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Report from Int. Informix User Conference 2008

Report from Int. Informix User Conference 2008

A little delayed but hopefully still interesting: Here is my report about the IIUG conference 2008 that took place in Kansas City, Kansas, USA at the end of April.

The days before the conference

My girlfriend and I stayed for one week in Chicago - The Windy City - before driving to Kansas City. Chicago is a great city with a lot of interesting places and we really enjoyed our stay. The Lake Michigan coast is beautiful and I liked the many bicycle tracks around it (see photo below). There a lot of bikers in the Chicago area, so the sports outfitters offer - beside the traditional focus on basketball, baseball... - also hiqh-quality bike wear. As a passionate mountainbiker and with the for European's convenient currency rate, I really enjoyed shopping :-) We also went to the local Apple store several times and I was amazed about the buzz around the Apple products. The IDS MAC port could be a real clever move by IBM, if they are able to attract the application developers. In the meantime we're now also proud owners of a MacBook :-)

After one week in Chicago we traveled to Kansas City by car via St. Louis. It is always fun driving on the US interstates compared to the german Autobahn because it is much more stress-free. However, that doesn't mean, that I would advocate a speed limit for the german Autobahn :-)

Saturday evening - Arriving at the hotel

On Saturday evening, after some difficulties finding the "real" Kansas City, we arrived at the conference hotel. After checking in, we decided to go to the japanese steakhouse inside the Marriot hotel for dinner. This was an interesting experience as most of the time a cutlery wasn't needed because the cook, who dressed the meal directly in front of our desk, threw the food in the air and we were supposed to catch it with our mouth :-)
Because the restaurant was full, I had the pleasure to sit beside Tim P. Ertl from Link to Live. We had an interesting discussion about Informix and how it is used in his company. I really enjoyed it. Mr. IIUG Stuart Litel, the guy that we all need to say a big thank you for his restless dedication to Informix and his big efforts for making this conference happen - showed up in the restaurant too.

Sunday - Pre-Conference

Sunday morning on our way to breakfast we met Terri Gerber (IBM Informix Business Unit Executive) and Kevin Brown (IBM IDS Lead Architect) at the elevator and decided to have breakfast together. It was fun and motivation hearing those passionate people talking about Informix and discussing what is going on in the market place. Once again I enjoyed it !
After making my conference registration, I decided to go along with my girlfriend to the Legends at Village West Shopping outlet. So I didn't attend the pre-conference tutorials on Sunday with the exception of the speaker orientation meeting. Walt Hultgren - the father of IIUG - and Stuart Litel - the IIUG president - passed along some information and tips regarding the presentations (see photos below).

After that I joined the "Welcome Reception" in the exhibit hall and met many many famous people from the worldwide Informix community. The evening ended at the hotel bar together with Joe Golden from fourJ's who showed me his favorite cocktail :-)

Monday - 1st Conference Day

The conference was opened by IIUG President Stuart Litel escorted by Aron and Marty Lurie who demonstrated that you can't break Informix Dynamic Server:

YouTube: Marty and Aron cycling with IDS

After this humorous demonstration of reliability, the keynote session with Dr. Ambuj Goyal (General Manager IBM Information Management) started. The conference hall was full to bursting while the Informix community listened to the IBM top manager. Dr. Goyal once again did not left any doubt, that IDS is a an absolutely strategic data server inside the Information Management software portfolio and that IBM makes big investments into the future of IDS. Investments on the development side as well as on the marketing/publicity side. IDS is an emancipated data server to DB2, both are positioned according to their respective strengths. IDS plays a significant role in IBM's software strategy and is the driving force behind IBM's growth in the database segment.

During the day I visited several interesting presentations and in the afternoon I gave my own presentation about IDS Locking mechanisms. The evening party under the slogan Developer/Support Cookout was real fun. Many developers and support staff from the IBM labs in Lenexa came over and we had the opportunity to talk to them face to face. This was one of the experiences that made this conference so unique. There was an interesting live demonstration in the exhibit hall that showed the impressive load-balancing and failover capabilities of the brand new IDS 11.5 cluster database (see photos below).

