SD West Adds a Biz Track

The annual Software Development Conference and Expo West gets under way this week in Santa Clara, CA (March 13-17). Now in its 19th year, it's safe to call SD West ''venerable,'' but event organizers aren't resting on their walkers; this year's show features an intriguing new business-of-software track that I predict will be very popular.

Current conference manager Tami Carter, who has been on the job since January, credits her predecessor, Nicole Garbolino (now director of event operations) and the conference advisory board with the idea for the new biz track.

''The classes are designed to cover a lot of topics that people running software businesses need to know about,'' she says. ''They're topics that attendees really seemed be consistently interested in.''

Attendees following the new biz track will find a very down-to-earth group of sessions covering such topics as managing startup programmers, open source and the entrepreneur, creating a winning founding team, the pros and cons of outsourcing, and presenting to a venture capitalist.

Particularly worthy of note—at least as a concept—is a biz session with the painfully hokey title, ''Have I Got What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur?'' Its hokiness notwithstanding, that’s a damned good question. If the panel of ''serial entrepreneurs'' assembled to help engineers who are thinking of launching a startup understand what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur can really answer it, this session ought to be mandatory.

Kudos to SD West organizers for consistently emphasizing ''conference'' over ''expo.'' Attendees will find 55 companies showcasing their latest products on the exhibit floor, and more than 200 classes and tutorials sorted into 12 tracks, including C++; Java Programming; Modeling and Design; .NET Development; People, Process, and Methods; Requirements and Analysis; Security; Testing and Quality; Web Services; XML Development; a ''Grab Bag'' track; and the new biz track.

''We have an expo and there are exhibitors, but this conference is about the training and the classes,'' says Carter. ''We remain vendor neutral, and we focus on the technology, not the tools.''

If there’s a not-to-be-missed event at this show, it’s the much-anticipated Model Driven Development Face Off, with panelists Jack Greenfield (Microsoft), Jon Kern (Compuware), Scott Ambler (Ambysoft), Granville Miller (Microsoft), Juha-Pekka Tolvanen (MetaCase), and David Frankel (SAP Labs). I think this might be the second or third time these folks have gone head-to-head on MDD issues.

The show also features some awards presentations (Jolt Product Excellence and Productivity; Dr. Dobb’s Excellence in Programming); a free movie (Boondoggle Films’ exclusive screening of the documentary Aardvark'd: 12 Weeks with Geeks), and some interesting keynoters (more on them later in the week).

My head hurts already in anticipation of all the knowledge.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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