Back in 2000 when I first got into information technology (and I was greener than an Augusta National Fairway), I spent hours studying technology to understand what I was selling. Working for a large national reseller granted me access to tons of resources to learn about technology, operations and administration. From senior engineers that I could sponge off of, printed reference guides (yes, we had actual books about HP printers and such) and even some partner portals with online trainings, I had access to learn about any solution. As my roster of clients grew, learning new technologies became a response to a specific new project or a chance meeting with a manufacturer’s representative. No longer did I have the time to keep up on all the latest innovations or solutions.

My first technology conference, HP Discover (held annually in Las Vegas and Europe), was a great experience to dive deep into all things HP and the HP ecosystem and to learn what was coming out later that year while getting hands-on experience with current technologies. It also gave me the chance to network with other technologists. After that, I attended IBM and Dell events, and had a similar experiences (nothing like Orlando in the summer, as those of you who were at Dell Storage Forum in the summer of 2011 know). In 2 or 3 days at these conferences, I was able to gain tremendous knowledge without sacrificing my customers’ expectations of service. And over the last couple of years, I have attended more events like VMug (VMware User Group), VTUG (Virtualization Technology User Group), CIOSnergy, and other regional events. With each event, I have learned about new technologies, networked with peers and improved my skills to help my customers.

In my opinion, of all events, VTUG’s Summer Slam is the best combination of vendor neutrality, classroom education, and networking. This year Summer Slam is being held in Freeport, Maine on July 16 and it offers a broad range of vendors, compelling topics and a unique after-hours setting that’s perfect for networking. A quick look at this year’s agenda includes keynote sessions on OpenStack, Security, and Converged infrastructure. There are many breakout sessions offered across three different time slots, sponsored by leading edge technology companies like Caringo Software (my company), Dell, Tegile, and Zerto.  And you can’t miss the sponsor expo, where you can talk with the different vendors to learn directly from them on their latest solutions and how they can impact your organization. And, if that’s not enough, there is an “infamous Lobstah Bake” after to help with the networking.

Please stop by the Caringo booth and attend our breakout session: A Crash Course on Object Storage. How It’s Helping Businesses in Every Industry and How It Can Help You! (Room #C114). For those of you who cannot make it, I will be capturing the experience with photos this year and making live updates from my Twitter account (@bcanter16) and will follow up with a post-event blog. I’ll be joined by Caringo’s VP of Marketing, Adrian Herrera (@ajherrera), and our VP of Product, Tony Barbagallo (@tonybarbagallo). And of course, you can follow Caringo on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ or email us at