Percona performance conference

Heee, Baron announced “Percona Performance Conference”.

How do I feel when somebody schedules that on top of MySQL Conference? Bad. Seriously, this was totally uncool.

I sure understand that Percona folks have to give same talk over and over again (of course, there’re few new things every year), and need venue for that, but… it is incredible work and preparation to come up with new topics too, and that involves lots of work and research. I may sound harsh, but I really don’t feel well, when people we should work together, instead end up blackmailing.

Update: apparently I was seriously misguided back then, Percona seems to have been shunned out of MySQL Conference by organizers and this was their way to get back into the community.

30 thoughts on “Percona performance conference”

  1. Domas,

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen Kaj announcement before but this conference is happening in the partnership with Sun/MySQL and Oreilly

    http://blogs.mysql.com/kaj/2009/02/05/mysql-conference-expo-adds-percona-events/

    I’m also unsure if you have access to the proposals but you may check them against last year talks and the proposals were on different topics.

    Finally I do not understand why you consider it “uncool” Say Sun/MySQL conference has 10 tracks instead of 4 – is it good or bad ?

    It adds more choice to the people attending the conference. If the conference would happen at different time people would need to travel twice if they would like to attend both events.

  2. i think its a great thing. in this economy who the hell can afford the official conference, its way way overpriced.

  3. Peter, I’m not discussing merging the conferences – maybe thats a good way out.

    I’m unhappy about the conference being scheduled on top as a response to probably not perfect talk selection process. What happened afterwards happened afterwards.

  4. Domas,

    So why making the conference as response to being unhappy with agenda does not make you happy ? It is all about choice.

    Seriously If some other company would run the company across the road from MySQL Users Conference (or any other conference) I could either not care – if I would find this event boring and worthless or I would love it if there are some topics I’d like to attend.

    And about Marks comment – you know your stuff well beyond MySQL and we surely would like to see you sharing your knowledge at our conference.

  5. Hi Peter,

    You don’t think that scheduling a conference at a hotel across the street from an already scheduled conference on virtually the same topic is rude?

    If you really did care about allowing the users the best choices, then you could have scheduled it immediately after or before. That way users could attend either or both and have the most choice. No traveling twice, no conflicts, everyone is happy.

    Instead, you schedule it head to head in an attempt to draw people away and cut the attendance down to an event that has been planned for many months.

    That is the difference between allowing users choice and directly attacking another event. That is what makes people unhappy enough to create blog posts about it.

  6. *Yawn*

    Good on them. Sure to be some fun presentations, but more importantly for Percona, a marketing coup. They earned the right to every self-aggrandizing statement they made in their announcement. Kudos!

  7. ^^ What Harrison said. Damn, that guy is smart :)

    Mark, I’m not seasoned conference speaker, going to every event and doing promotions, thats job for evangelists and community teams :) Thats why I probably take it with way different attitude – it is a bit of “event of the year”, difficult to get tickets to, well worth lots of work before it, few days of travel, 10h jetlag. It is sacred, damn it! Oh well.

  8. Hi Guys

    Maybe it’s also good to note, that this kind of thing happens all the time. During JavaOne or the Microsoft conferences, smaller companies will arrange events in nearby hotels. It’s their guerilla marketing tactics, and usually it’s just they can’t afford space in the real conference. I think (but may’ve misunderstood) even MySQL did this at 3GSM some years ago.

    Sure, it is kind of rude, or at least we are not used to this in our Open Source warm cousy circles, but just to say it is also a normal thing when the main conference grows big enough.

    As for Domas speaking at Percona conference: You certainly should. If you don’t, maybe I can say something about MySQL Cluster ;-)

  9. I agree with Henrik. Last week I blogged about Sun scheduling a training class the same week as a competitor (intentionally):

    To add to what Henrik said – sometimes it even happens in the same hotel when conference organizers forget to book every room: .

  10. @Harrison – where is the outcry that Percona was shutout from the MySQL conference prior to yesterday. Some of their proposals were good enough and innovative. I know because I was a reviewer.

    I asked the community team about this afterwards as external reviewers don’t select the presentations. I received no response to my questions.

    Note that the conference is named ‘MySQL Conference and Expo’ and is hosted by MySQL/Sun the company and OReilly. Why not rename it ‘MySQL the company conference’ and lets be done.

    When you don’t share with the community, the community forms elsewhere.

  11. There was no blackmail at all. Organizing this event was not a bargaining chip. We asked for nothing, we simply stated our plans. They invited us back, and that was unforeseen and welcome. But we’re not out to bully anyone, and we are not the type of people who can be intimidated either. We are independent and we act on our principles.

    Having another conference after or before, instead of at the same time, would have been less of a value to attendees of either conference. Who wants to be away from home that much longer? Who wants to pay for more nights in an expensive hotel? And from what people have told me directly and explicitly, I expect our conference to increase attendance at the MySQL conference. We’ve even gotten unsolicited sales inquiries saying essentially “since you’re not at the conference, I’m going to skip it and hire you instead.” It can’t get any more straightforward than that. Having the conference at the same time was in part an attempt to get people there, not to draw them away.

