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IBM Dev@Pulse Conference Impressions

The Dev@Pulse conference is IBM’s developer conference tagging onto the core IBM Pulse conference. This is IBM’s first year trying to hold a developer-centric conference (Dev@Pulse) alongside their flagship cloud conference (IBM Pulse). Dev@Pulse is about as far away physically as you can get from the main conference and held in a nightclub rather than conference center. While Hakkasan LV Nightclub is a trendy choice to hold a developer summit, the attendance seemed thin and pulled from the existing IBM user base.

In talking with folks at the event, it seems IBM is trying new things like lightning talks, demos and a playground to woo developers. There are several labs to choose from too. In talking with devs prior to the event, many of them had not hear of Pulse, let alone Dev@Pulse. This seems like a miss on IBM’s part to attract new developers to the IBM ecosystem. After attending several sessions at Dev@Pulse, I’d say that it has the makings of a decent developer conference.

A good example was IBM’s technical rundown of the just-announced IBM BlueMix. The session went soup-to-nuts on how to deploy an app using BlueMix as a great summary introduction of how BlueMix works and how to deploy an app using the new service. However, only 50 or so folks were in attendance for the talk here at Dev@Pulse. One presenter even asked the audience how many are Cobol programmers and several raised their hands. That is a very different crowd from the typical Node.js, Rails, Python crowd.

On the other hand, IBM is identifying the need to bridge the gap between cloud-based apps and traditional apps. They also note that the challenge is in extensively leveraging APIs. The API economy is a reality…not just with IBM but in the industry today. That’s pretty forward thinking (and refreshing) for a traditional enterprise organization like IBM. The question will be: How to get the permeation through the rest of the organization beyond just BlueMix and SoftLayer.

Trying to attract developers to a conference like IBM Pulse or Dev@Pulse will be hard to do in isolation. There are a number of other efforts in terms of location, audience, social impact and content that IBM needs to address in order to make significant, sustaining waves.

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