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Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

I read an article recently that there were more conferences than ever before these days. The article cited AirBNB and other vendor-centric conferences as examples of how marketers are using conferences as another mechanism to woo customers in, boost loyalty to brands, and ultimately increase sales with new and existing customers. This is easily seen in the microeconomy-turning-macroeconomy that is the Apple ecosystem. Once upon a time there was MacWorld. It was big, it was bold, and Apple was there. This was a time when there was a magazine by the same name that physically showed up at my house. But times have changed. The systems administration side of MacWorld has morphed into MacIT, still the grandaddy of them all. And while some delegates attend multiple conferences, many of the attendees have splintered into smaller conferences. Here, I go through each:

  • ACES Conference: ACES is a conference for Apple Consultants. Held May 20th and 21st in New Orleans, LA, ACES was a really good introduction for many on running a Mac consultancy, represented by many of the larger and more well established Apple consultancies in the US and Canada.
  • AirWatch Connect: Similar to JAMF’s Roadshow, the AirWatch Connect conference is actually held in Atlanta, Barcelona, London and Sydney at different times. This is a great conference for people managing heterogenous mobile deployments, including iOS.
  • Filewave Conference: Held in Zurich (March 4th and 5th) and Indianapolis (March 18th and 19th), the Filewave Conference in 2015 had a focus on the FileWave 9 release and provided systems administrators of FileWave environments with access to developers, deployment information, etc.
  • JAMF Software’s JNUC (JAMF Nation User Conference) is a  conference primarily geared at the Apple Administrator who use the Casper Suite for their administrative efforts. There are some sessions on general administrative topics, such as what a plist is and general shell scripting. If you spend a lot of your day in the Casper Suite, then this is a great, free conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the fall. October 13th through 15th, 2015.
  • JAMF’s Roadshow: The JAMF Roadshows are a resurrection of an excellent event from a few years ago, where JAMF went around the country hosting day long mini-conferences for customers and systems administrators. Held throughout summer 2015, in New York, Dallas, Orange County, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Melbourne – you can also hear more about Bushel here (shameless plug on that part).
  • LOPSA East: A good conference held by LOPSA’s New Jersey chapter. Lots of speakers, discussing how IT professional from a variety of disciplines can make the jump from a junior or mid-level engineer, into the upper echelons of IT madness. Held May 6th and 7th in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
  • Mac Admin and Developer Conference UK, from AmsysMacADUK is a conference for Apple administrators and developers, with a lot of sessions and good content, held in London.
  • MacDevOps YVR: MacDevOps is a conference, with the first show held on June 19th, 2015. With sessions ranging from collaboration to Puppet-as-a-Service (the other PaaS) to Docker, Munk, Python, Casper, git, VMware, Chef, etc, this one is definitely for the scripty amongst the Mac community who are heavy into systems automation and, well, DevOps…
  • MacIT: Like I said earlier, MacIT is the grandaddy of them all. It’s going a little bit back to the roots of the Mac Networkers Retreat days (circa 2002ish or something like that), but definitely bigger than those were. With leading industry speakers in areas like management, leadership, servers, specific implementation types, etc, MacIT is a good, general conference, bringing together a lot of Apple administrators in one place. I especially like the panels…  July 14th to the 16th in Santa Clara, CA.
  • MacSysAdmin: All things Apple, in Sweden. Definitely the best conference in Northern Europe. Lots of really good content, with a very global perspective. Really great people to network with as well, in a relaxed atmosphere. Held September 29th to October 2nd.
  • MacTech: Ed Marczak does a great job curating this conference, which really has a focus on systems administration at scale. It’s a good look at how environments grow (if you’re growing) or to get some really good tips and tricks for your grown up environment. November 4th through 6th, so it’s also a good time as it’s nearing the end of the traditional conference season.
  • Mobile World Congress: I usually find the people at a show like this to be less technical, more business analysts, more interested in the why and results than the how. It’s a good group, but different from those who spend all of their time integrating systems. Held in early May, with global shows in Shangai, later in the year.
  • Penn State MacAdmins Conference: Held June 27th to June 30th, Penn State Mac Admins emerged during a time of uncertainty with WWDC and systems administration topics. If you’re part of the infamous MacEnterprise list that Penn State runs, and you find the conversations there relevant to your job then this is likely a conference you’ll want to attend. It’s priced well, too!
  • University of Calgary MacDeployment: This is marketed as more of a workshop, but it’s worth note as it had a lot of really good content and provided a good centralized place for Canadian Mac Admins to pick up new tips and tricks!
  • Usenix: I think this is a great show for the Unixy amongst us. Many of the topics covered are highly relevant to the Mac admin.
  • WWDC: Everyone knows about Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. But more and more, if you use Munki or a third party tool to manage your systems and aren’t writing code, you can watch the sessions online and save your continuing development/training funds to check out one of the other conferences.
  • X World: Part of the AUC in Australia, X World had topics ranging from Munki to Casper. Initially a very education-centric conference, there were Apple administrators from around Australia gathered to share their knowledge and green information from others on managing large numbers of Apple systems. And the organizers and delegates are pretty awesome people to hang out with. Great networking. I highly recommend that if you are a Mac admin in Australia that you support the AUC by becoming a member!

Additionally, there are a boatload of iOS development conferences. But I’m more focusing on systems administration with this page. If you want more, I also recommend grabbing an app like Eventbrite or Meetup and searching your local area. There are user groups, meetups, and more almost every night of the week in larger cities. So there’s never a shortage of options for professional development.