Conferences On My Roadmap For 2014


Here’s a little roadmap of conferences on my radar screen for 2014. Some I can’t attend because of conflicts in my schedule and other priorities, but I list ‘m here for your consideration.

DELL Enterprise Forum

If you’re working with Dell technologies, either hardware or software this is for you. It very interactive and you get provide feedback to the product teams as well as briefings on what coming. Some are under NDA, some not.

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TechEd North America 2014

I’m attending, everything has been arranged. So if you’re a blog reader/twitter follower give us a ping.

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E2EVC 2014 Brussels

This is a non marketing event by experts in virtualization. So these people design, implement and support virtualization solutions for a living.  E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, it does not run a profit for the organizers or speakers. Everybody volunteers. The attendance fee covers the costs of the conference rooms, coffee breaks and such. The value is in the knowledge sharing and the networking.

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See http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/e2evc-2014-brussels/

OSCON 2014

I love watching the OSCON presentations on line and it’s one of my never attended that on my must attend list. Whether that will happen this year remains to be seen.image

TechEd Europe 2014

It runs from October 27th to October 31st 2014 in Barcelona. I hope to meet you there and I hope they are ready at that time to talk about vNext Winking smile. It’s a great opportunity to network and talk shop with so many of my peers I’ll most definitely try to be there. Any vNext information would most certainly make it a not to miss event. They announced it a bit late and they already have lost some of the potential attendees to TechEd North America. Not their best move ever I must say.

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E2EVC 2014 Barcelona

Details have yet to be announced. But if my schedule allows I will attend and present!

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Dell World 2014

No details as of yet but for partners & customers this is a valuable opportunity to talk to the product teams, directors, marketing mangers and engage in some serious conversation about technology and where DELL fits in your road map.

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Microsoft MVP Summit 2014

I will NOT miss the MVP Summit Smile. No details as it’s all NDA.

E2EVC 2014 Brussels


Ladies & gentleman, on May 30-June 1, 2014 the E2EVC 2014 Brussels Virtualization Conference is taking place. This is a non marketing event by experts in virtualization. So these people design, implement and support virtualization solutions for a living.  E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, it does not run a profit for the organizers or speakers. Everybody volunteers. The attendance fee covers the costs of the conference rooms, coffee breaks and such. The value is in the knowledge sharing and the networking.

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This community event strives to bring the best virtualisation experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. It’s a weekend event (so people can attend without interrupting their work or customer services. Filled with presentations, Master Classes and discussions you can have 3 days to network and learn from your peers.

So the next event will take place in Brussels, Belgium May 30 – June 1, 2014 in Hotel Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noire. So my Belgian colleagues, this is your change to be al little Dutch as they have a SPECIAL PRICE FOR BELGIAN RESIDENTS – 199 EUR!

If you’re not Belgian you are also very welcome. So do register for E2EVC 2014 Brussels. If you have knowledge to share, please volunteer to speak. This community event has as a goal to share knowledge and stimulates professionals to present on their subject matters.

A big thank you for Alex Juschin & team for his never ending efforts to help organize this conference!

DELL World 2013 – Tour Of the Acoustic & Storage Testing Labs & Presenting at the Dell TechCenter User Group


While at Dell World 2013, a group of us had the opportunity to visit the Dell offices as part of the Trends in Data Center Technology Think Tank. We saw advancements in fresh air cooling, a hot house,

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the storage lab and, new to me, the acoustic labs. Below is a picture of Chris Peterson, the acoustic Architect (he was involved in the design of the DELL VRTX, which is a unique solution and achievement in the industry). Like wise the also have thermal engineers and both of these expertises are closely related.

I will never look at acoustic / thermal engineering for servers & storage in the same way I used to and I have way more respect for the effort and a better understanding of what efforts go in to this research and why.

