THWACKcamp Day One Wrap-Up

Here at the end of THWACKcamp Day 1, it’s hard to settle down and write a wrap-up. The images and ideas are still very fresh; the conversations we shared are still swirling around my head. For those of us who’ve been around for three, four, five... or even nine (my gosh, how time has flown) years of THWACKcamp will know the new ideas keep bubbling up for weeks afterward. So, I’m going to beg your forgiveness in advance if I miss mentioning the moment that stood out for you, but feel free to share yours in the comments below.

An Interruption to Express Our Gratitude:

Before I get into the wrap-up, I want to take a moment to thank a few of the HUNDREDS of people who contributed to make THWACKcamp a reality.

  • At SolarWinds, we often poke fun (good-natured, of course) at managers, but the truth is our leadership have not only allowed but encouraged (not to mention funded) this effort every year. No matter how off-the-wall our ideas have been, the message has almost always been, “Go for it. We believe in you.”
  • There’s a largely unsung group of heroes behind every THWACKcamp: our tireless editorial team reviewed at every word written, watched every second of video, and looked over every graphic. More than just correcting our grammar or catching poor spelling, these folks labored to make sure we presented our best selves.
  • It’s easy to forget there are faces behind the Facebook account, a team running Twitter, and an individual controlling Instagram. But our social team does all this and more—often transforming messy messages into clear and concise communication.
  • If there weren’t SolarWinds products, would we even be talking right now? So, our engineers, developers, product managers, and product marketing team all deserve a nod (or four) for everything they’ve done over 20 years to give us something to gather and discuss.
  • When demand generation is done right, it’s invisible. Which is unfortunate because the people in the SolarWinds DG team are some of the more creative and innovative folks in the company.
  • One of the visual aspects people immediately notice about SolarWinds (besides the whole “orange” thing) is the visual distinctiveness of our graphics. Which is all the more remarkable when you realize there’s a very small, very talented, very busy design team behind each and every banner, slide, and icon you’re seeing—here at THWACKcamp and every other day of the year.

Heading toward the end of the thank yous, I simply want to acknowledge the work of teams you probably know (or could guess) who’ve been involved—the community team themselves, the Head Geeks, and (of course) the video team. What you may not realize is they (and everyone listed earlier) have been working on this since February.

I know that’s a long “thank you” for a daily recap, but I wanted you to appreciate how this is the culmination of a huge amount of work we at SolarWinds have done with excitement, passion, and joy for nine years now, and look forward to doing it for many more.

We Interrupt This Interruption With An Important Announcement

One of the most oft-repeated questions in almost every session is “where can I find this video later?” I can’t begin to tell you how gratifying it is to see it asked, because it means you’re really getting something valuable from this content. So valuable you want to watch it again and take notes, share it with your colleagues, or just file it away in your toolbox of useful information. Whatever the reason, let me reassure you all these videos WILL be posted soon. In fact, the links to the video-on-demand pages will likely be the next communication you get from us. So, stay tuned!

Next, it should be obvious we have a whole other day of sessions planned tomorrow, but if you’re just too excited to put down your keyboard, the THWACK monthly mission is waiting for you. Jump in, answer questions, earn points, and even prizes.

Finally, a quick reminder to keep an eye out for our THWACKcamp survey tomorrow. The changes and improvements you see this year come largely from the feedback we’ve received in the past. This is your chance to help us make THWACKcamp 2021 even better-er.

And Now, the Summary You’ve Been Waiting For

Here are some of the comments and moments that caught my eye over this whirlwind six hours.

Welcome and Finding Zen—How IT Ops and IT Security Can Work Together

  • There’s always a balance to be made between security and convenience.
  • All key stakeholders need to be involved as soon as possible, so the appropriate input can be provided.
  • Amen! “Stop talking about security and start talking about risk.”
  • Risk, the gap between acceptable and inevitable.
  • THWACK helps with the thinking—how has someone else resolved the same issue.

Upgrades Made Easy

  • I used to carve out 12 hours for the upgrade. 2020.2.1 went in under two hours.
  • The last upgrade was the best out of all the ones I have done.
  • I have one recommendation for everyone getting prepared for an upgrade. Run FULL Diagnostics on your main engine *BEFORE* and *AFTER* your upgrade... very valuable for support.

Signal From the Noise: A Career Built by Monitoring

On this session, I wanted to interject a personal note: what struck me from the earliest planning of this session was the clarity of purpose both Terry and Julie had about their work, and how monitoring (and yes, SolarWinds) factored into their career successes.

  • I never understood how much a law degree would help in IT.
  • Visibility to your environment, that’s what this is all about... narrowing down the biggest issues first... we *are* the first responders in the cycle (hopefully) before customers get wind of something.
  • LOL, I remember back in the day (2007) when I first got SolarWinds to query Nortel switch health. We had 27 switches with failed fans.

