I took a few extra days to decompress from last week’s events at Collaborate 08 before writing up a summary of my thoughts. I didn’t think it was really possible to be more busy than I have been in previous years, but I think I matched my previous year’s schedule pretty easily. This year, instead of spending a lot of time in the Piocon exhibit hall booth (we had an excellent location this time), I replaced much of the time I usually spend carrying out the corporate duties with volunteer activities for the IOUG Collaborate 08 Conference Committee.

I was one of the three IOUG DBA Track Managers (along with Bonnie Bizzaro and Nick Marcovecchio) whose responsibilities were to select the DBA sessions for the conference, review the whitepapers and presentations for each speaker (with the help of our excellent reviewers), ensure that the speakers made it to their sessions, and provide feedback to speakers after their sessions (especially first-time speakers). These duties, along with coordinating 3 RAC SIG events, giving 2 expert technical sessions, one technical session, and assembling and moderating a panel discussion made for a busy week. I can say, though, that being on the conference committee is a rewarding experience and something that volunteers should aspire to as they become more involved with the IOUG. Anyone can apply for the Collaborate 09 conference committee when the application becomes available later this summer.

As mentioned, I had some extra duties this year that made it almost impossible for me to sit still through an entire session. However, I did get to sit in on parts of many sessions. We had about 400 total sessions in the IOUG Forum this year, up from about 250 last year. So, as expected, we had over 80 first-time IOUG speakers. I was delighted to see parts of many new speaker sessions and found most of them to be very informative, clear, and concise. Some of the speakers were a little nervous and a few finished a little early (due to speeding through their material a little too fast), but that’s about the worst I saw (which isn’t bad at all!).

My own sessions went well and other than the 8:30am session (on Oracle Adaptive Access Manager), they were attended pretty well too. I think my favorite session was the panel discussion I moderated on Thursday morning titled “To RAC or Not To RAC: What’s Best For HA?” The panelists were great and we had a lively discussion and dispelled several myths about RAC. I only wish we had more time to take questions from the audience, but several attendees still commented that they enjoyed the session and the panelists. Everyone seemed to enjoy the Saturday Night Live skits I played prior to the start of my presentations. My whitepapers and presentations are now available here.

There was a great RAC hands-on session put together at the last minute by Jeremy Schneider. Jeremy heard about an opening in the hands-on lab during our new speaker briefing on Sunday and by Wednesday, he had built several complete recipe procedures for installation and configuration as well as 3 sets of RAC virtual machines. Attendees could choose from different options for starting points to make it easier for each skill level to do something productive in the relatively short 90-minute hands-on session. The only unfortunate part of the RAC hands-on session was that it was scheduled concurrently with the RAC Birds of a Feather session and another RAC technical session as well. With 400+ sessions, scheduling two sessions from the same topic area such that they don’t overlap is next to impossible. Even with the scheduling conflict, there were about 15 RAC hands-on attendees and about 15 people attending the RAC Birds of a Feather session.

The RAC Birds of a Feather session was a lively discussion where I was able to gather some good ideas for future RAC SIG events and topics for possible hands-on sessions as well as webcasts. If you have more ideas, please send them to me.
My non-conference highlight of the week was when a group of 16 Pioteam members and friends of Piocon attended a playoff game in the quest for the Stanley Cup (that’s NHL for those that don’t know hockey). The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-1 with lots of action to make the match entertaining as well as victorious for the home team. It was a good time for all and allowed for some good discussions with our partners and customers that attended. Other than that, we also had a good time at the customer appreciation event on Wednesday night. They had some rock climbing, DJ music, pool tables, and (fake) gambling tables. I played fake Texas Hold ‘Em Poker for about an hour or so.

Of course, probably the most important and rewarding part of the Collaborate conferences for me is the mini-reunion of all the individuals that I generally only see once a year at these events (aside from “seeing” them online). From what I remember, I saw and/or hung out with Jake K, Matt, Jeremy, Bex, Michelle, Vinod, Venkat, Jake V, Paul, Tony, Vikki, George, Alex, Logan, and that doesn’t include all the IOUG volunteers that I worked so closely with since October. To all those that I forgot to mention, I enjoyed seeing you too! And especially to those I met for the first time, I hope to see you again online as well as at future conference events. Thanks to everyone that took the time to say hello and/or introduce yourself.

See you next year in Orlando, May 3-7, 2009 for Collaborate 09!

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    why play fake he?