Expo-ditious: My Week in Israel at the ByNet Expo


Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at ByNet Expo in Tel Aviv, Israel.  As i mentioned in my preview article, I had hoped to use this event to talk about cloud, hybrid IT, and SolarWinds' approach to these trends, to meet with customers in the region, and to enjoy the food, culture, and weather.

I'm happy to report that the trip was a resounding success on all three fronts.

First, a bit of background:

Founded in 1975, ByNet (http://www.bynet.co.il/en/) is the region's largest systems integrator, offering professional services and solutions for networking, software, cloud, and more.

I was invited by SolarWinds' leading partner in Israel, ProLogic (http://prologic.co.il/) who, honestly, are a great bunch of folks who not only know their stuff when it comes to SolarWinds, but they also are amazing hosts and fantastic people to just hang out with.

Now you might be wondering what kind of show ByNet (sometimes pronounced "bee-naht" by the locals) Expo is. Is it a local user-group style gathering? A tech meet-up? A local business owners luncheon?

To answer that, let me first run some of the numbers:

  • Overall attendees: 4,500
  • Visitors to the SolarWinds/Prologic booth: ~1,000
  • Visitors to my talk (~150, which was SRO for the space I was in)

The booth was staffed by Gilad, Lior, and Yosef, who make up part of the ProLogic team. On the Solarwinds side, I was joined by Adriane Burke out of our Cork office. That was enough to attract some very interesting visitors, including the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Orbotec, Soreq, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Hebrew University, Mcafee, and three different branches of the IDF.

We also got to chat with some of our existing customers in the region, like Motorola, 3M, the Bank of Israel, and Bank Hapoalim.

Sadly missing from our visitor list, despite my repeated invitations on Twitter, was Gal Gadot.

But words will only take you so far. Here are some pictures to help give you a sense of how this show measures up:







But those are just some raw facts and figures, along with a few flashy photos. What was the show really like? What did I learn and see and do?

First, I continue to be struck by the way language and culture informs and enriches my interactions with customers and those curious about technology. Whether I'm in the booth at a non-U.S. show such as CiscoLive Europe or ByNet Expo, or when I'm meeting with IT pros from other parts of the globe, the use of language, the expectations of where one should pause when describing a concept or asking for clarification, the graciousness with which we excuse a particular word use or phrasing - these are all the hallmarks of both an amazing and ultimately informative exchange. And also of individuals who value the power of language.

And every time I have the privilege to experience this, I am simply blown away by its power. I wonder how much we lose, here in the states, by our generally mono-linguistic mindset.

Second, whatever language they speak, SolarWinds users are the same across the globe. Which is to say they are inquisitive, informed, and inspiring in the way they push the boundaries of the solution. So many conversations I had were peppered with questions like, "Why can't you...?" and "When will you be able to...?"

I love the fact that our community pushes us to do more, be better, and reach higher.

With that said, I landed on Friday morning after a 14-hour flight, dropped my bags at the hotel and - what else - set off to do a quick bit of pre-Shabbat shopping. After that, with just an hour or two before I - and most of the country - went offline, I unpacked and got settled in.

Twenty-four hours later, after a Shabbat spent walking a chunkble chuck of the city, I headed out for a late night snack. Shawarma, of course.

Sunday morning I was joined by my co-worker from Cork, Adrian Burke. ProLogic's Gilad Baron spent the day showing us Jerusalem's Old City, introducing us to some of the best food the city has to offer, and generally keeping us out of trouble.

And just like that, the weekend was over and it was time to get to work. On Monday we visited a few key customers to hear their tales of #MonitoringGlory and answer questions. Tuesday was the ByNet Expo show, where the crowd and the venue rivaled anything Adrian and I have seen in our travels.

On my last day, Wednesday, I got to sit down in the ProLogic offices with a dozen implementation specialists to talk some Solarwinds nitty-gritty: topics like the product roadmaps, use cases, and trends they are seeing out in the field.

After a bit of last-minute shopping and eating that night, I packed and readied myself to return home Thursday morning.

Random Musings

  • On Friday afternoon, about an hour before sundown, there is a siren that sounds across the country, telling everyone that Shabbat is approaching. Of course nobody is OBLIGATED to stop working, but it is striking to me how powerful  a country-wide signal to rest can be. This is a cultural value that we do not see in America.
  • It is difficult to take a 67-year-old Israeli taxi driver seriously when he screams into his radio at people who obviously do not understand him. Though challenging, I managed to hide my giggles.
  • Traveling east is hard. Going west, on the other hand, is easy.
  • You never "catch up" on sleep.
  • Learning another language makes you much more sensitive to the importance of pauses in helping other people understand you.
  • Everything in Jerusalem is uphill. Both ways.
  • On a related note: there are very few fat people in Jerusalem.
  • Except for tourists.
  • Orthodox men clearly have their sweat glands removed. Either that or they install personal air conditioners inside their coats. That's right. I said coats. In May. When it's 95 degrees in the sun.