For some more information on the acoustic lab read this white paper Dell Enterprise Acoustics and watch these videos:

Dell thermal & acoustic engineers discussing the VRTX
Chris Peterson on Dell PowerEdge Generation 12 Server acoustics

Next to all that I attended briefings, had one to one conversations with network, storage & server managers & engineers. I had a lot of information, questions & request to share from our Microsoft MVP Community in regards to our needs & wishes for the best possible support for Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V, ODX, UNMAP, SMB Direct, SOFS, Management & cloud. I even jumped into an open source breakfast discussion on * cloud computing. Last but not least we joined fellow Rock Stars Jonathan Copeland (@VirtSecurity), Rasmus Haslund (@haslund) & Dell Tech Center’s community manager Jeff Sullivan (@JeffSullivan) to discuss what community & social media means to us.

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I also shared our experiences with Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V, DVMQ, vRSS & ODX at the Dell Tech Center User Group during Dell World 2013.

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Want to talk and demo DVMQ & vRSS? Start with the basics: RSS Smile 

To all my community buddies a very festive end of the year and a great 2014! If you want to know even more about how rewarding being part of a community can be, check out this blog Mindset of the community by Marc van Eijk (@_marcvaneijk)

I’m In Austin Texas For Dell World 2013


This is the night time sky line of where I’m at right now. Austin, Texas, USA. That famous “Lone Star State” that until now I only knew from the movies & the media. Austin is an impressive city in an impressive state and, as most US experiences I’ve had, isn’t comparable with anything in my home country Belgium. That works both ways naturally and I’m lucky I get to travel a bit and see a small part of the world.image

Dell World 2013

So why am I here?  Well I’m here to attend DELL World 2013, but you got that already Smile

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That’s nice Didier but why DELL World? Well, several reasons. For one, I wanted to come and talk to as many product owners & managers, architects & strategists as I can. We’re seeing a lot of interest in new capabilities that Windows Server 2012 (R2) brought to the Microsoft ecosystem. I want to provide all the feedback I can on what I as a customer, a Microsoft MVP and technologist expect from DELL to help us make the most of those. I’m convinced DELL has everything we need but can use some guidance on what to add or enhance. It would be great to get our priorities and those of DELL aligned. Form them I expect to hear their plans, ideas, opinions and see how those match up. Dell has a cost/value leadership position when it comes to servers right now. They have a great line up of economy switches that pack a punch (PowerConnect) & some state of the art network gear with Force10. it would be nice to align these with guidance & capabilities to leverage SMB Direct and NVGRE network virtualization. Dell still has the chance to fill some gaps way better than others have. A decent Hyper-V network virtualization gateway that doesn’t cost your two first born children and can handle dozens to hundreds of virtual networks comes to mind. That and real life guidance on several SMB Direct with DCB configuration guidance. Storage wise, the MD series, Equalogic & Compellent arrays offer great value for money. But we need to address the needs & interest that SMB 3.0, Storage Spaces, RDMA has awoken and how Dell is planning to address those. I also think that OEMs need to pick up pace & change some of their priorities when it comes to providing answers to what their customers in the MSFT ecosystem ask for & need, doing that can put them in a very good position versus their competitors. But I have no illusions about my place in & impact on the universe.

Secondly, I was invited to come. As it turns out DELL has the same keen interest in talking to people who are in the trenches using their equipment to build solutions that address real life needs in a economical feasible way.  No, this is not “just” marketing. A smart vendor today communicates in many ways with existing & potential customers. Social media is a big part of that but also off line at conferences, events and both contributor and sponsor.  Feedback on how that works & is received is valuable as well for both parties. They learn what works &n doesn’t and we get the content we need. Now sure you’ll have the corporate social media types that are bound by legal & marketing constrictions but the real value lies in engaging with your customers & partners about their real technological challenges & needs.

Third is the fact that all these trends & capabilities in both the Microsoft ecosystem and in hardware world are not happening in isolation. They are happening in a world dominated by cloud computing in all it’s forms. This impact everything from the clients, servers, servers to the data centers as well as the people involved. It’s a world in which we need to balance the existing and future needs with a mixture of approaches & where no one size fits all even if the solutions come via commodity products & services. It’s a world where the hardware  & software giants are entering each others turf. That’s bound to cause some sparks Smile. Datacenter abstraction layer, Software Defined “anything” (storage, networking, …), converged infrastructure. Will they collaborate or fight?

