This week I had an opportunity to interview Stephen Foskett, one of the influencers attending Dell World this year. Stephen is an active and engaging technologist and thought leader in social media. You can read his musings on technology on his blog, and follow him on Twitter at @sfoskett.
SV: Hi there Stephen!
Stephen: Hi! It's great to get this opportunity to meet with the Dell community!
SV: Tell me about yourself.
Stephen: I'm a techie with a background in enterprise storage and UNIX administration. I've been doing this sort of thing for 20 years, transitioning from a systems administrator to a technical consultant to a writer and speaker. Through it all, storage is a key interest for me and I've had the opportunity to really get involved across the industry.
I run the Tech Field Day event series, which brings independent writers like me into the conference rooms of just about every company in storage, networking, and wireless for back-and-forth briefings and discussion. That's really a highlight of my career and helps explain what I'm all about: Starting conversations, getting people talking, and cutting through the gloss to look for cool technology. Those sessions, including many with Dell, are available on YouTube and I encourage folks to watch them!
I also speak on storage, virtualization, networking, and other datacenter topics at various events. I have my own virtualization seminar series with Truth in IT, with lots of dates scheduled around the USA and Canada in 2013! And then there's my blog and Twitter feed, where I talk about all this on a more personal level.
I just love tech, and am the luckiest guy on earth since I get to spend all my time doing this sort of thing rather than a real job!
SV: Your Twitter bio says you’re “Just some guy talking about data storage, virtualization, the business of IT and whatever else I feel like saying.” Is anything in particular capturing your attention these days?
Stephen: I'm really interested in the explosion of innovation in storage we're seeing right now. Every product is new or in active transition, with new ideas coming from every corner. It's amazing to see all the ways solid state storage can be used, and no one has it exactly right at this point. This gives me lots to talk and write about!
I'm also interested in the back-and-forth between consumer and enterprise technology. Everything from bring-your-own-device to cloud storage to virtualization are mixing and mingling. It's amazing to see high-end technologies like automated tiered storage coming to the masses and decidedly consumer technology like peer-to-peer data synchronization going the opposite way.
SV: What are you hoping to get out of Dell World this year?
Stephen: Dell has really invested in R&D over the last few years, and I'm hoping to get a look at the fruits of that effort. In storage, Dell acquired some of my favorite companies (EqualLogic, Compellent, Quest/VKernel) and this really gives them some exciting home-grown products to sell.
I'm also a big believer in in-person interaction, and Austin is an amazing place. From food to entertainment, I always love coming to visit. And my friends at Dell, from the Tech Center and beyond, always mix fun with the shop talk.
I ran into Michael Dell a little bit ago, and he and the execs have been amazingly approachable and candid. I'm hoping to get a chance to talk with them about Dell's enterprise strategy, and I know they'll go past the sanitized party line and give real insight into their thinking.
SV: You’re a veteran conference attendee. Events like this can be pretty overwhelming. Do you have any words of wisdom for those who may be less experienced?
Stephen: Wear comfortable shoes and charge up your devices whenever possible! Seriously! Conferences like Dell World give new meaning to the term "mobility," with lots of walking and impromptu conversations. The last thing you want to worry about is where to plug in or take a rest.
I also highly recommend attending the techie-led sessions. No one knows Dell's technology like their own engineers and this is a rare opportunity to learn how things really work. Pay attention and ask questions – they'll really appreciate your interest!
Finally, reach out to the other attendees. More knowledge and wisdom walks in through the front door than exists on the stage. Ask your peers what they think of your technical infrastructure and IT strategy. They'll give you priceless honest feedback. I learn more from my seminar and conference session attendees than they learn from me!
SV: Thanks, Stephen, for taking the time to share your thoughts. It’s great hearing from you and we all look forward to learning your impressions of Dell World 2012.