An Attendee Perspective On Chicago Data Summit

This is a guest post from Mike Segel, an attendee of Chicago Data Summit.

Earlier this week, Cloudera hosted their first ‘Chicago Data Summit’. I’m flattered that Cloudera asked me to write up a short blog about the event, however as one of the organizers of CHUG (Chicagao area Hadoop User Group), I’m afraid I’m a bit biased. Personally I welcome any opportunity to attend a conference where I don’t have to get groped patted down by airport security, and then get stuck in a center seat, in coach, on a full flight stuck between two other guys bigger than Doug Cutting.

I was going to solicit input from Jonathan Seidman, my partner in crime and co-organizer of CHUG. Unfortunately, since he was one of the speakers at the event, he would have been just as biased as I was. But thanks to Jonathan, we were able to piece together a bunch of honest feedback from some of the attendees.

The day just before the event, we all received an e-mail from Cloudera asking that we try and get there early. I was told that there were attendees from over 60 companies and that we had groups actually fly in from other cities around the Midwest. I was able to meet Doug Meil, the founder of the *other* CHUG (Cleveland). The event was packed. Preeti Lovekar, a self professed ‘newbie’ had this keen observation “On an aside – the long queue for registration with just one counter felt like a bit of an oxymoron while going for a conference on MapReduce :) “ Even still, it gave everyone a chance to talk as we anxiously waited for Doug Cutting’s intro.

Doug Cutting gave a great introduction. For those attendees who were ‘Hadoop Curious’, the keynote gave an excellent overview of Hadoop, why he created it, and how it grew out of his work on Nutch. (The correct answer to the trivia question, for a chance to win the Doug Cutting Bobblehead.)

After the intro, we broke in to two different track sessions. Since I work with Ravi and I see Jonathan at least once a month at our User Group meetings, I chose to listen to Todd Lipcon and Jonathan Hsieh. Both Jonathan Seidman and Ravi gave presentations on real world examples of using Hadoop while Todd and Jonathan Hsieh gave overviews on HBase and Flume. Both of the presentations I saw were excellent and the conference rooms were packed. One take-away that I thought was a neat hack was to use Flume to monitor IRC Chat rooms…

After the presentations we heard Charles Zedlewski talk. While Charles talked about some of Cloudera’s other products, I was disappointed that he didn’t talk more about Cloudera’s newest product that is in an Alpha release. The WWDCD* Bobblehead. For those who are not familiar with this product, it’s a small Bobblehead of Doug Cutting that can be placed on a Hadoop Developer’s desk. Whenever the developer has a question concerning Hadoop, he can turn to Doug and ask him a yes or no question and get an immediate response. This is much faster than the IRC Chat boards and the mailing lists.

This leads us to the most important event of the day, the ‘Networking Reception’. While the food and beverages were great, the exciting thing was being able to talk one on one with the folks from Cloudera along with talking with the other attendees. So while I couldn’t see Jonathan and Ravi’s presentations, the overall feedback was great. It’s always great to hear about how someone is using the technology and what pitfalls they had and how they worked through them, so that you can avoid those same mistakes.

In looking back on that afternoon, there were two small nits. First, the ‘Hadoop Curious’ flair tag has to go. Maybe a ‘Newbie’ tag instead? Second, I did get some feedback that there wasn’t enough speakers. People left wanting more.

While I’ve been a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ in describing the event, in all seriousness it was a great event. I think that Cloudera was a bit overwhelmed by the turnout. Everyone I spoke with was excited, had a good time and felt that there were more topics that could have been discussed. I just hope that this turns in to an annual event.

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1 Response
  • Steve Hoffman / April 28, 2011 / 2:21 PM

    Maybe they just need to have a mid-year hadoop world in Chicago. “Hadoop-Midwest”?

    I can attest to the excellent grub afterwards. And even though I didn’t win the bobble-head, I did get to see/hear Doug’s Chewbacca impression which was top notch (I almost typed nutch).

    Thanks again Cloudera. You are welcome in Chicago anytime!

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