Recent Conference Reviews
I’ve attended a couple conferences recently and figured I would break the long silence since my last post with a quick list of thoughts on each of them. I’ve got all the numbers for a fun “Cloud IO Sucks Worse Than You Think” post but haven’t pulled it together yet.
Definitely worth attending. It’s worth noting that I stuck with infrastructure and App Engine sessions (with one detour to hear about WebGL) and skipped introductory “101″ sessions after being told by my Google IO veteran coworkers they contained nothing more than could be read from the project overview pages online. You could have alternatively dove into Android for the entire conference.
- Well run, sessions started and ended on time, lines moved fast, registration was a breeze, lunches were excellent and served quickly.
- Some really great content and sessions, the fireside chats were quite good.
- San Francisco is a pretty cool place and a good place to have a conference. I worked out of a few different coffee shops and stopped by a meetup and the tech and startup vibe is pretty intense.
- App Engine has come a long way since I last tinkered with it and I had an itch to build something new on it after leaving this conference. They have really filled out the feature set, improved the foundational pieces, and built some really powerful services around it. You can run Go on it now as well which is pretty cool.
- The Go language has really come along and is very appealing for some of the stuff I end of working on. Read about it at golang.org, you can watch the Google IO session there as well. This was an excellent session, Rob Pike is a super smart guy.
- The loot is ridiculous and spoiling. Tablets, Chromebooks, Verizon LTE hot spots with prepaid data plans, and additional phones and gadgets depending on which sessions you attended.
- “Breakfast” was pretty weak (bagels and coffee) and the wifi was as terrible as expected.
- The demos at the after party were pretty bad. Basically 10 or so groups showing off “new technology” that boiled down to remote controlling something (poorly) with an android phone in all 10 cases.
- The smaller session rooms were not set up very well. Specifically, the slide screens were positioned very low so that if you weren’t in the front row or two you could not see the bottom 3rd of the slides (depending on how large of a head the person in front of you had). This was a big deal in sessions involving code.
- Some of the sessions were really good. I particularly enjoyed the sessions by TheLadders and ONEsite where they walked through their environments talking about servers, scripts, issues they had run into, etc. The ONEsite session got even cooler as they talked about bringing in Fusion-io drives and had numbers and discussion around the before and after.
- The closing keynote/session by Facebook was fantastic. Again got to walk through a bit of their environment, how they build their servers, hear about production issues they had faced and how they worked around them, and got a sense of their scale. They run a single, huge cluster of MySQL boxes for the most part. 13mm QPS, ~15 people managing it all if you count their engineering, performance, and ops teams. Harrison Fisk (the closing keynote deliverer) was an excellent speaker and I appreciated how quickly and openly he answered questions from the crowd. There was none of the sense of dodging and hiding that I got from some of the Google IO sessions when asked about infrastructure details.
- Walked away with a short but solid list of things I want to benchmark and try at work.
- The opening was not so good: not on schedule and the content was a walkthrough of high level press releases and sponsor pimping.
- The sessions were too short (some only 30 minutes!) with no padding in between so no hard questions could be asked and details could not be explored unless you skipped sessions and could pin down somebody.
- Many of the sessions were extremely introductory or high level, smacked of the “101″ sessions at Google IO but in this case there was no way for me to know ahead of time. As an example, the “MySQL on SSDs” session was essentially an overview of what SSDs are while I was hoping for a deep dive performance comparison that I could diff against my own testing (to be fair though, I think more details were coming but the session was so short he couldn’t get to them or answer any questions).
- I didn’t get any laptops or tablets or awesome gadgets
Percona Live 2011
This was a much smaller conference (hundreds instead of thousands). It was overall solid but I think is still trying to figure out their content and how to structure the sessions. From my perspective it started out really weak but finished strong with some great afternoon sessions and an excellent closing session by Facebook. If I could build my perfect idea of a database conference it would be 50% companies with large deployments talking about their setups and 50% deep diving into database internals and letting people ask questions.
I tried to provide my high and low points above. Don’t get me wrong while reading the negatives though, both were definitely worth attending.