Matt Duncan, head of the General DataTech Lab facility, earlier this month attended the combined Cisco Technical Leadership Council (TLC) and Geekfest event in Nashville, run by the South area of Cisco’s Americas Partner Organization (APO). It offers an opportunity for Cisco partners to learn from and network with their peers in the region.
Duncan shares his experience in this image gallery/blog.
Geekfest reminds me of Cisco Live, Cisco’s customer conference, on a smaller scale. The TLC was a leadership council, where representatives from different partner organizations presented technologies and go-to-market strategies and invited peer feedback and insight on areas for improvement. Comments were not limited to just technical input — they ran the gamut of topics from sales and marketing to relationships around service delivery with Cisco Advanced Services.
This was my second TLC event, and just like the previous one, it was packed full of good insight on how to take Cisco technologies to market and grow our respective businesses. While Cisco provided some of that insight, a lot of it came from the group of partners attending and the questions they asked. The crowd was relatively small, approximately 30 people, from different companies. All attendees are leaders within their organizations and were not afraid to ask tough and challenging questions. Even though we compete with one another, it was amazing how quickly a technology discussion could break down those competitive barriers and stir up lively debate and conversation.
The event started with a mixer at the Rock Bottom Brewery that allowed people to meet in a casual setting, which I think helped encourage the candid discussion that flowed throughout the event. Over the next couple of days, Cisco brought in accomplished speakers, such as Todd Nightingale, VP, general manager of Cisco’s Meraki division, to discuss near-term road-map direction and current product enhancements within Meraki.
Nirav Sheth, VP, architectures and engineering, gave us Cisco’s view of the cloud opportunity, and how partners can generate revenue through cloud services. The newly announced Cisco HyperFlex hyperconverged solution garnered many questions for Chris Nichols, senior systems engineering manager, hyperconverged solutions. A leadership panel made up of South area leaders in the APO answered questions from the group and generated some very candid discussions.
Seth Beal from Cisco’s software and solutions innovation team showed us the landscape of ISVs that are creating products and solutions around Cisco products, and pointed out the ecosystem of vendors we could partner with in various markets to drive sales revenue.
Before the Keynote address, Cisco held an ecosystem partner solution showcase. This area was set up with small booths, with various sponsor vendors handing out swag as they had informal conversations with attending partners. The showcase is always a fun place for me as I enjoy seeing what new products and technologies vendors have to offer. More importantly, it is a place to network with peers and talk about different ways to solve the problems facing our customers.
Our engineers, like most, crave hands-on technical training. Although events like Cisco Live are great, it’s challenging for partners to send all of their engineers. Geekfest was not on the same scale as Cisco Live, but the event was packed full of technologies and discussions led by engineers from a broad cross-section of Cisco organizations, including the Software and Solutions Innovations (SSI) Group, Advanced Services, and DevNet. Our company, General DataTech, sent a few engineers to the Geekfest portion. They felt the sessions were detailed and allowed them to ask questions at a level of intimacy that is difficult to accomplish at larger events. In particular, some of them found the DevNet and SSI sessions to be very helpful as they find ways to embrace the software-defined future.
Everyone in our group agreed that Nashville is a great host city — very welcoming and a fantastic place to network with our peers at the end of the day. Based on the feedback I got from the team, it was clear that technical training within their respective fields (collaboration, routing and switching/SP, DC) was their favorite part of the event, with networking with peers coming in at a close second. GDT has sent people every year, and will continue to do so based on our this experience.
Matt Duncan heads the innovative, state-of-the-art General DataTech Lab facility. Under his leadership and through the lab facilities, GDT engineers have staged, tested and fine-tuned deployments of the latest technologies and services of Cisco, EMC, VCE and VMWare, among others. Matt and his team are a major component in creating the level of services satisfaction that leads to long-term client relationships.