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Another View From SNW

As conferences go, Storage Networking World in Orlando is aptly named. Over the years, it always seemed that the primary activity at SNW was vendors, and other industry luminaries like your humble reporter, networking with each other. End users are invited, but SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association) never seemed to really be focusing on drawing end users in the way, say, the Storage Decisions shows do.

In fact, SNIA is determined to control every aspect of SNW. As one SNIA director told me last year, "We'd never put this conference in Las Vegas. People might be distracted and go to Siegfried and Roy rather than the awards banquet."

This year, with the economy in the dumps and travel budgets cut to the bone, the show seems a lot quieter. I got to registration at 11 a.m. on Monday and breezed right through without a wait on line. Then I went up to the press room for some much needed coffee.

Show management claimed that while the sponsor (read: exhibitor -- but at SNW even the coffee in the hallways is sponsored by a specific vendor) count was down 50 percent, the paid attendee count was down by just 40 people. Every SNW veteran I spoke to agreed that it felt like a smaller crowd -- I guess all the vendor staff and the VIPs on free passes made up the difference.

Light attendance didnt mean a lack of interesting things to see and chat about. No new trends emerged, but there were lots of new products in this year's hot markets, including FCoE, data de-duplication, and flash memory for data storage.

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