In my latest effort to get everyone interested in conferences, I’m going to tell you about the one from which I just returned.

Just yesterday morning (on a red-eye) I returned from the ICCA (Independent Computer Consulting Association) ( ) National Conference. I’ve attended it every year since I joined the association in 1997. It’s a great place for networking and I learn so much at each conference that there’s really no point in NOT returning.

People often ask why I bother going to conferences like this, because it appears to be entirely unrelated to laboratory informatics, but I think that’s exactly why it’s important to go – to stretch myself and my business. One person at the conference best described this main reason many of us attend as to “sharpen the saw” (from S. Covey’s “7 Habits…” and it basically means that you take the good you have and make it even better). Too many companies become isolated from what’s going on in the rest of the world that we don’t get new ideas and I don’t want to be one of those people. I would say this is the best thing I do for my business every year. If you can hear it, I have a new spring in my step and some great ideas for my business.

Bragging:  First of all, I want to brag that my local chapter, the Greater Boston Chapter, won the Chapter Travelling Award. Based on a complex formula, it means we had the greatest percentage of our chapter membership attend but corrected with a factor calculated on the distance travelled. That way, although the chapter local to the conference has the greatest percentage of their membership attend, the formula gives extra credit to the people that travel a greater distance.

Technology: Oracle, Symantec and Google were just a few of the companies that came to speak to us about their strategies and technology. Although many of us can hear people speak about this at our local groups, since this was a higher-level conference, we got to hear from people like Vice Presidents, Product Managers, Channel Managers, that type of person. So, we were hearing more of the high-level vision than the details. However, we still got to hear some interesting details and I want to pass along an interesting screen saver from Symantec that shows you the overall computer security threat level:

Oracle spoke about virtual machines and that they’re not a good idea for mission-critical systems because of the occasional problem of clock-skew. Oracle didn’t just mean their own virtual machine solution, but all of them.

Symantec indicated that the amount of mail we now get is probably 90% spam, but we don’t realize it with all the spam filters we all now run. They also mentioned that spamming might become harder with some new identity tools and that the new scam will be to entirely research a person who has some money and to target that person. Then, it’s a lot more work, but a huge potential payoff, if it works.

Next time, I’ll talk about some of the speakers I saw, some of which were also fairly high-level people.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

2 Thoughts to “Conference Return: Some Tidbits”

  1. That is a very interesting comment about Virtual Servers. VMware is a multibillion dollar company that runs in most all corporate data centers today. Most any mission critical application within any major corporation is running those applications on virtual servers. In fact server virtualization is the cornerstone to Cloud Computing.

    If what they say is true, then I personally have not seen it but that does not mean it is not true. However, if it is true then a bunch of big folks potentially have some big problems.

    Please elaborate if possible on what is the definition of Clock-Skew and where and how does it manifest itself as a problem. I have an idea of what it means but since you went to the conference it might be good to get some more details.

  2. Clock skew: The goal is that the time be synched between the machines. According to Oracle, there can be times when the virtual machine runs a little behind the desired time. Thus, that is “clock skew.”

    They said that it doesn’t necessarily happen a lot. However, they said that it does happen enough that it’s a problem for mission-critical operations.

    Quite a number of developers that I’ve run across like to use virtual machines so that they can create multiple environments to work on various releases, various customer configurations, or other combinations, while having each on a separate “machine.”

    However, since I don’t consult on or work with these types of IT issues, I can’t comment on what is running when customers are setting up their production environments, for example.

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