So put these three together and here I am. My agenda is full of meetings, think tanks, panels, briefings and some down time to chat to colleagues & DELL employees alike.

Why & How?

Some time ago I was asked why I do this and why I’m even capable to do this. It takes time, money and effort.  Am I some kind of hot shot manager or visionary guru? No, not at all. Believe there’s nothing “hot” about working on a business down issue at zero dark thirty. I’m a technologist. I’m where the buck stops. I need things to work. So I deal in realities not fantasies. I don’t sell methods, processes or services people, I sell results, that’s what pays my bills long term. But I do dream and I try to turn those into realities. That’s different from just fantasy world where reality is an unwelcome guest. I’m no visionary, I’m no guru. I’m a hard working IT Pro (hence the blog title and twitter handle) who realizes all to well he’s standing on the shoulders of not just giants but of all those people who create the ecosystem in which I work. But there’s more. Being a mere technologist only gets you that far. I also give architectural & strategic advice as that’s also needed to make the correct decisions. Solutions don’t exist in isolation and need to be made in relation to trends, strategies and needs. That takes insight & vision. Those don’t come to you by only working in the data center, your desktop or in eternal meetings with the same people in the same place. My peers, employers and clients actively support this for the benefit of our business, customers, networks & communities. That’s the what, why and who that are giving me the opportunities to learn & grow both personally & professionally. People like Arlindo Alves and may others at MSFT, my fellow MVPs (Aidan Finn, Hans Vredevoort, Carsten Rachfahl, …), Florian Klaffenbach & Peter Tsai. As a person you have to grab those opportunities. If you want to be heard you need to communicate. People listen and if the discussions and subjects are interesting it becomes a two way conversation and a great learning experience. As with all networking and community endeavors you need to put in the effort to reap the rewards in the form of information, insights and knowledge you can leverage for both your own needs as well as for those in your network. That means speaking your mind. Being honest and open, even if at times you’re wrong. That’s learning. That, to me, is what being in the DELL TechCenter Rock StarDELL TechCenter Rock Star program is all about.

Learning, growing, sharing. That and a sustained effort in your own development slowly but surely makes you an “expert”. An expert that realizes all to well how much he doesn’t known & cannot possible all learn.  Luckily, to help deal with that fact, you can turn to the community.

Presentation & Demos E2EVC Rome 2013


Well my E2EVC presentation has been given and it went well. Sweet experience for the 20th edition of this excellent community conference.

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Thank you to all those attendees that attended my session. I hope you enjoyed it, learned something and got a taste of experimenting with some of the perhaps lesser know features at your disposal in Windows Server 2012 R2.

A big thanks to Alex and Clare for the splendid organization of E2EVC for the twentieth time!

For more information on VMQ & vRSS go here: http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/windows-server-2012-r2-virtual-rss-vrss-in-action/
http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2013/09/10/vmq-deep-dive-1-of-3.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2013/09/24/vmq-deep-dive-2-of-3.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2013/10/22/vmq-deep-dive-3-of-3.aspx

For a good start on SMB Direct with iWarp or RoCE go here: http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/adventures-in-rdma-the-roce-path-to-windows-server-2012-r2-smb-3-0-glory/

You can download the presentation here. The video of the session will be made available later by E2EVC so you can see the demo.

Just to make you all drool for the video to become live here’s a screenshot of what DVMQ/vRSS can achieve. Just pushing it to the limit. No, this is not “Photoshopped” I have witnesses Winking smile. That’s a W2K12R2 VM receiving 37.4Gbps of traffic. That will do or most of you I guess until 100Gbps NICs are the standard LOM on your future computing device.

