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Cloud Connect Is Too Polite, And That’s The Problem With Vendor Conferences

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I sat through the Cloud Connect keynotes this morning but left early out of frustration. The morning started with a discussion I was really looking forward to: Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners was moderating a panel with vendors from Citrix, Red Hat and CloudOps. But it had one big issue: It was too polite.

That’s the problem with these vendor-oriented conferences. They suck the passion out of what is a super-fascinating space. Here we are at a time when there is more disruption in the enterprise than in the past 20 years. But today, I saw the coolest group of executives talking in hushed tones….on message.

And the Winblad panel was just the start. During keynote after keynote all morning — there were five — the pitches didn’t stop. I left at the start of the fourth keynote when the Rackspace executive started with some FUD for the IT crowd in the house.

During the second keynote, the chief scientist from SoftLayer presented a case study. There was no question-and-answer session — this was a vendor pitch.

An HP executive came onstage and told everyone to stand and yell the name of the latest release of the OpenStack operating system. Awful. The HP keynote was better than the others in that the speaker advocated for IT to shut people down if they are using apps/services that do not have the IT seal of approval. HP is one of the biggest IT vendors in the world. But still, she at least stirred the pot a bit.

And in the fourth, the Rackspace executive told the crowd that their IT budget was going elsewhere and shadow IT is a reality. Then she talked about Rackspace. Here’s what one attendee tweeted:

Now, following the keynotes, lunch was served in the back of the exhibit hall. To get there, the attendees had to weave through the vendor displays for a cold, box lunch. Nice touch to a morning filled with marketing talks.

It wasn’t all bad. Apparently the fifth keynote by Joe Weinman, senior vice president of cloud services and strategy at Telx saved the morning to some extent.

And to be fair, the day one keynotes did have some good stuff.

Cloud Connect attracted a lot of people I wish I could see every day. I rely on them for insights and news about the market. And the panels I attended had some merit. I looked for the people who I knew would not be polite. They did not disappoint. At the Hyatt, I had great conversations with technologists from Tier3, Basho, Netflix, Enstratius, CloudMunch and a host of others.

I did find some good stories this week here in Santa Clara. But when it came to the actual event, it was anemic. And that’s too bad.

So, please vendors, take off your mask and tell us what drives you. Tell us about your passion. And don’t worry about being polite. I promise you will be remembered far more than if you skirt around questions, stay on message, and keep your opinions to yourself.