SpiceWorld 2014 tech conference under way in Austin
Going all the way back to at least the debut of Austin City Limits in 1976, the state capitol of Texas has been a ground zero for fun and interesting cultural events. The city is nationally famous for its many annual music festivals, from the jazz, blues, bluegrass and Texas twang of the Old Settler’s Music Festival to the feel-good groove of the Austin Reggae Festival. Movie buffs flock to the SXSW (South by Southwest) and Fantastic Fest film events. There’s even an annual Louisiana Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival, where attendees consume several thousands pounds of crawfish every year. So it probably makes sense to hold the world’s coolest tech conference deep in the heart of Texas at the Austin Convention Center.
SpiceWorld 2014 kicked off on Monday with pre-event workshops, and rolls on through Wendesday, when a raffle and a wrap party will close things down in time for the cinematically curious to drift across town and bask in the final 36 hours of Fantastic Fest. Hosted by the IT networking — the social and professional kind, not the kind with routers and switches — specialists of Spiceworks, SpiceWorld has a connection to film that goes beyond its proximity to Fantastic Fest: SpiceWorld, in addition to sharing its name with gone-but-not-forgotten Spice Girls movie from 1997, was initially held at the famous Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. With several hundred IT pros expected at SpiceWorld 2014, the change to a more expansive venue (officially instituted at last year’s event) was probably in order.
CertMag’s own Jed Reisner is on the ground at SpiceWorld 2014, which kicked off this morning with a formal welcome and keynote from Spiceworks CEO and co-founder Scott Abel. The company’s signature Spiceworks social/professional networking platform (now available in version 7.2), an online forum for conducting business and exchanging IT knowledge, took a bow at another morning session that provided users with an up-to-the-second overview of features and previewed forthcoming product upgrades. An afternoon gathering, CTRL+ALT+TECH, focused attention on the global community of IT pros who use Spiceworks to get work done, connecting and collaborating to solve IT problems.
Spiceworks is a gracious host, of course, and there’s much more to SpiceWorld 2014 than just continuous interaction with the company’s own products. Another morning session, “BYODos and Don’ts: 10 Things You Must Know to Go Mobile,” featured Dan O’Leary of secure mobile communications provider Box talking about the ongoing challenge of mixing proprietary data with employee-owned devices, while Sean Derrington of data storage firm Exablox discussed emerging storage technologies at “Become an IT Hero by Reimagining Legacy Storage Strategies.”
Afternoon sessions addressed topics like “Is IT Cloudy in Here?,” “The Three-Ring Circus of Multiple Devices,” “The IT Persona Puzzle: How to Unravel (and Engage) Your Audience” and “Keeping IT All Together: Large Project Management.” There’s more to come on Wednesday, when attendees will learn how to “Deploy, Implement and Conquer WSUS,” as well as what it takes to go about “Improving your Help Desk’s Reputation.” Other Wednesday sessions include “Leveraging Good User Mojo to Simplify your IT Day-to-Day” and “I’m Certified, Now What?,” presented by Chris Ward of CBT Nuggets, who shared certification insights with CertMag readers last week.
Anyone who’s not already checked in at the convention center in Austin probably won’t be able to rock the casbah at the Totally ’80s SpiceWorld Party, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still participate. Head to the SpiceWorld live feed to get a piece of the action online.