A Newbie Going to IOD

I’m a big fan of the IDUG conferences, so have generally focused my funding and management-convincing on getting to go to the IDUG North American Technical Conference. But now that I’m starting to present at IDUG conferences, I want to consider presenting at IOD as well. But I have never even been to this conference. I’ve been to all or part of several IDUG conferences since 2005.

So I’m off on an adventure to try to navigate IOD this year. I requested funding from management with the usual justifications. Honestly, when I first requested it, I figured I had a 30-50% chance of getting to go. I almost didn’t request it. But in the end, I decided that I couldn’t complain about not going or hold it against my employer if I didn’t even ask. Luckily there is also a discount for IBM Champions which helped with the cost. To my surprise, my request was actually approved.

Only a small portion of the people I hang out with at IDUG are actually going, so I’ll be looking for folks to hang out with. Honestly, networking with other DBAs is one of my favorite parts of a conference. I’m an introvert, but I work from home, so I get very little human interaction with other professionals that isn’t on some brand of instant messaging system. Of the three people I spent most of IDUG in Orlando with this year, one passed away (rest in peace Adam – you’re in my thoughts frequently), and two are not going to IOD. So if you’re going, come up and introduce yourself and we can hang out.

A First Glance

The first time I looked at the agenda in the preview tool, I realized how different and larger this conference is compared to IDUG. Just looking at the options in each time slot or a particular track was not going to get me what I needed. I also realized that I probably didn’t know what I didn’t know. So the first thing I did was reach out to a friend I know goes to all the conferences to get him to write a guest blog on some ideas for the conference. Ian wrote a great entry for me on some tips for navigating IOD while retaining your sanity. Go check it out.

The next thing that helped me get the lay of the land was the overall agenda. As a newbie to this conference and the conference site, it took me a bit to find that. It was several days after I registered before I managed to find the time to find that and figure out when I should fly in and out. While I work for an IBM Business Partner, the Partner Summit on Sunday is not part of my priorities. I was pleased to see that certification testing hours start at noon on Sunday, so my plans are to start the conference with working on a couple of certifications – leaving me time to re-take later if I fail, and also avoiding missing sessions to take the tests. One blog article even said there would be a free certification prep test, though I have yet to receive the codes to use that.

Navigating the Agenda

In trying to plan my agenda, I’ve discovered that I either have 2-3 sessions I really want to be in or it seems there isn’t much that really grabs my attention. I’ll be interested to see what these Labs are like. I sure wish there was a PureScale Lab though – that’s the #1 thing I would like to do that I don’t see. Sure there’s one on a PureData System for Transactions, but that’s not really what I’m looking at.

There is a tool called the Agenda Builder, where you can sign up for labs and figure out which sessions are important to you. The tool is fairly decent, though signing up for something in it does NOT guarantee you a spot, as Ian pointed out in his blog post.

My frustrations with the tool are few. Not being able to add sessions during a lab you’ve scheduled is a problem. I fully intend to be there for the lab, but tend to be one of those people who finishes such things quickly, and if I’m done ahead of time, I want to have sessions ready to jump over to. The tool also seems to take a long time to pull up – several times, it has taken me over 2 minutes for it to come up, which is an eternity in web time. I have also had it either not come up on my android, or take so long that I gave up. This makes me worried about how exactly I will access this data during the conference. I may end up printing stuff out on actual paper to make sure I know where I’m going! (or maybe PDFs on my iPad?). I also find it a bit difficult to find the times where I have gaps – I’d love a grid view. Hey, you’ve got this fancy tool – how about a search option that finds the stuff that fits in your open gaps? There are 74 different results for the “birds of a feather” thing, and not one of them appeals to me. And finally, the lack of emphasis on e-commerce. A search in the agenda builder on “e-commerce” pulls up exactly 4 results. A few more for OLTP, but still not a lot. Surely, even if the marketing emphasis is on Analytics and Big Data there are many still using DB2 for e-commerce. I cannot imagine IBM is simply giving up that market to their competitors.

What is a drop-in lab – anyone know? It sounds like a general lab room where you can walk in and do a lab off schedule if there are spots available, but I don’t see a good description.

I’m so incredibly happy to see Matt Huras’ deep dive – I missed that at IDUG Orlando and they’re just the kind of in-depth DB2 geek material that I just love. But man, did it have to be scheduled at the same time as Dale McInnis’ session? By either evil planning or an odd twist of fate, both speakers have two sessions, and for both, they’re speaking at the same time as each other!

A few of my priority speakers going in are:
Matthew Huras
Dale McInnis
Melanie Stopfer
Michael Kwok
Daniel Luksetich
Chris Eaton

Let me know in the comments some of your priorities as far as sessions and speakers go.

Currently, most of my afternoons are jam-packed, with multiple sessions I want to go to in each time slot, but kind of sparse mornings. I’m sure I’ll get it all figured out.

In any case, I hope you’re getting to IOD too, and I sure hope to meet you there. I’ll be the one wandering around looking lost, and will actually get a chance to sport my IBM Champion shirt for the first time! I’m so excited to be going!

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Ember,
    So glad you’re coming to IOD this year! Thanks for the comments about the Agenda Builder – we’re working to make it easier to use, and there will be an on-site mobile app to help.

    As for the Drop-In Labs, they’re as you described – a place to come in and spend as much (or little) time as you like. The Scheduled Labs are more of a guided experience, where you stay the entire time. The Drop-Ins may be a better fit: https://www-950.ibm.com/events/wwe/iod/iod13abfaq.nsf/wqav17?readform&topic=1feb03&aq=7c0b8e

    After the conference, you can often message speakers and ask for their slides – handy in cases where there’s an overlap!

    I look forward to meeting you!

  2. Misba Rehman says:

    So nice to see you at IOD, thanks for your blog.

  3. Klaas Brant says:

    LOL, this post should be called “PRO going to IOD”!
    I am sorry I missed IOD this year, I hear the DB2 was pretty good.

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