Ahh travel. As I arrived last night for XChange Solution Provider, I was lamenting the fact that I had just traveled 2,428 miles from Charlotte, NC to Los Angeles, CA and my bag didn’t make it with me. Woe is me, right? Little did I know that my bag would arrive at my hotel in time for me to be ready for breakfast, and the opportunity to listen to Adam Steltzner, lead engineer, Mars Science Laboratory, NASA .

Opening General Session
Opening general session for XChange Solution Provider.

Well guess what, he led a team of engineers that landed the Mars Curiosity rover within a predicted space about the size of the conference room I’m now sitting in, after it had traveled millions of miles. Pretty amazing stuff, and considering all the things that could, and did, go wrong while planning and executing that maneuver, I feel bad complaining that my bag arrived at my hotel about 15 hours after I did.

Now it might have been more of a tragedy for my conference mates at XChange Solution Provider had my toiletries not arrived in time for me to brush my teeth… Through human planning and execution though, the Mars Curiosity lander made a 350 million mile journey and I got my toothbrush in time to be clean and fresh for the start of today’s events.

It was fascinating to listen to Steltzner describe so many of the things we all face in project planning. His team spent the greater part of a decade putting together the plan that would allow the Curiosity to land on Mars and function. Countless hours were spent on the tiniest of details, and yet he had a great insight to making his project work in a cost-effective manner .

Steltzner Presents
Adam Steltzner, lead engineer, Mars Science Laboratory, NASA presents what his team learned when landing the Mars Curiosity Rover.

“I didn’t consider it our job to do everything the ‘right’ way. To do everything the ‘right’ way would require us to have infinite time and infinite resources. I told my team we had to do everything ‘just right enough.’” Steltzner explained that, while that may sound funny, it was the reality of his project. Space exploration can be exceedingly expensive and his team could have spent limitless time and money on solving every issue in the most perfect manner. However, by solving those same problems in the simplest or quickest manner, they saved countless amounts of money and time that they could use to solve the next set of problems.

It’s the same types of issues we all face when “paralysis by analysis” rears its ugly head. Sometimes you just have to solve the problem and move onto the next one and save yourself some time and money along the way.

More interesting insights to come at this year’s XChange Solution Provider event being held at the Hyatt Regency in Los Angeles. The conference brings together 225 solution provider decision makers from across the United States and Canada. They come together to meet face-to-face with top technology vendors and industry editors to focus on the latest and greatest opportunities in the solution provider community.

I can attest that the event is off to an exciting start. I mean, we kicked off the morning by talking to a real-life rocket scientist! If you have the time, you can still listen to the streaming session on the six pillars of cloud tomorrow morning.

The theme for this years’ XChange Solution Provider is “Pivot or Perish.” That is definitely something we buy into here at Cisco. You cannot survive the current shifts in the business world if you’re not nimble enough to pivot to next generation of business and technology opportunities.

Ryan Estis Presents
Guest Speaker Ryan Estis talks about his experiences and why he believes business is personal.

Featuring speakers like the aforementioned Steltzner and key players from Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Juniper and IBM, this is a great opportunity for me to network with partners that cross the lines between us and many of Cisco’s other partners and competitors. I also had a chance to hear some great insights from Ryan Estis as he wrapped up the general session today. Ryan spent many years in the advertising world, before venturing out on his own. He has some great thoughts on making business personal. Hit the link above to check out his Twitter feed.

I’ve already had the opportunity to meet several new folks here while listening in on subjects such as:

  • The Cloud-Powered Business from Microsoft
  • Tech Symposium Updates from: Symantec and Oracle
  • Tech Symposium Updates from: Juniper and HP (Of course I had to see what they were up to!)
  • A breakout session/Women in the Channel panel

Now I am about to head back into the exhibit hall and check out all the booths, while doing my best to meet more Cisco partners while I’m here.Exhibit Hall Opens

In the meantime, check out the agenda and let me know what else you’d like to hear about tomorrow? I’ll do my best to track it down and add it to the exciting news coming out of XChange Solution Provider for the rest of the event.


David Durham

Content Strategist