Just back from a fantastic time at #ibmtech2023 in Dubai, where it was great to meet with so many colleagues from across IBM, celebrate our achievements and learn together.
I was really struck by this in the welcome kickoff from Dinesh Nirmal - “For every ten excuses, find one reason to believe” - that technological advances come through out of belief in the possible even through surrounding skepticism. Meeting and chatting to so many fantastic IBMers shows how that belief can be reinforced through the many accomplishments being celebrated.
Then after a coffee break we had our first session - for me this was “AI Overview and IBM AI Technology Roadmap” which was a really well presented session with lots of useful information but I was starting to flag a bit after the late night arrival.
After the morning sessions we headed off to our recreation activity - mine was the 4x4 Desert Safari where we went off exploring the desert dunes in a 4x4, up the slopes and then along the edge of the peak before turning back round and down. This was followed by riding camels - it was really strange when they go up and kneel down and felt very high up on them! After this we had the chance to try sand-boarding, which I didn’t do very well at at all and the board kept burying itself in the sand and getting stuck rather than elegantly gliding down the slope as I was hoping for!
Time to refresh before the Welcome dinner where they had a buffet style meal and musicians performing in the centre.
After the dinner a group of us headed down to see the fountains in front of the Burj Khalifa.
I travelled to Paris the day before the conference with Matt and we got to the Hotel in the evening, later than expected as we’d not considered traffic when getting a taxi in to Paris from the airport, I think next time I’d probably take the train in. We then met up with Tom and found a local restaurant/bar to have dinner.
As the API Days conference started at 1 o’clock the next day and I was up early I was able to do a bit of sight-seeing before heading back to the hotel to get on with some work and make sure I was ready for my session later that day. I had breakfast and headed out on the metro across Paris to the Eifel tower.
There was a light covering of snow everywhere and it was still very cold and there was more snow coming down as I emerged from the metro, although it didn’t really show in the pictures and it was still well before sunrise so everything was quite dark. I grabbed a coffee at one of the nearby cafes and caught up on Slack.
After coffee it had brightened up a bit but was still nice and snowy all around so I walked down closer to the Eifel Tower and a little way along the Seine before heading back across to the Arc De Triomphe and back on the metro back to the hotel. I then made my way over to the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie where the conference was to be held. I met Tom as I left the metro station and we headed into the venue together to find the booth and meet the rest of the team.
My workshop “Applying AI to API Testing across the lifecycle” was early in the conference, starting just 30 minutes after the doors opened so I went to get set up fairly early to find that the projector in the room wasn’t working but it turned out I’d gone to the wrong room and over in the room I was in everything worked properly. My talk went well and I had some good questions from the audience at the end and was glad to have it done so I could enjoy the remainder of the conference. I spent most of the rest of the day at or around the booth meeting people; discussing API Connect with them; giving demos and guiding them through the sign up for our free 30 day trial.
In the evening of the first day of the conference there was a Speaker Soiree which a few of us headed to after dropping things back to the hotel, it was at Belushi’s on the Canal de l’Ourcq so was just a short walk from my hotel. Given the size of the conference and the number of tracks going on the event was packed with those speaking at the event and was a great oppportunity to meet some of the others and share our experiences in the API space. As the world cup game between France and Morocco was on that evening we’d been warned to expect trouble in the streets of Paris, so headed back to the hotel just after half time to avoid anything that kicked off after the match. Later on from the hotel I could hear that France had won with the jubilant sounds of car horns.
The other thing we had at the booth which was a different idea from the previous time was a series of SmartTalks - 10 minute slots scheduled throughout the event with different people giving a taster session on a topic. I had two on the schedule - “API Deployment automation with IBM API Connect and GitHub Actions” and “Lambda integration in IBM API Connect on AWS”. As we were situated by one of the coffee stations we also had a steady stream of people passing our booth so the opportunity to sit down with a coffee and listen to a short talk definitely appealed. These seemed to work really well and drew an audience, often leading to interesting one to one follow on conversations with a few of the attendees.
The next morning I was up early and decided to head first to the High Line - a park/walkway created from an historic raised rail line which goes along the West Side of Manhatten. It’s fantastic to see the way the plants have been selected and seeing trees growing in between the old tracks with different sections having distinct settings from wild prairy to wooded sections providing a relaxed park atmosphere with a unique historic character to it. At the end of the line I headed to the Starbucks Reserve coffee roastery to have a coffee before heading back.
I then went back to my hotel and got changed for the warmer day ahead and headed down to the dock for my boat tour.
The boat tour took me right out past the Statue of Liberty with great views across the skyline along the way.
I then checked out the Drama bookshop and then took the subway up to Central Park where I sat in the park to have my lunch.
World Trade Center
Then in the evening I went to Hudson Yards which is a really interesting development built over the top of railway yards, making use of land that couldn’t previously be used. There’s some really innovative sustainability steps been taken in how water and energy are managed and growing trees in shallow soil encouraging their routes to grow horizontally for stability and nutrients.
I then went up to The Edge where you get stunning views across the city.
The next day was the AWS Summit which was the reason I was in town. This was a massive event and hugely popular, resulting in long queues for attendees to get in snaking across the entrance foyer and around the block. Fortunately being there as an exhibitor I'd been able to arrive early and prepare before the main entrance opened. IBM had a large booth with 4 demo screens and most of the day I spent here meeting people and talking about our new API Connect on AWS SaaS offering. I also got time to explore the other exhibitors and talk to some of the AWS team which was really interesting and useful.
In the evening we had an IBM Client appreciation reception at the classic car club where I met more people and chatted with them surrounded by the impressive car whilst watching the sun go down over the Hudson until it was time for me to head to the airport for my flight home.
As I hadn’t adapted to Central time and still waking up close to UK time I headed out early and drove down to Galveston Island to try and see the local brown pelicans. In Galveston, they get both the brown pelicans, and the invasive white pelicans which have tried to take over.
There is a vast length of beach along the island, and it was so peaceful in the early morning, with just the birds (and the bird watchers) about! I first stopped at a beach side car park and saw the Laughing Gulls and the Willets. Then on the way back along I stopped at Galveston Fishing Pier to see what more I could see if I was a bit further out into the sea. There I was treated to a group of Pelicans flying across in front of me at the end of the pier.
After this I headed back up towards Houston to get to the Space Center just as it opened. On the way across the bridge back to the mainland from Galveston there were two flocks of Pelicans that flew really low across the road - so close, it felt like I was being dive bombed by them!