IBM i Announcements Loom, and So Does POWERUp 2019
April 15, 2019 Alex Woodie
By now you probably know that IBM is making its next round of IBM i announcements next Tuesday, April 23, via a COMMON webcast. But what you might not know is that COMMON has more than a dozen sessions about the yet-to-be-disclosed announcements planned for the upcoming POWERUp 2019 conference taking place next month at Disneyland.
“Right now we’re looking at about 15 or 16 sessions about the announcement itself,” COMMON Executive Director Manzoor Siddiqui tells IT Jungle. “We’re going to be the first conference where people will have access to the knowledge and the content around that.”
On its online schedule for the May 19-22 event, COMMON is forced to be coy about the names of the sessions regarding the announcements and their particulars so as not to spill the beans before Big Blue’s big reveal. But rest assured that, once IBM tells us about what’s coming next for IBM i, COMMON will update the schedule with all the good stuff.
“We have placeholder sessions,” Siddiqui says. “Once the announcement happens, they’ll be populated with correct session titles.”
The content of the IBM i announcements are a mystery to most. But, as usual, expectations are running very high. Industry leaders who have been briefed on the announcements by IBM tell IT Jungle they will not disappoint, without elaborating (non-disclosure agreements being non-negotiable).
COMMON is counting on the announcements to drive interest and excitement around POWERUp 2019, says COMMON President Larry Bolhuis. “There will be a ton of that content,” he says. “IBM announcement content will be our biggest thing this year.”
COMMON made some significant changes to its annual conference last year, which was held in San Antonio, Texas. The name change was arguably the most visible change, but it also shrunk the length of most sessions from 75 minutes to 60 minutes, which allowed it to add other session types, including panels and keynotes. That gives the event more variety and provides a break from technological overload, Siddiqui says.
The format changes implemented in POWERUp 2018 have been well-received and will continue with next month’s POWERUp 2019 event, Bolhuis says. “There were a few people who pushed back on the shorter sessions,” he says. “People like myself can turn a 60-minute session into 90-minute session with no effort. But that doesn’t mean I necessarily did a better job of educating the audience.”
Shrinking the length of the sessions allowed COMMON to increase the total number of sessions it offers over the four-day conference, from about 320 to close to 400. There is still room for longer technical workshops, Bolhuis says, and it also makes it easier to bring new speakers on board.
“It’s a little less of a barrier to step in for the new guy. ‘Oh, I’ve got to do 75 minutes of content.’ Maybe it’s only 50 minutes, if you have an hour session,” he says. “The other opportunity is that it allows speakers to go back and look at sessions they’re presenting year over year, and see what’s really, really important and tweak the presentations down to 60 minutes, so the content has been refreshed as well.”
Bolhuis commended the work of Kim Greene for helping to keep POWERUp session content on point. Among the topics that IBM i professionals can find at POWERUp 2019 (besides the IBM i announcement details, of course), Bolhuis highlighted the abundance of open source technology that’s coming to the platform.
“Open source is really gaining traction,” Bolhuis says. “And the side benefit of that is the younger people it’s pulling in. You get guys like Josh [Hall] and Liam [Allan]. Hey this is a cool platform! Why? I have these open source tools and now I can do even more. I’ve got a rock-solid platform with a free database and open source. Sweet.”
Application modernization will draw a hearty crowd, including from folks who are looking to take advantage of Rational Developer for IBM i (RDi). “Guys like Charlie [Guarino] can’t teach it fast enough,” Bolhuis says. “But if you really want to go nuts, it’s the database. Here’s a platform with 30-plus years heritage and we’ve always had a database . . . Scott Forstie and Tim Rowe’s group, they are pouring out APIs into SQL.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing figure to be popular topics, too. Two keynotes are scheduled – one for Monday after lunch and another Tuesday after lunch – and a speaker from IBM is expected to talk about the potential uses of AI and cognitive for IBM i shops. (Those two keynotes, along with the opening sessions Monday morning, are the three “big tent” sessions that are designed to draw big crowds.)
COMMON initially hoped there would be an opportunity to hook POWERUp 2019’s trailer to a strong tractor, like Star Wars. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or live in a galaxy far, far away) you know that Disneyland is very close to opening its new Star Wars: Galaxy Edge section of the theme park. The new trailer for upcoming Star Wars movie (the ninth, if you’re counting) was just released, contributing to a sudden surge of Star Wars-mania.
But alas, it wasn’t to be. COMMON has to reserve venues a couple of years in advance and the timing just didn’t work out. So don’t expect to see Steve Will impersonating a Jedi in the same manner that we saw at the Spring COMMON 2017 conference in Orlando, when IBMers dressed up like wizards out of the Harry Potter movies.
“It would be great to have Power join the Force. ‘May the Power and the Force be with you,'” Bolhuis jokes. “We were hoping the park would be open. The thing is, it’s not going to be ready for it.”
Attendance projections are trending in the 1,000 to 1,200 range, Siddiqui says, which is in line with the last COMMON event held at Disneyland. About 60 vendors are expected in the expo, which will also feature areas for vendors to hold mini-sessions, where they can dive deeper into their respective offerings.
There will be one other change of note this year: no press conferences. The COMMON (or POWERUp) press conference has been a standby for decades, but attendance has been sparse in the past few years. Exhibitors who want to schedule some time with IT Jungle can contact us directly, or contact us via COMMON.
Registration is still open for POWERUp 2019. Interested parties can still get the Early Bird rate (a $200 discount) if they register by April 26. You can register at www.common.org/events/powerup/#registration. The April 23 IBM i announcement webcast starts at 9:30 a.m. CT. To register, go to www.common.org/online-education/schedule.