It's that time of year to start thinking about what conferences we want to beg,plead,borrow and steal to get to go to this year. We all like a good conference, but are generally limited in the funds available to go to them - if we are provided any - so we need to be at least a little picky.

What are the conferences that you are really excited about this year, and what tracks do you think will be the most beneficial to a sysadmin?

  • 3
    Would be interested in any UK based conferences also :)
    – AliGibbs
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 16:40
  • 1
    Agreed, any thoughts on Non-US conferences would be appreciated!
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 8:41

10 Answers 10


What are the conferences that you are really excited about this year, and what tracks do you think will be the most beneficial to a sysadmin?

That's a hard question to answer. The term sysadmin is really pretty broad in todays terminology especially if you work in a large enterprise. If you work in a small it shop then you may want to look at whatever products you use the most and then focus going to an event where they discuss those products the most. I also recommend joining user groups for products that you use or look at using. Many of the user group events are free and local to your are, so it gives you a great opportunity to meet other people in the field and learn more about a product. Many of the conferences are large in size, but the user group events are usually small. Both have there pro's and con's, the larger ones allows you to network with a larger group of people, while the smaller ones give you a smaller student to teacher ratio giving you the best opportunity to ask questions and find answers. Here's a list of several conferences that I'm aware of many of them either I or some of my co-workers have attended.


I'm very biased, since I'm actually chairing this conference, but PICC'11 ( http://www.picconf.org ) is in New Brunswick, NJ on April 29-30 of this year.

We're trying to encourage both Windows and Linux admins to come.

In addition, on the Pacific NorthWest, there's the Cascadia IT Conference ( http://www.casitconf.org ) that will be very similar in feel to PICC, since both are LOPSA-chapter organized community conferences.

Attend whichever is closer to you, and meet the people you work near. Become part of the community!

  • Ah, glad to see they got it off the ground.
    – sysadmin1138 Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 18:34
  • Yeah, me too. I think it's going to go really well! Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 18:35

I usually like to hit the Microsoft Tech Ed conference when I can wrangle up the funding to do so.

As the name implies, it's predominantly Microsoft technologies and this year's North America conference will be in Atlanta, Georgia:


Includes hands-on labs to tinker with the new server technologies and on-site training and certification opportunities in addition to the regular conference sessions.

The inclusion of a NFR TechNet Professional subscription helps increase the BAF (Boss Acceptance Factor) now that they've started that trend.

It used to always be in Orlando, FL but now they're moving it around each year. A shame as the convention center in Orlando was well suited for it and there were tons of lodging options and interesting places to eat IMHO.


25th Large Installation System Administration Conference (LISA '11), December 4–9, 2011, Boston, MA


Usenix LISA 2011 is a very large, mostly Unix-y conference. It has a reputation for being a bit academic, recently had adopted more practical / DevOps stuff. I'm the co-chair of 2011 and we are increasing the focus on topics that mean you go home with something you can directly use. For example, in addition to "papers" (which are usually research-y) there we have a series called "experience reports" which is people recounting major projects they've done (like, migration to a new email system) and what lessons they learned.

The half-day tutorials are what most people go for as they contain training that you manager will see the inherent value: specific technologies, skills, etc. There is also a Wed/Thu/Fri "technical sessions" program which is talks, papers, and contains more of the "research"-y presentations. One of my favorite tracks is the "gurus" sessions, which are Q&A sessions hosted by various sysadmin rockstars (for example, the author of Postfix himself, etc.)

The program will be announced in July. Registration opens around the same time.


Down under both SAGE-AU and linux.conf.au have great content for sysadmins, while the latter is very *nix specific the former covers a good range of topics.

OSCON also has some decent systems content.

Many of the better security conferences can be surprisingly valuable, I went to Ruxcon last year and got a lot out of it.


SCaLE is a must for me each year. http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/


Velocity - Though it is heavy on the web side of things I find it to have great speakers covering good material for anyone interested in performance, scaling, metrics, monitoring, and operations in general.

Some of the Velocity 2011 Topics and Themes include:

  • NoSQL
  • Mobile performance
  • Effective cloud computing
  • JavaScript speedups
  • TCP, HTTP, and SSL optimizations
  • Metrics and monitoring
  • Impact on the bottom line

O'Reilly Velocity happens June 14-16, 2011


http://businessofsoftware.org/ - great if you are a small or medium size business. Focus is on marketing for geeks, but I also take away what is currently "new" or "hot" in technology.

Plus, you meet the founders of Serverfault ;)


For UK conferences with a free software / UNIX bent, I can't speak too highly of the UKUUG conferences (they have a LISA conference in spring and a Linux-specific one in the summer). They have a very academic look-and-feel, to the point that some speakers still use LaTeX to do their slides; I've found them correspondingly cutting-edge, with a lot of stuff coming out of academia well before the commercial market wakes up to it; and they're extremely cheap by professional conference standards.

I try to go to one every year, and spoke at one of the 2009 conferences (an experience I very much enjoyed).

This year's ones are the Spring LISA conference in March, and the summer Linux conference, which doesn't seem to have any dates yet. If anyone does go, I strongly encourage you to consider giving a talk, if you have detailed knowledge on any relevant subject. It was much less scary than I thought it would be, you get conference registration for free, and the audience are highly receptive to and appreciative of a technical talk (though they can be very hostile to shiny marketing blether, don't do that).


If you live in Texas then clearly the answer is the Texas Linux Fest, April 2, 2011, Austin, TX.


"Texas Linux Fest is the only state-wide, community-run conference for Linux and open source software users and enthusiasts from around the Lone Star State. Whether you use free software and Linux at home, in your place of business, in your school or non-profit, or you are simply curious, Texas Linux Fest offers something for you.

Join us at the Hilton Austin this April 2 and meet fellow Linux users and developers from around the state."

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