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Sep 23, 2009

Letter from Orlando

By Doug Rock

Here’s my report from hot and sticky Orlando where I am attending the IBM Power Systems Technical Conference, located at the beautiful and newly opened Orlando Hilton. How new is this hotel?  No, I won’t be taping and mudding sheet rock this afternoon, but I did have to program the TV channels before catching the last half of Monday night’s Colts/Dolphins tilt. They’re nice digs.


The event’s keynote speaker Monday morning was Rod Adkins, senior vice president, development and manufacturing, IBM. Adkins spoke about the future of innovation and how IBM plans on being in the center of it, from medical imaging, network security and threat management, financial analytics, energy efficiency, analytics with online transaction processing and much more.


Adkins’ slides portrayed a frenetic future, with scores of challenges, including diminishing natural resources, increased and sometimes disruptive integration (social, commercial, intellectual, government, etc.) and coincidentally plenty of opportunity. Naturally, IBM and its Smarter Planet solutions plan to be a key problem solver in all of it.


Here are stats from the conference.


  • 216 unique sessions supported by five tracks (AIX, Linux, Power, IBM i and lab courses). The 216 sessions feature 51 AIX sessions, 101 IBM i sessions and 64 sessions that cover topics relevant to both.


  • 811 attendees (649 customers, business partners and 162 IBMers).


  • Adkins keynote session had an estimated audience of 650 people



Monday night was very busy at our magazine “booth”. At times we had attendees five deep who were interested in subscribing to one of our magazine editions. Interestingly, I would say 75 percent of those requesting a magazine were asking for the AIX edition. IBM must have been anticipating more IBM i attendees (see number of sessions above) than AIX customers and maybe that is indeed how the attendee interests shake out; however, from our niche perspective the majority of the attendee base is primarily interested in AIX.


There aren’t many RPG or other System i-related programming sessions offered at this conference. That may account for what appears to be a heavy AIX-centric crowd.


The general buzz at this show is positive. Our magazine team has attended a number of IT conferences this year, and of the ones I have attended this one has strong vendor attendance in the solution center and a decent and upbeat attendee base. Is it an economic sign of good things to come? I certainly hope so.


However, then there’s this: A person I spoke with here at the show told me that in the months prior to its grand opening, the Orlando Hilton, where this conference is being held, had 4,000 job applications for 300 positions. Tourism activity is down in Florida and people are obviously looking for work. All I know is that the first and last bottle of water I bought at the hotel “market” was $3. That’s a traffic killer if I ever saw one.


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"All I know is that the first and last bottle of water I bought at the hotel “market” was $3. That’s a traffic killer if I ever saw one."

Man, you must not have attended a conference in some of the other Orlando hotels. I've seen the water go for upwards of $7 a bottle. $3 sounds like a bargain.

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