Splunk .Conf19

Let me preface this by saying that six nights in Vegas is A LOT of nights in Vegas, so it took me a few weeks to recover from the experience and put this together. And they just announced that Conf20 (https://conf.splunk.com/) is also in Las Vegas. So if you’re planning on going next year, be prepared. My wife works remotely, so she decided to tag along. (Hi Rach!) It was great to have company, but don’t worry if you can’t bring a friend or don’t have any coworkers also attending - Splunk had great after-hours activities organized for anyone looking to socialize.

Day 1 - Creating Splunk Dashboards (And Javier’s)

This class was exactly as advertised. You want Splunk dashboards? We got Splunk dashboards. Creating visualizations isn’t a big part of my day job, but I wanted a better sense of how the dashboards I use were built. This class went for a full nine hours, and walked us through building with a GUI to editing the underlying XML. Not for the faint of heart. Rachel and I met up with one of my former coworkers (and current friend!) Jarrod, who was also at the conference. We went to Javier’s at the Aria, which has the world’s biggest sculpture carved with a chainsaw. (Vegas is full of ridiculous things like this). The food was great, and the jalapeno margaritas were greater. Also, Jarrod bought a cigar from the men’s room attendant to cap off the evening. We waited 90 minutes for a table, so make reservations ahead of time if you’re going on a Saturday night.

Day 2 - Splunk Enterprise Security for Security Analysts (And Nobu)

Confession: I’m a nerd and I love school. So even though we were in a party town, I was pretty excited to go to class. This one definitely lived up to my expectations. The labs were structured around a few connected security incidents, and we learned about the different features of Enterprise Security and then used them to solve the labs. This was another nine-hour day, and with very few breaks. Lunch was included, which is always nice. But it was basically “you have an hour to go to lunch and complete the next lab. Go!” For dinner that night, we decided to do something Vegas-levels of ridiculous. Something even more ridiculous than the world’s biggest sculpture carved from a chainsaw. Namely, we went to Nobu. It. Was. Phenomenal. I knew things were going to be outrageous when our server thanked us for coming and invited us to “have a conversation” about what we wanted for dinner that evening. During that conversation, we were unable to pick what we wanted (and we also got greedy), so we went with the nine-course tasting menu. Each course was made by a different chef, and they were all delightful. The first four courses were cold, the next four hot, and then desert. Real talk, the first five courses were my favorite. Why, you might ask? Well, I love sashimi, so I was always going to love the first four. And then course five was fried rock shrimp drizzled with a wasabi aioli. As I was eating that course, I told myself not to eat the whole thing. Unfortunately I was unable to stop myself. I learned that night that five courses is my limit, six if I really pace myself. So I was suffering by the end of the meal. I tried to have more alcohol to help with my digestion, but I’m not sure it helped. The drinks were great, though! Rachel ate about half of each course, so she survived all nine. I ended up sliding three courses to Jarrod, who is a swole young man and appreciated the extra protein.

Day 3 - Splunk Enterprise Security for Security Analysts (And Taco Bell Cantina)

More lessons on the same theme today, ending with a module on creating Splunk Glass Tables. That module definitely had me dreaming of an obnoxiously large tv in my office displaying real-time information about our security metrics. You know, just normal nerd dreams. There was clearly no higher achievement than Nobu, so we decided to cool down and go to Taco Bell Cantina for dinner. I like to call it Club Taco Bell, since it’s two stories, serves alcohol, and has trendy music blasting from the speakers. I got a Pina Colada - #NoRegrets. Also, they have a wedding reception package on the menu. I asked Rachel if she wanted to renew our vows, but she very wisely declined.

Day 4 - Conference Sessions (And the NBA season opener)

The actual conference started today, beginning with a keynote from the CEO. This was also when I realized how huge The Venetian is. There were eleven thousand attendees at the conference, and we all had breakfast together. The tables were set up in what looked like a massive airplane hangar. It was wild. Then we all headed to the keynote area, which easily accommodated everyone. After the CEO finished his introductions, a few employees from Porsche came up to talk about how they were using Splunk to analyze data about the Taycan, Porsche’s new electric car. I was completely sold. So until I see a price tag, I’m going to pretend like I can afford it. The standout session from this day was She’s the Boss: Female Leaders Smashing the Glass Ceiling. The conference itself was mostly men, which isn’t super surprising at a tech conference. Splunk made really great outreach efforts, though, and this session was one of them. We listened to four awesome women detail how they had risen to the top level of tech, and how they had navigated male-dominated workplaces. It was also great to see so many men in the audience! The whole Splunk vibe was very welcoming. As a Louisiana native, I’ve been feeling #blessed about the Pelicans this year. We went to the Sports Book at Caesar’s to watch the NBA season opener, which of course did not go our way. Shouts to the Raps though! And shouts to the Clippers for winning, since Rachel bet on them. The first World Series game was also on, and my adopted Nationals won!

Day 5 - Conference Sessions (And more Nats)

More sessions today, including the charming Dude, Where’s My Log?. I think it goes without saying, but sometimes this material can be a little dry. So it’s nice when presenters add some personality and humor into the slides. We hit up a low-key French place that was showing the game on Jarrod’s last night in town. Baseball is a little slow for my tastes, but everyone from DC was super excited about it. So we got in the spirit of things and listened to Baby Shark a few times. And then they won again, so my newfound fandom was rewarded!

Day 6 - Splunk Power User Exam (And craps)

The day started off with a bang, when they showed the conference highlights video at our final keynote, and I showed up in it! I’m on the right side at minute 1:06, talking excitedly about how much I love school. I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about leaving with a certification, but what good nerd can resist a test? Conference attendees were allowed to skip the entry-level Splunk User exam and go straight to Power User, so I decided to sign up. Life tip: if you decided to take this test, definitely study the PDF that comes with Fundamentals Two. It was multiple-choice, but there were some questions that I would classify as nit-picky. Also we didn’t get our results right away, because they didn’t want people to get “emotional” in the testing room. I would LOVE to know what outburst led to that rule! Happily I got an email a few minutes after I finished with a passing score, so it was all worth it. Standout session of the day: Pull Up Your SOCs. This was another fun one, especially for comic fans. I guess I just like when a presentation has a theme! After the sessions were done, it was time to celebrate surviving all six days of the conference. Rachel had managed to win every NBA game she bet on over the week, so obviously we needed to blow the money on craps at The Flamingo - seemed like a fitting end to a week in Vegas. Hope to do it all again next year!

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash