COMMON Fall Conference Offers 112 Sessions in San Antonio
September 13, 2010 Dan Burger
You hear a lot of talk about upgrades these days. Upgrade your server, upgrade your operating system, and upgrade your mission critical software. Well, what about upgrading your mission critical training and education? Putting that on the back burner is really downgrading your IT investments.
COMMON president Pete Massiello last week took there you area break from his regular job as owner of iTech Solutions Group, to beat the drum for COMMON’s Fall Conference and Expo that is coming up October 4 through 6 in San Antonio, Texas. Massiello also serves as the chairman of the Fall Conference Task Force.
The conference COMMON has put together features 112 sessions spread out over two and a half days. It also includes two pre-conference workshops scheduled on Sunday, October 3. The full-day pre-conference workshops are: “Where Do I Start to Use Embedded SQL” presented by Ted Holt, editor of the Four Hundred Guru and “Systems Management” presented by Larry Bolhuis, a consultant with Frankeni Technology. The complete session grid on a day-by-day basis can be viewed here.
Massiello says this conference was designed to provide a smaller price point (registration fees begin at $1,099 plus $125 per night for the conference hotel), a smaller footprint (compared to the COMMON Annual Conference), a wide variety of session topics rather than a developer-specific or systems admin-specific approach, plus great networking opportunities, and a sizeable vendor expo (tabletop booths only). The number of participating vendors listed on the COMMON Web site totals 29.
“We surveyed people and found that the small iSeries shop–those with approximately 10 people in the shop–can’t send four or five developers to one show,” Massiello says. “They have to keep some people in-house. So we have a second, shorter COMMON conference.
“The audience is a broad range of professionals and the agenda reflects that. It is not strictly designed for developers or system administrators. The topics will include AIX along with IBM i.”
The agenda for the Fall COMMON will be heavily weighted toward IBM i topics, but AIX sessions will make up almost a quarter of the total sessions. A little bit of Linux will also be found.
IBM experts are delivering 38 of the 112 sessions or approximately one-third, which is similar to the percentage of sessions IBM personnel presents during the COMMON annual conference.
IBM is not participating in the expo.
Most of the sessions will be delivered in a one-hour and 15-minute format. This is the more traditional way COMMON has delivered education and training and according to Massiello it is the preferred way for most people based on surveys the organization has conducted.
For the past two years, COMMON had a fall conference called Focus, which consisted of single-subject, all-day combination of sessions and labs. That format may be reintroduced in the future, Massiello says.
Massiello says there were expectations that more vendors would engage in sponsorships that were designed for product-specific sessions.
“The vendors did not take us up on that like we thought they would,” he says. “We thought the half-day of sessions on the final day would be a good lead into a vendor user group conference.”
The vendor-led, product-specific sessions are a new product, Massiello says, and it’s going to take some time for the vendors to understand where they can participate.
“Vendors have a wealth of knowledge about iSeries products, and their own products, and ways of doing things on the i. For attendees this presents an opportunity to get iSeries education and also learn about the intricacies of a specific product. This potentially makes an attendee even more efficient after returning from the conference. It makes the conference a better value.
“Education is something that is continuous and–especially in our industry–skills need to be kept up to date. People need to invest in themselves. Change is happening at a crazy pace in our industry. To be valuable for your company you have to constantly stay educated on new features and functions. Those things need to be utilized for the benefit of your company.”
Massiello predicted attendance at the COMMON Fall Conference would be between 175 and 200 attendees.