The conference is over, and I am back home. Of course unlike some other folks who will spend 11 hours flying over Atlantic to get home, I only spent 11 minutes driving over the Lake Washington. Well, it’s time to reflect on the conference, here are some of my thoughts:
1. No doubt, Project Gemini was the main focus and center of the conference. I was overhearing people talking about it all the time - in the hallways, on escalators, during lunch etc. Both mainstream and blogosphere had plenty of coverage too. Pretty much everybody who stopped to have a chat with me talked about Gemini. I think I have heard the full specter of opinions, from absolute excitement and “ship it now” comments to full dismissal and “you are going to create spreadmart hell” comments (even though Gemini claims completely the opposite – solve the spreadmart hell). Anyway, I think we need some more time for dust to settle. One thing that everybody seems to agree is that underlying technology is very powerful (even though there were almost no details shared on this technology). Amir’s presentation yesterday was fantastic, especially since he pretty much had to repeat the same demo steps as in the keynote (but with 100 million rows instead of 20 million – yet performance was exactly the same – instantaneous). Unfortunately, his presentation won’t be available online, but in 6 weeks everybody will get it on DVD. I am curious to see response from analysts, there were quite a few in the conference, especially from Nigel Pendse.
2. The technical content was much better this year than during last year BI conference. Pretty much every session I attended was great. The level of content was on par or sometimes even better than what we usually get in PASS and TechEd. (I didn’t go to any session in the “Business Value” track, nor to keynotes except for the first one – I heard not so great opinions about those). But the experience with chalk talks was horrible. The rooms were way too small, and people lined up well in advance to get into chalk talk they wanted, but many of them were not able to, the doors were closed when capacity got filled. I really felt sorry for people who spent lots of money and traveled from far away only to not being able to attend the session they wanted. Of course, all these sessions were recorded, but the whole point of attending the conference is to get into live presentations. So I didn’t even try to get into any of these chalk talks in order to get other people better chance.
3. Big thanks for all the people with whom I got a chance to chat. It felt great to get all the “thanks – I read your blog” comments. Correlating number of hits in my blog and number of people with whom I talked – I think I now pretty much know every reader of my blog by name :)
4. On a more negative side, my chalk talk about MDX Studio today didn’t go well at all. It must have been one of the worst presentations I ever did. People started to take seats in the room an hour before the time, and 30 minutes before the session the room was already completely full. I became very nervous, because I when I saw it – I was afraid that the sessions might not live up to the expectations (after all, people skipped another session just to get seat on mine), and this is exactly what happened. On top of it, the screen in the room was very small, and most people couldn’t even see anything on it, which, of course, didn’t help the session which spent almost all the time in demos. So, while the overall evaluation score for the session was OK and above average, I got some of the comments like “worst session in the conference” :( I apologize for that.