Wednesday, October 24, 2018
By Raphael Carrillo, Fuel User Group member and head of the Fuel Sacramento Chapter
Editor's note: In this article, Fuel User Group member and head of the Fuel Sacramento Chapter Raphael Carrillo gives us a peek behind the scenes at his local chapter – how they got started, the ways in which they’ve grown, and key learnings from a recent meeting focused on SSL decryption, how to get the most out of a TAC and a mobile office kit.
The Fuel Sacramento Chapter was created in October 2015. Our first meeting was hosted by Chris Ruybal and Roger Schotsal, of the Sacramento Area Palo Alto Networks sales team. There was a lot of uncertainty at the time, as we did not know how many people would show up or if they would like the content of the meeting. Fifteen people attended and overall we received great feedback for the first meeting. From the start, I was more of an aide to the Palo Alto Networks team, eventually, my position morphed into being a liaison between the product and the SLED (State, Local and Education) from the business side.
Now, looking at 2018, we have grown to have 50-60 people attend each Fuel event. The word keeps spreading that we listen to the techs and the people out in the trenches. The sales teams have grown from one (sales rep and sales engineer) to three teams. The exponential growth in users and Palo Alto Networks support people locally have been due to the excellent product they provide and the use of the Fuel forums to post topics of interest. The Fuel forums have been the biggest gauge to see how we are doing with the members. As a badge of honor, we can proudly say that at Ignite 2018 in Anaheim, California, the Sacramento Fuel chapter had more members show up at the chapter Fuel booth than any other.
As we have grown, we have started to take feedback from members and cater our Fuel presentations toward their requests. There are times when a presenter has canceled last minute, and we have improvised by creating interactive events. These interactive events have been a remarkable success because people get to see what others bring to the table and it becomes a great networking event.
Our last event was in September and the turnout was great. The meeting focused on SSL Decryption, How to get the most out of TAC and a Mobile Office Kit. As expected, we knew that SSL Decryption and TAC would get some response, as they are day-to-day items that techs deal with. The major surprise was how receptive people were to the Mobile Office Kit, which was presented by the California Natural Resources Agency. They talked about how it was used to deploy people out on the field in emergency scenarios and how fast and easy it was to set up. They went into detail around how it was used for a dam failure in Oroville, California. It gave us perspective into how multiple technologies can be used to get people up and running and how Palo Alto Networks was able to serve as the core of the kit to make access easy.
During breaks and after the Fuel event, multiple people approached the California Natural Resources presenters to get more info on the kits. It was very satisfying to see how something that was created out of necessity became a light bulb for others, reminding them how they can use their resources to better support their customers.
During this last Fuel meeting, one lesson I took away was that we have a great Palo Alto Networks support staff that is willing to help us understand the technology we own. They help with the presentations by injecting usable content or answering questions that relate to the user group.
The Fuel team goes above and beyond to make the events an enjoyable time. They provide great food, drinks and an environment where you can ask the questions you have in the back of your mind. The fact that the event is very interactive allows everyone to learn how to deal with day-to-day work.
Finally, and most importantly, the biggest takeaway from these meetings is the amount of peer networking and interaction. I have made friends and connections with people I never would have met if it were not for Fuel chapter meetings. Multiple people have approached me about being part of the team that helps set up the events, which shows people want to be involved and that they care about these interactions.
Fuel Chapters are a hub for local resources and insights. Interested in joining a Fuel chapter near you? Learn more here.
More to Explore
Check out these Fuel blog posts for further reading:
- ‘Embracing a Mindset of Lifelong Learning’: A Q&A with George Finney, New Fuel Board Member
- Setting up SSH on a Non-Standard Port Using Certificate Authentication