Review: Red Hat Virtual Experience 2009
Red Hat held the Red Hat Virtual Experience 2009 today and it was awesome. What was it? It was a completely online conference that offered everything you'd find at a traditional face-to-face show like the annual Red Hat Summit.
I was hoping Red Hat would use this event to introduce / announce RHEV for Desktops but no such luck. I guess we'll have to continue to wait until January.
- Conference Center - 15 presentations in three tracks with live video, audio and slides including chat submitted questions from the audience
- Exhibition Hall - 3 regions, US region had 14 vendors with staffed booths offering public and private chat
- Resource Center - 15 background items (PDF and Flash videos)
- Birds-of-a-Feather - 4 Topics
- Networking Cafe - Chat center with presenters and guests
- Help Desk - Section for help with the virtual experience usage
They used the Virtual Events 365 service which so far as I know is the only service of its type available. Unfortunately it is a closed / commercial service that uses Flash for content presentation... but hey, at least it works 100% in Linux and you don't have to resort to a Mac or Windows box to use it. The closest even partially free / open service / product I've seen out there is DimDim but it pales in comparison with regards to the depth needed for a full conference event.
I must say that I was impressed with a considerable portion of the content I was able to attend... although I was at work during the event... and had to do some actual work during portions of the conference. Given the fact that they had 3 different tracks (Technical, Business, and Government) and most timeslots had three presentations going at the same time, even if I had been able to devote all of my time to the event, there was still no way to attend all of the content live.
The presentations were mostly on Virtualization related topics and those in the Business Track were basically infommercials... but overall I can't complain. The presentations in the Technical Track actually had technical content delivered by Red Hat experts deeply involved in the various projects that Red Hat sponsors. Some of the presentations were so flawless that I assume a considerable amount of the video content was recorded ahead of time.
They even let you download all of the slides (available as PDFs) as well as replay most of the presentations after the fact... supposedly for three months following the event. The only videos missing are the panel oriented ones where there were multiple speakers some who I assume were call-ins from various parts of the country. The audio quality on some of those was not the best.
The only real downer was that the streaming Flash video content had the bit set that doesn't do disk caching in the /tmp directory allowing one to easily make a local copy. Nope, you want to watch, you'll have to stream it. I hope that Red Hat converts the videos to Ogg Theora format and makes them available for download at some point but they may have some licensing agreement with the service provider that disallows that.
[Update: - Dec, 10 - Steve W left a comment below saying that .ogv versions of the videos would be posted for download within 72 hours of the close of the event.
I visited the Red Hat booth and the Fedora booth. I briefly chatted with Max Spevack. I would have visited more if I had had more more time.
Although the name is a little odd, the Networking Cafe is where all of the presenters would go after their presentations to answer additional questions from attendees. I was able to catch the guys who had answered my RHEV interview questions from November and asked them some additional questions which I ended up transcribing to a comment to the original article. That was awesome.
Overall it was a great event. I almost felt like I was at what I've imagined a Red Hat Summit to be. The service they used worked well and was easy to navigate and explore around... like you'd do at a real conference. If you missed it (or not), I recommend you login to the system and "replay" any content you are interested in.
I hope they do more virtual experiences in the future... and that Fedora considers having some virtual conference too.
Attached you will find a .tar.gz file of all of the PDFs I gathered... including the presentations and the resources. That'll save you hunting around the site for all of the links.