Recapping the 2015 Kentico Connection Conferences

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Five weeks. Three conferences. 18 flights. A couple of train rides. Too many amazing conversations to count. As another Kentico Connection series comes to an end, I wanted to take a break from coding and recap on the events and all of the great partners I got to meet. In this blog, I’ll let you know my personal highlights, as well as what our partners and their developers got out of the conferences. 

The Kentico Connection conferences have always been one of my favorite parts of the community. Nowhere else can you connect with so many partners, developers, marketers, and friends. Having attended almost every Kentico Connection (I only missed the first one in Sydney in 2011), I can’t tell you how many great conversations and discussions I’ve had with so many people from around the world. While each year the conferences have been great, this year’s events were extra special, because I got to wear the “orange tie” and really interact with the attendees.

Melbourne

MelbourneThe beautiful city of Melbourne kicked off this year’s series by hosting a record number of partners to the event. We started out the day before with a walking tour of Melbourne, complete with a history of graffiti, a tale about some guy in an iron suit who took on the police, and ended with a great view of the Melbourne skyline. It was a great way to learn more about the country and city, all while meeting my step goal for the year. Following the tour, attendees threw some strikes and gutters balls (some more than others…I blame the Earth’s magnetic field) before enjoying some great beer tastings and food to cap off the night.

The conference drew a record number to the Australia event with over 120 in attendance.  The Atlantic Group location proved to be a big hit with its industrial vibe and ambience. Developers caught their first glimpses of Kentico 9 and some of the exciting features in the latest version. Partners saw firsthand how EMS can improve their effectiveness and reach, as well as how the new MVC support and Scaling can help them build dynamic, robust applications.

I had some great conversations around Kentico and Azure, the new MVC support, and the Kentico MVP program. Developers were very interested in how to leverage Continuous Integration’s capabilities to streamline their development and packed those sessions to see it in action. The Hands On track, new in 2015, gave attendees a chance to get their hands on a pre-release Kentico 9 build and walked them through tasks using the new version. Aimed at providing everyone a chance to learn at the event, this track focused on several topics, ranging from Smart Search to Security.

Here’s what other attendees of the Melbourne Connection had to say:

Orlando

OrlandoThe series continued in sunny Orlando with a lot of great social events for the partners to attend. The week kicked off with a full-on golf outing for 60 or so folks that are obviously ready to go pro.  Over the rolling fairways and greens, attendees sliced, hacked, and bludgeoned their way to the clubhouse before an evening of great food and poker. Partners and developers wasted no time in catching up and discussing the upcoming sessions and product release.

The opening keynote was a great session by Daniel Sieberg on how to “unplug”¸ an interesting and thought-provoking topic at a technical conference. I know a lot of partners found it entertaining and thought it started off the day right. After that, came a lot of packed sessions on the latest Kentico 9 news. Particularly, the MVC and Continuous Integration sessions drew the largest crowds as partners were eager to see how to leverage these new features within their development process. Those topics were certainly some of the most popular discussions over the two days, for both the attendees and Kentico staff. We received a lot of really good feedback on the features that will help us continue to shape them in future releases to meet the market’s needs.

Like Melbourne, the Hands On sessions were attended by many developers wanting to get their hands on the pre-release Kentico 9 build. With so many developer-centric improvements, Kentico 9 has the potential to improve the development process drastically, and partners jumped at the chance to see the latest version. During the breaks, I spoke with a lot of people about Azure and Kentico (which I always love), my role within the company, and some developer events we are looking into for 2016.

Here’s what other attendees of the Orlando Connection had to say. (People REALLY liked blogging about Orlando this year!)

Brno

BrnoThe chilly city of Brno (hey, I’m from Florida, so it’s cold to me), served as the location for the final conference in the Kentico Connection series. Hosting in Kentico’s “hometown” allowed us to provide a lot of great resources for attendees and sparked a tremendous amount of discussions and impromptu focus groups. Starting with the opening social event, partners were escorted around the city and learned a lot about the history of Brno, the frequent “visits” from the Swedes throughout the years, and even about dragons and wagon wheels. After that, we all piled into an old theater to thaw out and enjoy some carpet curling.  From there, the night ended with delicious burgers and drinks at somewhere that didn’t even exist.

Our last conference of the series was hosted at the beautiful Reduta Theater, one of the oldest venues in Brno. From the opening keynote, attendees were treated to session after session about Kentico9, case studies on successful implementations, and tips and tricks to help them develop and deploy better.   The discussions around Kentico Draft, our new content creation tool, were very popular as many partners were curious about how to leverage this new tool in their projects.

Here’s what other attendees to the Brno Connection had to say:

What I got out the events

As in past years, connecting with partners and developers was my biggest takeaway from the events. Being able to discuss projects and implementations with developers and digging into the details and techniques are what I look forward to the most with the conferences, and 2015 proved no different. I especially liked all of the Azure and Amazon questions, as the cloud is one my personal passions. I also was really interested to hear about how partners planned on using the new CI and MVC support.

Here is a list of Kentico 9 webinars we released describing all of the major features.

       

After attending so many Connections, I’ve made some friendships that have spanned years. It’s always great to catch up with my Australian friends and learn about their culture and ever-growing list of animals that can kill you. In the US, it’s a non-stop barrage of NFL, Florida, and height jokes from some of the greatest guys I know.  And from what I recall, my European friends wasted no time trying to get me to do as many shots as possible. It’s those connections that I value most about this position and the conferences. The ability to make lasting relationships with people from around the world and share their experiences and challenges.

Another big benefit of the conference was to present on Kentico and the cloud. Being one of my favorite topics, I was able to show and discuss some of the exciting capabilities of Azure and Amazon for the attendees. Covering everything from development and delivery to scaling and performance, I covered the basics as well as advanced topics to give developers an overview of the platforms and their capabilities. I was also able to give an “impromptu” session about Azure Search and show off some code, always a great thing for a developer to do.

Moving Forward

With another conference series down, we now look forward to 2016 and all of the exciting challenges that come with it. Whether it’s a monumental shift in the development community to a new framework, or an emerging social network everyone just has to be on, we’ll do our best to be ready. We’ll keep making Kentico better and providing you the tools to build awesome solutions.  And we’ll always find some time to have that beer and talk about them.

Thanks for the memories, friends!

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Bryan Soltis

Hello. I am a Technical Evangelist here at Kentico and will be helping the technical community by providing guidance and best practices for all areas of the product. I might also do some karaoke. We'll see how it the night goes...

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