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By the way some people really loved some of the drawn art I used in the presentation. For these I owe thanks to Kathy Sierra and her great blog art. It’s a shame she felt the need to go dark.

More stuff is in the work as working hard in IT never fails to deliver more good subjects, findings and results to blog about.

If you’re a managerial type and feel offended, you probably should, as you’re doing it all wrong Smile. Otherwise you would have smiled because you have a sense of humor and nodded at the mistakes of your colleagues.

E2EVC Rome 2013–Attending & Speaking


I’m attending and speaking at the E2EVC (Experts2Experts Virtualization Conference) in Rome, November 1-3.

I’ll be doing a talk on networking features in Windows Server 2012 R2 & Hyper-V. The good, the bad & the ugly. And no, no SDN talk. It’s about the other stuff.

“Session Topic: Networking Options For Virtualization in Windows Server 2012 R2
Short description: In Windows 2012 R2 there are many networking options available to optimize for both speed & redundancy. Let’s talk about some of them and see where and when they can help. The biggest problem is thinking you need  all of them or wanting all of them. Others are knowledge& complexity. Join us for a chalk & talk discussing all this. Some fellow MVPs will be there and we all have different experiences in different environments.
Presenter: Didier Van Hoye, Microsoft MVP”

It will be an interactive chalk & talk based on testing & experiences with these features & demos if the internet holds up.

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It’s a suburb non-commercial, virtualization community Event. It brings the best real life  virtualization experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. Lots of presentations, Master Classes and discussions going on both the attendees, vendors product teams & independent experts.

Now this is a conference where marketing & marchitecture is shot down fast & hard. But always in a friendly way. These people are all working in the sector and they have to keep it real. They have a business & a livelihood that depends on them delivering results, not fairy tales & management pleasing BS. These people tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear.

Look at the turnout for this event, this twitter list reads as the “Who’s Who In Virtualization”: @pcrampton, @joe_elway, @shawnbass, @ThomasMaurer, @Andrea_Mauro, @hansdeleenheer, @drtritsch, @WorkingHardInIT, @HelgeKlein, @JimMoyle, @neilspellings, @andyjmorgan, @KBaggerman, @CarlWebster, @bsonposh, @gilwood_cs, @E2EVC, @KristianNese, @_POPPELGAARD, @barryschiffer, @RemkoWeijnen, @IngmarVerheij, @WilcovanBragt, @david_obrien, @Microspecialist, @virtualfat, @LFoverskov, @virtuEs_IT, @stibakke, @granttiller, @Easi123, @ChrisJMarks, @arbeijer, @znackattack, @ShaunRitchie_UK, @Rob_Aarts, @StefanKoell, @EHouben, @crachfahl, @JeroenTielen, @plompr, @Gkunst, @drmiru, @espenbe, @marcdrinkwater, @DocsMortar, @AlBayliss, @wedelit, @pzykomAtle, @LoDani, @fborozan, @JeffWouters, @mrpickford, @smspasscode, @schose, @rvanderkruk, @TimmBrochhaus, @HansMinnee, @JZanten, @Sargola, @JaspervanWesten, @airdeca_nl, @danielBuonocore, @PeppelT, @TondeVreede, @pcortis, @ConorScolard, @CarstenDreyer, @arnaud_pain, @RoyTextor, @saschazimmer, @abstrask, @loopern, @PulseITch, @joarleithe, clarecoops9, @rfolmer, @wimoortgiesen  …

Here’s the conference agenda: http://www.e2evc.com/home/Agenda.aspx

See you there Smile and I’m looking forward to seeing my community buddies!

Storage Spaces, Hyper-V VM Mobility & 10Gbps are Key Elements


At TechEd 2103 Europe I met some passionate people who’ve been working hard at deploying Storage Spaces on a large scale in their companies (many hundreds of TB). They have replaced their expensive SANs and getting better performance, better data protection leveraging ReFS at way cheaper pricing (licensing is a killer). Their life has also become easier due to the KISS principle and the fact that complex solutions have complex issues.

