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10 Best Conferences for IT Professionals in 2017

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Technical conferences can be a great way to keep your knowledge current, network with peers, and learn about emerging technologies.

But conferences can be costly — in registration fees, travel, and time. With hundreds of conferences available each year, you need to choose carefully.

We thought we’d help you with a list of 10 recommended IT conferences from which you’ll find the best fit for your professional development.

Best Large Vendor IT Conferences: Cisco Live.

When: June 25 – 29, 2017

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Cisco professionals should look no further than this Cisco mega-event. Cisco Live offers a wide range of educational sessions and hands-on labs that cover the latest in cloud infrastructure, networking, and collaboration offerings. All the stuff Cisco does so well.

You’ll get to hear real-life experiences of expert practitioners, as well as the new directions Cisco is taking their products.

Bonus: VMworld (August 27-31, 2017 in Las Vegas) is another great (enormous) event. If you haven’t virtualized any services in your system yet, you will.

Best Nuts and Bolts IT Conference: SpiceWorld

When: October 9-11, 2017

Where: Austin, Texas

As you’d expect from Spiceworks, the SpiceWorld conference is packed with practical, ‘how-to’ sessions, during which you can hear and share ‘in-the-trenches’ tech experiences with other IT pros.

SpiceWorld is known for its intimate, community feel — you can meet and greet your fellow Spiceheads and meet new ones at the various happy hours and at the SpiceWorld Party at Austin City Limits.

Bonus: Bring your swag bag to take home your SpiceWorld freebies, and take a look at our surefire tactics to maximize your swag haul.

Best Vendor Neutral IT Conference: Interop ITX

When: May 15-16, 2017

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

The organizers of Interop ITX pride themselves on the vendor neutrality of their event. The agenda is reviewed and approved by an independent review board of industry experts. You’ll get to attend a mix of full- and half-day workshops, hands-on sessions, panels, and keynotes, tracked by the core themes: infrastructure, security, cloud, data & analytics, DevOps, and leadership and professional development.

There’s also a vendor-neutral Business Hall in which you can see exhibits from over 100 vendors. With a tag line of “A Year’s Worth of IT Education at One Event”, Interop ITX is designed to educate attendees on the latest IT trends and leading-edge technologies.

Bonus: Bring your running shoes and participate in the one of the ITX 5K Fun Runs. If running is not your thing, maybe you can take part in the Business Hall 10,000 step challenge and win a prize.

Best IT Conference for Security Experts: Black Hat USA

When: July 22-27, 2017

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

DEF CON and its spinoff, Black Hat, have been go-to conferences for hackers and IT security pros for years. DEF CON, the original, is more about the practice of hacking, while Black Hat has a more corporate focus on briefings and trainings.

In Black Hat briefings, IT security professionals learn the latest in security risks and trends from leading researchers, who share their discoveries and sometimes report on vulnerabilities uncovered in popular enterprise software packages.

Black Hat trainings provide “hands-on attack and defense” education on topics such as adaptive penetration testing, securing Active Directory environments, and securing networks of IoT devices.

Bonus: Check out Black Hat’s Arsenal tool/demo area where researchers and open source projects showcase cutting edge new security tools.

Best IT Conference for Women: Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

When: October 4, 2017

Where: Orlando, Florida

This conference, called GHC for short, is named for computing pioneer Grace Hopper. GHC is a must for women in technology, with its career guidance sessions, technical and professional development workshops, and one of the largest career fairs for women in the United States.

Sessions are arranged in clusters and tracks to make it easy for you to optimize your time. The main clusters are Technology, Products A to Z (product lifecycle), Emerging Technology, Open Source, Career, and Organizational Transformation. Within the Technology cluster, you can delve into tracks including Artificial Intelligence, Interactive Media, Human Computer Interaction, and Security/Privacy.

Bonus: GHC offers complimentary child care services for children up to age 13 at no charge to conference attendees. Note that childcare space is limited, so you must register your kids beforehand.

Best IT Conference for Sysadmins: LISA

When: December 4 – 9, 2017

Where: Boston, Massachusetts

LISA (Large Installation System Administration Conference) is the long-running conference for IT operations and systems engineering professionals. LISA17, which will be the 31st edition of the event, is still in its early planning stages, but a look back at LISA16 shows a robust program of training tutorials, technical conference sessions, small group workshops, and Birds-of-a-Feather Sessions. Also, expect a LISA Expo of the newest vendor products and services.

Bonus: LISA has a cool activity called the Build team, which actually shows you how they built the conference wireless network from the ground up. Here’s what the Build presentation looked like in 2015.

Best IT Conference for MSFT Pros: Ignite

When: September 25 – 29, 2017

Where: Orlando, Florida

This is Microsoft’s big event for customer IT professionals. It provides literally hundreds of sessions on topics ranging all the way from IT & Cloud Infrastructure, to Internet of Things, and compliance. The sessions are finely categorized including by type of audience (IT Influencer & Implementer, IT Decision Maker, or Enterprise Developer) and by attendee role (such as IT Cloud Infrastructure, Application Admin, or Database Admin). This means you can easily ‘filter out the noise’ and identify the optimal set of sessions that meet your conference goals.

Microsoft also commits to giving you direct access to Microsoft engineers and executives, so expect to meet and speak with their top product geeks.

Best IT Conference for Google Groupies: Google I/O

When: May 17 – 19, 2017

Where: Mountain View, California

Google bills I/O as their annual developer event, but it may be of interest to other IT ops and engineering professionals. A good way to see if I/O fits your needs is to check out the on-demand session videos from I/O 2016. I/O covers cutting-edge topics across Google’s entire domain of interest, including mobile and cloud computing. Consider attending I/O if you focus on Google Apps, Android, Google Cloud, and other technologies.

I/O features opportunities for hands-on learning, technical talks, and a chance to hear more about Google’s latest developer products.

Bonus: Take advantage of the “Office Hours” sessions, during which Google technology experts are available to help answer your brain-numbing technical questions and give you one-on-one project help.

Best IT Conference for AWS Admins: AWS re:Invent

When: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2017

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Amazon’s re:Invent arguably is the largest global cloud computing conference, with more than 24,000 attendees and growing. It’s Amazon’s opportunity to present a detailed view of their Amazon Web Services platform technology, applications, and outlook.

You’ll get to choose from breakout sessions, live demos, partner theater sessions, and workshops. There are more than 27 separate AWS session tracks — at introductory, advanced, and expert levels — covering topics including Architecture, Big Data & Analytics, Compute, DevOps & Tools, IoT, Security & Compliance, Storage, and Windows on AWS. The 2017 event still is in planning, so check out the 2016 sessions to see if re:Invent is a match for your needs.

Bonus: When the 2017 sessions are finalized, download the re:Invent mobile app  —  in iOS or Android version  —  to best plan your AWS re:Invent experience.

Wrapping Up

When choosing which conference(s) to attend, try to keep your career path in mind. It’ll be easier to justify the expense of a conference to your boss, and direct your skills and knowledge as you continue to develop your career.

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