How to Prepare for Citrix Synergy

Citrix Synergy Tips - picture with DJ Eshelman and Mark Templeton from Synergy 2016

Each year I will update this page with my tips and tricks for attending Citrix Synergy, the yearly gathering of users, vendors, Citrix and usually… me.

**Not going to Synergy? Here’s a CTXPro Tip: The Keynotes will be streamed live! Sign up at https://live.citrixsynergy.com/

Let us know you’ll be there in spirit if you are watching the stream:

I can't be there, but I'm watching the #CitrixSynergy live stream. If you will be there, check out ctxpro.com/synergytips for some pointers! Click To Tweet

**Update 5/8/2018

Synergy has launched and that means it’s time to get that CUGC T-Shirt! But- it comes wrapped up in a bundle, giving it some wrinkles. Normally, these would come out in the dryer. So what if you want to wear it at the conference? FEAR NOT fair reader, I have a travel tip that will help!

Enjoy!

Preparing For Citrix Synergy

The main reason I am posting this is in my years of consulting I’m often asked how to prepare for Citrix Synergy, and because I’m a consultant I will typically say “It Depends” because like most things it does. But let’s try to run down the basics that apply to most.

First- read my CUGC Article about this! As I think of more, I’ll add it here so stay tuned: https://www.mycugc.org/blog/a-newbies-guide-prepping-for-citrix-synergy-2018

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Booking Travel

When To Arrive

There are a few factors with the question of when to arrive for Citrix Synergy… but overall it depends on if you have some need to be there early. Some like to just be more settled, some want to attend the Instructor-Led Labs in the days ahead of Synergy. For me, I like to get there early to get settled and begin connecting with folks. But for MOST people- Arrive when it makes sense! When to arrive for #CitrixSynergy? When it makes sense for you! Slightly less obvious tips at ctxpro.com Click To Tweet
For 2018- I am actually arriving Sunday even though it doesn’t start until Tuesday. Why? For me the flight was so much cheaper it was better to arrive Sunday and have the extra day of hotel; and I have a Monday 9am CTA briefing that I didn’t feel like fighting a flight to get there in time. Some others may just want the extra time to be social, which is awesome! In 2018 we are having a CUGC Pre-Game 4:30 pm on Monday (the night before Synergy begins). So if you are there Monday night you should register and I’ll see you there!

Where To Sleep

  • If your company is paying… book the conference hotels. Having the ability to easily get to your room is often a good thing for dropping off SWAG or just a quick nap before hitting the next big event. You’ll generally survive better and be better able to respond to those panic emails with a close by place to go.
  • If you are paying- you’ll save a lot of money at some of the off-brand hotels within either walking or Uber distance. If you are paying your own way to #CitrixSynergy - there are affordable hotels within walking distance. More tips at CTXPro.com! Click To TweetIn 2017 I saved some $300 despite using a combination of Uber and Lyft to get back and forth to the hotel each day. Here, let me help: Here’s a code for $5 of Uber. Just be ready for a bit more walking and thinking ahead; you’ll be fine!

When to Leave

Here’s some points to ponder on this:

  • The end-of-Synergy party is usually filled with opportunities to stay out even later once the party is closed. So ask yourself… will you be feeling it the next day? Do you enjoy traveling like that?
  • Are there other things you could do to take advantage of the trip? For example, 2018 will be right by Disneyland… it makes for an interesting reason to stay and relax for a few more days!
  • Unfortunately there will not be an E2EVC in Anaheim this year- but I’d love to know if staying an extra day or two after Synergy for a conference interests you! (note- E2EVC is in New York and I will be there speaking if you’re interested in joining us!)

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UPDATED 4-10-2018 [email protected]'s Updated Synergy Prep guide now has a Packing List on ctxpro.com Click To Tweet

Packing List

So- the classic question: what am I bringing to Anaheim? And how does it compare to last year’s list?