    Users, customers, and community members were practically begging us to do something, and we did. At our own expense and in a very fair, principled, and forthright way, I might add.

  12. Oh — one more note. Our conference is NOT about virtually the same topic. Read the announcement again, or just wait and see. Sun/MySQL stands in the marketing center with this conference, and gestures towards the edges where technical topics about MySQL live in the shadows. Percona stands in the technical center with topics about PostgreSQL, MySQL, cloud computing, front-end/client-side performance, map-reduce, etc etc. This will become more obvious as we get time to put up a schedule of speakers. (Time has been tight.)

  13. Harrison,

    Yeah the topic is different and “Immediately Before” or “Immediately After” is really not as helpful and really to anyone. Many people prefer being weekends with their families rather than on the conference or simply have not much time.

    In most cases people will mostly look forward to few good sessions… having them spread over too much time is a waste of time. Many people I know did not even come to the whole conference but just to one-two of the days to hear the stuff most relevant for them. Keeping it the same times gives people more choice.

    But OK anyway… I guess everybody is now happy with outcome.

  14. Mark: If Percona’s talks were intentionally singled out, I agree it is very bad and should not be done. However, scheduling a competing conference at the same date across the street is just as bad, imo.

    On the community side, there is also the MySQL camp going on at the same time with the community being totally able to set the schedule as they desire. Is there something wrong with this approach? What do you think should be done instead?

    I would also like to point out that Percona is not ‘the community’ but an active business trying to make money. Many community talks are included, including ones by yourself, Sheeri, Roland, dormando, etc… It isn’t like the entire community was ignored in talk submissions.

  15. Especially since there is already a venue for a FREE conference in the SAME building, called MySQL Camp, that everyone seems to be forgetting about, even though only 2 weeks ago a reminder was made. Percona will be speaking about that, but due to a busy work/travel schedule I haven’t been able to put them on the schedule.

    My big beef is that Percona seems to have this novel idea of a free conference, and yet, there already was one — one that is not a big advertisement for one company, one that is open to all and not the product of negativity.

    -Sheeri

  16. @Harrison — there are talks from community members but there were no talks from Percona, OpenQuery and ProvenScaling. Times are changing. Is MySQL the company the only entity that can try to make money? I have been foolishly helping MySQL engineers for free understand the scalability problems in InnoDB and MySQL code. It is time for me to start charging for answers.

    If anything, MySQL should be very nice to Percona or watch customers find other solutions. Who else is publishing patches to make InnoDB scale?

  17. Mark, I’m not informed what led to this omission of PS/OQ/MPB, and I’m all for inclusion – but as Henrik put it, this is guerilla marketing tactics commonly applied in the big world, and ones even MySQL could’ve done before.

    Engineers, like us, still believe we’re in underdog position, trying to bring light and greatness to the world ;) So far the only community that didn’t treat MySQL as underdogs were PG (they always blamed our marketing overshadowing their technical superiority :).

    Now, we have our label of underdogs torn away, by people arranging guerilla campaigns :) Maybe we’ll just have to get used to any kind of such actions. Of course, it is much more important to be clear to everyone, what kind of partner ecosystem we expect, what kind of community involvement, relations and facilitation we can do, and what kind of business is our business.

    Underdogs are aggressive, favorites have to keep their heads high. I guess I shouldn’t be that harsh at judging others, it is just the other game. You know, the one where Mark Callaghan asks for money. :)

    So, as for technologists, pity there was a mess with conference program. MySQLConf so far has been awesome conference for me every year – and I hope that to continue. There’s just weird aftertaste. Will see what happens in April.

  18. Sheeri,

    MySQL Camp is a free conference. There the similarity ends. Ours is not a MySQL conference and MySQL Camp is explicitly about MySQL. Are you going to permit PostgreSQL or EnterpriseDB or Greenplum talks? What about CouchDB? What about HyperTable? And those are just the topics we’re seeking to bring to the table that are data-storage-related. You have to draw boundaries somewhere. What about browser caching and Javascript optimization? If you approved those talks in a conference with “MySQL” as the first word, you’d be overstepping your bounds. We see the need for all three events.

    Harrison, about community inclusion: see my blog post about speaker diversity. This year it’s all about Sun. Anyone can do that math, and the people who have remarked on it to me is in the double digits — I take that to mean scores more people have added it all up and decided to stay home this year. I think that’s really sad — it makes me feel sad anyway.

  19. Domas,

    We are not banned from “Velocity” conference as we were from “MySQL C&E”, so we will take part there.

  20. Vadim, it would suck if you were actually banned from C&E, and I definitely do not support that. I really like the work you are doing – and I’d be glad to hear about it.

    Probably not everyone knows how valuable it is, and providing great abstracts is like providing good CV, nobody is able to reject them then :)

  21. There is an obvious conflict with competing for business and
    working together on improving the MySQL software. It’s fairly
    new for the MySQL community to have this situation. I view
    this event as a learning experience. Personally I don’t think
    it’s possible to close anyone out from conferences. Just look
    at Intel/AMD, AMD always had an alternative conference the
    hotel next to the Intel Developer’s conference.

