As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago: I went down under recently to present at the F5 Agility event in Australia this year, where local F5ers and their customers have been hankering for another dose of DevCentral goodness. So, I set out to attend the conference and present two sessions; one 90 minute session on Tuesday the 30th to cover DevCentral and a relatively high level iRules overview, and a second on Wednesday the 31st that was a 3 hr deep dive into iRules concepts, inner workings, examples and underpinnings. A real geek fest…I was excited. Beyond that I would then continue on to Sydney and dig in with some users in more traditional User Group style meetings, which are always a good thing.

Tuesday:
This session was in the afternoon, after the general session, which ended up an interesting experience in and of itself. The keynote presenter and the one following him ended up doing a surprising amount of Q&A. The questions turned technical and I got to field some of them, despite being part of the audience, rather than on stage. Always a good time to have a mic run over to you so you can chat about wicked geeky topics when it's supposed to be "business time", not "geek time". Muahaha, my geekness prevails!

My official session on Tuesday was from 3-4:30, and with the unintentional promotion of standing up and talking for a good chunk of the general session, my room was packed. It held 40, they had to add an extra row of chairs, and even after that it was standing room only. You folks down under freaking rock! Way to support DevCentral and iRules, thank you! I talked about DevCentral, how to get the most out of it, what resources to use, the iRule editor, and then slid into my User Group-esque iRules overview. I talked about what the technology is, how it works, gave some examples, and then began fielding what turned out to be…a lot of questions. The session was supposed to end at 4:30, with drinks and the main event party starting at 6pm. I was in the room until 5:30pm, when I finally had to chase people out and beg off to go drop my gear and come back to dinner. We were diagramming CMP, discussing command stack ordering and retrieval, and MCP modeling for memory structures and the like. It was … awesome, and I hated leaving. A huge thanks to those that stayed after and kept the conversation going.

The night went on much as the morning, lunch, and afternoon had with me bouncing from one customer or partner to the next, shuttled around by interested sales guys trying to get me to "talk iRules" as they kept calling it with different people and tell them how we could solve their problems. These people were outstanding and intensely interested. Turns out several of them liked the kool-aid I was serving, much to the delight of their account reps. I'm telling you man, this technology is a winner, and people just need a little taste before they're excited school kids on Christmas morning looking to play with their new toys. And I get to play with it and talk about it…pretty much all the time. It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Wednesday:
This session was designed to be even more technical, and boy was it. Given the conversations I had that people were eating up at such a low level Tuesday evening I worked into the night adding to and changing around some slides for this deep dive and went a very "This is how the inner magic of TMM works, and here's how it relates to iRules" kind of route. It was a smashing success, if I do say so myself. We got pretty deep into how LTM/TMM/CMP/MCP/HUD Chains/Filters work, and how those things relate to iRules. How iRules was built around them, the purpose and insight, etc. People were shockingly fixated on these things and all the feedback I've gotten so far has been resoundingly positive. I was surprised, given how low level and nitty gritty the information got. You people are animals with your thirst for the truly deep technical understanding of how this technology works. I was in geek heaven, thank you so much for your time, your attendance and your killer questions. This one ran a solid 3 hours and could have gone another hour or two easily. I had to breeze through my last 10 or so slides about optimization because of time constraints and people needing to catch flights. Talk about a good problem to have.

Thursday/Friday:
This was the day I met with a customer in the Sydney area. They had some concerns about getting their feet wet with F5's more advanced technologies like iRules, iControl and iApps and wanted to talk through some of how they work, when they're required, how to get help on DevCentral, etc. I got to de-fear things a bit (that's totally a word now) and talk through not just what our products do with a little scripting know how, but why that scripting functionality exists in the first place. Things like what can be done without it, why we made the choice to implement some things in that fashion, etc. It was a side of the discussion I don't get to have all the time with users further down the path and it was actually really neat to sit down and hash this out. It felt like their concerns were greatly alleviated by the end, so that was rocking.

Then we raced across town to get in place for the first of three mini user groups held at one of the two F5 Sydney small offices across the next two days; one Thursday afternoon, the next two Friday morning and afternoon respectively. These were all about the same, so I'll just explain it once. They were 5-10 users each, held at F5 offices, and they were 3 hours each of general DevCentral User Group style geeking out. Whiteboard, projector, slides ranging from "What's an iRule" to "Holy cow look at this iRule!" to optimization to the deep dive LTM internals deck I had built for the Agility event earlier in the week, and more. Tons of questions, lots of interaction, writing some code on the spot for people, etc.; you know, like you do. They were all successful in my opinion. They all seemed to go over well, they all ran over time due to questions and interaction, and it felt to me like the users left by enlarge happy and feeling their time was worth it, despite me losing my voice by the end of the last session on Friday and ending up at the Dr's office on Saturday, but that's a different story. I truly do love getting to pow-wow with smart people doing cool things with wicked technology, and this was a whole heck of a lot of exactly that.

All in all, it was a great trip, highly productive, the local team received the message and assistance quite well, and are eager to have more time. Looks like that DevCentral thing may be more than a passing fad, and people from all over might even be taking part in the hawesome wave of goodness that is F5 technology and the many extension technologies like iRules, iApps, iControl and more that we get to help promote here in DCland. Also a rocking high five to the outstanding technical users in Australia that are doing some darn cool things with F5 technology, and are apparently super eager to get as much of the hardcore technical detail as possible about what makes this tech tick. I loved rolling up my sleeves and trying my hand at explaining it as deeply as I could. I hope I provided some useful info, and I'm looking forward to my return trip already to see what's new.