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Apr 17 / The Architect

The ultimate Citrix Synergy survival guide – 2018 Anaheim edition

I’ve published this Ultimate Synergy Survival guide now for six years running and it’s always popular with both regulars and newbies. Now updated with 2018 links,  content and Anaheim-specific information. It’s a living document, so will be subject to updates as we get nearer the conference.

Hope you find it useful (and if you end up registering, please use my email address in the “referred by” field on your registration form)  – see the end of this post for details

Revision History

2018.04.12 – First Anaheim Edition
2018.04.28 – Added M7 Party details
2018.05.08 – Added HPE & Intel party

2018 conference changes and highlights

  • Lunchtime tech chats are back at lunchtime! Last year they renamed them and slotted into the regular agenda as Hot Topics Round tables but the format didn’t really work. Personally I think it’s better when you can relax and chat with your fellow CTPs, CTAs and CUGC geeks over an over-sized sandwich and soda. I’ll certainly be there most days – do stop by and say hi!
  • New this year is a bribe incentive to gain sponsors more leads ensure you get the most out of your visit by meeting with more sponsors. Attend five x 20 minute sponsor meetings and you’ll get a free Amazon Echo Dot. Sign-up is via your mySynergy account online.
  • Following the success of last years new “super sessions” Keynote format with Malcolm Gladwell and General Colin Powell, this year retains the “TED-like talks” this time with Condoleeza Rice and Michael Lewis

Registration tips

  • Citrix offer discounts to public sector,  Government, CUGC, Alumni and organisations of three or more people. This can save you a few hundred dollars on your registration. Remember that partners also get special pricing.
  • If none of the above apply to you, you can get 10% discount using my discount code “REFERRAL10%”. See the bottom of this post for how to add me as your referrer.
  • Keep a note of your registration confirmation code. You’ll need this repeatedly to log into the website to book your labs and build your custom agenda. Rather annoyingly, the site still doesn’t allow you to choose your own password only the password for the mobile app.
  • If you are the type to enter vendor competitions but don’t want to be deluged with marketing email post-conference, register using a throw-away email address that you can dispose off post-conference. Be careful though, this will mean that you won’t automatically qualify for alumni status for future years as they use your email address as proof of previous attendance. If you are a GMail user, a handy tip is to add a “+synergy” to the part of your email address before the @ – this will still reach you, but will be treated as a different email address by everyone else and one which you can then create a “discard” rule against after the conference.
  • If you can’t expense your accommodation (or you are the one paying the expense bill!) then check out the money saving tips later in this post. Great for independent consultants or those with strict expense limits.
  • If you want to take an instructor-led learning labs, you’ll need to pay an extra $99 as part of your conference registration. This gives you access to up to three labs which are all taking place on Sunday and Monday only. If you don’t want to shell out an additional $99, the self-paced labs are still be included in your conference fee and offer similar content, but without the access to the Citrix experts during the lab.
  • Whether you are a Synergy newbie, or hardened veteran, there is new Path to Success feature that suggests sessions based on your role or industry vertical to help you get the most from the conference. Do check it out.

Money-saving travel tips

I used to publish a separate blog about booking travel as an independent, but this year I’ve combined it with my main Synergy blog post as there was much content relevant to all.

Flights

To get the cheapest deal on International flights always include a Saturday night stay in your trip. Use tools like Matrix, SkyScanner, Google Flights etc to find the cheapest options. If you can be flexible in your routing, and don’t mind multi-leg trips you can often save over the more expensive direct flights.

If you have accumulated airline miles, consider using these, especially if they have an expiry date.

Book a shared ride shuttle from the airport to your hotel. These are around $16 from LAX as opposed to $120+ for a taxi although of course take longer as they pick up and drop off at multiple locations. A neat trick to lower the cost of your SuperShuttle booking even further is to abandon your online reservation at the final stage. They will then email you a 5% discount code which you can then use to re-submit your booking. Sweet!

Perhaps use social media or the CUGC community to see if anyone is arriving at the airport at around the same time as you (or even on the same flight) to arrange to cab-share.

Hotels

The conference hotels are as usual ridiculously expensive, even after taking into account the special conference rate, especially considering the amount of time you actually spend in them! The Marriot for example is $250+tax – a wallet-emptying $291 a night! Add another $16 per day if you want to park a car. Remember that you are unlikely to earn hotel status or reward points if your reservation is booked by Synergy HQ using their conference rate. Evaluate how much their rack rates are and whether the savings is worth losing any status or reward points that you’d get by booking direct.

But this is Disney country- accommodation is plentiful and available to suite all budgets. The “TripAdvisor” phenomenon has resulted in many (but not all, sadly) budget hotels raising their game, and quality, to avoid strings of bad reviews on their TripAdvisor page.

