This week, the inevitable happened: SNIA and Computerworld/IDG announced they were ending Storage Networking World (a.k.a. SNW these past years), the father – it’s a male-dominated industry, so I will use “father” – of today’s storage shows.
I was one of the first SNW USA attendees, but I skipped quite a few these past three or four years. I wasn’t the only one. Many people I met at SNW years ago did the same. They chose to meet at larger vendor conferences (VMworld, EMC World, AWS re:Invent lately, etc.) that gave them access to the same people and technologies plus so much more. While I truly believe that the problem with SNW was that it had simply run its course, I also believe that the communities around those other new shows were stronger, more vibrant, and more social-media-oriented. It was hard for SNW, a traditional tech conference, to adapt and compete with these events. Every time I see a show where the hashtag is only used by a handful of people (including tweets from vendor accounts), I know that the “influencers” are not there. It is certainly about the face-to-face interactions, but also about the discussions that people at the conference or those who couldn’t make it, but are following the event, are having during the show, generating more interest in certain sessions, technologies or vendors. It is a combination of real and virtual that we did not have in the early 2000s when we attended SNW. We had the conference hotel bar where we all met for briefings or get-togethers in Scottsdale, Orlando, Dallas, and, occasionally, in the Bay Area. I remember a slightly drunk “influencer” – at that time – introducing me to a CEO, while I was just passing by through the bar area to my hotel room, who later became my client. Also, who can forget the SNW press room where non-exhibitors tried to sneak in all the time?
To be honest, I was a bit nostalgic when I heard the news about SNW, because it is a place where I met many people I became friends with later. I was there while pregnant (twice) and I remember a couple of analysts who were pregnant at the same time, and how we told each other privately, not really wanting to share it with everybody else earlier in the pregnancy. Later, I remember bringing my kid with me – in the stroller – and making it a business/personal trip. I also celebrated my birthday there, because they would always schedule it in April during my birthday.
I built friendships and I built relationships at SNW in the pre-social-media era. I was there then and I am here today… the day when SNW died.