Storage Spaces are creating a buzz. Lot of interest, interactive discussions & paper napkin designs of concepts were being drawn up. It seems like more and more people are getting the message and don’t consider my talks over the past 18 months on this as weird any more. So you need some “out of the box” thinking to get “Cluster in a Box” as a building block for scale out storage solutions. I’ve already done away with SAN built on proprietary hardware, it’s all commodity gear. But t doesn’t stop there. Once you realize that this hardware gives you all you need the logical step is the software and that’s where Windows and Storage Spaces comes in. Yes sure, this is blasphemy in the storage world, so what? The world used to be flat once Winking smile

There is no singe universal solution. Just good to great ones. Don’t fall for the FUD big storage vendors fling around and don’t be man handled into a solution. The reality is that when you have what works for you, that’s when you’ve got it right. So look into Storage Spaces and all related technologies. Once you wrap your head around the concepts, you start to understand the why an how of it all a lot better.

Whatever the nature and the size of your environments and needs, there are options or even combinations of options out there that can help you. You can buy completely configured building blocks (cluster in a box) or even complete Fast Track solutions based on this concept with Hyper-V and the System Center stack. You can also build the solution your self. Combine this with total VM mobility within the data center in combination with continuous availability. Outside of the data center Hyper–V Replica and application based shared nothing high availability help failover fast with out noticeable or minimal service interruption. All this without the “Kings Ransom” prices you have to pay for proprietary solutions. If you’re not interested yet I bet your business and especially your CFO is! All you got to do is manage risk instead of letting fear rule you.

How crazy am I with in this view? Some people actually asked me that combined with the question if anyone is really considering using this is real life.  Well I met a lot of like minded people who are putting into practice here at TechEd. And knowing my Hyper-V, Clustering, Networking and storage very well, discussing these subjects and Storage Spaces with other attendees I’ve had a job/consulting offer just about every day. Not too bad as far as real life interest in this goes (and I remember being ridiculed in 2008 for being an early adaptor of Hyper-V Nerd smile).

The storage world is in flux sending waves through the way we deliver our services. Surf the waves and enjoy the ride Smile.

If You Can, You Should Attend TechEd 2013 Europe


It’s that time of the year again, when TechEd is coming closer. I’m attending the European Edition in Madrid, Spain. But I can guarantee you I will be on line a lot during the USA edition as well. At be attending the USA edition this year if I could but work, time and budget wise I can’t make that happen. This isn’t because the European edition is less, absolutely not. The reason is that at MMS2013 in Las Vegas last month we got the heads up that Microsoft will start talking publicly about the new version of Windows and I’m game for that. Windows Server 2012 is the best Windows version ever but I know what I’d like to see in there to make it even better. I’m kind of curious if anyone at MSFT follows my thinking on this subject. I hope so!

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So yes I’m a TechEd advocate, you bet! If you want to know why, read my blog post here on http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/why-i-find-value-in-a-conference/.

Come and learn amongst your peers, network with them and industry experts. To become competent and gain expertise you are going to have to get out there and expose your ideas, insights and thinking to your peers around the globe. That’s how it works. To those who dismiss quality conferences like this I can only say that you are wrong. To those who claim it’s a paid holiday I can only say that to a liar all other men are liars and to a thief all other men are thieves.  Enough said. Invest in knowledge and competence development, it will pay of better than some extra thousands of € in the bank!

So if you can please join me and attend TechEd. It’s a blast and a tremendous learning experience. I never ever miss attending TechEd, not even at times it wasn’t easy for me to do so. You can register here. I hope to see you there!

Key Take Aways From MMS2013


Introduction

I’ve parked myself at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas awaiting the start of my long haul home to Europe. The new terminal is inspiring me to share as I reflect on the past week and on what’s happening at work.

