By Ben Hedges

Historically one of the largest events of the year for the global telecommunications and data center industry to get together with customers and suppliers, ITW has always held an important place on the annual events calendar.

This year, with restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers took on the challenge of taking an event with over 7,000 attendees virtual, with varying levels of success.

From those we spoke to, the pre-conference experience was relatively painless and the tools showed promise. However, as often happens, the tools are only as good as the data provided by the users, and that is where the challenges arose.

For an event that has always been in North America, many delegates found the multiple time-zone of the meeting tool challenging.  Once the time zones were sorted, and meetings took place, the platform capabilities proved its worth.

Without exception everyone we spoke with experienced an average of a 50% success rate of people turning up for confirmed meetings.  Comparing this to the traditional in-person ITW event, the success rate is closer to 90%.  Once meeting with the right people, at the right time, the video conference experience was simple and positive with features like document sharing and the timer and chat function being very well received.

As for the programming and content, several sessions looked at the impact of the current public health emergency on future infrastructure trends, with Internet Exchange operator DE-CIX predicting that governments will increase the minimum levels required for Internet infrastructure in the future, including getting closer to the edge of the network.

Outside of the government sector, DE-CIX believes growth will be driven by the transport, entertainment (streaming media), retail and business sectors, with organisations looking for providers such as data center operators to answer the call for improved accessibility, greater choice, improved performance, higher-availability and easy to navigate automated systems.

DE-CIX Presentation Highlights

This message was echoed by Stream Data Centers (Stream), an independent data center operator with facilities in Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; and Phoenix, AZ as well as a new facility coming soon in Northern Virginia. For Stream, adapting to a post-pandemic world has been part of their natural evolution to provide a flexible, adaptive environment for customers. Focusing on core strengths at the OSI Layers 1-3 to be best-in-class, they have shifted to meet the needs of  enterprise customers as well as a hyper-scaler providers and, for now at least, are not looking at cross-connect fees as a revenue line.

The ITW team should be happy with the overall delivery of a large scale virtual event, which was pulled together with relatively short notice, and the overwhelming response it provided. I know  everyone can’t wait to get together in person from June 1-4, 2021 at the event’s new location at the Gaylord National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington D.C.  Save the dates now to ensure you get to experience the live event for yourself.