SNW, what's to come?
It was about this time last week that the dust was beginning to settle on another Storage Networking World (SNW) Spring Conference. No signs of hurricanes to delay the arrival of attendees or speakers as in years past. No signs of some major sponsors as in years past, Dell being one of many conspicuously absent. Few signs of major news conferences from multiple companies, Brocade being one of the only to leverage SNW for a press event. Fewer signs of life in the bars. And, much discussion about how relevant SNW was/is/could be.
It seems as many have noted that this year's event passed without much ballyhoo. The usual musings: Was it worth my time? Did we generate enough leads from those end users in attendance? Did we get full value out of our sponsorship and commitments? Did we need to be there for as long as we were? Was attendance impacted by the economy? Should we continue to come back?
For many, some of those questions are still being answered, but it was refreshing to hear and see several positives come out of this spring's event. Although, with the good comes the not-so-good.
From the good perspective, social media was front and center in many ways at SNW. George Crump at Storage Switzerland gave us daily updates via his blog on Byte and Switch to each day's happenings. Jerome Wendt at DCIG did something similar via his own blog. And, the folks at the Wikibon Group took it one step further by tweeting updates from meetings as they happened real time. Also from the good, companies I spoke to and have the pleasure of working with, all noted that end user interest was up even if attendance was lighter than in years past. Demos were in full force which may speak to those that were attending were generally more interested and engaged. Speaking engagements were well received, some presentations were standing room only. And, the weather was accommodating.
From the not-so-good category, not many companies chose to make SNW the center of their PR and launch effort, as George Crump noted. In fact, some media I spoke to recently were wondering why some companies like EMC waited to do their major announcement the week after SNW. Were they trying to send a message?
Also, in the not-so-good category, the communication around one of the premier items at the show, the SNW Best Practices in Storage Awards, was less than ideal. Maybe it had to do with moving the event from a dinner lasting a few hours on Wednesday night to a more intimate gathering for 15 minutes on Tuesday morning at 10:00 am or 10:15 am depending on which invite you checked last. Regardless, some people I spoke with that were genuinely excited about the recognition and had flown in specifically for the acknowledgment were left feeling disappointed.
Overall, and from my perspective, perhaps SNW was showing signs of what's made it successful in the past: a storage-focused venue where end users, companies, and pundits convene to have industry-- specific conversations. And, we all benefit when that happens. Perhaps storage is back. The networking is back....even if the world may just be a little bit smaller. Let's hope that's just a sign of the economic realities we all face though rather than a sign the conversation may be shifting to another venue.