I posted a brief introspective note about THWACKcamp right after the event but now that some time has passed, I wanted to share some of the things that rose to the surface now that I have the benefit of additional time and distance (and let's be honest, SLEEP!).
First and foremost, credit needs to be given where it's due - to YOU. The THWACK community really brought it this year, in numbers and enthusiasm the likes of which we'd never seen before. Being on chat with everyone was like a years' worth of SolarWinds labs all smashed together (which, when you consider we had 15 separate sessions, it pretty much was!); the attendance was through the roof; and the range of questions and conversations have spawned discussions which continue now, 2 weeks later. I will happily don my "Captain Obvious" cape to point out that all of this would have been impossible without this amazing community which you've built and allowed us to be caring stewards of.
Second, kudos has to be given to the SolarWinds team, who worked their heart out to make this event a reality. The video crew, events team, graphics design artists, THWACK administrators, writers, and coordinators of all stripes, shapes, and sizes spent months pouring over every detail, thinking through each session, and crafting the best possible online experience - resulting in the largest conference of monitoring experts in the world - online or off.
With those very important thanks taken care of, here's what lingers in my memory:
1) You're not alone
The theme this year was "Challenge Accepted", but there's a risk of accepting challenges with an "I'll just do it myself" mentality. That's not the spirit of the theme, that's certainly not the spirit of THWACK, and if you were listening, you realized that's not the take-away from any of the sessions. Rarely was there a moment on screen when someone stood alone, and that was by design. As you accept your challenges - from being an accidental DBA to plumbing the depths of log management and even to figuring out how to make monitoring matter to management - you have a team behind you. That team may sit one cube over. Or it may be an IM, forum post, or phone call away. But irrespective of distance or time zone, there are people who share your passion and are ready and willing to help out.
2) The challenge is not unique
I'm not pulling a "Fight Club" reference, trying to tell you that you are not a special snowflake. I personally believe in the unparalleled blessing of recognizing the unique gifts each person brings to the table. But this challenge you've accepted - this problem you have to solve right now? THAT is not special. You may be monitoring one of those "hard to reach places" that seems to be completely off the radar of most tools. Or you are once again playing detective, searching for clues to the elusive root cause. No matter the situation, THWACKcamp taught us that this has happened before and someone has seen it and solved it. That's where item #1 comes into play. You gather your posse, you do the research, and you solve the problem. Across two days and 15 sessions we heard from Geeks from all walks of life sharing examples of the challenges they faced and what was amazing was how often we shared similar experiences. That should be a huge relief to those of us who operate as "an army of one" at our respective company. It serves as a reminder that this challenge we're working on has been seen before, and solved. Which leads me to the last point:
3) The challenge is never insurmountable
To paraphrase Anthony Hopkins' character Charles Morse in "The Edge" - What one geek can do, another can do. Someone else has stared this beast in the face and forced it to back down into the primordial slime from which all our worst IT issues arise.
The message after watching THWACKcamp this year was that this challenge HAS been accepted and resolved in the past, it CAN be solved by you today, and there's a TEAM standing beside you to help you out.
So let's all resolve to accept that next challenge, gather our team, and start building some epic stories and incredible solutions to talk about.
Because THWACKcamp 2017 can't be that far away.
[EDIT: Tip of the hat to designerfx for reminding me to add a link to the videos:]
To relive the excitement of THWACKcamp 2016, head over to this link: http://thwackcamp.com. Pop some popcorn, watch each video as many times as you like, and bask in the #MonitoringGlory!