This post was contributed by Pam Derringer.
Some came to network. Others to learn. And one came to pick up a prize.
My very unscientific sampling of conference-goers turned up a mix of reasons that motivated people to attend the recent Red Hat Summit, which equaled or exceeded last year’s event, despite the economic downturn and competition from VMware.
But learning seemed to be the prime motivator. For one thing, the assistant of a workshop presenter observed that the company’s technical workshop was more crowded than the general one, which dovetailed with my experience at other sessions. So I’m guessing that attendees, as a whole, were after highly detailed information to help them do their jobs rather than more topical overviews.
And I’ve just got a hunch that KVM and the coming Red Hat Virtualization platform were a big draw. But you could learn something about this remotely, via Webcasts, news articles, or other outlets. So the real advantage to being there is the additional networking factor.
Two attendees whose primary purpose was networking included Steve Giovannetti, CTO of Hub City Media, and Michael Howard of the U.S. Navy’s Spaware System Center in Charleston, S.C. As a new Red Hat/JBoss Catalyst partner, Hub City Media’s main goal in attending (in addition to being an exhibitor) was “getting to know folks and connecting with customers,” Giovannetti said.
Giovannetti said Red Hat’s vision is “great,” and praised its decision to switch to the KVM hypervisor. Although KVM “has a long way to go,” it’s good that Red Hat will support both KVM and Xen in the interim. “Getting all the virtualization vendors to cooperative will be a challenge… but, ultimately, customers will demand portability,” he said.
Howard, one of three government IT staffers I met at the Summit (a remarkable percentage), also viewed the conference as a networking opportunity. Howard’s main task with the Navy the past four years has been to promote the use of open source in the government and offer user feedback to vendors like Red Hat.
“If I give the open source community our feedback, the taxpayers save millions and the government gets software development for free,” he said.
A Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer, the Navy also is using Red Hat’s JBoss Java application platform and is keenly interested in ensuring that JBoss continues in a strong direction, Howard said.
“JBoss has been great,” he said. “Three of the best JBoss developers in the world work for us.”
David Pullman, a systems administrator for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said he wants to learn more about KVM because NIST is getting ready to expand its use of virtualization. NIST currently has a small virtualization project with Xen and uses a third-party vendor for high availability and live migration. KVM and Red Hat’s SPICE virtualized desktop both sound interesting, he said.
The lone prize-winner I met at the conference was Rick Gideon, chief operating officer of ecommerce.com. Gideon came to the Summit because his company won the JBoss Innovation award for outstanding architecture.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, Gideon’s firm hosts 500,000 websites and collaborated with EnterpriseDB, Hyperic, Zimbra and others to build an intelligent platform for websites that can be provisioned automatically and dynamically, shifting services as needed based on business rules, he said. The platform runs on Red Hat and JBoss.
“We’re looking to begin partnerships, “ Gideon said. “We’ll be building and deploying [the new system] this year.”