If the attendance at the opening keynote for OpenSource World (formerly known as LinuxWorld) serves as a barometer for anything to do with the economy, the tech industry or even trade shows, things are not looking good.
There were no lines this morning to get inside San Francisco's Moscone Center, a place that I've had to fight my way through for events such as the Google Developer's Conference and MacWorld. In fact, the large auditorium where most keynotes speeches are delivered was dark. This morning's keynote speech was being held in the smaller rooms where breakout sessions usually occur - and there were a lot of open seats.
Then came the introduction of Judy O'Brien Chavis, director for business development and global alliances at Dell, a last-minute substitution for another Dell exec who couldn't attend.
While Chavis was engaging and enthusiastic in her delivery and spoke with authority about the topic, she was also a bit rattled. Her presentation slides were out of order and there were several periods of awkward silence as she found her groove.
The biggest problem I had with her keynote speech was that she didn't seem to say anything beyond what we've been reading in a number of tech-centric blogs - ZDNet among them. For the most part, she talked about utilizing the cloud and virtualization to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in the data center. And it was unclear from the start whether she was trying to bring new insight into next-generation technology or offer a sales pitch for Dell's offerings.
The bottom line, she said, is that the cloud is about business model flexibility. "I'm not saying that everything qualifies to be in the cloud," she said. Companies will need to assess what belongs in the cloud and what belongs in the data center.
She noted that Dell is focused on the disruptive changes in the industry, making investments in services that the company can deliver and is extending its cloud services model to help clients create new models.
It's unclear if attendees decided to sleep in and skip the 8:15 a.m. keynote speech. There does seem to be some enthusiasm around the smaller breakout sessions - so there's still hope that this year's event (which feels like a completely different show from last year's Linux World) can still be salvaged.