The Top 5 Common Problems With SQL Server (And How to Fix Them)

If you take nothing else away from THWACKcamp day one, you should at last remember the “Bacon backscratcher.” And that during this session, in real time, Thomas LaRock, aka SQLRockstar, was unanimously renamed “Beard Nye the SQL Guy.”

  • Yes. also, application products usually have terrible data models... the more millions it cost the worse the design.
  • Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) is really good for in depth wait time analytics.
  • Love DPA, stops long meetings about Database/Application performance before it begins.
  • DB is one of the last silos—it’s all magic.

Service Desk Automation: Level Up!

  • Love the way emphasizes it isn’t just about a technology solution—it’s just as much about the people!
  • Automation sounds awesome, but we are stuck on the Business Plan.
  • It’s great to hear about how all these products integrate with each other.

Custom Properties Revisited

  • We love custom properties... it used to be how we did everything in old days... there wasn’t really another way.
  • I like to track a lot of data, some of which is unique to our environment. Others are more generic but not included by default, custom properties REALLY helps here.
  • Custom properties is one of the Orion Platform’s top three strengths. (The other two being THWACK and THWACK.) Prove me wrong.
  • I think we could double this session time for custom properties... so useful.

Commercial Breaks

Yes, I’m going to offer one comment about this “session” as well: If you missed any of these incredible works of art, you can view them all on the SolarWinds YouTube channel:

Owning Your Inheritance: An Orion Zero to Hero Journey

  • Wow... that’s how I inherited mine, “Oh yeah, we have that, but no one’s been managing it, so it’s turned off on the cabinet back there...”
  • I fought hard to do what Ben just said as the data was corrupted and out of date, so the information was not going to be correct ever.
  • Alarm fatigue is a real thing. It happens in many industries. Clinical medicine may have recognized it for places like ICU and ER, but dang, SysAdmins get so many it’s so tough to not ignore the overload when you can’t get proper refinement!
  • I didn’t know about THWACK until I met my current boss. I had used SolarWInds off and on for 4 years before that.

Along with the above quotes, there were some detailed conversations in chat on polling engines, hardware specs, and specific points to check to ensure solid performance, like:

  • Polling cycles
  • Nodes per poller
  • What the main engine is doing

Intro to APIs for People Who Hate to Program

Since this is one of the sessions I was in, I can share some behind-the-scenes truth. It was as much fun to record the serious tech bits as it was to do the goofy spoofy Trek segments.

  • This is excellent. Giving me ideas to take things to the next level....
  • Can you monitor that fridge with SW?
  • I’m completely new to APIs, great session.

When a Map? Why a Map? How a Map? Why Orion Maps Are for Everyone.

  • Even as a network engineer, a map of devices is invaluable when trying to visualize what is wrong.
  • Maps should be designed around a purpose because when you look at it, yes you want plenty of info, but you’re always looking for something specific.
  • I took over several large TVs in our IT office and just put up NPM dashboards.

The Changing Face of Database Performance Management

  • This is the session I’ve been waiting for; looking for guidance on how to make DPA Dashboard data available within SWI Orion Dashboard.
  • I would like to apologize in advance for anything that I do or say that could be considered offensive as I slowly go NUTS!
  • I need to rewatch and throttle that fire hose.

Meanwhile, In the Product Room

  • For some, they were able to leverage the product room discussions as they would with catered time, 1:1 with an engineer.
  • Attendees were JAZZED about our security discussions: between the session on “Improving Insights for APM” and “Compliance Tracking and Reporting Using SW Products,” people were feeling informed, confident, and beyond the fact they could ask questions to our team about security, they were excited to peruse resources after the fact.
  • The full “security squad” brought a lot of experience, insight, and produced great resources participants could easily consume later.
  • Security was aptly timed given “the state of things”—showing the capabilities of compliance reporting templates really empowered users.
  • Service Desk had a lot of engagement from customers who’ve recently implemented their solution (one as fresh as two weeks into their purchase!).
  • Folks were keen on all the ITIL things, parsing out different service management motions.
  • There was a lot of thoughtful input around the Orion<>SWSD integration discussion.
  • Beyond the integration, many were eager to investigate new API possibilities in conjunction with the Service Desk integration.
  • People were digging the deeper dive of the Orion Platform, how to do more with what you’ve got—above all the demonstrations piqued interest where many hadn’t previously looked at “the art of the possible,” especially with the new features we’ve been pumping out.

Mostly Un-Necessary Summary

That’s a lot, but it’s not even everything—on top of the fact that we have another full day to go, there were some sessions I wasn’t able to get to collect comments and moments.

So, I’m going to put it out to everyone here—did you have a favorite moment of THWACKcamp this year? Or an “aha!” moment that grabbed you? Or another attendee (or SolarWinds staffer) you connected with? Let me (and everyone else) know in the comments below.

See you at 8:30 a.m. CT tomorrow!!

Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C