For previous years I’ve arranged a group booking discounts with a good quality, nearby hotel. Sadly this year my chosen venue did not want to offer an online booking facility (their loss) but they do offer a decent discount on their website if you book three or more nights.

Stanford Inn & Suites (4/5 on Tripadvisor) $115 per night, although this can be reduced to $92 per night using their “save 20% when booking three nights” promotion

Other hotel tips

Here are some other hotel money saving tips

  • Don’t pay for expensive hotel breakfasts. Breakfast is provided at the convention centre on conference days. On non-conference days, you can get a decent breakfast in many of the food outlets in the neighborhood
  • Beware of hidden resort fees – these are becoming a popular “stealth tax” allowing hoteliers to charge more pre-night but keep their advertised rates low by splitting out the charge for internet, sport facilities etc into a daily “resort fee”.
  • For hotels that charge for in-room WiFi, check if they have a free WiFi service in communal areas and the lobby. If your room is nearby you can perhaps avoid paying. Many hotel chain loyalty schemes now offer free WiFi when you are a member, and membership to the basic tier is usually free of charge to sign up before you leave. Remember there is fast free WiFi throughout the conference venue.

What to wear?

  • Check the weather forecast and pack appropriately
  • Whilst it’s tempting to just bring t-shirts and shorts (this being Calidornia n’all), conference venues and break-out rooms always crank up the air-con so are really chilly when you are sitting for several hours doing a lab. Also, previous keynote’s have been known for being rather draughty!
  • Conference attire is business casual (khakis, jeans, polo shirts, etc.)
  • If your hotel has a pool or gym, bring your trunks, speedos, gym gear etc so you can work out (but no mankini’s please)
  • If you run or jog, why not see if other delegates want to join you on a morning run? Twitter is great for arranging these kind of things.

What to pack?

  •  If you’re booked on a learning lab you’ll need a laptop and VGA adaptor if it’s DisplayLink/HDMI only
  • Phone/laptop/iPad chargers
  • US travel adapters for said chargers/laptops
  • If you’re taking one of the free exams, any study material you might need
  • If you are from the EU remember you’ll need an ESTA completed in advance of your departure
  • Business cards for networking opportunities
  • Passport!
  • Print off this local map before you leave
  • If you’re a fan of freebies, remember to leave space in your luggage for both your conference bag and the variety of bugs, pens, stressballs and t-shirts you’ll no doubt return with! (or designer goods for your other half)
  • The conference halls are large, and you’ll spend a fair amount of time on your feet. Pack comfortable shoes.
  • No need for backpacks as you’ll get one from the registration desk

Before you leave home

  • Set your work out-of-office email and voice-mail messages
  • Arrange your airport/hotel transfer. I avoid expensive taxi’s and pre-book shared shuttle services (see section above).
  • Book your instructor-led learning lab if you’ve paid for it. You can pre-book three of these for $99. You can attend more, but need to wait in a standby line at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  • Book your free exam
  • Book yourself on the Simply Serve session. This is a great way to give something back to those less fortunate – this year is Battle Bots (or Robot Wars if you’re from the UK like me!)
  • Download the Summit/Synergy mobile apps and download the Anaheim area in Google maps whilst on WiFi to avoid expensive roaming data charges if you need to  search for your hotel or are using Google Maps as a GPS when driving.
  • Speak to your mobile operator to ensure international roaming is enabled for your number. This is very hard to do once abroad when your phone doesn’t work after getting off the plane!
  • Order an international SIM if you want to keep connected 24/7 and don’t want to incur expensive roaming charges. See “keep connected” below.
  • Speak to your bank and/or credit card company and let them know you’re travelling so your card doesn’t get blocked for suspected fraud
  • Check into your flight online the day before to get a better seat and allow later arrival at the airport
  • Go through the online agenda and add the sessions you are interested in to your agenda.
  • Watch out for my consolidated iCAL file downloads of the sessions to sync to your own calendar (Outlook, Google etc)

Session iCAL downloads

The online agenda builder does allow you to download a combined iCAL file containing all your chosen sessions. I’ve provided some alternate iCAL downloads below if you wish to import the session catalog with your favorite calendar service.

Note even if you use my iCAL files you should still sign-up for the sessions you want to attend, either on the website or mobile app. The conference organisers use sign-up numbers to gauge session demand and ensure the allocated rooms are of suitable size. Also note that my iCAL files are a snap-shop in time (as of 15th April). If sessions get changed, or cancelled after that date, the change wont be reflected in the downloads.

Sessions by product

Citrix Cloud

Citrix XenServer

Citrix XenMobile

Citrix XenDesktop

Citrix XenApp

Citrix ShareFile

Citrix NetScalerUnifiedGateway

Citrix NetScalerSDWAN

Citrix NetScalerMAS

Citrix NetScalerADC

Citrix Workspace

Other iCal downloads

My_Schedule (Note that there are some duplicates – I will decide nearer the time on which I attend! So many interesting topics and so little time!)

