BrainShare 2014 Review

BrainShare delegates arrived in a damp Salt Lake City on Sunday with the encircling mountains receiving their first snow of the winter.  However the heat generated in the Salt Palace over the next three days ensured warm, crisp and sunny conditions, both inside and out.

Following the welcome reception on Sunday evening the event kicked off properly on Monday morning with the Novell keynote.  This year it took the form of a late night chat show with Kathleen Owens (President and General Manager, Novell, pictured) as the host.  The Brain Show, with its onstage band, took a relaxed view of the latest news and releases from the Novell and Attachmate business unit.

Kathleen Owens hosted the Brain Show (copyright Jane Groom)

Immediately, the elephant in the room was confronted. The first guest was Kevin Loosemore, Executive Chairman of Micro Focus who appeared and discussed the merger of the Attachmate Group with Micro Focus.  The deal itself hadn‘t been quite completed but he was confident that there would be no last minute hitches.  Within business circles the merger is being seen as a good move and the Micro-Focus share price has risen significantly as a result. Naturally there were a few jokes about UK stereotypes, quirks and culinary masterpieces.

British culinary delights highlighted. Not essential to the merger with Micro Focus

Then it was time for the Brain Show to review the technology highlights. GroupWise was dealt with in a video clip (you can read about the Cornell project in this magazine);  “ZEN and the art of application maintenance” looked at version 11sp3 of the suite; and “Cooking with Files” as you might expect looked at the advances in Filr.

One stand out feature is that Filr 1.1.1 (available first half of 2015) will have the ability to access Sharepoint document stores and share them as Netfolders.

“Filr will have the ability
to access Sharepoint document stores “

Mobility was discussed separately and included interviews with Chris Lewthwaite (from BSkyB, UK) and Edmund Weber (University of Regensburg, Germany) discussing their iPrint and Filr projects respectively.

Also on Monday, Novell and GWAVA announced a key strategic technical partnership.  With this expanded agreement the two companies will collaborate to provide compliance, security, management and disaster recovery across Novell technologies, including Novell FILR and ZENworks Mobile Management. GWAVA’s commitment to continued support for Novell solutions will be appreciated by many customers.

After the keynote  the technical sessions got underway - the core of the event.  Nearly 200 technical tutorials, roadmap sessions, ATT style labs were on offer.  With so many things running in parallel it was good that most sessions were repeated at least once.

It’s not practical to report here on all the sessions that took place.  Hopefully Novell will open up to everyone the session presentations that are on the conference Filr system. However to just dip into one or two of the highlights.

  • As previously reported in this magazine the next version of OES wil be OES2015.  Why not OES12?  Quite simply Novell wish to differentiate from SLES12 and some of its radical new features and the next release of OES will be based on SLES11sp3.  The major OES enhancements are related to the integration with MS-Windows networks.
  • ZENworks 11sp3 has been recently released and the talk at this BrainShare was about all the enhancements and plans for sp4. ZENworks endpoint security received a 5* rating from SC Magazine recently with the verdict that it is a “must see product”.
  • The big news for GroupWise customers is the protocol support which will allow Mac users use native mac apps and still reach their GroupWise information.  Likewise Outlook 2013 can be used against a GMS2.1 mobility back-end as ActiveSync 14.1 is supported.  This will provide a subset of GroupWise functionality for Outlook users and may go some way to nullifying the demand for Outlook in some organisations.  There was also a great tutorial presented by Dan Christensen on how to administer GroupWise 2014 using Curl commands, demonstrating the accessibility  of the latest version.
  • Filr 1.2 development is ongoing.  New features include sharing of folders from within Netfolders and a merged view of local and remote files at the desktop.

The first day ended with the official EMEA and Americas receptions.  It was pleasing to see a large contingent of delegates from Europe at the event - making the long trek is still worthwhile.  It did mean however that the venue for the EMEA reception - aptly named The Red Door - was packed to the seams.

