by Julie Gunderson | Relationship & Community Manager at Taos
As the Community Manager for Taos, I spend the majority of my time on the road attending many of the best tech conferences in the U.S. and meeting some of the most brilliant minds. Being based out of the Taos managed services location in Boise, Idaho I often times receive the same reaction “Wait, you have tech in Boise?” As a Boise native, this response is profoundly frustrating, given that Boise has a robust technical presence from Fortune 500 companies like Micron and HP to start-ups such as Balihoo and MetaGeek.
The question of how to change this perception stuck in the back of my mind, however, first thing I needed to understand was simple: there is a difference between having a technical presence and having a technical community. Not to say that Boise doesn’t have a technical community, after all there are quite a few local meet-ups, none the less there is quite a bit of opportunity to grow the culture of collaboration.
Which leads me to the experience of organizing Devopsdays Boise. I had attended my first Devopsdays in 2015 at Devopsdays Silicon Valley. After experiencing the culture of collaboration and community at Devopsdays Silicon Valley my first question to friend, organizer and mentor Jennifer Davis (Chef) was “How do we bring this to Boise?” Jennifer was so excited and supportive of the idea that she offered to lend me her advice and experience, with that I jumped into the monumental task of organizing the first Devopsdays Boise.
I will fast forward through the mundane (yet very involved) details of coordinating venue, food, insurance, payments (thank you ConferenceOps) and get to the best parts of organizing Devopsdays Boise.
One of the most rewarding elements of organizing Devopsdays Boise was getting to both know and work with an amazing team. After reaching out to connections I made on my travels and local meet-up groups I ended up with a group of talented individuals who all shared the same goal of building the Boise tech community. Without Stephen Spector (HPE), Brian Hartvigsen (Cisco), Robert Meyer (Halbrek Technical Solutions LLC) and Paul Remeis (In Time Tech), Devopsdays Boise would not have happened. Each person played a crucial role in making Devopsdays Boise such an amazing success.
Along with the organizers, I found that being part of the Devopsdays community is more than just one geographic area. Organizers from all over the country were willing to share best practices and help contribute to the success of Boise, Jason Hand (VictorOps) and Jason Yee (Datadog) answered many late night Slack calls for help, never once saying they were too busy to give advice.
For a first-year Devopsdays in Boise, Idaho we were lucky to have a great response to our CFP. With speakers from Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Chef, NASA JPL, The US Patent Office and more, we saw an outpouring of support from industry experts, donating their time to come and support the Boise tech community. Along with speaking, these accomplished experts were also conference attendees, taking the time to participate in all aspects of the Devopsdays Boise event.
As with any major event, sponsors are what allowed us to dream big and cover the cost of the non-profit conference. Rarely were we turned down, and if we were it was generally due to budget not lack of interest. Many thanks go out to the companies that helped make Devopsdays Boise possible: HPE, Taos, Victorops, Chef, In Time Tech, BodyBuilding.com, Netflix, JFrog, Red Hat, Forgerock, HP, Tesora, Dell EMC, The New Stack, The Idaho Tech Council, O’Reilly, Startup Idaho, Access Idaho, Lucky Fin, and Rail Tees. Our goal for Devopsdays Boise 2017 is to bring more local sponsors to the conference.
The most rewarding part of Devopsdays Boise, however, was by far the attendees. As organizers, we were of the mindset “If you build it they will come”, and they did! From the excitement over the talks to the “hallway track” conversations to the animated openspace discussions, the people who took the time to attend drove the overall positive, collaborative and interactive experience of Devopsdays Boise, which we as organizers hope will bleed into the Boise tech community.
Overall, I am so very lucky to have had the ability to work with a team to help to build a stronger technical community in Boise, and the most important thing I learned through this experience is that Devopsdays is so much more than just one person or one organizing team, it really takes a village!