Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why do you attend LISA?

Why do you attend LISA?


Instead of another message from me saying you should go to LISA, I thought it would be interesting to try to collect people's thoughts on why they attend LISA. 

Selena Deckelmann, LISA '12 Plenary Speaker "Education vs. Training" on Thursday morning

LISA is the conference where I get to meet people using the same open source technology running the internet that I use, and also the people who wrote the tools. People like Eric Allman, kc klaffy and Tobi Oetiker roam the halls. It's lovely to be able to shake an author's hand.

Pat Cable, Sysadmin, program committee member

LISA gives me the opportunity to present ideas and concepts (formally and informally) to other professionals, and meet and talk to people that are trying to make life better for ops staff everywhere. Through LISA i've been able to create my own network of folks that I can seek out when I encounter roadblocks (be they technical, social, personal), that last regardless of where I work or who I work for.

Adam Moskowitz, past LISA chair and tutorial instructor

  1. As a professional, I have an obligation to continue to learn about my field; LISA is the foremost conference for sysadmins in the world, so what better place to learn about the latest research and hear talks from all the "big names?"
  2. LISA is a great place to meet other sysadmins face-to-face. Online connections are OK but in-person ones are invaluable, whether for finding a new job or getting help with a particularly hard problem or just finding someone to have a drink with when I'm traveling.
  3. Local meetings are useful, but where else can you go for a full week of "talking tech" with people who "get it?" At LISA I can immerse myself in discussions about tools, the profession, the future, other related technologies, and often some cool unrelated stuff as well. It's great to be able to sit down with any person or group and know that we almost certainly have a dozen things in common and can start talking about any of them -- all without having to explain what I do to someone who won't understand what I say.
[Adam usually pays his own way to attend LISA. -Carolyn]

 Doug Hughes, past LISA co-chair and current program committee member

It's the best place to learn about the solutions to problems you face today and the problems you are likely to face tomorrow.

It's the largest conference organized for and by system, network, and IT administrators in the world.

Mike Ciavarella, current program committee member and tutorial instructor

Distance isn't always measured in miles; the trip to LISA takes somewhere between 24 and 40 hours for me each way after factoring in transfers and layovers.  So why do I put myself through that "pain" every year?  For the simple reason that LISA is *worth it*.  Let me try to quantify that with a short story that's typical of my personal experiences at LISA.  I was sitting around a table with some quite well-known security folks, talking about black-box vulnerability analysis.  Another attendee approached, and after a few seconds, without knowing the history of our conversation, starts making some extremely astute observations and contributing to the discussion.  After a few minutes, our "interloper" apologised that he had to go to a talk and departed.  We continued on in a much more interesting direction (thanks to our visitor) for about half an hour, at which point someone says that "It was great to talk with X".   At the risk of sounding overly clich├ęd:  ZOMG!  Our visitor was one of those individuals whose contributions to the field are so fundamental that nowadays we all take them for granted.   And he was at our table, as a peer, sharing his ideas and insight.  This is what 
makes LISA worth the international pilgrimage.

Cory Lueninghoener, IT coordinator

I attend LISA for the ability to run around for a week with the people who build the tools I use, design the technology I rely on, and research the systems software that I will be using in the future.  LISA gives me the opportunity to learn from people who have already made the mistakes that I haven't even thought of making yet, and to discuss my problems and ideas with people well outside of my organization and field.  I also attend to make use of the networking opportunities that LISA presents - I've met people from around the world who work for tiny university IT teams up to enormous globe-spanning corporations, and everybody in between.  And in recent years I've begun attending LISA to be able to give back to the community by hosting workshops and BoFs and by helping with the organizing committee.  The unique combination of technology, education, and personal contacts that LISA provides has helped me immensely in my day-to-day system administration life.

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These are the people who believe strongly in the value of this conference. They believe it enough that they volunteer their time to keep bringing it back for another year. You'll find these people and others like them in the hallway track at LISA.

If you're a repeat LISA attendee, use the comments section to answer: 
Why do you attend LISA? 
It isn't too late to register:

http://www.usenix.org/conference/lisa12

If money is a problem because you have to pay your own way, consider 
  • Share a room. Ask in irc (freenode #lopsa has a lot of LISA attendees) or your local LUG list.  
  • Join the LISA SIG for $45 a year. You save much more than that on your conference registration. 
  • Ask for a hardship pass from conference@usenix.org.
Invest in yourself!  Say hi in the hallway track if you do make it to San Diego!

Carolyn
LISA '12 Program Chair

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