Sunday, 15 November 2009

SNW-Europe 2009 (Frankfurt)

Ok so some people will have seen my various twitter posts whilst attending SNW-E in Frankfurt a couple of weeks ago, so this is a bit more of a set of feedback / thoughts.

Firstly some housekeeping - I posted on twitter on Tuesday that I questioned the conference attendance statistics ( now to my very pleasant surprise a few senior people have taken note to this. My comment was not intended to be questioning the validity of the statistics, but rather 'how it felt being an attendee'. I'd discussed this with a few other people and the common feeling was that it appeared to be less busy than previous years, my suspicion is that this feeling was generated by the revised format (more on that later) and thus not getting visibility of all the people at once.

Right so now to some thoughts :-

1) This is this 4th or 5th year I've attended - so I like and value the conference greatly

2) I've always preferred this conference over UK & USA based shows - the 'session & education first' format works well for what I want (not interested in vendor sales pitches)

3) It would be a conference I'd feel ok paying some form of registration fee (and that's very rare for me)

4) Some rough general feedback thoughts are :-
  • I felt I really missed the 'keynote' opening and kick-off sessions, whilst this gave a more relaxed and informal feel to the event, it also gave an impression of being a smaller slightly less organised event
  • The Tuesday morning schedule felt 'light' of interesting topics and yet the afternoon schedule had many overlaps of conflicting topics
  • The hands-on lab sessions weren't obvious to me, it was only on the Wed that I realised there were any at all this year
  • I really wish conferences would declare if there are going to give out a rucksack or bag in the booking materials - too often I either have no bag or many bags
  • Free WiFi in the building and conference session rooms was yet again lacking, and the WiFi that was in some places appeared to be astronomical in cost (€49 was the cost I saw) - needless to say my 3G got a hammering
  • I fully realise this is a European conference, but it does always surprise me re the number of international technology companies that only bring German product literature - surely it's not that hard to bring a qty of Intl English materials? (given that English works as the common language for other European nationals)
  • Thankfully the conference has resisted the current conference fad of de-focusing and becoming general IT infrastructure events with width but little depth - it's good to have events that still think about depth but equally don't ignore the width (eg this year's cloud infrastructure theme worked well)
  • It's always good to see @stevedupe @stephenodonnell in action, the ESG style always works well for me, and certainly resonates well with my experiences
  • The lunch on Wed seemed to vanish very quickly - meaning I missed out :)
In future I think it would be useful to provide :-
  • A memory stick or DVD with copies of all the slides and all the exhibitors marketing materials on - a single information bundle - so much easier to annotate slides on the fly
  • Of course a blogger's lounge would naturally be appreciated :)
The positive is that as usual the sessions were good, with the SNIA sessions providing good time the think over topics - even if a lot of them weren't stretching knowledge, it's always good to spend time refreshing and concentrating on topics without the phone ringing :)

The biggest problem I had was not having enough time within the tighter 2 day schedule (as opposed to previous 2.5/3 day) to meet with the various peers and industry experts & speakers - I need to find a better way for next year.

Overall whilst I think the new format improves a number of areas, something in it didn't click for me, but all being well I'll be there again next year :)

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