All Citrix CTP_delivered sessions

All Citrix Synergy 2018 sessions

During the conference

Keep connected

If you’re coming from outside of the US and want to avoid expensive data roaming charges you have a number of options:

  • If you’re in the UK consider the Three PAYG SIM – £20 will get you 12Gb USA 3G roaming data (note: no 4G), 300 mins and 3000 SMS and lasts for 30 days
  • Purchase a Net10  or one of the many other PAYG SIMs available in WalMart or other local stores.
  • RoamMobility  sell international SIM cards online. For around $5 a day you can get their SIM card and 15Gb of 4G data (pro-rata per month, then unlimited 3G data/voice/SMS after you’ve used your quota).
  • Hook yourself up to the free venue WiFi when around the conference centre
  • Use any free WiFi provided in your hotel (many charge for in-room WiFi, but provide free WiFi in the lobby)
  • Spend large amount of time in McDonalds and Starbucks “Free hotspot hopping”

However you stay connected, do take out some time to Skype the family. Even a 5 minute call will bring a smile to a loved one.

Food and drink

If your hotel charges extra for breakfast – don’t pay! Breakfast and lunch is provided on every day of the conference, and there is food available at the Welcome Reception on Tuesday and party on Thursday. Wednesday is vendor dinners night when you might need to fend for yourself if you’re not lucky enough to be invited to a vendor dinner.

Learn like crazy

There’s loads of opportunity to expand your knowledge during conference.

  • Take one (or several) self-paced or instructor-led learning labs on a few products that you might not be so familiar with.
  • Attend TechEdge on the Monday – it’s full of Citrix support gurus passing on their secret troubleshooting tips. A must for anyone involved with supporting Citrix technology
  • Ask your burning technology questions to Citrix support gurus, product managers and CTPs in the Meet the Experts theater
  • Take your pre-booked exam and instructor learning lab
  • Learn and share your experiences with fellow delegates, CUGC leaders and CTPs at the Lunchtime Tech Chats
  • Hunt out the CTP sessions in the catalog to hear from industry experts, CTPs and fellow Geeks.

Don’t be shy

  • There are load of networking opportunities to get to know some new peers. Follow the #CitrixSynergy hashtag if you’re a twitter user to keep abreast of discussions (although tweet volumes to this will explode once conference starts)
  • Sign-up to twitter if you’re not a user, even if you don’t plan to use it after the conference. Perhaps follow me during the conference or follow my list of CTPs – most of which will be attending the conference.
  • First timer? Attend the Navigators Reception on the Monday evening. I’ll be there – what more incentive could you possible need? 😉
  • If you see me around the conference venue, do say hi. I’d welcome any feedback you might have on this guide.

Have fun

Whilst Synergy is a great opportunity for learning, there’s also plenty of ways to let your hair down. There’s the official  Welcome reception on Tuesday and the Synergy Party on Thursday.

There are vendor events interspersed during the week – usually on the Wednesday evening – details below of the ones I know about. Remember to keep yourself hydrated before collapsing into bed after partying to avoid the massive hangover the next day.

You can also try and score some points on the Synergy Game inside the mobile app. I came third place the first year it was introduced, and it really does try and ensure you make the most of your time at Synergy (although is very time consuming too!)

If you have some free time either side of the conference, you can visit Disney or go and watch Hamilton. The conference HQ have arranged for discounted Disney tickets available here.

Parties & events

Event Day & Time Location Registration details
CUGC Pre-game  Monday
4.30pm – 6.30pm
Marriot: Grand Ballroom G-K CUGC Members must register here
IGEL Happy Hour
with Doug Brown
Monday 5pm-6.30pm Marriott: Platinum 7 Register here
Navigators Reception Monday
6.30pm – 8.00pm
None required for first time attendees
Welcome Reception Tuesday 6pm – 6pm Expo hall None required
HPE & Intel Wednesday 7pm – 10pm The Ranch Register here
M7 Party Wednesday 9pm – 1am House of Blues Register with company email address
IGEL VIP Customer lunch Thursday 11.30am -2pm Marriott hotelConf Room: Platinum 7 Register here
Synergy Final night party Thurs 8pm-12am House of Blues None required

 

Hung over in your hotel?

Don’t miss out – selected sessions are streamed over the internet. Enjoy Synergy from the comfort of your hotel room!

Other Synergy guides

New UK CTP Gareth has posted his Synergy highlights on the mycugc blog as has new CTP Patrick Coble
CTA DJ Eshelmen has an in-depth Synergy guide including a detailed packing list here

Find this post useful?

If you’ve yet to register for Synergy, do show your thanks by entering my email address in the Synergy referral field when registering as per the below. I get no financial benefit from this, but I do get entered into a prize draw! Remember you can save 10% on the conference fee by using my discount code “REFERRAL10%”


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