One of the best opportunities for networking and keeping up to date on all the latest trends in software development, ITIL best practice implementation, innovative methods of handling automation, new methods of tackling ever-expanding configuration drift, and learning to navigate increasingly tricky compliance issues is attending industry conferences. IT professionals focused on automation will need to read between the lines to find a convention well-suited to their interests. These events are massive in production and are usually more broadly focused.
1) ITEXPO* - January 30th - February 1st in Miami Beach, Florida
This expo is focused on the communications industry and has broad representation with companies of all sizes. Attendees are a broad mix of management and development teams. ITEXPO puts a focus on networking, hosting a number of events over the course of the weekend designed to encourage attendees to mingle, including an event on the beach and a panel which gives start-ups an opportunity to pitch their great to a panel of potential of investors, and then grants them the opportunity to receive feedback right away.
2) ApacheCon* - February 24-28th in Portland, Oregon
ApacheCon is "the conference for people who build the technologies that drive the Internet". ApacheCon explores the issues associated with creating open-source solutions "the Apache Way". The main theme of the 2013 conference was "Open Source Community Leadership Drives Enterprise-Grade Innovation".
3) ITNG - April 15-17th in Las Vegas, Nevada
ITNG is geared specifically towards IT professionals, with a broad range of industrial focuses. It offers three prizes as well: one for the best student paper, one for the best poster paper, and a service-oriented reward. The convention plays host to industry, government, and academia experts. Tracks for panel discussions are well suited to IT pros, with topics like "information systems and internet technology", "high performance computer architectures", "data mining", and more. There will also be opportunities to mingle with panelists and presenters to expand networking opportunities and a chance to get papers published in a special edition of an international journal after the conference.
4) Open Networking Summit - April 15-17th in Santa Clara, California
The first of two Software Defined Networking (SDN) conferences on this list,this conference was started by the founders of the concept of SDN. This is a great opportunity to network with the "key players" of the growing SDN industry, see the latest developments within the technology, get a glimpse into SDN's future, and to even try SDN out for yourself.
5) QUEST Conference and Expo - April 15-19th in Chicago, Illinois
QUEST (Quality Engineered Software and Testing) will take place in Chicago this year. Some of their "hot topics" include: Agile, Automation, Leadership, Measurement, Mobile, Planning/Designing, and Software Development Techniques. QUEST emphasized learning from thought leaders, assessing your skills with certification courses, application of experience and knowledge in work-groups, and connecting with fellow practitioners and industry leaders.
6) HDI - April 16-19 in Las Vegas, Nevada
HDI is a conference focused primarily on IT service and tech support that attracts attendees from all aspects of this industry; from senior-level VPs and directors, down to customer service professionals, and everyone in between. They offer well-designed tracks, catering to various levels of professionals in the industry, with a "Technology in Action" track that includes sessions, such as "Improving Operations with Cloud Computing" and "Adapting Workflow Management Tools to Service and Support". This is a well-organized conference with big name keynote speakers; in 2013, Steve Wozniak (of Apple fame) is the conference headliner. They also offer a number of breakout sessions, called "Breakfast Briefings", designed to help you network, and an expo to give you a glimpse on what industry vendors are up to.
7) Interop - May 6-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada
This is one of the largest events for IT professionals, and offers very narrowly targeted tracks to help you get the most out of your conference experience. Tracks include topics such as Data Center & Storage, Security & Risk Management, Cloud Computing & Big Data, and more. As a vendor-neutral event, Interop is able to offer a powerful combination of excellent workshops, conference sessions from industry leaders, a fantastic exhibition of tech providers, and solid networking opportunities. Interop has been active for 26 years within the US, beginning with a focus on network infrastructure, and then evolving over time to include a broad range of technologies.
8) ISTE - June 23-36 in San Antonio, Texas
This conference is primarily focused on the technology involved in education, and features content developed specifically for IT pros and tech coordinators. Their technology track includes themes including Cloud Computing, Integrated Data Systems, Emerging Technologies,Support & Maintenance, Safety & Security, and more. This conference is very well produced and has been running for 33 years.
9) SDN & NFV Summit - September 30th - October 2nd in Prague
The second SDN conference in this list. SDN & NFV (Networking Visualisation) Summit attracts various telecom service providers, SDN vendors, associations, consultants, industry analysts, and investment pros. This is the 2nd annual iteration of the SDN & NFV Summit, having taken place last year in London. This conference is mostly geared towards European Operators.
10) EuroSTAR Conference - November 4-7th 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden
Heralded as the "Europe's premier software testing event", the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference is the largest software testing event in Europe. EuroSTAR is an excellent place to network. As you can tell from the full name of the conference, the primary focus of the event is upon software testing.
*As of posting this, the event has already passed, but we highly recommend checking out the 2014 version next year!