Blog postings on a conference before the conference is actually taking place are normally very vendor driven. Since I have attended Pulse 2008, 2009 and will now attend 2010 I feel it is time to give some feedback on why I think it is worth a week of my time (and of course what could be improved).
First let me say that I am not part of IBM and that I am normally on a very tight schedule, so going to a conference created by ONE vendor is a rare thing for me. For me PULSE is quite different. So here are my top reasons for going
1. Get a good feeling for trends in ITSM
The name PULSE is well chosen. There are many conferences on specific IT operational topics, but PULSE is the only one that exclusively deals with ALL topics surrounding the “Run the Business” area. The general setup of PULSE already tells me whether it will be a year for strategic thinking or work on technical details. Besides the “chit-chat” strategy IBM pulls out around the Smarter Planet initiative, the topics at PULSE actually focus on real life challenges and to someone like me who´s head in constantly engaged with tomorrow´s IT operational ideas seeing what is “cool” and “necessary” and “challenging” in everyday life is just great.
2. Consistent content and people focus
Contrary to other vendor conferences (well as I said I rarely go), PULSE – at least for the last two years and this year´s agenda looks good too – has managed to deal with today, with the past (talking about organically grown IT environments and the challenges they present) and the future. It is a very consistent evolvement. If you take the example of cloud computing. Last year it was all talk from the labs and theory and pioneers like John Willis (Opscode) were tweeting “will I get a press invite”. This year clouds are a reality and even if you do not quite agree with IBM´s interpretation of the cloud the sessions presented at PULSE summarize the current state of IT-nation. And John is back accordingly – now out of the underground with a representative role and with his own presentation.
3. Qualified attendees
a lot of time conferences are about people looking for jobs, sales opportunities and everything else that is not really the focus of the conference. I have found PULSE attendees to be actually interested in the topic, experienced and competent. And then you get the these open minded people on all levels. For someone like me – who is equally at home in the details technology discussion and the major strategy – this is definitely a key reason to come. You actually get to talk to people – apart from the networking – who know what they are doing, who have an opinion and will discuss it with you. And I am talking about all the IBMers AND everybody else. In combination with the straight forward American debate culture, this gets things right to the point and I love it, if the marketing get cut out a little.
4. Great networking
Well, this had to be a point. When you get between 4000 and 5000 experts in their fields around ITSM together, there is not just room for business and technical discussions and exchange it is also about building your personal network. It is easy to find people you are interested and even the big shots talk to everybody.
5. Hands-on experience
The last point of importance to me is the chance to go to a room and actually try something out you have just heard about. You can kick the car before you start ranting and raving about it and you have competent people at hand to answer your intelligent (more or less) questions, and you get all the background information. This opportunity has saved me so much reading red- white- and blue-books just by being able to give an idea a quick try and then being pointed at exactly the right material.
Reading this I am singing too much of a praise, ain´t I? Well I do believe what I said and I do act on it. Still there are some points to improve (let´s see what is done this year). So to any PULSE organizers reading this – please bring back the Guru Galaxy. I never had the chance to talk to 100+ IBM Gurus like Doug McClure and others in one room before and it was one of the most productive hours in my professional life. And while I am at it, why not make it easier for common place people to meet with Tivoli management. Sure they are booked out to wind and dine customers, but the feedback and ideas they could collect right from the base. I know that – if you know the right people – you can get a quick appointment and I have enjoyed so very much. But why not make that an actual part of the conference, a part accessible to anyone who takes the time to get his message or feedback down to a few minutes. Well I have to say Tivoli management itself seemed to be interested. Last year Al Zollar himself appeared at the bar talking to anyone interested in a conversation one evening.
Ok, I am done now. I hope this will give some inside or hint why it might be worth to spend time at PULSE. Of course I follow my own goals, because I would like to meet as many people as possible who are interested in IT automation (that being my own topic of the heart) and thus I am trying to get you there –smile-.