is CloudCamp relevant?

Currently on the twittrsphere there is was a debate on the value and benifits of CloudCamp:

This was quickly followed by a number of points of view, rants, and seemingly irrelevant comments.

When you look at the the “mission” of CloudCamp,

CloudCamp was formed to provide a common ground for the introduction and advancement of cloud computing

Or look at the opening statement on the homepage:

CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged you to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.

Ruv (Ruven Cohen) responds with:

Whilst these are all well and good what seems to happen, from my own experience, is that a number of the louder attendees take over the sessions they are involved in either to push their product or get an answer to a specific problem (the last one in Sydney was a perfect example of that).

I think that the education part is a little tired now and there are more than a few resources online that can sufficiently educate the masses. As for furthering Cloud Computing… at this early stage, I don’t see any of it happening.

The standard format of CloudCamp is:

  1. Lightening talks – Sponsor presentations that go for ~5 minutes
  2. Unpanel – an impromptu panel of “experts” who get to respond to questions from the audience.
  3. Unconference Breakout Session planning – attendees get to put up options for discussion and the ones with the most votes get discussed in breakouts
  4. Breakout Session 1 РTopics get discussed  (groups formed and scattered around the conference facilities)
  5. Breakout Session 2 – second round of topics discussed
  6. Social event – normally drinks somewhere

The biggest issue is actually being able to measure the effectiveness or the value of the current CloudCamp model. As by definition it is an unconference, therefore it’s pretty hard to get a solid handle on any measurement criteria ahead of time.

With all that said, I think that they are still useful, especially outside of the U.S. where there isn’t really another Cloud Computing related conference to attend as a single place to go to see what is happening in your local market.

A couple of points where I think improvements can be made:

  • Pick a theme for the event:
    • This way attendees can have a clear understanding of what they will learn.
    • It will also curb the tendancy for “Lightening Talks” to be vendor pitches
    • hopefully this will also stop irrelevant talks.
  • Supply some form of online feedback ability – You can’t make it better/more relevant if there isn’t the ability to have an open dialogue with the actual community (locally that is).