Each new year brings a great opportunity to bust out your calendar, grab a red Sharpie, and block out some dates to attend the industry’s best tech and IT conferences. From mind-blowing, state-of-the-art tech demonstrations to awe-inspiring keynote speakers, tech conferences are a great way to learn from industry experts and renew your passion.
If you've missed attending conferences the past couple of years because of the pandemic, 2023 will hopefully bring more normalcy. While COVID continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, many conferences are returning to in-person events or offering hybrid events for 2023. This is subject to change, of course, as each conference's priority is to ensure its attendees' safety.
So which conferences should you attend? Good question! To help, we've compiled a list of some of the best tech conferences the industry has to offer. Keep in mind that some conferences haven't finalized their plans for 2023.
MacAdmins Conference: July 18–21
After three years of going virtual, MacAdmins Conference is back in person. If you manage and deploy Mac and iOS devices, then you need to keep the MacAdmins Conference on your radar. Many of the presenters that participate in the MacAdmins Conference created the tools a lot of Mac sysadmins use daily, giving attendees a chance to learn directly from the source.
Covering topics such as security, best practices, and professional development, MacAdmins Conference gives attendees a chance to collaborate and network with fellow Mac and iOS administrators.
Black Hat: August 5–10
Black Hat is another event that highlights the importance of cybersecurity and advancing cybersecurity technologies. Black Hat provides the InfoSec community with the latest research, developments, and trends in cybersecurity.
The popular DEF CON hacker conference immediately follows Black Hat. While Black Hat is more formal and business focused, DEF CON is much more informal and antics filled. If you are considering attending DEF CON, you'll probably want to disable your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your devices. Don't say we didn't warn you.
VMware Explore: August 21–24
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Event type: In person
Target audience: System administrators, network engineers, and developers, specifically those heavily involved in virtualization and multicloud infrastructures
It's getting awfully cloudy outside, and we're not talking about the white fluffy kind. As cloud services take over, many organizations struggle to manage multicloud infrastructures. VMware, the industry-leading virtualization platform, is tackling this issue head on.
Formerly known as VMworld, VMware Explore is backed by some of the biggest names in tech, such as AWS, Dell Technologies, and NVIDIA. In addition, VMware Explore engages some of the most prominent voices in the industry, including Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. If this sounds like all work and no play, worry not. VMware Explore is famous for hosting some of the biggest bands, such as Imagine Dragons, Bon Jovi, and Blink-182 (just to name a few), to help attendees unwind after a long week of virtualization.
SpiceWorld: September 5–7
SpiceWorld is one of the largest and fastest-growing conventions dedicated to IT professionals. This event provides the perfect environment for thousands of IT professionals and vendors to network, collaborate, and surround themselves with like-minded individuals. With less emphasis on business suits and more emphasis on fun and learning, SpiceWorld's unique conference approach is something that all IT professionals should experience.
NANOG 89: October 16–18
If you're a network engineer looking for a conference focused on all things networking, consider attending NANOG. From backbone internet strategies to enterprise networking technologies and operational practices, NANOG (North American Network Operators’ Group) has something for everyone at all skill levels.
NANOG conferences are typically hybrid events hosting both in-person and virtual attendees. If budget is a concern, consider attending virtually. Tickets are cheaper, and slippers are optional.
Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo: October 16–19
Location: Orlando, Florida
Event type: In person
Target audience: CIOs, CSOs/CISOs, chief data officers, chief analytics officers, senior data and analytics leaders, senior application leaders, and VPs of IT infrastructure and operations
The Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo is designed for IT executives. It explores emerging technologies, strategies, practices, and approaches to equip leaders to drive outcomes, optimize business value, and enhance innovation and resilience. The event covers 14 key topics areas, including applications, platforms, and software engineering; AI, data, and analytics; cloud, infrastructure, and operations; and so much more.
Group rates are available.
System Admin: November 2–3
The TCEA System Administrator and Technical Support Conference is tailored for IT professionals in the education sector. This demographic of IT professionals faces many unique challenges. From managing student-operated devices to maintaining systems to mitigating security risks with limited resources, IT professionals in this field are often tasked with doing more with less.
