or to other speakers:
Folks loved the keyrings. I had one goal: to not bring a single one back on the flight home. And I was successful! I printed enough speaker tags for about half the speakers, and enough attendee tags for about a quarter of the attendees...mostly because that's all the time I had. I returned home with the two I intended to keep.
The hype is real! If you haven't been to MMS...plan to! And if it's been a few years and you're still in the systems management space, come back! I've been talking to some folks since Miami Beach and there's some good stuff planned and/or submitted for the next (MOA) edition in 2024!