IBM Lotusphere 2009 Highlights

Well, not many, I am afraid. At least, for now. More than anything else due to the lack of DAI (Decent Access Initiative). Yes, that same one David Terrar managed to put together under "Always say DAI – conference WiFi" a couple of months back and which, it seems, keeps failing more and more these days. That’s right, the lack of proper WiFi while attending conference events, specially technical / Internet related ones.

A few days back, you would remember, I put together a couple of blog posts where I was sharing further details about the good number of online resources about the event itself, i.e. Lotusphere. Resources that I was planning on using myself as well as check them out throughout to see what was going on, specially for such an event of these dimensions (I bet plenty of us would have wanted to clone ourselves to be at multiple places while in there!).

Well, it didn’t happen. From day one (Monday to me, since I arrived Sunday evening) and right till the very last day, Thursday, the WiFi connection at Lotusphere was everything, but functional. Don’t take me wrong, I am ok without it, since I was there in person, but given the relevance of the event, we all know it is a good thing to share the news with the rest of the online world, so we all expect to have a fully functional Internet access. Yet, it didn’t happen.

Most of you folks who have followed this blog for a while now, as well as my twitterings, know that I have adopted the approach to live tweet @ elsuacon, so that apart from capturing live thoughts I’d then want to blog about at a later time as highlights, I would also have the opportunity to share those thoughts with anyone out there who would want to follow up on them. Well, at Lotusphere, it didn’t happen, at least, as often and as much as I would have hoped for. On the contrary, rather erratic!

To the point where I gave up altogether and decided to focus on enjoying the event from an offline perspective, i.e. lots of superb conversations face to face with the folks attending / presenting / demoing at the event. And in that respect I had a blast! (More on that at a later time)

By the end of the event, at the Closing General Session it was mentioned how the wi-fi didn’t cope with the high peaks throughout the event, not because of the bandwidth, but because of the lack of enough access points for us all to access the Web and while I do praise the explanation, and apologies, of what happened, I am still disappointed that such an important and relevant conference event as Lotusphere didn’t plan ahead that well, in this area, the fact that technical folks are always going to carry multiple devices with wi-fi enabled, at the same time that they would be watching on the Internet the unique events that took place throughout the week. That’s to be expected, I would think, specially coming from where it is coming: IBM.

Poor planning? Maybe. I don’t know. For me though one of the biggest disappointments of the year. For sure. Why? Because I realised that even my own company cannot put together a proper wi-fi network connection for us all attending it live to cover the IBM event of events as thoroughly as we would have hoped for! And that, my friends, hurts. Ouch! It really hurts!


(You may be wondering whether I will be putting together further highlights of the Lotusphere event, right? Well, yes, I am, but they are going to be just like my live tweets. Erratic and not complete. So I’m going to wait for all of its content to become available online, including the recordings, if they are made available as well, that is, and comment further on those sessions I thought were worth while talking about, specially those dealing with the same topics I get to blog about over here. Stay tuned!)

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12 Comments »

  • Ed Brill says:

    Luis,

    Bob Picciano took responsibility on all our behalf in the closing session for the wifi issues. They bought plenty of bandwidth, but it was saturated and overloaded.

    In my opinion, the explosion of wifi-enabled devices over the last year is what did us in. The popularity of iPhones, Blackberrys, and even camera chips with wifi means there is just a cacaphony of chattering devices going on a small range of 802.11b/g frequencies. As unacceptable as it is, I have also seen this recently at Macworld Expo and a few other events.

    I think there is more to explore with this issue and I believe it will get worse, not better, in the near term at conferences.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Ed, many thanks for dropping by and for sharing your insights! I shared them. I was at the Closing General Session and listened to Bob mentioned the issues of the wi-fi connections, and as much as I appreciate them, I think they came about a little bit just too late! Reacting in almost real-time to these connectivity issues while running such an important conference is key, like it has happened in plenty of other technical events and I guess I was expecting that reaction that showed up accurate, but perhaps too late.

      I know that this is an issue for many conference events, specially the technical ones with plenty of folks bringing in multiple devices, but if you design a plan for a connection with each person bringing in, at least, 3 mobile devices, I think the results would have been different. Much different!

      I share with you that this is a growing concern that it is not just related to this IBM event. Last year, I travelled to over 25 different conference events and customer meetings / workshops and only one single event came up to provide best quality of wi-fi access: EventoBlog in Seville. All of the others failed and big time!.

      I guess I wasn’t expecting IBM to fall under the same disappointing fate, more than anything else because of who we are. Yet, we did. Hope that planning on this area improves for next year! See you at LS10!

      And thanks again for the great feedback! It is greatly appreciated.

