Now that six weeks have passed since BriForum 2008 in Chicago, I’m finally getting a chance to blog about it. Certainly it has been covered by a number of angles by now and perhaps there is nothing to add. I’m willing to try to add something new.
First of all, I was very impressed with the quality of the conference and the type of people attending. It really didn’t feel like a typical event thanks in large part to not being driven by a large corporation. Brian has his own touch with the help of his small company of workers. The premises at Navy Pier were more than adequate and even though there were more than 400 people attending it never felt rushed or too confined. The capacity of the rooms was well matched and it is obvious that in general BriForum has learned from past experiences.
The speakers were very well informed and had excellent presentation skills. I enjoyed getting a chance to meet them and even ask a few questions. To me, they were real people that wanted to share their technical knowledge. It was excellent to finally meeting so many of them in those three days.
It was interesting to witness so much interest in VDI. Having just worked on XenDesktop for the last couple of years it was good to hear feedback from the industry. The idea was that it is becoming time for VDI-based technologies but there are still certain things that need to change before it receives a more widespread acceptance. The most obvious need is to make the multimedia support more compelling. The goal of VDI should be to provide as best an experience as possible. Assuming that VDI can work with LAN bandwidth and latency, it should be possible to create a better desktop over the wire. This concept was explored many times from many angles during the conference and it is obvious to the industry that without a serious push for better end-user video/audio, it just is not going to be as widely used.
It was unexpected to hear that the attendees thought that XenApp and XenDesktop should be combined into a single product. From what I’ve heard, this actually made sense from a customer point of view. Administrators don’t want to have to worry about duplicating effort and having the separation between XenApp and XenDesktop only encourages more work. The original assumption was that XenDesktop would be targeted at a different market space but now it is obvious that we are largely dealing with the same customers.
Another remark I heard a few times is that it would be wise to invest more effort into XenApp. Brian’s reaction about XenApp 5.0 was largely about what big things it does not have. In other words, XenApp is seen as a strategic product but there is not a lot of proof that it is still being greatly expanded. This was later rationalized in another session as XenApp being a mature product and therefore not in need of major changes.
Overall I thought the sessions were very well produced and also fair. It’s nice to see a level playing field with players that are willing to confess errors. Bias is much more obvious when the sessions are hosted for the sake of a large corporate entity.
There was no large animosity towards any company. I had heard some concerns from Citrix employees that attendees might be biased against Citrix or even the speakers but I saw no evidence of this. I concluded that any criticism was based on real experiences and was fairly localized to specific topics. In fact the event seemed mostly positive towards the companies involved.
After having experienced BriForum first hand, I would highly suggest technical professionals in this field attend in 2009. It is worth much more than the price and even though I came from across the world to attend I am more than happy to consider attending again.