Some Things to Keep in Mind

First- keep in mind I’m a very seasoned traveler. My years of consulting both with Citrix Consulting and others have me in the air a LOT. So let me begin my ‘it depends’ list with this:

  • Your choice of airline will drastically impact your choice for luggage. Some allow carryons with virtually no questions asked. Some are getting picky. Some will allow you to check a bag for free… some will not.
  • If you intend to take a lot of SWAG (Stuff We All Get) home from the various vendors, leave some room. OR- what I do is plan on simply unzipping the expansion of my carry-on bag. If it fits, great, if not– I’ll either be checking the bag or making other arrangements. I often end up leaving a lot of stuff behind, unfortunately. I dislike checking bags because of the extra time I have to be at the airport and how early one has to arrive to do so. Here’s what to expect based on years past:
    • A new Laptop bag [2018 note: I have confirmed with Citrix that this is a standard welcome gift you will be getting!]
    • A CUGC T-Shirt (because you’re going to stop by the CUGC booth and get one!)
    • Vendor T-Shirts that strike your fancy (2-3 typically)
    • Prizes (there are often a lot- everything from new Chromebooks to Quadcopters)
    • Various loose items such as battery packs, adapters, drink holders. And… Of course those Lego Mini-Figures! [Tip- get to Synergy Expo early to get those!]

Second- There’s some key things to remember regardless and I have a few rules when it comes to events like Synergy.

  • Layer your clothing. This is key with any conference because modus operandi is to keep every room at about 65 degrees. I’m not kidding. Because you never know just how many hot-air spewing geeks will really be present (with apologies to hot-air spewing geeks) conference centers err on the side of caution and keep ahead of the temperature increases. SO- layering is key.
  • Be mindful of how long you are there. I always plan for the typical underwear/socks combo for N+1 days. It’s lightweight redundancy. But your quantity of shirts, pants, dresses, etc will be determined by this.
  • Noone will remember what you wore yesterday. This seems a bit an odd suggestion, but to keep what you pack to a minimum for a 4 day visit, I’d suggest packing at least 3 main top layers and 3 bottom layers and rotating them to bottom. This allows enough rotation to keep it interesting without having to worry about repetition. You’ll be getting extra top layers there if you’re a t-shirt person… so plan ahead! If you are NOT a t-shirt person… look at my list for a specific suggestion. Just don’t plan on wearing new t-shirts under anything else. #itchy The second set of advice here- if at all possible- favor denim over dress pants. You can take a lot less that way.
  • The Second Laptop Bag can be used for additional storage. You will get a laptop bag when you register. So what do you bring your laptop in for the trip? In years past I have decided to check my main bag and use the second laptop bag for additional carry-on (most US carriers allow two carryons). However… see below for what I’m thinking laptop wise this year!

My Packing List for Citrix Synergy 2018

Number of Days I’ll be there: 6
Number of Nights: 5

I will only be bringing a carry on bag and NOT my usual laptop bag. In years past I was traveling with a laptop that was too large to fit the conference bag- but in late 2017 I upgraded to a Dell Precision 15″ that is much lighter and skinnier (much like this model at my affiliate, Amazon: https://amzn.to/2qo0CCS). The set I use is a previous model of this one that features a easy expansion if it’s needed. I’ll be able to use the conference bag to haul my laptop about if needed for labs. Sorry this guide is very male-focused; if you have a perspective from the more-fair gender I would LOVE to include your advice- message me with your details!

  • Under-Shirts: Consider past years’ CUGC T-Shirts- these can serve double duty first as outer layers, then as under layers. I had room this year to go with classic v-neck undershirts.
  • CTA and CUGC Golf Shirts (2)
  • 1 Dress Shirt (for an executive briefing)
  • *Update – decided not to bring a Sport Coat but you may need one* I wear it on the plane to cut down on folding/wrinkling)
  • 2 pair dress pants
  • 2 pair denim pants
  • ECCO Dress Shoes with GoodFeet insoles (Still have them, yes)
  • Light Fleece
  • Water Bottle
  • Vitamins
  • The usual array of chargers, batteries and adapters
  • 6 pairs of socks/underwear

Second- I haven’t decided on a few items but here’s the B-Team:

  • Swim trunks (I think I’ve taken advantage all of one year)
  • Sneakers (I took them last year and I was too busy to go back to the room to change into them; however it is very often nice to have the option. *update – had room for this too*
  • Shorts (really depends on the forecast and if I can shed that pesky 5 or so lbs before May!) *Update- I went for it; it’s going to be a near-record hot week here in 2018*

