So last week was my first ever visit to the United States, and it was NetApp that shipped me over for our NetApp Advocate’s quarterly Tech Field day over at NetApp HQ Sunnyvale.

So i have decided to write up a post based on the trip, I cannot share too much from the Tech Field day as its NDA but i will mention what i can.

I firstly got to meet some of my fellow NetApp Advocates, as expected they are a great bunch, that just love NetApp.

Day One (Monday)
So i flew out of London Heathrow at 2pm and travelled west to San Francisco international airport. The flight was 11 hours and with the time zone difference when i arrived it was around 5pm on Monday afternoon.

So landed at SFO and then i had a cab arranged to take me down to the hotel in Sunnyvale. When i arrived at the hotel i got checked in and met a couple of the NetApp Advocates that had arrived earlier. @harleyguytx and @seanluce.

Once checked in we headed down the road for some dinner and of course some beer! I guess this was the first stereotypical thought to run through my head… i got the impression that all Americans ate was burgers, ribs and chicken followed by lots of coleslaw, fries (chips) and other fried food. I was clearly wrong here and we headed to the local sushi bar for dinner. For those that know me this was a scary situation and my face did probably paint that picture although we got the menu the relief of seeing beef and chicken was good. So we got stuck in and ordered food and beers then another fellow advocate arrived. @JK47theweapon at this point there are 4 pretty bald guys sat round a table in a sushi bar discussing NetApp related tech. Pretty Strong criteria i would say for becoming a NetApp Advocate.

Having made it to something like 11pm local time i had fought off the jet lag and i would wake up in the morning as normal….

Day 2

330AM! i was wide awake and my first experience of jet lag. not tired at all did the usual techie thing and checked Twitter, Facebook and then the work emails to which there was a whole Monday’s worth to trawl through. Finally all of this catching up i was able to get back some sleep till about 630am!

Thinking that would be enough, got up went for a run around the hotel and got the second day started.

Then it was Breakfast time… another meal time i thought i cannot wait for this…. and i wasn’t disappointed the first tray i opened was full of bacon….. not the usual bacon i am used to over in the UK but something that kind of looked like bacon and smelt like bacon.

I stole the picture from Sean i hope he doesn’t mind too much, and the bacon was as good as it looked, topped with scrambled egg and followed by pancakes and syrup i think i ticked off the American Breakfast i was hoping for.

So day two on the agenda was the tourist and i guess a sort of team building, get to know your fellow advocates day out. We set off to San Fran and arrived at Pier 39. By this time we had discussed a lot of NetApp stories with each other, and the British / American words were being picked up by my fellow advocates. They corrected me and i in turn corrected them i wont go into them as you all know what they would have been. I also seemed to develop my own sentence that i used a lot during the week and that was “i don’t know what it’s like over here but in EMEA” i must have said this a hundred times over…. like we were on another planet.

Anyway so we arrived at San Francisco’s Pier 39, this was where would take the “Escape from Alcatraz cruise”

and here we all are the NetApp A Team minus the guys that couldn’t make it.

We jumped on the boat and got started, we firstly headed over to the Golden Gate Bridge, there was narration on the boat whilst we were travelling and they gave an interesting insight as to how and why the bridge was built. The scenery looking back into the bay was pretty impressive as well. They also insisted on warning us about the choppy waters but all was calm compared to the north sea crossing from Holyhead to Dublin that is for sure!

So above is one of the shots i took of the Golden Gate Bridge…..

The cruise then continued back toward the bay and around Alcatraz Island… The narration also stepped it up a gear, the stories they played to us were really interested and I will definitely be trying to return to actually get on the island for a more up close and personal tour.

From the cruise we then headed to a local Brewery – http://thirstybear.com/ and i have to say if you ever find yourself in San Francisco then you need to visit this place and try some of the amazing beers they have.

We had dinner there and then for the final instalment of the day we headed to the AT&T Park for my first Baseball game…. and again the banter between the yanks and the Brit was ever present…. it was a great experience though and i think i learnt a lot about the game…..

Day 3

Now normally this would be the section where i could really get technical and talk about everything we heard, said and did…. but that cannot happen as everything that was discussed was pretty much NDA and if it wasn’t then its out there and has been for a while. So all i will do is list the agenda we had in place for the day and when the products are released i can say “i knew that was coming”

Clustered OnTap – Darshant Bhagat – Senior Product Manager, Clustered OnTap
Hardware Roadmap – Steve Scully – Director, FAS Product Management
StorageGrid Solutions – Ronnie Chan – CSE, Object Storage, StorageGRID, OpenStack Solutions
E-Series Overview – David Mooney – VP, E-Series Sales Specialist
NetApp Flash Strategy – Manish Agarwal – Senior Manager, Product Management and Tech Marketing for FlashRay
Competing against Enterprise and Hyperscale server SAN Solutions – Michael Harding and Joel Kaufman

We also had an unplanned session with Spencer Cells where he covered off the cloud strategy from NetApp.

All in the all the day was really informative and its great that NetApp could share their roadmaps for all their product lines with us, information like this allows to make our daily tasks easier just knowing what is coming around the corner.

When the time allows i will be sure to put some further blog posts around the new items that are being released, and there really is some cool stuff coming in the future.

After the long technical day we had, we headed to a local bar/restaurant, i didn’t catch the name of the place but the food and beer were good! and this time it was the American style dinner i was looking for.

With it being our last night in San Fran we decided to head back to a bar that was close to the hotel…. all i will say is it was karaoke night.

Day 4

The final day and after getting in from the night before at around 3am, i can safely say i had a slight headache. At 330am i was on the phone answering emails before going to sleep.

Really Day 4 didnt consist of anything interesting i headed to the airport 5 hours early for some reason, grabbed some coffee and some lunch followed by more coffee before boarding the plane and sleeping for the best part of 10 hours for the return flight…..

It was a great experience and its great to finally meet the fellow advocates, it was awesome to get my first trip out to the US and for that to be down to NetApp.

My next trip to the US will be in October where i am heading over to Las Vegas for NetApp Insight…..

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