The evening ended once again at the hotel bar together with Milan Rafaj - a long-time Informix Expert - from IBM (Czech Republic) and another czech guy working for DHL. It was fun hearing how intensely DHL uses IDS to power their mission critical applications while enjoying some american Budweiser with the czech guys :-)

Tuesday - 2nd Conference Day

The Tuesday keynote presentation was given by Dr. Arvind Krishna (Vice President Data Servers IBM Information Management). In accordance to Dr. Goyal he praised the Informix business and made clear that the future for IDS at IBM looks very bright. IDS opens IBM the door to new and innovative markets like online gaming. Massively multiplayer online games platforms need an extremely scalable, highly available and efficient data server and there is no other data server on the market that meets those requirements better than IBM IDS. IDS is truly everywhere:

After the keynote The Informix Zone was live on stage during the Get the Scoop on IBM/Informix Cheetah 2 webcast. The IDS architects - Kevin Brown, Scott Lashley, John Miller, Madison Pruet, Jonathan Leffler - surrounded by Cathy Elliot (Marketing Manager IDS) and Informix Chief Jerry Keesee talked about the new features of IDS 11.5. The webcast was produced live in a hotel room directly from the IIUG conference (see photos below). A great number of attendants all over the world were anxious hearing what the buzz is about IDS 11.5:

After that I joined several interesting technical presentations around IDS. In the evening I decided to go to the dinner with my girlfriend. After the dinner as we came back to the hotel, the folks returned from the evening party sponsored by Kazer. I've been told that it was great amusement, especially David Fraser - the creative author of the IIUG Insider - enjoyed it. At this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to David, who is leaving the IIUG, for his awesome work for the worldwide Informix User Community. Thanks David, hope to see you again soon !!

As usual the evening ended in the bar together with Scott Lashley, John Miller, Howard Glaser from IBM and Anatole Vision from AGS. Again it was fun :-)

Wednesday - 3rd Conference Day

Wednesday morning begun with the IIUG Annual General Meeting. IIUG president Stuart Litel - as always - did a humorous presentation. After that the IIUG Board of Directors Award was given to Madison Pruet (IBM IDS Architect) for his marvelous work on IDS 11 and 11.5 especially in the area of MACH technology. Congratulations Madison !

The second IIUG Board of Directors Award IIUG award was given to The Informix Zone ! My friend Jean Georges Perrin, who runs the Informix Magazine website, introduced the award and passed it to me (see photos below).

At this point I would like to say THANK YOU to the worldwide Informix Community for this superb award. I really appreciate it and the award has already a well-established place on my desk. Thank you so much.

After the award the panel discussion begun. IBM top managers from Development, Support, Marketing and Sales answered all questions from the Informix user community. Again it turned out that the commitment to IDS from IBM is rock-solid. However the user community made clear that there is still room for improvements especially in the following areas:

  • A more intensive and aggressive product centered marketing and advertising from IBM
  • A strong push for IDS in the academic community and among college students from IBM
  • More serious education inside IBM regarding IDS for their own sales folks, IT specialists and architects, so that they are able to recommend the right data server depending on the customer needs

IBM noted those weak points and promised improvements. We will recheck this at the next IIUG conference !

During the rest of the day I was busy attending many interesting presentations around IBM's secret weapon :-)

The evening did not end as usual at the hotel bar. Instead I joined the "german delegation" - Alexander Koerner (Thank you for your photos), Marco Brueders and Joerg Volz - at the Hooters restaurant near by the conference hotel (see photo below).

Conference Summary

The IIUG 2008 conference was a great success. The spirit of a new start for Informix was noticeable everywhere. I would like to say thank you to the planning committee as well as the IIUG board of directors for their tireless and professional work making this fabulous event happen - it couldn't get better !


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