Finally, some additional suggestions:

  • If you have team members that could not go- be that person and bring them some stuff back! Be generous with your room accordingly!
  • You will be walking and standing most of the week- make sure your clothing selections accordingly
  • I said this in my CUGC article as well but if you can get away with not having a laptop this week- do it. But most of us will be tasked with things during the week and will have to bring it. Others should find their schedule too full to warrant carrying it with them each day. Odds are great you’ll not need one at all unless you are doing the self-paced labs.

Though I’ve realized that the audio may be out of sync in one scene (promise it doesn’t stay that way, just a glitch), I did attempt a packing video here:


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What I’m Looking Forward to at Citrix Synergy

Synergy Super Session Speakers

That’s a lot of ‘S’ but bear with me. I’m pretty excited that Citrix is continuing the new Synergy tradition of having Super Sessions with some true heavy hitters outside of the technology world. In the announcement at https://www.citrixsynergy.com/learn/keynotes/super-sessions.html you’ll find that Synergy 2018 will feature Dr. Condoleezza Rice and accomplished author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Blind Side). I’m looking forward to hearing more about their perspectives on business and technology.

By the way- for those of you who know the trick of streaming the keynotes from your hotel room… keep in mind that Super Sessions will probably not be streamed!

Key Topics

As many of you know, Citrix is charging forward transforming themselves into a ‘cloud first’ company. As I can, I will update this list of topic theme areas but here’s my notes so far:

Cloud-based services and SaaS

  • How will Citrix handle hybrid use cases going forward- apps wherever, central cloud control…
  • Authentication and MFA SAML

Workspace

  • As always- what’s new in Application and Desktop delivery with a focus on the “Workspace” concept.
  • App Layering!
  • File Sharing and Collaboration
  • NEW: Workspace Environment Manager, now part of Citrix Cloud. This is one of the most underused but valuable features in the Citrix Workspace “Stack”- I can tell you first hand… it works! Check out this Citrix Blog article for more sessions surrounding User Experience in general: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2018/05/01/become-a-uem-expert-at-synergy-2018/

Networking

  • the “Secure Digital Perimeter” and the Cedexis acquisition
  • More about what Software Defined Networking really means
  • More about how NetScaler MAS continues to improve and grow in viability
DJ Eshelman, Mark Templeton and Craig Jeske at Citrix Synergy 2014
When I met Mark Templeton in 2014
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My Synergy Schedule and Sessions

The way I think about a schedule at Synergy is very much like technology in general- I’ll optimize as things change. After the keynote, typically new products, versions and features are announced which have ‘secret’ sessions. So the key here is to remain somewhat flexible in the sessions you would like to attend. My advice? GET THE APP. It will let you know about updates as they occur, and help you keep organized.

The #CitrixSynergy schedule may change after the keynote announcements- Don't consider your schedule set in stone! More tips at ctxpro.com Click To Tweet

And remember- Synergy isn’t just about the sessions- many of them will be recorded so you can reference them later. I’d suggest a ratio of activities. For me, it’s roughly

  • 30% Sessions (keynote and otherwise)
  • 30% Networking, Meetings and of course parties
  • 10% Learning Labs and Certification Test
  • 20% Service – Find me at Lunch for Tech Talks and at CUGC events and the booth!
  • 10% Vendor visits in Synergy Park and otherwise

My Schedule So Far

(all times noted are in the Conference Timezone (Pacific)

