Trying to keep up in the technology space is a full time job. Just when you think you have a handle on things someone asks if you heard about company “X” or product “Y”. In the spirit of sharing what I stumble upon as I travel industry hotspots and trade shows I make mention of cool things I come across. Last week I spent some time in San Francisco at a couple of industry events.
JavaOne was a week long geek fest at the main Mascone conference center in San Francisco. There were sessions each day that, judging from their descriptions in the conference guide, were way too technical for the non-developer. Like: “Squawk: A Java™ VM for Wireless Sensor Networks”. But, in the JavaOne Pavilion there was plenty to get excited about. The overall theme I picked up on was tools and frameworks. I was hunting for particular tools for graphing and charting for IT-Harvest data in the most useful way. There were a lot of them.
Business Intelligence and Reporting (BIRT) from Actuate. It is open source and built on the Eclipse platform.
Chart FX from Softwarefx.com had cool tools but it is not open source.
Crystal Reports from Business Objects. The industry standard but frankly kind of blah graphics.
Webcharts 3D from GreenPoint, Inc. was another graphing tool.
For me the cool product of the JavaOne show was the canoo ultralight client which is a java based rich client that puts Ajax to shame. Not open source but inexpensive licensing at $1,499 per developer and unlimited users.
The Gartner IT Symposium and Expo was a much more serious affair. There were no bean bag nesting areas with Wifi and game consoles. The sessions were not technical at all; very high level. But the cost to attend sessions is over $2,000 and Gartner was not as forthcoming with press passes as the good folks at the event across the street. At JavaOne the press registration booth attendant made a quick phone call and got the response “he’s good”. At the Gartner show the same type of call (to their PR manager) got the response “full time journalists only”. Even when I enlisted Dan Farber to apply some pressure I got a cold shoulder. There is a lot of discussion lately about the influence of bloggers on IT decision making. I would think Gartner would recognize the value to their exhibiting vendors of having bloggers wander the show floor. I had to ask the companies I wanted to talk with to meet me outside.
There were a couple of interesting companies present at the Gartner event. Tripwire, long known as host based Intrusion Detection is moving into the larger Device Control space. Solidcore, in the same space is making tremendous inroads with their system hardening solution.
The coolest company at the Gartner IT/Expo recently came out of stealth mode. PostPath has a linux email server that is a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Exchange Server. Finally, freedom from Microsoft is possible! And the coolest of all is that they also support a customized version of Zimbra, a web based client. I am seriously considering this combination of server and client for our collaboration efforts.