Unforgiven, Reflecting on Momentum 2011, Vegas


Time for the overdue Momentum evaluation post. I write this one every year because it was my concern about the loss of Momentum that first inspired me to start this blog. Normally I write this post between the end of the conference and my plane. This year I had only a couple of hours due to a busy schedule and I spent that at the Pinball Hall-of-Fame (and I wasn’t the only one).

In keeping with my theme of naming these posts after Clint Eastwood westerns, I have moved on from the trilogy to one that I feel more exemplifies this year’s conference, Unforgiven. Why? Simply because for most of the EMC World life, the Momentum conference has been a shell of its old self. Marriage had taken away who it really was. Well, Momentum looks like it might be back.

Before I go any further, remember I am talking about the conference only, not the content of the conference. Those follow next.

Last Year’s Checklist

Last year, as in previous years, I put together a list of things that needed to be fixed in my Momentum evaluation. To help illustrate the progress, let me share with you that list here and grade it.

  • More user/partner sessions: I think this was flat. The call for topics didn’t seem as public as last year, but the number of sessions was about the same.
  • More business users: Fail. This felt about the same, even though the conference is more user friendly every year.  Please come back.
  • Separate lunch area. Didn’t get this and I don’t expect we will. There is a significant logistic issue to make this happen. Would be nice though.
  • Less marketing: Heard many of the same things this year as I did last year. Tell people what is coming in the products so they can plan. Also tell them how to best implement the solution. If you think about it, nothing sells software better than having someone say how they implemented a solution and made their life better.
  • Start with the keynote: This was better. Rick’s keynote was on Day one this year. Of course it was at 3:30pm and after two breakout sessions had taken place. Why not put it during the first set of breakouts? I’m sure every breakout attendee would rather have attended Rick’s keynote at 10am.
  • Create a big-room track:  Success. Jeroen’s Architecture presentations and Ed Beuche’s Performance sessions were both in larger rooms. Keep this going.
  • Rinse and repeat: John McCormick’s roadmap session was done twice and clearly marked.
  • Developer hands-on:  There was one room that was running hands-on labs all conference. It was very successful and will likely be returning next year. I didn’t get a chance to stop by, so if you were there, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Actually, if you have any comments, drop them below.

Still Some Work

So some improvement, but more importantly, no lost ground. There were some important issues though.

  • Horrific Internet: The wifi was usually non-existent. The first couple of days it was okay, but it completely collapsed by Wednesday. This is a tech conference. We need connections. I at least had my phone, all those AT&T iPhone clones were completely out of luck.
  • Power: To some degree this is an issue with the facility. That said, we could have used more power strips in the Momentum lounge and one at each projector at a minimum. You burn lots of power when you are looking for a signal.
  • Lack of Expo Time: This was a major issue. The only time that we had for the expo were at the opening reception and lunch. The opening reception is pure chaos and not good for solid, in-depth discussions. Lunch was needed for lunch which was leveraged for meetings with people. I had to skip a session that I was extremely interested in attending and I still didn’t get enough time on the floor. We need some more expo time that doesn’t conflict with sessions. Maybe more pre-dinner time or an opening during lunch on Monday.
  • Reduce Jeroen Conflicts: Every person told me that they wish Jeroen had his own timeslot with no conflicts. Not just community experts, but clients as well. I can’t think of any session that wouldn’t make some people feel conflicted. At the very least, no client-led sessions should be scheduled against the Product Roadmap, Ed Bueche, or Jeroen van Rotterdam.

Still, pretty good. In fact, when you get down to it, most of these are broader conference issues and not necessarily Momentum only concerns.

Returning to Form

Here is the summary, the conference is probably as segregated from EMC World as it is going to get. There will be little things every year that will not be perfect, but as a whole, the Documentum people were protected from the “storage” side.

As someone pointed out to me, most of EMC starts at the database and works down. IIG starts at the database and works up. Documentum works on-top of the rest of the EMC stack. We need more users to attend the conference like they used to do back before the merging.

This is where you come into the picture. We need to tell people that it is safe to return. It is easy to meet and share ideas with fellow users again. There are quality sessions being presented by users now. These aren’t just EMC requested sessions, these are sessions submitted to EMC, so there is some honesty in the sessions.

When you get down to it, Momemtum isn’t going to get a lot better until more people start attending. It is the sharing of ideas and the different viewpoints that comprise the true value of these conferences. Everything I covered above are just enabling factors. The real thing we need is you.

Momentum is back as a conference. Not perfect, but very good. It is now a good place to meet and share problems. It is returning to a national-global user group again.

We just need more users.

7 thoughts on “Unforgiven, Reflecting on Momentum 2011, Vegas

  1. I doubt if things around your second bullet on “More Business Users” will change. I think that EMC by default is IT based and you will see conferences continue to reflect this. What I have seen over the years is a separation around business events. Oil & Gas, Healthcare, etc have their own conferences. In some cases content is a part of the conference in others they are the conference. There are even some conferences that have grown out of Momentum. CSC FirstDoc holds two conferences every year around their product set. I am actually surprised that no one has taken it on to develop a government “Momentum” conference.

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    • Marko, there is a Federal Forum every summer actually. I think the big thing is awareness. The users need to know that it is safe for them to return. They need to hear it from users that have attended and not just me.

      The users stopped coming after EMC World 2007/08 and we need to let them know that the conference has value for them again.

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    • judoman says:

      I’ve worked for the Department of Defense for the last decade, most of it in support of Documentum. From my vantage, I don’t see evidence that IIG cares about the government market enough to even have functioning software, let alone a government-focused conference.

      The government is very security-conscience, and so mandates things like bi-directional SSL. WDK-based applications and newer clients like CenterStage were not engineered for bi-directional SSL. They don’t work, and the decision makers at IIG has been substantially ignoring our petitions for support. It’s bad enough that SYSCOMs I am familiar with are actively looking to replace Documentum. PTC seems to be the front-runner.

      It appears that IIG sees the majority of their profits coming from other markets than the government. They don’t get federal requirements like HSPD-12 and don’t seem to care to. It’s really, really sad.

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      • Jeff, thanks for that feedback. My government work of late has been outside DoD which isn’t facing some of the same security requirements. I understand your pain though because many verticals get left out and it is quite often that the product direction is driven from a horizontal direction. I’ll send a link to your comment to people, but I do not expect it will get much more attention, though I could be wrong.

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  2. Ahson Ahmad says:

    Thank you for your prolific coverage of Momentum this year. This was my first US Momentum, and it’s certainly different than Momentum Europe. I would suspect that if you graded a European Momentum, we’d score better on your checklist because it’s more focused, and there are more business users.

    Any thoughts of coming to Berlin? You *really* should consider it!

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    • Any thought of you guys helping to pick up my tab? You *really* should consider it. 😉 In all seriousness, I am unlikely to attend as the business case for attending is tough given that my client-base is in the US and very likely to remain that way for a while.

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