Data center facilities pro

Mar 12 2009   11:38PM GMT

Should AFCOM rename it the Data Center Vendor World conference?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Attendance at this year’s spring Data Center World conference was lighter than in past years, which was expected.

The economy has affected turnout at tradeshows this year. Last week I was at the Share mainframe user group conference in Austin, and that had lower attendance as well. Usually Data Center World in Las Vegas brings in the crowds, but that wasn’t the case as much this year.

Vendors I spoke to said traffic was steady, but definitely lighter. I heard that there were 700-800 end users at the show, but more than 900 exhibitor personnel. Whenever the vendor presence is larger than the end user presence, that’s not a good sign. Then again, Data Center World has always had a large vendor turnout, with dozens of booths on the show floor. Which isn’t a bad thing, as long as you’re getting end users to those booths with intentions to buy.

Speaking of vendors, I noticed there were more vendor-led sessions at Data Center World than in past shows. Some of them were good — Richard Sawyer from EYP Mission Critical Facilities (part of HP), for example, gave a great talk on data center staffing — but others were not. Even the keynote by Sun’s chief technology officer Greg Papadopoulos, though very interesting, was seen by some data center users I talked to as a veiled sales pitch for Sun’s cloud computing technology. I will say that I thought Papadopoulos did what he could to make his talk about the cloud computing trend, and not Sun products. But it’s inevitable that end users will feel the way they did when Papadopoulos had slides in his presentation that mentioned Solaris, Java and xVM.

Nathan Montgomery, data center operations manager for Brinks Home Security, told me he went to an all-day tutorial on Monday that was supposed to be about building and expanding your data center. But he said it was more like a vendor “show and tell,” and was upset enough to seek a refund from AFCOM (the tutorials were an extra $200 fee). To AFCOM’s credit, they did refund him that fee.

Even AFCOM’s board of directors is vendor heavy. It has about a dozen members, but only one of them is an end user. The rest are vendors and consultants. So here’s to hoping that AFCOM reaches out more to the end user community. If they can get more of them on the board of directors, maybe that could lead to more of them giving end user-focused sessions, which is what Montgomery and most other users are looking for.

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