Kevin Loosemore in the frame appearing on the Brain Show and focusing on the merger

Tuesday is Blue day

Tuesday‘s colour was blue as the day started with the NetIQ keynote.  Geoff Webb,  Senior Director for Solution Strategy discussed the rise and rise of mobility as an IT phenomenon - over 4 million smartphones are sold each day.  Add in the concept of the Internet of Everything and you will see that there is a huge requirement and opportunity for identity management.  A key partnership between NetIQ and Cisco was discussed which sees NetIQ solutions certified for use in Cisco’s enterprise Identity Services Engine (ISE) platform.  ISE is a policy management and control platform for wired, wireless, and VPN. It supports BYOD, guest access and secure access.

This endorsement for NetIQ solutions is not unique.  Forrester Research now rate NetIQ as leaders in the field of IDM and Access Management, with the most complete product offering, beating off competition from some big name organisations.

The keynote moved on to a discussion around Who are you?  Customers on stage from finance and healthcare institutions highlighted the importance of identity management and persuading management within organisations to “get identity”.

“NetIQ are IDM/AM leaders according to Forrester Research”

Kevin Loosemore from Micro Focus was back on stage to discuss the identity and security business.  Along with the Novell product line he obviously sees potential for their growth with Micro Focus.

Again, after the keynote it was back to the technical sessions to continue the brain cram.

Meet The Experts

This year’s Meet the Experts had a circus theme, with clowns and jugglers (no connection to any of the delegates or staff) who along with the food and drink made the session speed by.  In fact many people would have appreciated another hour to continue discussions.

IT Central was open during lunch and between all the scheduled sessions.  While the number of booths were fewer than at previous BrainShares there was still lots to interest conference delegates.  The extensive booths by the hosts meant that it was easy to get demos and talk to engineers about specifics.

Meet The Experts: A fun night with some serious discussions. (Copyright Jane Groom)

The Open Horizons booth was also busy. We were pleased to announce the 2015 EMEA Summit in Budapest and there was a lot of interest in community driven events - worldwide.  We also highlighted OH Magazine as the only publication dedicated to Novell and related solutions and demonstrated the new digital edition.

As always BrainShare is a great networking event and an opportunity to meet fellow enthusiasts from all around the world. After three exhausting days BrainShare ended with the conference party and the “Texican” rock from Los Lonely Boys closed the event.

Upping the Vibe

It’s been a frustrating two years for users of Novell Vibe, but the Hudson release is now imminent. The Vibe roadmap was raised as an issue at the Novell Partner Breakfast on Tuesday and served as a reminder to the management team that the Vibe user base is alive, kicking and full of expectation.

A further, hastily planned, breakfast meeting was held on Wednesday as a result of users wanting to meet up to talk Vibe and create a Vibe special interest group. This was the first opportunity for many people to get introduced to the new Vibe product manager, Craig Altom.  Again at this meeting the importance of Vibe was stressed and we heard that Vibe is being used in many different environments including mission critical applications within a number of financial institutions.  We hope that these timely interventions will encourage Novell to accelerate new Vibe releases and enhance what is already a great product still further.

BS delegate? Street art SLC style

A Success?

Was BrainShare 2014 a success?  Definitely a YES!  Of course modern BrainShares suffer comparison to the old mega-events, but the 1200 people at SLC this year will undoubtedly agree that it was a positive and informative three days.  It was easy to approach and get answers from all the Attachmate, Novell and NetIQ staff manning ITCentral as well as the partners who exhibited.  A case of quality over quantity.

On the Novell side it was extremely pleasing to see the progress being made across all the solutions and the product set appears to be coming together (in the opinion of many).  As usual the event was professionally managed and ran without a hitch.  Congratulations to the team.

Rumour has it that the next BrainShare will be held in March 2016 – keeping with the 18 month cycle. Novell would be well advised to review the event plan.  Is the Salt Palace  just too large for the current delegate numbers? Novell should also consider running a side by side virtual event, with the  live streaming of some sessions and recording of others. This will certainly help customers and enthusiasts who for one reason or another cannot make the trip to SLC.

As SUSE were not full conference partners it was irritating for many delegates as they now have two events close together (timewise if not geographically) to consider and many people will only attend one.  It is quite possible to market two separate conferences but hold them under one roof and share the networking and evening sessions.

We look forward to a Micro Focus led organisation and  great future events.

(This review was published in OHM Issue 27, p5-8)

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