Jeff Middleton

Let's Do it Again for 2008!!

It's ironic, at least to me, that I am now announcing the second major conference to be hosted by in less than one year. Read: 2nd in 12 months. I was announcing IT Pro Conference 2007 just four months before hosting it in New Orleans at the end of May 2007, and and here we are just five month later to announce IT Pro Conference 2008!

If you attended the conference in 2007, be sure to logon to the conference website, there's more new stuff in there you will want to look over.

2007 Websessions are Online Now!

Long awaited, the live videotaped sessions from the 2007 conference are now available to view online. If you missed last year,  view the entire 2007 conference content for $90...that should help to get you psyched up for 2008 and up to speed on the Disaster Recovery topics we covered last May. That brings me to the topic coming up for 2008!

Transition Strategies: Migrations, Upgrades and Services

I'm pleased to announce our 2008 topic is Transition Strategies: Migrations, Upgrades and Services. Just as we did last year, we will cover a full spectrum of concerns for what it means to be an IT Professional on the cusp of undertaking a major roll-out of new products, new platforms, new technologies, and aligning your business to accomplish that with precision. The conference for 2008 takes the best of the 2007 content formula and lifts it to another level. That means in 2008 we will again have a community and conversation oriented, single track conference with a contiguous theme stringing together the sessions.

I don't consider it "obvious" that you must install every new product that ships the day it releases, or even at all if it doesn't meet the needs of your customer or align to the direction of your own business development plans. Yet I hear far too many IT Pros talk more about upgrading customers to products they haven't seen than discussion what their business opportunity is when major change and deployments are imminent. This is the time of opportunity to seize a much bigger piece of pie, or far less headaches or at least more control over the direction of your own company or for the benefit of your customers. Change is potentially good, but blind change is just blindness.

Change & Transitions...but what to Change?

Throughout my career I have tended to rethink my business model in significant ways every three years. That usually meant that I was deciding if I liked the direction my last decision (three years before) had brought me, and if I was ready to adopt new products, new business models, or reinvest in the approach I was already rooted in. When I look at the horizon with Vista, Cougar, Longhorn, Centro, x64 platforms, virtual machines, bit and block based backups, P2V and V2P imaging, the applications in renewal like Office 2007, CRM, Sharepoint and not the least Exchange 2007...I can't help wonder if anyone can possibly absorb or master all of this in 1 year much less have any sound judgment on how to deploy it all at once! So do you stage that? Do you contract with others? Should you be looking at virtual hosting? Is it time to stop selling the hardware and let the customer buy their own? I find all these questions to be not only interesting, but probably the key to whether or not your business can be profitable in the year or 3-5 years to come depending upon the choices you make.

What is the road ahead for the SMB Consultant?

I'm not sure that everyone realizes that you have no in-place upgrade option with SBS, or that you may need to have several servers to use Exchange without SBS integrating it. If you are most comfortable with familiar technology, 2008 may not be the year for you to call sending out proposals unless you really spend some time on homework. All of this influenced my thinking about the IT Pro Conference 2008 event and wonderful format it provides for open discussion, various points of view in debate. I'm not suggesting that there's a dark horizon for the new products in the next 18 months, I'm really just wondering where should most people start to get a handle on the best use of their time, and the best way to set expectations for their customers and what those transitions are going to look like, or feel like, or require in education and investment.

In late 2006 when I was debating before committing to do IT Pro Conference 2007, I found myself enthusiastic about getting a topic I wanted to hear more about and putting it into a room with discussion with the brightest people I know speaking from their experience. It's just the most sane thing to do! I know many places you can go to hear "the product marketing pitch" or the "best practices rundown", but the reason I really love this conference format I've put together is that it takes the products out of the sales process and puts them into the "show me the value and opportunity" perspective of peers debating real questions of value, functionality, and purpose.

The Best of 2007...even Better in 2008!

I anticipate we will have some sessions to give an orientation to the products and applications I've mentioned, but the core point for the 2008 conference will be to find the focus of business opportunity, technical validity, and to start planning a course to get all of this into a concise plan for deployment in various customer scenarios. You may understand all of this better than I do, and if that's the case, then I welcome you to join in the presentation team in 2008!

For most of the people who will be in New Orleans for the 3-Day IT Pro Conference 2008, we will be here to listen, to learn, and to argue out our perspectives in the pursuit of gaining confidence in the direction we will steer our business and trusting customers. Of course, a large number of us will also be looking forward to the big event party aspect of the conference, I'm sure you heard about that last year? Once again, great food and local music every night of the conference weekend. And for those with a passion for a week away, the 2008 Caribbean Cruise Seminars are back as well to give you a full week getaway, or maybe you just take that 5-day cruise!

New Dates for the Event in 2008

We've moved the dates up to May 9-11 for the French Quarter Weekend Conference, and May 12 - 17 is the Cruise. This avoids the traveling expense of flying on a holiday, and we omit Memorial Day from the schedule conflict entirely this time. We did add a 3rd day to the Weekend Conference and for the cruisers, there's a bit of a break between the end of sessions midday on Sunday and then boarding the Carnival Fantasy cruiseship midday on Monday. For everyone coming to New Orleans, have no fear...Bourbon Street Balcony Party will be here, plus an entirely new view of the city from a new conference 2008 venue on the riverfront at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place. (it's pictured on the homepage of this site)

Register ASAP...2008 will likely SELL OUT.

This isn't hype, it's a courtesy to let you know that this is the feedback we have. To keep the format of the conference the right scale, conversational, one track, we are not significantly growing the size, but the interest after last year is significant.

Looking back to last year, IT Pro Conference 2007 was brought our attendance of over 160 people included 35 SMB industry leaders as presenters and discussion panelist. We enjoyed participation from the heart and soul of the SBS professional community with so many MVPs and community leaders. For 2008 we are adding new faces to the familiar ones from last year, but only about 80 additional seats in the event track. Therefore, if you are really hoping to be here for "NOLA 2008", I strongly encourage you to register as early as possible, we may not have room for the last minute choice you see in many conferences where larger size and quantity is part of the event goal. This is likely to be a sell-out, blow-out event again this year. I want you to join us for a great time, a significant professional development conference, and a chance to bring your spouse to the city that still remains most graciously wanting your tourism dollar to help us in our recovery as the top conference destination city in the country.

- Jeff Middleton