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      • Ed Brill says:

        I’m not an expert (probably some of your readers are) but from what I’ve read about the 802.11 protocols, there comes a point of congestion/saturation which is difficult or impossible to resolve. When you put thousands of such devices in the small space of a ballroom, there may actually be no answer. I think the frequencies can be more distributed across various channels, but ultimately if one geek holds 2-3 devices that emit wifi, all jabbering away their packets at once on the same frequencies, you hit a limit. This is why I was able at one point, for example, to run from a session room to one of the hardware connection locations and successfully replicate (quite quickly, I might add) where wifi was useless.

        I’ve always been a 10BaseT fan and find wifi to be too tenuous for my own comfort, though I rely on it constantly in my daily work. It seems like it should be far more reliable and easier to manage than it is.

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        • Luis Suarez says:

          Thanks, Ed, for the follow up. Yes, I can imagine how all of those different devices are creating the problem for all of us to be connected and everything and thinking that even though the solution may not be that clear just yet, I think we should try. Perhaps with a couple of items:

          – First introduce standard regular Ethernet lines that could be shared across the various rooms. A combination of both wi-fi and Ethernet could certainly help with load balancing the multiple devices and I can imagine it would be rather helpful.

          – Another option would be to provide a specific channel for those folks who would want to blog, live tweet the event, so that they would have the opportunity to enjoy that connectivity while they are reporting the highlights of the event.

          – Third, help attendees understand the issue of the wi-fi and encourage them to please use one single device and refrain from using others. Mutual understanding can go really far if we all collaborate on it.

          I am sure there are plenty of other options, for sure, but I think we would need to ensure these items are covered in future events to avoid further frustrations with potential attendees. I know, not easy to circumvent, I am sure, but I think we should be trying harder for next year. It’s the least we could do if we would want to have some decent coverage.

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  • Hey Luis – great to meet you again F-to-F at LS09. The conversations we shared in the Dolphin lobby were one of the highlights of my week, and it was a real honour to have you present at my BoF.

    Re: WiFi. I was at the front of the OGS and it was very obvious how much effort the Techies were putting in trying to resolve the Wifi problems – I think the demand clearly astonished them.

    For me it improved noticeably from Tuesday onwards, I’m surprised you did see that as well…

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Stu! It was wonderful being able to see you F2F again and catch up offline with several conversations. Really delighted we had the chance to meet up and share some further thoughts on the conference event and whatever else!

      It was a real pleasure and an honour for me to participate in your BOFs session, and I do hope the feedback from the event was good, too! I think we had some really good conversations and certainly the interest was really exciting to watch! Well done!

      RE: WiFi, I can imagine how those folks may have been working really hard to get things going, but I am afraid that for those of us on the back we still struggled with getting connected. And like I said, this was not just for the OGS, but throughout the entire event, in multiple rooms, and in the open areas. Somehow I felt like the overload was continuous and given as well the relevance of other external events and how folks wanted to catch up with those, I guess I was expecting to have a bit more robustness on the overall connection. Yet, it didn’t happen.

      I am hoping we may have learned the lessons for next year and hope to be present again at another superb event where the connection was just as good as the overall event. Fingers crossed!

      Thanks again for the feedback, folks, and for dropping by!

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  • Hi Luis,
    It was really good catching up with you during Lotusphere. The BoF session you, Stuart & other Luis did was one of the highlights for me of this year’s Lotusphere.
    Regarding the Wifi connection, I think if you would have made the fountain in the Swan your regular spot instead of the one in the Dolphin, you would have had a much better conference in terms of connectivity. I too had problems in the Dolphin, though definitely not always. In the Swan, where I had most of the sessions I attended, Wifi connection was consistently good.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Martijn! Thanks for dropping by! Greatly appreciated your kind feedback and glad you enjoyed the session!

      Oh, right, so that’s what it was! I was at the wrong hotel! I mean, all of the action happened at the Dolphin, except for the sessions, so I guess it makes sense! The Swan quietly provided the quality of service that’s expected. I guess I know now where I am going to stay next year!! W00t!

      Thanks again and look forward to the next time we can meet up again! Have a good one! :-)

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    • Martijn, so glad you enjoyed the session. I thought we had some really interesting discussions on the day and could really have filled a 2 hour slot without any problems.

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      • Luis Suarez says:

        LOL! Yeah, specially if that guy called Luis Suarez wouldn’t have talked so much all along throughout the hour! LOL!

        Seriously, Stu, I had a great time and look forward to the next time we meet up in person!

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  • [...] I have mentioned in a previous blog post, over the course of the next few weeks, I will be putting together a number of entries, a [...]

  • [...] to give you an idea of the kind of frustration that permeated throughout the entire event. Once again, and this is not the first, nor the second time, that the wi-fi at a large technical conference [...]

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