While end users were welcome at SNW, they were attending a very different event than those of us that were there playing inside storage industry baseball. Storage Decisions, on the other hand, is all about the end user and since there were four Storage Decisions conferences around the country each year they were mostly local end users. The Storage Decisions folks don't aim at generating product announcements and press conferences, providing us with just a sad little press room at best. That left SNW as the place for inside baseball.
Then the show producers started trying to control the whole experience. They limited access to the press room to conference sponsor/exhibitors. All of a sudden, that meant I couldn't meet with startups that couldn't afford the minimum sponsorship and stealth mode companies that didn't want to exhibit. They even intervened with the hotel to stop a PR firm from having a cocktail party for the cognoscenti in the hotel bar.
Now, to some extent, I understand why SNIA and ComputerWorld try to discourage non-sponsors from taking advantage of the money they spend promoting and producing SNW to forward their PR and business development goals while not kicking a few dollars into the kitty. After all, one reason Comdex imploded was that major vendors started taking suites around Vegas for private meetings with the press and other VIPs while not buying a booth on the show floor so the great unwashed masses of attendees, over 100,000 for a few years there, would wonder where Maxtor or IBM was. As one of the few industry press folks that actually liked Comdex I don't want SNW to fail, though I think it would be better in Vegas.
Even though I understand, this tightening of control means there are briefings and other business I used to do at SNW that I can't anymore. I hit my limit when they set up the press room with four standup cocktail tables but no chairs and no Internet access. Apparently enough other analysts, pundits and luminaries had the same experience for Greg Duplessie to organize The BDEvent (The Business Development Networking Event) in Boston next month.