  • Very interesting perspective. For your last bullet point there has to be places you get really jazzed up for when going? (Israel sounds like one of those places) And some places you dread? (Las Vegas is that for me)

  • The more I read of your travels the more I am reminded of Anthony Bourdain's show. People, culture, food... and in your case, technology, coexist to form distinct societies.

      Not a bad gig the way I describe it.

  • Thank you, Leon.  You and your peers exist in the figurative I.T. stratosphere, and (I can't stop myself from saying it) I look up to you.

    Keep up the great work and travels and story-telling!


  • Some of what you mention are "attitudinal". Jet lag is hard, but getting 12 hours of uninterrupted writing time is a gift. So is feeling like you've slept in until 10am and it's still only 4am in the morning. (at least for the first day).

    Other items you list are real, but often over-blown by news outlets.

    So lemme hit your points and then add a few of my own:

    • Jet Lag (there)
      Yes, it is hard. And depending on your personal reaction to lack of sleep and/or sleep schedule changes, it can be REALLY hard. I'm lucky in that it doesn't phase me too much, and the adrenaline of being in a new place, with new languages and things to experience, completely cancels that out.
    • Jet Lag (back)
      Yes. Yes it stinks. But being home with family often overcomes this as well.
    • Red tape (entering other countries, or re-entering the U.S.?)
      I have not found this to be a problem at all. It's a line, you wait in it, you answer a few questions, you move ahead. It is often less invasive than our internal TSA process these days (sad statement of reality, that)
    • Leg room on airplanes
      Definitely difficult, depending on your size (Looking at you, sqlrockstar​) or your overall feelings about sitting in one place for too long (ahem, Dez​). Again, personally, I'm OK with it. Put a laptop in front of me, gimme some decent wifi, and I'm in my happy geeky writing place!
    • Airline food
      No two ways around it, this stinks. Even the kosher options are no better than the regular. On some flights, there AREN"T kosher options. In which case I have to carry my food with me. But you learn to get around it.
    • Security concerns at any leg of the journey
      Again, never been an issue for me (thank God). What I saw over in Israel was a lot of people going about their day. But "Jew and Arab Israeli sit down for coffee, have nice conversation" isn't exactly the headline that gets people tuning in for the FILM AT ELEVEN!.
    • Prices of travel/food/hotels/cars/other
      Hotels have been pretty consistent, as long as you're being cost-conscious. Food prices vary, but not wildly so unless you are treating yourself to gourmet meals (and remember, my options for food are different from most travelers). Most of the time when I'm overseas I don't rent a car because I like breathing and I don't have an adamantium-laced skeleton. So all in all, the big cost is the flight. Once you've figured that piece out, everything else is  a relatively minor cost.

    So what ARE some of the downsides (at least in my opinion)?

    • Being away from family
      'nuf said
    • Having SO MANY travel opportunities. The Geeks need to balance travel with our other duties - things like writing regular articles for NetworkComputing, DataCenterJournal, APM Digest, and more; writing for GeekSpeak; providing input on upcoming releases; learning about new technologies. Add to that chances to go to SWUGs, conventions, speaking opportunites like this, and (for some of us) travel to Austin to film Lab and other projects and you can (and I have been) travel twice a month or more. That can really wear you down and we Geeks - as a team - talk often about how to balance it all out and meet our obligations.
    • Too much to do, not enough time. Whether it is the desire to see the sites and meet the people - but being committed to working in the booth; or juggling a convention, speaking engagement, and customer visits with the desire to get home before the weekend; we're always forced to make some hard decisions about what we DON'T get to do.
    • Using the travel time wisely. As I mentioned, the big cost is getting there. Once you are there, everything else is relatively cheap so I try not to waste my trips. That means trying to work out stopovers on the way to or from the main event. But that creates its own pressures on things like budget, expectations, etc.
    • Being out of sync. Traveling overseas typically puts you 5 to 7 hours out of sync with your "normal" life. That is both for family and work. So it takes some adjustment and lots of things don't get done while you are gone because you simply can't handle them at the time they are happening.
    • Not getting jaded. I know that sounds funny, but after an amazingly short period of time, you can really take it all for granted. "Oh man, we have to go back to Las Vegas AGAIN? I am so sick of that place!" is an easy trap to fall into. I work hard to remember that this kind of work is a privilege. Writing these summaries is part of my way to keep that in mind.
  • Gal Gadot has probably been spending most of her time in Hollywood or NYC is my guess lately... gotta do the TV and show rounds promoting the movie I'd guess?  I'm sure she'll be a hero in Israel now though to lots of little girls... along with everywhere else around the world perhaps.

Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C