Juno Summit Thoughts

I attended my first OpenStack Summit in Atlanta last week, and now that I'm (mostly) recovered I wanted to write down some of my thoughts about the experience.

General Thoughts

  • The sessions themselves are very short. 40 or 50 minutes goes by quickly when you have a lot of people discussing a tricky topic. It would be tempting to say that they should be longer, but I think I like that the short length forces the sessions to be laser-focused and prevents most bikeshedding. If a session hasn't accomplished anything after 40 minutes, chances are it wouldn't in 60 or 90 minutes either.

    It's really important to keep this in mind if you're leading a session too - many people had long lists of topics they wanted to cover, and realistically most sessions only got to maybe 2 or 3 major points before running out of time. Again, I think this is okay. If you're able to blow through all 10 of your points in 40 minutes then it suggests there wasn't much discussion involved, which rather defeats the purpose of the sessions.

  • I probably need to do a little better job with the hallway track (ad hoc discussions that happen outside the official conference sessions). I had some great conversations with various people at lunch and during breaks, but I feel like I could have done even more. This may get better as I attend more conferences and get to know the people I'm working with better - I was still meeting new people right up until I ran out of the last session to catch my flight on Friday. Being known to the ones I want to talk to beforehand should make the hallway track more productive at the next Summit.
  • There was a lot of mic passing going on in many of the sessions I attended, to the point that some of the sessions eschewed the mic entirely and told people to move closer if they wanted to hear. An omnidirectional mic or two mounted near the front row where most of the discussion happens seems like it would be a great thing to have. Maybe it wouldn't work any better, but I think it would be an interesting experiment for Paris.
  • IMNSHO, some of the keynotes forgot that this was the OpenStack Summit, not the $COMPANY Summit. It made me rather uncomfortable to watch some of the speakers pimping specific companies and largely forgetting OpenStack as a whole. This includes the one that featured Red Hat rather prominently, so I don't think this is just a personal bias thing. There's a time and place for that sort of thing, and Summit isn't it.
  • I'm not that into the marketing side of things in general. I was excited about all the fancy presentations and the booth area at first, but I quickly realized that the design summit is where I belonged. I did come home with some pretty cool swag though. ;-)
  • So. Many. Parties. Having never done this before, I had no idea. :-)

  • nova-network


    Based on the straw poll I saw this wasn't strictly accurate, but I think the point was well-made. :-)
  • My hotel was in an...interesting...part of town. Might be worth just paying the extra to stay at the conference hotel next time.
  • Something you probably wouldn't see at any other event: A lot of people introduced themselves by telling me which patches of theirs I had reviewed. It took me a while, but I think I remembered all of them eventually. :-)

Minor Gripes

  • People walking in and out of sessions can be very distracting. I get that sometimes you are running late or need to duck out early, but a few sessions had a steady stream of people in and out through the whole 40 minutes, which I don't understand and find annoying.
  • Chips are not a good snack. I love chips, just not when someone is crunching away on them right behind me while I'm trying to listen to a discussion. :-)
  • Mute your cell phones/laptops, please. Why does this even need to be said in this day and age?
  • On a related note, don't answer you cell phone and proceed to have a conversation during a very time-sensitive event. You know who you are. :-P
  • Despite all of my whining above, in general I thought most people were very considerate and attentive. Even the majority of the people not paying attention to the discussion were at least doing so quietly, and if that hadn't been the case I think it would have been very hard to get anything accomplished. Ideally everyone involved in a conversation would just be sitting up front, but that wasn't always the case and it would have been a nightmare to have those discussions in a noisy room.

In closing (did anyone actually read this far?), I'd like to thank everyone involved in the Summit for a great experience. I can't wait to do this again! :-)