Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot at SpiceWorld Austin
Austin, the live music capital of the world, the city that likes to call itself weird, the city with a young and festive crowd, was the city that hosted nearly 2000 IT pros and marketers from all corners of the globe.
When I boarded the flight to Austin four days back, it felt strangely like a homecoming, even though this was the first time I was going to this vibrant city. That’s because the “Green-Guys,” “SpiceHeads” and other avatars that I virtually interact with on a day-to-day basis were now going to be morphed into reality. I was excited but a little apprehensive about whether they would welcome the “real” me. As the flight began its descent into Austin, I got that “first date” feeling.
The first morning of the conference was really exciting, walking with the attendees into the giant auditorium that hosted the keynote session. It began with a “Back to the Future”- esque mini-movie, where an IT admin gets teleported back to the 90s - that era of dot-coms and rockstar punk software developers. The movie took a light jab at the decade of startups, without technologies or words like Google, with devices such as floppy disks, and an era of undying optimism. It was hilarious, and I found myself laughing along with the rest of the crowd.
The keynote speech by the SpiceWorks CEO, Scott Abel, was extremely informative and mind-boggling. I was amazed by some of the stats from the SpiceWorks community: 5 million IT pros visit SpiceWorks every month and spend 5 billion minutes annually leveraging the services. Compare this with their nearest competitors: ZDNet with 650 million minutes and CNET with 890 million minutes of annual viewership. Out of these 5 billion minutes, 3.5 billion minutes are spent by SMBs and 1.5 billion minutes are spent by enterprise IT pros.
The other interesting, albeit amusing, part of the keynote speech was how Scott consistently referred to a certain technology as the “C-word.” It was interesting to see how taboo the “cloud” is for this audience. He talked about how companies have adopted this technology to change the business landscape, but with the angle he took not calling it by name, I was not sure if SpiceWorld had anything in store for cloud vendors.
I was proved completely wrong when SpiceWorks unveiled their new App Store. This marks a significant milestone for a company that specializes in device and network monitoring tools and hosts the SpiceWorks community for IT pros. However, this seemed like the next logical step for a company that has already captured such a wide IT audience.
SpiceWorks, the Facebook or Yelp for IT Pros, was now launching the iTunes for IT pros. That’s brilliant! There are already 300 certified vendors and apps on the SpiceWorks App Store, and they will be launching the Cloud category by the end of this year.
The next 36 hours went by quickly with numerous informative sessions by vendors and industry stalwarts alike. In between such sessions, we had the opportunity to talk to the IT directors and admins of diverse firms from all over the world.
One of the best sessions that I attended was hosted by the renowned speaker and blogger in the storage space Steve Foskett. He spoke about how the industry has built certain technologies like RAID and SCSI technologies and expects it to scale to enterprise standards when it was not meant for scalability in the first place. He talked about how we are now paying the price as we continue to build layers, such as the file store, object store and now the cloud store on top of these building blocks.
True to the spirit of Austin, the SpiceWorld conference ended each day with live music and late-night parties. I was tired, but the music kept me alive and clicking, especially during the 80s-style party on Tuesday night. I was actually a “maniac on the dance floor” (or I’d like to think so). The band was amazing and churned out some of the best songs from the 80s. As the IT pros rocked and danced to the music, I sipped my signature Cosmo (yes, they served a themed drink) trying to reconstruct and relive the past two days, and the 80s.
On the flight back home, I got to talk with my colleague Aubrey Levinstone about her similar awesome experiences in the marketing track. We had a lot of information, and the three-hour flight was just not enough to compare notes. We realized how much more we can contribute to the community, and in return, learn from real users voicing their honest perspectives. So long, SpiceWorld. See you next year! And for the Spiceheads out there, see you online!
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SpiceWorld Austin 2014[/caption]
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