THE POINT OF INCEPTION
Back in February, there was a tweet from Steve Noel about combining the regional CUGC groups and having our own XL event. Initially, I didn't think people would drive an hour or two each way, and then spend another eight hours learning about Citrix with us. Boy, was I wrong! I posed the question to my local Madison CUGC chapter, and was inundated with responses that were full of excitement about even the possibility of a Midwest XL event. Currently, there is a huge educational / awareness gap for those who are not able to attend Citrix Synergy. This is where I see the local CUGC chapters providing tons of value to our members with quarterly meetings and XL events, like this one.
PLANNING FOR SUCCESS
I met with Nick Prignano in April and talked about what it would take to host an event this size, and what it might look like. We decided the next step was to start the discussion with CUGC HQ and the other group leaders. Further discussion at the CUGC Citrix Synergy Pregame at Citrix Synergy cemented our resolve, and we decided to push forward. Having a chance to talk with the Omaha crew (Ryan Revord, Jarian Gibson, Steve Elgan), who had already planned and executed the first-ever Kansas City-Omaha CUGC XL really helped us out. Starting in June, the XL leadership group–made up of local leaders: Chicago's Chris Bohner & Nick Prignano, Madison's Greg Tiber & Craig Harmel, Milwaukee's Tim Tuttle, and Fox Valley's Robbie Phillips, along with CUGC HQ staff: Katie Heidkamp, Joshua Estep, Brad Hornback & Jennifer Gibbons, met weekly to discuss location, content and logistics. It’s amazing how much goes into planning an event of this size.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
We hosted the Great Lakes XL at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, a centralized point on the map for each of the participating groups. Some groups travelled slightly further than others, but all-in-all, Milwaukee was the best spot. Once we figured out an optimal city-location, we went to work seeking an awesome venue. We lucked out and were able secure the Garage at the Harley-Davidson Museum. We went back and forth on the room size and eventually opted for the larger space, which we found out was highly necessary.
BOOK THEM AND THEY WILL COME
After confirming a venue, we went to work finding the experts who would bring this whole thing together. We kicked off the Great Lakes XL presentations with Joel Stocker, Director of Technical Solutions, Citrix Cloud, who shared an overview of Citrix Cloud: how it works, what specific workload is in the cloud and how you can leverage it to make your life easier.
Daniel Feller, Lead Architect at Citrix, was up next, and gave an in-depth XenApp/XenDesktop Tech Update. Dan spoke about all the new technology available in the latest version. Somehow Chuck Norris was able break Dan's security (because he's Chuck Norris) and added some very interesting Chuck Norris tidbits to Dan's presentation–Chuck Norris knows Victoria’s Secret.
Our customer presentation came from Madison CUGC member, Vijay Gandagatri, Senior Server Analyst at UW Health, and a few members from his team. Vijay and his team shared how they were able to rebuild their Citrix environment to make their lives easier. They reduced help desk calls, login times from 150 seconds to 15 seconds, the time it took to patch critical systems, and the number of images they supported.
After lunch, Bob Romero, Lead Networking Sales Engineer at Citrix, took us through an overview of NetScaler MAS. Did you know that NetScaler front ends Amazon and iTunes? Very cool!
Citrix CTP Fellow, Carl Webster, Senior Solutions Architect at Choice Solutions LLC, spoke about his journey from being just an “IT guy,” to creating a blog and much needed Powershell Citrix documentation scripts, to becoming a CTP and then a CTP Fellow, all due to his community contributions.
Following Carl was Ron Oglesby, Director, Advanced Technology at Citrix, and now recently becoming the leader of all Citrix community efforts: the CTP and CTA programs, and CUGC. Ron talked about App Layering, explaining the benefits, as well as some great takeaways for anyone considering or already utilizing Citrix app layering.
We had a short panel Q&A session with Dan Feller, Carl Webster, Bob Romero, Vijay Gandagatri & Milwaukee's own CTP Teresa Miller taking a few questions from the attendees to finish up the day. Needless to say, there were a lot of really smart people here sharing their knowledge, experiences and tips-and-tricks with us.
We are thankful to have had a great venue, great speakers and an even greater turnout from our members. And, at least a dozen members took home some great prizes! We had an excellent lunch, plus a happy hour with drinks and apps. To our surprise, all attendees were awarded a complimentary pass to the Harley-Davidson Museum! We will begin the planning of the next Great Lakes XL very soon, so stay tuned!
Special thanks goes out to CUGC HQ! Without their leadership and dedication in organizing this event, it couldn't have happened. I want to thank my fellow leaders from Chicago, Fox Valley, Madison & Milwaukee for dedicating your time, as well.
Also I want to give a big thank you to all of our Great Lakes XL sponsors. Without them we couldn't have put this day together.
And, most importantly, thanks to all of the members who traveled to Milwaukee and attended the event. Our goal is to make events like these more valuable and relevant to you, so don’t hesitate to give us your feedback!
Looking forward to the next one,