    Personally I’ve always thrived in a competitive situation. It usually
    increases the value of the community since more innovation is
    required to stay ahead of your competitor and this increases the
    value of the MySQL community and enables us to increase the
    impact of MySQL in the IT world. The great thing about open source
    is that you will have to share your results with the community so
    even though you’re competing for business there will always be
    cooperation on the development of the source code.

    My personal trait on behaving as a good community member in
    this situation is to focus on displaying your own positive
    characteristics and showing what you’ve done to innovate.
    Comparisons to other happens through benchmarks of various
    sorts, both company-specific and open source benchmarks and
    standard benchmarks.

    Lastly I would like to give special credit to the work done by
    Mark Callaghan and his team at Google. I’ve had the
    opportunity to play around with their patches and really found
    them to be easy to understand and really stable. So if I had
    an award to give out on the MySQL Community Contribution
    of the year I’d certainly give it to them. Disclaimer: I don’t have
    such an award to give out :)

    So finally much looking forward to meeting at the MySQL Users
    Conference week and seeing what everyone is up to and
    sharing our ideas.

  22. @Mark: While none of us generally can share much of the internal discussion of our companies, I guess it is fair to say that of course the end result of these well known and respected community members not being selected as speakers raised questions on the internal MySQL mailing lists. Since I wasn’t part of the selection process (like you), I have no choice than to believe this was a surprising outcome of a non-manipulated and fair selection process. I see it somewhat believable – maybe for instance individuals thought “I have nothing against Percona but I’m not gonna vote for all 12 of their submissions…” or something, and as a result none of them were selected. (This is the “Eurovision Song Contest theory”, where 12 good mainstream songs will always loose against one that stands out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMZPtfUOwO4) There is another trait in the conference schedule supporting that: Why the HEL (airport) do we have a days worth of memcached talks? Sure, it is part of the MySQL Enterprise subscription to support memcached, but the world does not revolve around it.

    So even if it may have been fully unintentional, at some point someone should have looked at the big picture and corrected these imbalances (and I do mean specifically the memcached stuff :-), overriding the voting results (or redoing them) if needed.

    FWIW, I understand that “correcting” these mistakes came much by initiative from our management. To me it shows that we may make mistakes, but we are not stupid or petty enough not to be able to correct them too. That’s kind of comforting.

    (Ok so there are still other people left out. Get over it, my talk wasn’t accepted either – of course, I go there for free anyway. But for sure this year if not before, there are more mysql consultants and experts than what can fit into one conference. One way or another, not everyone can be a speaker anymore.)

  23. Henrik, why don’t you ask Colin Charles directly if you’re wondering what happened? Go on, demand a straight answer; you deserve it. If it’s an unintentional mistake there’s nothing to hide.

    I give huge credit to whoever at Sun/MySQL turned the boat.

  24. @Henrik – I don’t know why Percona had no proposals accepted. I think it was odd. I am very disappointed by this.

    Anyone blaming Percona should understand what happened. Most of us, including myself, will never know.

    I reviewed proposals but did not select them. Reviewers grade the proposals, but MySQL selects them. Some of their proposals received decent scores. They could have been improved with feedback, but that was not done. After it became clear that Percona had no talks, I asked people on the inside why this happened. That email received no response.

  25. @Baron, Mark: We of course did ask as soon as it became apparent, and we got the explanation that the results are what they are as a result of the selection process, fair and unmanipulated. I have no evidence and not much reason to doubt that it is true.

    But my main point is, before making the final selection, someone should have made some decisions to override the fair selection process *in favor* of percona and possibly some others that Mark mentions. If nothing else, it should have been done because not accepting a single talk from these independent consultants will look odd, regardless of whether it happened through no evil deeds on Sun’s behalf. At the same time, the balance between some other topics could have been corrected too (less memcahced, just to name a simple example, no personal hatred intended :-)

    Sometimes the pure dynamics of election rules may have imperfect effects, we can only look at the recent history of some bi-partisan nations here:-)

    But, like I said, better late than never :-)

  26. Hi!

    like Mark I was part of the reviewers.

    I can confirm that a number (but certainly not all) of the Percona talks received good grades. I personally expected about 2 to 4 of their talks to be scheduled.

    I do not know how any detail regarding the selection process after the grading process so I can only guess.

    HTH,

    Roland

  27. Saying the Percona conference and the MySQL conference cover the same topics is ridiculous. The MySQL conference is a combination of, using mysql with foo, how Sun can save you lots of money if you pay them lots of money, and partner sales presentations. None of this is interesting to most of the MySQL community.

    What I think is interesting is presentations about the problems in MySQL and how they can be corrected or worked around. The MySQL community finds a lot of problems in MySQL and they also fix a lot of these problems. That’s interesting to me, “MySQL empowers mission critical financial system” is not.

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