I’ve been a keen follower of Tech Field Day for many years. While scheduling some time for Cloud Field Day 4 live sessions, I forced myself past the procrastination and filled the delegate form. I thought it was too late for Cloud Field Day 4 but I might get a chance for future gatherings.

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t expect a reply back within a couple of hours by Stephen Foskett to join Cloud Field Day 4 – the very event I was planning for and thought I had no chance of attending in person! Needless to say, I arranged for a week off from work and said yes immediately.

What is Tech (or other) Field Day?

Tech Field Day is an IT influencer event that was started by Stephen Foskett about 9 years ago. It brought thought leaders from all around the world together to discuss a wide range of technology topics, covering networking, storage, security and many more.

Since then, each of the topics, audience and popularity of these events has grown so much that they have become events in their own right. Throughout the year, you can now have one or more events for tech, cloud, mobility, networking, security and storage.

Companies sponsor the event and have 1 or 2 hour slots to present at the event in front of the delegates, who are hand-picked from the relevant industry and ask questions – no holds barred! The sessions are streamed live on the Internet. Each event has a hashtag (#CFD4 in this case) which gets people watching around the world, indirectly involved in the event by asking relevant questions via the delegates present in the room.

How is this event different?

Most events are run by vendors themselves and can be quite boring for techies as they’re quite marketing-heavy, even if they get to the tech eventually. For this event, companies are coached in advance about the audience (who are pretty much all techies) and asked to keep their presentation light on marketing and heavy on the technology side. That makes for great participation as techies being from the same industry and experienced, don’t need much more motivation to get stuck into the technology being presented.

Is it just sessions?

While not streamed to the world, there so many other activities that Stephen, Tom and the team cram into the event. Let’s just say that it’s a non-stop rollercoaster ride. Despite being extremely hectic, these extra activities make the whole experience very enjoyable and memorable. A huge bonus is that you unknowingly become part of a family and create lasting friendships.

To give you “an idea” of what happened on this one, here’s a blog post to end all blog posts about a particular event by Nick Janetakis. Like myself, Liselotte was also attending a Tech Field Day event for the first time and she has put her thoughts in her blog post.

How was it for me?

I wouldn’t be able to capture my experience in words but it was nothing short of amazing. From start to finish, Tom’s emails made it absolutely clear as to what is going to happen and guided us through the entire process.

We attended the welcome dinner soon after getting there. As most of us were meeting for the first time, we played a game of Yankee Swap with a slight modification that we opened the gifts after doing all the swaps. Before unwrapping, we briefly introduced ourselves and then opened the gifts. It was great fun and a nice way to introduce everyone.

CFD4 - Welcome Dinner

Welcome Dinner and gifts being exchanged

This was my first time attending a live broadcast. Next morning, before everything started, we got a quick “dos-and-don’ts” of Tech Field Day but were also coached on microphone handling, etiquettes etc. as well from Stephen and Tom.

In addition to attending live sessions with the presenting companies, I also participated in two podcast recordings for the On-Premise IT podcast, by Gestalt IT (also mentioned in Nick’s blog post). The first one was about a bugbear that I have about the casual use of the word “cloud-native” by companies but also the lack of effort in truly making their applications cloud-native.

CFD4 - On-Premises Podcast - Cloud-Native

On-Premises Podcast – Cloud-Native

The second was about asking the question if companies should put the effort into converting their applications into microservices or not. Taking advantage of being at LightStep, we pulled in Ben Sigelman – CEO and Co-founder of LightStep into the discussion as well.

CFD4 - On-Premises Podcast - Microservices

On-Premises Podcast – Microservices

I am told it is customary to go to “In-n-Out” and so we went. We took some hilarious photos there. You can see one by me in Nick’s post. Here are a couple more:

CFD4 - In-n-Out - Stephen and more

At In-n-Out, with Stephen, Nate, Raff (with Simon and 40% of Nick)

Great pose by Stephen and Nate here. Raff and Simon had no idea they were in a picture. It seems that Nick tried to get out of it but I still managed to capture 40% of him.

This next one is with Dugi and Liselotte. With our In-n-Out hats, we were looking quite funny, causing all this laughter. What a great picture this is!

CFD4 - In-n-Out - Dugi and Liselotte

At In-n-Out, with Dugi and Liselotte

Visiting SETI Institute was also something that you don’t get to do every day. There we met the legendary Seth Shostak and he took us through the story of what they do, issues, history and much more. He has had an outstanding career which is still going strong but he could have easily had a career in stand-up comedy. The way he can do one-liners while having a conversation with you and with impeccable timing is amazing to experience and definitely why it was the most entertaining talks I have ever attended. It was simply an honour to be there at the session.


At SETI Institute with the entire Cloud Field Day 4 Team

We also got to see the room where they record the Big Picture Science podcast which is actually a radio show but I thought I’d give you the podcast link for easy consumption. We had a great chat with Molly Bentley – the Executive Producer and Co-host of the show. Molly and Seth were about to record an episode to discuss the recent discovery of water on Mars. The episode is called It’s Habitable Forming. Click on the link and enjoy!

If you are interested in and curious about such things, subscribe to the podcast. There is some amazing work going on at the SETI Institute but the funding is drying up so it would be great if you could support it. You can donate online using PayPal here.

There were many other things that were crammed into the three and a bit days of fun but as this post is getting quite long, I’ll limit my excitement to just this and hope you can see why once a delegate, one can’t stop going back for more.

Should I become a delegate too?

Absolutely! If you’re working in any of these technology sectors, Tech Field Day events give you a chance to share your knowledge and insight with the companies you interact with. Your feedback could influence them to make their product better. The event showcases their products in front of actual consumers of them, with more technical depth. You could help to give (the rest of the world watching) the chance to ask questions that everyone not there in person wants to ask.

If I’ve managed to convince you, have a read of things that a delegate should know. Once read, if you want to be a part of this, apply to become a Field Day Delegate.

In the end, all I can say is my first time attending a Field Day event was an absolutely amazing experience. Howard Marks refers to it as “Geek Crack” and I feel addicted!

Disclaimer: As is customary for Tech Field Day delegates (and just in case), I would like to say that while Gestalt IT paid for my travel, accommodation etc. to attend Cloud Field Day 4, I am not being paid or being asked to write anything either good or bad about Tech Field Day and/or any of the companies that presented at Cloud Field Day 4.