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Taking the trade out of tradeshows - start-ups set for failure

The perils of the NDA booth

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LinuxWorld It's becoming easier and easier to spot start-ups likely to fail. Take, for example, FastScale.

This company's marketing team has done what you might think impossible by missing the point of a tradeshow. Officials at FastScale's LinuxWorld booth refused to give me a demo on their software, arguing that they don't really do that for reporters.

"We're kind of anal about our presentations," one Fastscale representative told us.

No kidding.

Fastscale offered to set up a demonstration over WebEx or to have me come to its offices for an interview. Although, I was told that it's customary for feature stories to accompany such demonstrations. I prefer to make that type of decision all by myself.

I informed the representatives that The Register had already penned a piece on Fastscale and that I simply wanted to see the software in action. No such luck.

So, anyone else at LinuxWorld could have a look at the code, just not someone who might actually give the company some publicity. This policy made us wonder how good FastScale's code really is. We're guessing not very.

Why even have a booth if you don't want people to know about your software? Classic stuff.

Intel's Coming For You

Another PR nightmare arrived in our inbox in response to this story about Dell shoving a hypervisor into the flash memory of a future server. As the story points out, Dell looks set to tap either VMware or XenSource into the flash, making virtualization software easier and quicker to setup and lowering overall power costs by pulling spinning disk from servers.

After that story posted, an email arrived with the pleasant subject line "Article has factual errors."

My name is Arthur Stevens, CEO of Infiscale.com, and we did that months ago for Intel.com and it was released at ISC 07 in Dresden Germany June 26th 2007.

Intel has had the rapid boot payload system out for over 6 months and we had Perceus and Xen on it months ago. To hear this article state Dell invented it is not only wrong but very misleading. I am sure you will be hearing from Intel's PR people today. I had been waiting for Intel to release our work more mainstream before going public, sad to see you stating Dell did it. Thanks, Arthur Stevens

Well, I've yet to hear from Intel's PR team, and can't quite figure out what Stevens is on about. I never claimed that Dell invented anything. Rather, I reported that Dell appears to be leading the Tier 1 server vendors with a deal to slot a hypervisor in flash through an appliance-like system.

Infiscale has very little information on its website (although it seems to be behind Warewulf), and Stevens has yet to respond to my reply. I'll elaborate on the technology when Stevens finds his pen.

March of the Vendors

Beyond all that, very little of interest actually took place at LinuxWorld, which was held for the first time in conjunction with the new Next Generation Data Center conference.

The shows drew top executives from Dell, HP, Novell, VMware and others for the keynote speeches, and the conference hall was filled with the usual suspects – every vendor that has anything to do with Linux except for Red Hat.

Unfortunately, the conference sessions overall were Nicole Richie-thin on content. Most of the sessions were just marketing presentations where a product manager from one vendor gave his spiel. The conference lacked many heated debates and could have done with presentations that gave more than one side on an issue. It's sad to see LinuxWorld turn boring.

I can remember the 2000 show when Michael Dell announced a fleet of laptops with Red Hat pre-installed. Audience members gave Dell grief for pricing those systems higher than Windows-based machines. There were hoots. There were hollers. Any such enthusiasm or controversy has faded, as Linux and its flagship tradeshow have matured.

It's to be expected, but you can still long for the good old days. ®

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