Going into this year's show, the big question was whether anybody would show up. With the economic downturn, travel budgets have been slashed for both suppliers and users. Obviously, people did show up; my schedule as you can see from my blog entries was as busy as ever, and though the SNW folks claimed that while there were fewer sponsors, end user attendance was slightly up.
I can certainly back up the claim that supplier sponsorship was down. End user attendance seemed about the same to me. Most suppliers I spoke to said they were seeing less end users and the overall attendance was definitely lighter. This includes speaking sessions that were put on. The ones I stuck my head in on were indeed lightly attended. The common phrase I heard from suppliers was: "We are speaking to less people, but the ones we are speaking to are more interested." I'm not saying this is the case here, but many times that translates to: "I have to say something to justify this expense."
More broadly though, what is SNW's relevance? The only major announcements that come to mind are Brocade's FCoE rollout, 3PAR's new mid-range F-Class, HiFn's Bitwakr, and Data Robotics's Drobo Pro. I'm sure there were others, but on the balance there were few new product announcements. Most suppliers had announced earlier in the quarter. I can't tell you how many meetings started with: "We really don't have anything new to announce, but..."
That comes down to the sessions, and while the arguments of de-dupe or FCoE are entertaining, I'm not really sure what the value is to the attendees. That said, there were a few sessions that were educational and not too promotional.