More information regarding System Admin 2023 has yet to be announced. If you are an IT professional in the education system, keep checking the TCEA website for more details because this is a conference you won't want to miss.
BrainStorm: November 12–14
BrainStorm offers three conferences across the East and Midwest for IT professionals working in education. You can network with other sysadmins in IT, attend your pick of dozens of sessions, and demo products at the Vendor Fair.
The three-day conference is held in person, and registration is now open.
Microsoft Ignite: November 15–16
Microsoft Ignite, formally known as TechEd, has been around almost as long as Windows itself. Launched in 1993, Microsoft Ignite focuses on the future of tech and what Microsoft is doing to provide the tools users need to succeed in an evolving workplace. Microsoft Ignite is a great opportunity to learn directly from Microsoft's own experts and MVPs as well as other industry leaders.
Microsoft Ignite was held virtually for a couple of years because of the pandemic, but it embraced a hybrid approach in 2022. While Microsoft hasn't formally announced its plans for Ignite 2023, we’re guessing it will continue with a hybrid model.
Sign up to be notified when registration goes live.
Past 2023 Conferences
FETC: January 23–26
Future of Education Technology Conference is geared toward those who work in a K–12 setting. Tailored tracks address topics relevant to administrators, information technology professionals, educators, library media specialists, and coaches. IT sessions cover cybersecurity, Esports, leadership, and so much more.
FETC is an in-person conference with tiered pricing based on how early you register and whether you want to attend workshops. Team discounts, day passes, and registration for individual workshops are also available.
NANOG 87: February 13–15
Pink23: February 26–March 1
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Event type: In person
Pink23 is an industry-leading IT service management conference in its 26th year. Covering ITIL, Lean, Agile, Scrum, DevOps, change management, and more, Pink22 touches on almost all facets of IT service management.
BrainStorm: March 12–14, May 7–9
RSA Conference: April 24–27
One of the most critical topics in tech today is cybersecurity, and one of the fastest ways to get information about emerging trends and technologies in cybersecurity is to attend a conference dedicated to it.
Initially, the RSA Conference primarily focused on cryptography. (RSA references the public-key encryption technology, as well as the last names of the company’s three co-founders.) Over the years, it transitioned into a broader IT security conference. Now, the RSA Conference is one of the largest cybersecurity conferences in the world.
Prices are lower if you book early, and group rates are also available.
Red Hat Summit: May 23–25
Red Hat Summit is the premier open-source technologies conference. Attended by thousands of IT professionals each year, Red Hat Summit focuses on innovation around technologies like automation, Linux, the cloud, and Kubernetes.
Group rates are available, so the more the merrier.
WWDC: June 5–9
Location: Cupertino, California
Event type: Online
Target audience: MacAdmins
As you probably know, the Worldwide Developers Conference features all things Apple. If you manage Apple devices, you’ll want to tune in for updates on macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and more.
While a few lucky developers (and students) can attend the all-day event at Apple Park on June 5, most of us will be watching online to catch Apple’s latest updates.
NANOG 88: June 12–14
MacDevOpsYVR: June 21–22
If you’re a MacAdmin who wants to add DevOps to your skillset, this is the conference for you. At MacDevOpsYVR, you’ll network with DevOps engineers and MacAdmins from all over the world. Speakers hail from companies large (Disney, Airbnb) and small. This two-day, in-person conference includes workshops, a hack night, educational sessions, and networking events.
Are conferences worth attending?
Absolutely. Conferences can be highly beneficial. They provide attendees an excellent opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals, get feedback and support directly from vendors, and, most importantly, learn and grow in their respective fields. And don't forget: Many conferences heavily invest in having fun. (But maybe don't focus on that part when you pitch it to your boss.)
Which events will PDQ be attending?
If, for some reason, you can't get enough of PDQ, you can meet up with us face to face at select conferences. Our exact schedule is not yet official, but we can confirm PDQ will attend SpiceWorld and System Admin, SmartDeploy will be at FETC, and SimpleMDM is going to MacAdmins Conference and MacDevOpsYVR. And that definitely won’t be all; you never know where we’ll turn up. We can’t wait to meet you in person!