HPE Storage Symposium 2016

This is my review of the 3 day HPE Storage Symposium which is a small yearly event in Colorado Springs, CO.  Sharing a city with USAF and a few lingering tech companies, this is the former site of an HPE corporate office but only the conference remains. We had the luxury of staying in 5 star accommodations at The Broadmoor.

Day 1
Travel and accommodation check-ins were as smooth as could be with some weather added in at DFW.  The Broadmoor shuttle was a place to meet some new friends who were fellow guests from around the country.  They had a cocktail and dinner event on the first night and it was a short walk from the main Hotel building around a gorgeous lake to the reception.  I met some folks from the Detroit area who were in medical tech and we joked about fun with HIPAA and a lot of guests were asking about my well-known company.


That evening I came back to a gift in my room, a Broadmoor black dry-fit pullover jacket with an HPE logo on the bottom…it looks sharp and I still wear it often.

Day 2
The actual day of presentations started bright and early with breakfast at 7am in the main hotel building, although I started off with a 5am workout in the surprisingly happening spa/gym.  I was well pampered with a tv on my treadmill, headphones, and fruit infused water.  For breakfast there were plenty of healthy options along with the standard scrambled eggs, french toast variety.

One of the standout speakers was Jennifer Welch, an impressive technical leader with HPE who mapped out future innovations and ideas, and even touched on some shortcomings of the past that have been reconciled.  She was engaging and fun, and I admired her poise in a room full of critical, technical men who seemed to accept her as one of their own by the end of her talk.

Another excellent speaker was AJ Castameto from Brocade.  Since we’ve made the decision to switch from Cisco SAN switches to Brocades at our new datacenter I was very interested in what he had to say.  He knew better than to sound sales-ish and instead focused on subjects such as lessons from the cloud:
Do you trust infrastructure that you can’t control?  A lot of companies I know of have dipped their toe in the water only to quickly pull it back.  A few have completely jumped in and drowned.  I have never been a fan of putting our data out into a foreign data center simply for convenience or cost savings.  But then again I have always been fine doing things the hard way if I think it will save me effort in the long run.  Short term fixes are just that, and in my current role I am confident that I’ll be the one fixing it in a couple years when it breaks anyway. AJ was engaging and right on with his advice on data center stability and the importance of analytics from your devices, and even if it wasn’t all news to me it was great to be in good company.

After everyone’s initial talks we went to lunch and came back for “deep dive” sessions with the same speakers.  This allowed them to get more technical and granular with their areas of expertise and it held my attention easily.

That evening a gathering was planned with a 5 course sit-down dinner that was top notch.  Unfortunately I sat next to a fellow who was older and from one question about his cast proceeded to tell me his full medical history and rehab plans for his rotator cuff.  I left as soon as I could and went back to my room to relax.

I came back to a nice surprise in my room…a gift bag with an Avnet bath robe and other goodies.  I couldn’t ask for nicer hosts.

Day 3
Our hosts gave us the option to play a round of golf on the amazing course surrounding our hotel, or to visit the spa for an hour-long massage.  My schedule was a little tight with my shuttle leaving at 10am but everything worked out perfectly and my massage was a great way to wrap up my trip!  The staff at The Broadmoor could not have been nicer and my room couldn’t have been more comfortable with a view of the lake pictured above.  I’ll definitely attend next year if I’m invited by our vendor again.


Author: Crystal Marks

Crystal Marks is an Enterprise Systems Manager in DFW. She holds VCP6-DCV and MCSA certifications and regularly attends tech conferences in the United States. In 15 years as a woman in IT she has worked to break down barriers and enabled women to enter technical fields through mentoring, volunteering IT skills to non-profits, speaking at conferences, networking with Fortune 500 companies, leading women’s groups, and continuing her passion for learning and teaching. Companies that she has worked for include Dell, Abn Amro, Stream International, Transplace, and Heartland Payment Systems. Her current position is at an entertainment powerhouse that is family-operated and sets the bar for giving back, volunteering, and engaging their fans and community. Look for Crystal on your agenda at VeeamOn, VMWorld, Microsoft Ignite, and HP Discover meetings throughout the year. Crystal is a graduate of The Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) at the University of North Texas. TAMS is a unique residential program for high school-aged Texas students who are high achievers in mathematics and science. She continued her education at the University of North Texas while working as an Astronomy teacher before jumping into her IT career.

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