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New Conference Signals End of East Coast LinuxWorld Expo

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The launch of a new LinuxWorld event by events manager IDG World Expo means big changes for the cycle of LinuxWorld Conference and Expos (LWCEs) in the United States in 2007. Specifically, the East Coast version of the LWCE, first held in New York City and then Boston in 2005 and 2006, will no longer take place.

The new event, entitled LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit, will be held in place of the LWCE, according to a press release last month from IDG. The Summit is currently scheduled to take place February 14-15, 2007, at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. LWCE will now occur only once per year in its original home in San Francisco.

The decision to launch the new Summit was one based on vendor desires, according to IDG representative Charlotte McCormack. While some vendors appreciated both coasts’ iterations of LWCE, McCormack indicated that many vendors expressed a desire to focus all of their energies and efforts on one large, annual show.

“We heard from them that we don’t need two a year,” McCormack stated.

The new Summit will be more of a conference format, that will concentrate on specific “vertical markets–financial, healthcare, manufacturing and retail,” according to the May press release. “Attendees will experience multiple tracks addressing a full spectrum of best practices across key topics, including presentations by leading Linux and open source experts, revealing case studies presented by IT executives, and a Solution Showcase where sponsors will display the latest Linux and open source products and technologies.”

If this format sounds familiar, perhaps it is because it mirrors the format of another IDG-operated event, the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC). Until recently, the OSBC also operated on a semi-annual basis in the US, with a Fall show in Boston and a Spring show in San Francisco. On June 7, show organizer Matt Asay announced that the OSBC show would move an annual show format. The Fall Boston show was canceled and the next OSBC scheduled for May 22-23 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

There are some notable differences between the new Summit and the OSBC, primarily being that the Summit will focus on those vertical markets, while the OSBC takes a more generalized approach to all all enterprise level business.

To add to the evolutionary mix, and perhaps some of the confusion over the significance this new Summit, this is not the first LinuxWorld “Summit” IDG has operated in New York. In May 2005, the same venue was home to the LinuxWorld Summit, an event very similar in format to the new LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit.

At first glance, it is easy to assume that IDG is having trouble with its East Coast shows. McCormack denies this assertion, indicating that the OSBC show in Boston last Fall was very successful. Asay has also indicated in the past that the attendance for that same show was double what was expected. The decision to hold the event in New York has to do with the verticals the new Summit is targeting.

“New York is just the right place for these vertical markets,” McCormack said.

As for the vendor’s reasons for wanting a single LWCE show per year, cost is very likely the major factor. During the 2006 Boston LWCE, sources indicated that HP and IBM choose to abide by a gentlemens’ agreement not to have booths on the show floor for that show. According to sources at HP, they can spend up to US$2 million for a show, booth materials, floor space, marketing, travel, and lodging. An IBM source revealed that the two vendors entered into a “if you don’t display, we won’t display” agreement.

McCormack had no comment on why vendors had asked to move to a single-show schedule for LWCE.

As for the fate of the original LinuxWorld, that seems assured.

“We recognize that LinuxWorld San Francisco is the flagship conference and exhibition for the Linux and open source communities,” said David Korse, CEO, IDG World Expo in the press release. “The industry has also expressed the need for a more focused conference in the New York market and we are excited to introduce this new Summit to the community in early 2007.”

To date, the schedule for US IDG Linux and Open Source events is as follows:

LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, August 14-17, 2006, San Francisco
LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit, February 14-15, 2007, New York
Open Source Business Conference, May 22-23, 2007, San Francisco.

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