Monday, October 11, 2010

COMMON, LUG and Zend-Oh My!

Last week was a long one but exciting! First, flying out to San Antonio for the first annual COMMON fall conference and expo and then to the LUG in Rochester, MN.

COMMON was a very nice event where many new and veteran speakers joined together to welcome over 250 people to the Crowne Plaza hotel in San Antonio, TX. The facilities, expo and content seemed to fit just right.

The Zend booth saw a lot of traffic from current and future customers. Many people looking for alternatives to the current cadre of productivity tools and web solutions. PHP sessions were well attended, too. COMMON welcomed a new PHP speaker in Alan Seiden to share his perspective and he was well received. I hope to see Alan on stage at the Spring event for a “Best New Speaker” award. I have also heard that Alan had a good time himself! I think we’ll be seeing more of Alan! Looks like Alan made a new friend, too!

The location was a winner as many people found the time to run out to the Alamo and the Riverwalk to see some of the local culture and shopping. I decided to hide in my room and catch up on email but still managed to have a beer with an old friend who was kind enough to pick me up at the airport. (Thanks Paul!) There seemed to be a shortage of Shiner Bock in the bar, but each morning a new case or three was carried in. The hotel staff was great in assisting any last minute request.

Thanks to some fancy footwork by the folks behind the scenes at COMMON (thanks Ian!) I was able to squeeze all of my sessions into the first day and a half so I could join my CEO, Andi Gutmans at the LUG. For those who may not be aware, LUG stands for the Large User Group. This is an independent entity made up of organizations that represent some of IBM i’s largest installations. Usually only IBM speakers are welcome and they can be a very honest bunch. It is very rare that the LUG would welcome a vendor like Zend, let alone a lowly solutions consultant like me. But they must have liked what I had to say because they invited me back a couple of hours later for a demo of an install of Zend Server on IBM i. On top of a couple of great sessions I was asked to attend the LUG HUG which is an evening event where the LUG members get together for pizza and gather around tables like a Birds-of-a-Feather session. Met some more great people and had a great time.

I truly feel blessed to be able to speak to groups like these in my travels. Seeing the IBM i faithful exploring new options on our beloved platform is the best tonic for an aging soul. Working with customers who decide to stay on the platform or consolidate workload back on the platform is huge. But don’t tell my boss how much I like these events, he still thinks its work!