ICT in the 21st Century

A lot is going on and moving in ICT and even more is coming our way. In the Microsoft sphere we got the official heads up at MMS2013 that new features would be publicly discussed at TechEd 2013 (USA or Europe). So you might want to attend that one. I for one think that’s great. We need that information to verify we’re still are on the right track and fine tune our course. Especially in those areas where we can get quick wins with sometimes significant cost savings & benefits.  I could start telling you about all the great sessions and products at MMS2013 whilst quacking like a duck “cloud, cloud, …, cloud, cloud, cloud, … cloud”. But I will not. You can watch it all here.  I will reflect on the key take away.

Cheaper & Faster

Cheaper AND faster are the new mantra or’ “fast is the new cheap”. Cheaper makes everyone happy especially when quality remains high. Faster is sometimes a bit more of a challenge to sell. “New features, already?”  you say. Yes. The nature of our economies and industry is being transformed by the cloud and commoditization. It brings a lot of benefits, especially in a high speed, low drag world.

Fast is actually faster. For many years now any strategy & execution plan that took more than a couple of years was doomed. You get bypassed and your big investments will never live up to their potential. So, apart from the necessary larger and more long term investments, we evolve more and more towards a perpetual improvements & rapid adoption model. Innovation and the subsequent commoditization of it is pushing this. That’s not bad. By making constant smaller (easier to fund) investments that deliver fast results we get to a more adaptable, agile environment for lesser costs. It’s not that all long term, large scale projects are going away but the ratio is shifting. In smart countries this is already being done for building hospitals and other infrastructure that evolves fast. It’s not unique to ICT. Massive projects taking too long and too much funding lead to out of date solutions at the time of delivery at huge costs. Use this approach where needed but forget about it for the other projects. Cloud will be an important tool in all this, not the goal.

A Word of Warning

Fast and cheap shouldn’t translate into mediocre crap at dump pricing that will bite us. It should also keep in mind the ecosystem and don’t act like a shock & awe offensive leaving everything in it’s track in disarray. It needs to fit into a plan with clear goals an knowing where it fits in and helps.  It’s about balance. That’s the art. Knowing what, where, when and with/for who to do it. Not easy. Now let’s hope some of my managers read this blog. It might help them. As the question beckons an answer: who is it that will lead us in this new era? Well not one single person, far from it. It’s a team effort and to lead a team takes competence and some character.

It takes competence and personality

Competence and personality, combined with  applying both these (skills and  drive) diligently in a sustained fashion. That requires a lot of effort, even when no one is watching you, or perhaps better stated, especially then. Do what needs to be done where and when needed. Not because it could get you promoted or more money. That’s the character part. That’s what drives us to learn by participating in our ICT communities, presenting, attending conferences and networking. But also in those hours spend reading, studying and working in the lab alone or with a buddy. That’s what will make us able to handle the though and bad situations you’ll encounter and overcome them. It’s your resourcefulness that will make you seek and find opportunity in adverse conditions. People like the team members amongst whom I have the distinct pleasure of working. You can’t find such synergy if it’s only about personal gain and getting ahead. There is both a broad and deep skill set needed by all involved and doesn’t come easy nor can it be bought. It has to be acquired through work and experience. The transformation of the ICT landscape is uncharted domain for all but a few of us so it’s going to ask a lot of effort, often outside of our comfort zone.

Sure there are cynics who laugh at this and can’t imagine why someone would do all that without personal and immediate reward. Those are the ones we don’t need and who won’t be there at crunch time. Only after the facts they seek the spotlight to poach the glory if things went well or to condemn those that failed whilst trying. Well, the last so called leader who did that doesn’t work with us anymore. Enough said.

Interviewed by Kerstin Rachfahl on what it’s like to be an MVP


At the end of the 2013 MVP Global Summit I was interviewed by Kerstin Rachfahl @ItsmeKerstin on what it’s like to be an MVP. You can find the results of her diligent & rendering work here or click on the picture for the link.

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If you notice that I mention meeting, learning from and interacting with a large number of intelligent and passionate people a couple of times as one of the best thing about being a MVP than that is because it just is Open-mouthed smile