Impressions from Strata Conference

March 04, 2012 --

Strata Conference (#strataconf) was held this week in cloudy/rainy Santa Clara, Calif. The second West Coast edition (there is also one in New York), it was (like last year) sold out. This year, O’Reilly managed to jam 2000 attendees in the Santa Clara Convention Center. And it was crowded – keynotes and many other sessions were standing room only, lunch took over every single available ballroom, patio, mezzanine both at the Convention Center and the adjoining Hyatt, and getting from point A to point B often meant fighting a sea of attendees.

Online activity was overwhelming too. Keynotes were streamed live, allowing people all over the world to join. When I setup the #strataconf hashtag in Hootsuite, I didn’t realize I would not be able to follow all the tweets. Stop paying attention for 15 minutes, and there was no way to catch up.

Almost 600 attendees had declared their Twitter accounts in their profile (see great post by Jason Sundram analyzing these Tweeps and their audience), there were 684 people tweeting on the second day (see awesome graphs of top Twitter influencers by Ali Rebaie, and this network map by Benedikt Koehler), and if anyone can find a way to count the #strataconf hastag... with all these data geeks I am sure someone has already done it. And of course, a lot of attendees are active on the social media scene, so blogging went full steam.

Strata is about Making Data Work. But this year, it was about Making Big Data Work. Sessions covered a very broad array of topics. It went from super technical topics, such as the architecture of Hadoop, how to write R, Javascript or JSON, and more - to enlightening presentations on why medical trial data is flawed, or how to show data using colors and saturation. Another recurring topic was the rise of data journalism – how today’s newsrooms rely on the parsing, analysis and display of (sometimes large) datasets – often publicly available. seems to be the new Deep Throat.

The show floor was definitely the most technology driven part of the conference. Apart from outliers such as Facebook whose presence was not clear (selling private member data maybe?), all the key players of big data were there (sorry can’t mention everyone, review the full list here):

I have been to (too) many conferences and conventions in my career. Most of them are either technology, or business case driven. I have to say I am impressed by the mix at Strata. There was content for everyone. From the technologist who was looking for a crash course in scripting, to the senior IT executive who wanted to understand the technology stack and business cases behind big data, to the business user (such as the “data scientist” – more on that character in another post) who was looking for best practices and peer networking.

Of course, there was an important milestone for Talend at Strata since we announced both Talend Open Studio for Big Data, and a strategic partnership with Hortonworks. Interest for these news has been tremendous – more on this later.

Glad I was able to attend. Guess I’ll be back next time.