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OSBC '07: On the conference itself

OSBC and 451 party badges

I’m on the way back from this year’s OSBC to Austin now for another week at home before headed off to Orlando for Microsoft TechEd (and STB analyst summit). Fun side-note: my brother-in-law (who works with Idera) will be there.

This was the first OSBC I’ve been to and, as others have noted, I think it was quite nice. Each session I attended was packed with more information, esp. in the form of Q&A’s than I expect from most conferences. Part of this is probably due to the fact that I got to a lot of “vendor conferences” which tend to be more narrow in focus, namely, on that vendor, their ecosystem, and products. Nothing wrong there: just a different nature of information in a more horizontal form.

As I said in the joint Posse podcast from JavaOne, I’ve definitely become “that guy” who’s always talking about how great the hallway part of the conference is vs. just going to the sessions. It’s great to run into not only the usual crowd of folks (the Sun OSS crowd is omni-present on the Coté conference circuit and I seem to be running into Rod and Neelan of Interface21 frequently: Rod will be at TechEd even) but I always run into and talk with a crap-load of other people I know and “hang out” with online.

But enough about me. What do you think of me? (That joke never goes stale for me!)


First, the wifi at OSBC was the awesomest I’ve experienced at any conference: it always worked, at high speed, cost nothing, and didn’t even have a splash screen (like JavaOne this year). So, big yuh! for that.

At first, there seemed to be a smaller amount of “real-time” coverage than I look for in most conferences. By “real-time coverage” I mean people blogging, chatting (IRC and Twitter), and otherwise “writing up” the conference as it’s happening. But, looking through the search feed for “OSBC,” this seems to have been a mis-preseption on my part.

There are, indeed, plenty of posts, not least of which from blogging machine Joseph A di Paolantonio who more than earned his “press” badge for his quick and detailed session write-ups.

The chat back-channel could have been a little boosted: I couldn’t find an IRC channel, but Dawn and I seemed to throw plenty into Twitter for the tweat-heads who cared.


I’m always curious about the value of having a booth at a show. Asking around, most people said that OSBC was as much as mixed bag as other conferences: booth people aren’t quite sure if it pays off in the end, but they know they like the exposure.

There seemed to be an interesting divide between what I call The Elder Companies (older, mature companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Intel) and the other booths. The Elder Companies had their booths outside in of the general hang-out room, while the OSS companies and the numerous law-firm booths were in the general hang-out room.

The Law

One thing that really caught me off guard this week was the number of lawyers in attendance. whurly

That last round of booths was something many people commented on: lawyers! I suppose people are always on the look-out for signs that this whole open source as a business angle is legit, and seeing lawyers circling the market is a sign of there being money. Or, it could be that whole 235 thing (though, I’m sure they all booked their booths before that).

Indeed, open source software has, perhaps, the most opportunity for lawyers at the moment as we try to figure out how the rest of the world will deal with (or not) our decades of arm-chair lawyering and developer-think.

Brace yourself!

Overall: Worth It

Overall, my sense that OSBC was actually “worth it.” I got a free pass (RedMonk pays for travel and my stay at the lovely Roadway Inn [avoid at all costs!]), but from the sessions I say in and the potential chance to hang-out and chat with the people there, I could see that OSBC would actually be a conference worth paying for and taking the time to attend. Key to this, at least in the sessions I attended (all panels) and discussions I had were how frank and open people were. There was little “vendor talk.”

If it’s like previous years, podcasts will be available over the next few months. I’ll definitely be checking those out for sessions I missed.

Disclaimer: Sun, Microsoft, and BMC are clients.

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Categories: Conferences, Open Source.