Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Monday, September 28, 2020
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AWS re:Invent Goes Virtual (and Free) as COVID-19 Conference Cancellations Continue 

AWS re:Invent has been re-imagined as a free, three-week virtual conference taking place in early December, Amazon Web Services announced last week, as the fall lineup of physical tech conferences continues to dwindle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and online offerings continue to grow.

When the novel coronavirus reared its ugly head earlier this year, wiping out the spring conference season, AWS and other companies held out hope that the pandemic may begin to wane by the end of the year, and that the fall conference season could be salvaged.

But with the fresh surge of COVID-19 infections in the United States and elsewhere over the past few weeks, those hopes have been dashed. While there are a few conferences still on the docket for this fall, the majority have been cancelled or moved online.

Since O’Reilly Media exited the conference business earlier this year – eliminating not only the popular Strata Data Conference but all of its other events – the AWS re:Invent show emerged as the big data community’s biggest, most visible event.

The physical halls of AWS re:Invent will be empty this year (Michael-Vi/Shutterstock)

But now, the event that routinely fills several Las Vegas casinos with standing-room only crowds at the end of November and beginning of December will now exist entirely online. And instead of paying thousands of dollars for the right to attend AWS CEO Andy Jassy’s and CTO Werner Vogel’s must-see keynotes in person, millions will be able to watch from the comfort of their own homes, for free (although, to be fair, those keynote have always been livestreamed).

The company also expanded re:Invent from a one-week shindig to a three-week extravaganza, packing a host of keynotes, product launches, and training sessions from November 30 (Cyber Monday) to December 18, which is exactly a week before Christmas.

Multi-week conferences have become a trend during this year of COVID-19. For example, Google Cloud, which was forced to cancel its Cloud Next conferences earlier this due to the virus, is currently in the midst of a nine-week digital event, called Next ’20: OnAir.

Here’s a list of other big data and tech events that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a couple that so far haven’t:

The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) will be hosting its SIGCOMM 2020 as a virtual event from August 10 to 14. It had previously planned to host it as a physical event in New York City. The registration cost for the online event is $40 for members and $80 for non-members, with student discounts available.

KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe Virtual has transitioned also, and will take place August 17-20, 2020.

The ACM’s KDD 2020 event had been planned to take place in San Diego in late August, but it’s been switched to an online format taking place from August 23 to 27. The event features keynotes from professors at MIT, USC, and Carnegie Mellon, and sessions from employees at Google, Samsung, Facebook, and other companies.

The first annual Future of Data Conference 2020 will take place online September 8 and 9. Billed as a vendor-independent event, the conference organizers hope to “provide an open, independent forum for discussion about ‘what’s next’ in data.” The event, which is free of charge, will feature keynotes by executives from AlteryxSisu, and Data 2 the People, which are also sponsors of the conference.

Tabor Communications will host HPC + AI Wall Street as a virtual event this fall. Originally scheduled as an in-person, two-day event in New York City, it will now take place online September 15. To see updated pricing, go here.

Gartner has cancelled the Data & Analytics Summit, which was scheduled to take place in Grapevine, Texas, from September 21 – 24. It also cancelled its Catalyst Conference 2020 San Diego, which was scheduled to take place in that city from August 24-27. The analyst firm says that it will continue to run select conferences this fall, and is looking forward to hosting Gartner Data & Analytics Summits in 2021, the first of which is slated for Australia in late February, and another tentatively scheduled for the United States in March 2021.

Data Science Salon will host a virtual event focused on applying AI and ML to media, advertising & entertainment, to take place Sept. 22-25.

The AI Hardware Summit, which was to take place Sept. 29-30, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., will now be a virtual event, extending from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7.

The World Summit AI is scheduled to take place on the Internet on October 14. The event is expected to attract about 6,000 attendees and features 100 speakers. Tickets cost €249, which gets the individual access to all AI series online events.

The 36th International Conference on Massive Storage Systems and Technology (MSST 2020) was scheduled to take place October 29 and 30 on the campus of Santa Clara University. But due to COVID-19, it’s been moved to a virtual event.

The high performance computing (HPC) community had planned to convene in Atlanta, Georgia, for the SC20 event, which was scheduled to take place from November 15 to 20. But the conference chair Christine Cuicchi last week announced that it has been switched to an online-only event.

Conferences That Haven’t Been Cancelled or Moved Online Yet

The Data Warehouse Institute is apparently still planning to hold its TDWI Orlando conference, slated for November 8 – 13 in the central Florida city. It cancelled its TDWI San Diego conference, which was scheduled to take place August 17 and 18.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is planning on hosting a pair of international conferences in Beijing, China, later this month, including the Conference on Computer and Communication Engineering Technology (CCET 2020) and the Conference on Computer Vision and Information Technology (CVIT 2020). Both are scheduled to be held at the North China University of Technology from August 14 to 16.

About the author: Alex Woodie

Alex Woodie has written about IT as a technology journalist for more than a decade. He brings extensive experience from the IBM midrange marketplace, including topics such as servers, ERP applications, programming, databases, security, high availability, storage, business intelligence, cloud, and mobile enablement. He resides in the San Diego area.

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