The announcement of CFS Connect’s inaugural golf outing by Andy Lane got me thinking about the ways professionals in this industry interact with each other. (I’ve posted more details about this outing below.) Event organizers often worry that newcomers will find attending their events unproductive, unenjoyable, or uncomfortable. My experience has been much the opposite, as I found the people at my first show, a 7x24 Exchange event, very friendly. And my welcome to Data Center Dynamics, Uptime, Gartner, and AFCOM events has always been warm. In return, I have tried to be friendly to first time attendees at events.

Still I would hear people complain about an old-boy mentality. For example, now and again Dave Ohara of the GreenM3 (Green Data Center Blog) and now GigaOm would post information on informal events that he had attended in a convenient location near one of the major conferences. I inferred that these meetings were secretive, as Dave rarely mentioned the names of anyone else who attended these meetings. I began to think of the informal events as another example of the fight club behavior so often attributed to data center operators.

In time, though, I met a few organizers of these meetings, which has given me a different perspective. After attending a Lee Tech on Tap at the invitation of Steve Manos, now of Norland Managed Services. I asked him about the origin of these shadow events. He laughed at my characterization of the events and said that all he was trying to do was help build a stronger community outside the glare of a show environment, where data center professionals could relax and really get to know each other, without the pressure of making a sale. More recently, Steve asked me to Norland’s Fishin Critical” houseboat trip, a five-day event, which I could not attend.  

Fishin Critical, I am told, was a success. The size of the venue, the cost of the event, and the time commitment to participate necessarily meant that the event, and others like it, would sell out at some point. Rather than being secretive, events like these are fairly public. They are, however, exclusive. Not everyone can afford the time to fly to an event and pay greens fees or make the time away from family for a multi-day mini-vacation, even with some sponsor underwriting and customer support. And you need to really appreciate the venue. Nobody wants to see me flailing away on a championship level golf course for three days, and I wouldn’t enjoy it either.

Still, if you get the chance to attend one of Steve’s On Tap events, or future fishing or golf outings, do so. Or better yet organize, something local. The mission-critical industry can only benefit from a greater sense of community.

Let me tell you more about the CFS Connect outing to help you get started.

Currently, Lane and his partner Kristen Vosmaer are putting together a three-day golf outing, with play scheduled on three of the finest courses in Wisconsin, including one that will host the PGA Championship for the third time in 2015. Again space is limited, but Andy and Kristen just want to find another 14 duffers who want to play great golf with other data center professionals. They’d also like a few sponsors to help with costs. But you can learn about these details at the CFS website: http://t.co/KsXwCeZP. Or you can see video of the golf courses on Mission Critical’s website.