Top Ten Things To Know Before Heading To COMMON
May 1, 2017 Alex Woodie
More than a thousand IBM i professionals from around the world will descend on Universal Orlando next week for COMMON’s Annual Meeting and Exposition. Besides the chance to “Party with Harry” (as in Potter, the boy wizard), the conference taking place from May 7 to 10 provides us all a chance to learn about the latest IBM i technologies, explore new solutions, and commiserate with our fellow midrangers.
With more than 300 sessions on everything from RPG and PHP to Watson and the cloud, the annual COMMON get-together is the largest IBM i conference on the planet. It’s been that way for the past 20 years, and while the technology has certainly changed, COMMON’s status at the center of the IBM i professionals’ event calendar has not.
Here are 10 things to know about next week’s COMMON conference:
1. Git Your Workshops On
The fun begins this Saturday with a series of three-and-a-half hour workshops where attendees can get their hands dirty with the latest tools and tech. Liam Allan and Stephanie Rabbani, who are leading the IBM i’s youth movement, kick things off with a “Git Fun and Games” bright and early at 8 a.m. Later in the day, Alan Sieden shows the world how the combination of IBM i and WordPress can accomplish amazing feats of content serving.
2. Morning Sesh
Instead of attending church Sunday morning, the IBM i faithful can congregate during the COMMON Opening Session at the Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort, where IBM executives are expected to discuss the power of Watson. This session (which was moved from the evening to the morning for last year’s show) will also give us a chance to hear about the current state of COMMON’s affairs from Jeff Carey, who’s president of the group. The winners of the Innovation Awards and the Student Innovation Awards will also be presented at this time, and the top speakers from the previous annual conference will also be named. Bummer: No more Sound-Off.
3. FERs for Every Occasion
After the opening session, then it’s time to get down to business – the business of training and education! Attendees can pick their own sessions from the online session guide, or they can choose a particular focused education roadmaps (FERs) and stick with it throughout the conference.
There are 18 FERs in total (see Fig A) but there’s nothing stopping an attendee from mixing and matching their FERs (although it may be too hot for mink).
4. Online Session Builder
COMMON provides some great online tools to help attendees build their own personalized session schedule, which can be very useful to maximize their time in Orlando. Attendees can sign up for a free account that lets them build their schedule and see who else is attending the same sessions. That account is different from the new “Cosmo” account that the group is encouraging members to use.
There’s one other neat trick the online session guide can do: filter by individual speakers. There are 103 speakers lined up to present in Orlando next week, and every one of them is to be commended for sharing their knowledge. After all, public speaking is not easy!
5. Must-Watch Speakers
Some of the speakers’ sessions fall into the “must-watch” category for the die-hard IBM i professional. IBM i Chief Architect’s “IBM i Strategy and Features Overview” on Monday falls into this category (although we wish it would include some “futures” too). Considering what a hot topic security is right now, the “Best Practices for IBM i Security” session on Sunday by Jeff Uehling, who heads up IBM i security development at IBM, may also be a standing-room-only affair.
For sheer entertainment value, the “Snake Handling” lab on Sunday by IBM’s open source architect Jesse Gorzinski could also be popular (hopefully there are no cottonmouths!), as could any session by the likes of Trevor Perry, Aaron Bartell, and Randall Munson.
6. Modernization Challenge
COMMON will also be holding a series of “Modernization Challenges” during the show. This will give a chance for modernization tool vendors, including Surround Technologies, Profound Logic, Fresche, CNX Corp., BCD Software (now part of Fresche), Rocket Software, and LANSA to show off their wares.
7. ReCON Talks
Here’s an interesting tidbit that you won’t find in the official COMMON schedule: “ReCON” talks. According to COMMON, the ReCON sessions “will be a series of 10 to 15 minute presentations . . . [on] topics not included in the regular conference curriculum.” The organization says ReCON gives people a way to get up and talk without the formal structure of a session. Perry is slated to host the ReCON talks daily at 2 p.m. from Monday through Wednesday.
8. Expo Hall
Whatever you do, do not forget to visit the expo. This is where you get your free schwag and lunch – in addition to learning about the latest IBM i solutions from the vendor community (what a deal!) Nearly 60 IBM i independent software vendors (ISVs) from around the world will be in the expo, so it would be a shame to not take advantage of this resource. Besides, it’s all included in the price of admission.
9. Party With Harry (and Jimmy, too!)
Speaking of tickets, you’ll want to check out the discounts you can score on tickets to the local amusement parks if you’re bringing young children and/or children of all ages. And of course, you won’t want to miss the closing session, which is a party COMMON is hosting at the nearby Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, followed by dessert and rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. Muggles beware!
10. Jungle in the Swamp
Orlando may have been built on a mosquito- and alligator-infested swamp, but that won’t stop the IT Jungle from attending! Don’t be surprised to see two of your humble editorial representatives – including your friendly senior editor and executive managing editor Dan Burger – roaming the freshly painted halls of Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort.
See you in Orlando!