In response to my blog entry on February 6th, Robert posed an interesting question:
If you could only go to one conference (and pretend that you don't get an iPod at any of them :) ), which would you go to? ODTUG, COLLABORATE, or OpenWorld?
First of all, the iPod comment is in response to a post I made during OpenWorld. For being such a decent guy, Oracle decided to reward me with the coolest device ever created (well, as of today), an iPod Touch. Okay, it was a blatant bribe which I shamelessly accepted. I didn't let it cloud my coverage of OpenWorld, though. Most people agree that I was pretty negative on OpenWorld with the exception of my iTouch). [Editor's Note: the iPod Touch is the coolest device ever created, so take that wheel, cotton gin, and telephone.] My problem is that I keep comparing it to the late, great Hyperion Solutions conference. While Hyperion Solutions wasn't as great as the old Arbor Dimension conferences, it was far better than most software conferences.
I seriously doubt Collaborate or Kaleidoscope will be giving me another iTouch, so let's go with Robert's hypothetical and pretend that OpenWorld doesn't give out bribes either. Now which one would I attend if I could only go to one?
Collaborate. Without reservation. If I'm going to a conference, it's primarily to learn. As such, content is key.
I actually got asked a very similar question on Network 54's Essbase discussion board just yesterday (apparently, it's a popular question these days). To parrot what I said there, OpenWorld was very, very marketing-oriented. 80% of the fewer than 100 presentations in the Hyperion track were delivered by Oracle (in some cases, with clients/partners as co-speakers). COLLABORATE is supposed to have 100-150 presentations with 100+ of those delivered by clients and partners.
In the interest of full-disclosure, my company, interRel, is paying to be a 4-star partner of COLLABORATE. Why? Because we're hoping that COLLABORATE becomes the successor to to the Solutions conference. Solutions was a great opportunity to learn (partying was always secondary) and I refuse to believe it's dead with nothing to take it's mantle. We're investing a great deal of money with the assumption that something has to take the place of Hyperion Solutions conference, and it certainly isn't OpenWorld.
Is OpenWorld completely bad? Absolutely not. In addition to the great bribes, it's a much larger conference than COLLABORATE or ODTUG's Kaleidoscope, so if your thing is networking, by all means, go to OpenWorld. OpenWorld is the best place to get the official Oracle party line on upcoming releases and what not. OpenWorld is also the place to hear better keynotes (well, at least by More Famous People like Larry Ellison, himself). OpenWorld has better parties too. OpenWorld is also in San Francisco which is just a generally cooler town. In short, OpenWorld was very well organized, but since it's being put on by Oracle, it's about them getting out their message to their existing and prospective client base.
So why aren't I recommending Kaleidoscope (since I haven't been to that either)? Size, mostly. Their entire conference will have around 100 presentations, so their Hyperion track will most likely be fewer than 10 presentations. I've been to regional Hyperion User Group meetings that have more than that (well, the one interRel hosted in August of 2007 had 9, but close enough). While Kaleidoscope may one day grow their Hyperion track, it's going to be a long time until they equal the 100-150 presentations that COLLABORATE is supposed to have on Hyperion alone.
If you're only going to one Hyperion-oriented conference this year, register for COLLABORATE. If you've got money in the budget for two conferences, also go to OpenWorld. If you're a developer that finds both COLLABORATE and OpenWorld to be too much high-level fluff, then go to Kaleidoscope.