A Recap of EUC Unplugged 2024

EUC Unplugged is a conference unlike any other I have attended. It is designed for and put on by end-user computer (EUC) practitioners. That is, the people who attend it are the boots-on-the-ground forces that implement EUC technology and know these products in-depth, warts and all.

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The event is put on by Thin Client Computing, a cloud and virtual computing solutions provider, and sponsored by various companies in the EUC space. However, it is strictly forbidden to try and sell your products at this event; it is a platform for sharing your experiences and listening and learning from others. With this in mind, the sponsors send technical resources rather than their sales and marketing teams. The result is a conference that is less about fluffy elevator pitches and more about in-depth, technology-focused discussions. This unique approach ensures that we, as attendees, are well-informed and enlightened about the latest developments in the EUC space.

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I have heard about this event, which has been held each spring in Scottsdale, Ariz. Prior to this year, it was known as the EUC Masters Retreat, but its name was changed to EUC Unplugged. I have a hunch that the name was changed because it is probably easier for corporations to approve expenses for an event rather than a retreat.

One of the many unique things about this conference is the creativity of their name badges. This year, the badge had a magnetic back that you stuck tokens to. You could trade tokens to complete the theme of your badge. It was a great excuse to get to know and interact with others.

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The conference had a unique format that was driven by the attendees themselves. Other than a few pre-planned key sessions and workshops, the bulk of the conference content was shaped by the attendees in real time. On the first day, after an introduction to the conference, people wrote their ideas for topics they would like to share with others on a sheet of paper, and then each attendee was given nine gold stars to put on these sheets. You could put however many stars you wanted on each idea. That night, the stars were counted, and the schedule for the weekend was set! This "choose your own adventure" format ensured that the conference catered to the attendees' needs and interests, making it truly an attendee-driven event.

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At first, I thought that this would be chaotic and unorganized, but it was the exact opposite. One of the benefits is that no one knows if their idea will be accepted, so you tend not to get slick, fluffy slideware presentations but discussions from practitioners and live demos.

Some of the sessions that showed the range of the conference were Trentent Tye's session on the struggles he had installing Azure HCI on-premises with AVD, Jaymes Davis of Kasm Technology's session on how he uses AI with EUC, and Benny Tritsch's session on measuring the performance of EUC. This is not to imply that the rest of the sessions weren't outstanding; these show the range of interests that the participants have.

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Although most sessions were technology-focused, there were early morning (starting at 6 a.m.) and late-night sessions.

The early morning sessions offered a variety of activities, from yoga and bike rides to a 4x4 desert exploration ride. The late-night sessions, however, were more about fostering connections. These were usually dinners or other get-togethers, organized and paid for by various companies, with the provision that they were not to be sales pitches. With limited seats, these dinners were more intimate, allowing you to get to know those around you. I had the opportunity to enjoy a Brazilian steak house sponsored by ControlUp. At the same time, one of my friends experienced the thrill of going to a throwing restaurant that Stratodesk sponsored. However, one of the most popular sessions was a casual pizza gathering, where we discussed what essentials to pack in our "bug-out" bag in case you needed to leave your house in case of an emergency.

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From what I could gather, this event tended to be heavily Citrix-oriented in the past, but this year, I saw many folks from the Horizon community, including quite a large contingent from the EUC Experts group.

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As far as I could tell, about 120 people were in attendance, with a portion being first-time attendees. It seems like more and more conferences tend to be three- or four-day sales pitches put on by the sales organization. It is good to see a conference that stresses the technology benefits and nuances of the people implementing, using, and maintaining the technology rather than the standard sales-oriented conferences by a single vendor. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Steve Greenberg, Beth Eliason, and the rest of the folks who put on such a unique and informative event.

About the Author

Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 30 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 20 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He previously worked as a Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He also previously worked at VMware in Staff and Senior level positions. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on X @vDoppler.


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