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Sessions
  • Opening Keynote
  • SYN238 – Implementing Federated Authentication
  • SuperSession with Dr. Condolesezza Rice
  • SYN128 – The Future of Work
  • SYN238 – Storefront -> Citrix Workspace
  • SYN299 – nFactor and Logon Schemas
  • SuperSession with Michael Lewis
  • SYN236 – Best Practices in multisite scenarios
  • SYN201 – App Layering Lessons Learned
  • SYN126 – Actionable App Monitoring
  • SYN228 – Essential things to know about NetScaler
  • SYN129 – New Approaches to Business Continuity
Networking Events **Find me- I’m available!
  • CUGC Pre-Game – 4:30-6pm
  • Navigators Reception 6-8pm
Welcome Reception
  • Citrix Sales Reception
  • M7 Party
Final Night Closeout Party!
Learning  CTA/CTP Briefing (Private) 8 am-11 am Certification Test Self-Paced Labs Self-Paced Labs
Demos
Service Navigators Reception 6-8pm Lunch Tech Chats (noon) Lunch Tech Chats (noon) Lunch Tech Chats (noon)
Others Travel in 3:30 am to 10 am  Simply Serve: BattleBots Travel Home – 8 am

Sunday

Arrive around 10 am and get settled. This is a great opportunity if you are also there early to catch up with me in person! Contact me via Twitter or other means!

If you are there early, several other CUGC and other folks will be there too.

 

Monday
  • Briefings with Citrix in the AM
  • Free in the afternoon
  • 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm CUGC Pregame Reception
  • 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm I’ll be helping with the Navigators Reception – if you are a first-timer COME TO THIS RECEPTION!

Tuesday

  • Helping prep for Simply Serve: Battle Bots. Not kidding! Excited about Simply Serve again this year; hey- it’s for the kids! Do it!
  • Opening Keynote
  • Lunch Table Tech Chats (SYN050)
  • SYN238 – Implementing Federated Authentication
  • Synergy Park is open from 2 pm to 6 pm!
  • 3:30 pm Free Certification Test – time to get updated!
  • (if I can get the test done in time, I’ll be dropping by House of Blues for a party there)
  • 6 pm to 8 pm Welcome Reception
Don't forget to sign up for a free certification test if you are going to Synergy! Slots fill up fast! Click To Tweet
Wednesday
  • SuperSession with Dr. Condolesezza Rice
  • SYN128 – The Future of Work
  • Lunch Tech Chats!
  • SYN238 – Storefront -> Citrix Workspace
  • 3-4 pm and 5-6 pm CUGC Booth – come get a t-shirt and say hi!
  • SYN299 – nFactor and Logon Schemas
  • Citrix Sales Private Reception 7 pm to 9 pm
  • 9 to ??? *update, I will NOT be attending the M7 party this year… Instead, I’ll be looking for Citrix Partners and other users to connect with- message me!*

Thursday

  • SuperSession with Michael Lewis
  • SYN236 – Best Practices in multisite scenarios
  • SYN201 – App Layering Lessons Learned
  • SYN126 – Actionable App Monitoring
  • SYN228 – Essential things to know about NetScaler
  • SYN129 – New Approaches to Business Continuity
  • 4-5:30 pm – CUGC Booth! (time permitting also 1:30 pm)
  • 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm  Final Night Party- I’ve already been bragging to some of my friends in Nashville about seeing Robert Randolph and Taj Mahal! You know I’ll be there early.

Friday

Fly home and recover!

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Sessions To Consider

**Have a favorite session? Send me a tweet below and I’ll include it. Just edit the text with the sessions you are looking forward to!**

I'm really looking forward to SYN050 at #CitrixSynergy! Click To Tweet


 

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Other Perspectives

First, Some guides that are available to you if you are a member of the Citrix User Group Community- and you definitely should be. If not, here’s your incentive to sign up- it’s free!

  • My fellow Nashville Citrix User Group leader Patrick Coble talks about his first Synergy as a CTP at myCUGC.org and sessions he’s looking forward to. BTW- it also happens that he had the winning design for the CUGC shirt this year!
  • Fellow CTA Saadallah Chebaro is making the trip from UAE- here’s his perspective on Synergy.
  • Fellow CTA Gareth Carson is making his first appearance as CTA as well, here’s his CUGC guide.

Bookmark this page! I’ll be adding a lot more content to it as we get closer to the date including some other private blogs from my fellow Citrix fanatics!

I’ll be sure to email my list when I do, so join that below!

And if you are having trouble finding me; I’ve been told I look different than my headshot these days. Here’s an updated picture; you tell me if I’m terribly different 😉

DJ Eshelman headshot from 2017

Cheers and hope to see you there!

-DJ