Thoughts On COFES 2012

I’m getting ready to head back to India after attending COFES 2012 for the last three days here in sunny (and a little rainy) Scottsdale, Arizona. This was my fifth consecutive COFES and the first time as a regular attendee paying the full $2,500 registration fee as opposed to media for whom the fee is waived. I must say that this experience was a very different one from the previous four where I had to cover the event as a blogger, which meant sitting down for the mostly boring or over the top general sessions taking down notes to blog about while tweeting what speakers were saying and what I thought about what they were saying. It also involved getting briefed by vendors in the Technology and Hospitality Suites and meeting other vendors who had scheduled appointments with me on their own.

None of that this year. Actually I’m beginning to think that its a good thing that some of the onstage sessions are what they are because they kind of make you want to hang around in the lobby of the Scottsdale Plaza and around the Cafe Cabana swimming pool area where the Technology Suites are. They say the real value of COFES is in the hallways and I experienced it in full bloom this year. Judging by the what I achieved from this year’s COFES, I don’t I’ll ever attend as media again.

I was to accompany Abe Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems. But unfortunately something came up at the last minute and he couldn’t make it. Nevertheless, I bumped into several people this year and had completely unplanned meetings that I believe are going to show up tangible results.

The downside of COFES 2012 was the absolutely crappy WiFi connection. After doing this 13 times year after year I think the Scottsdale Plaza should have figured this by now. They know exactly how many people are attending. I don’t give a shit about bandwidth. That’s their freaking problem. If an attendee is paying a handsome $2,500 for three days just to attend the conference and then another $200+ a day for a hotel room, then they bloody well figure out the internet.

On the first day Tech Soft 3D had their customer conference in one of the ballrooms which included a demo of their cloud solution. Before the demo a cloud skeptic in the audience brought up the question about the lack of internet connectivity in the field. Mike Payne, CEO of Kenesto, a cloud based process automation start up, refuted and made the case that connectivity was no longer an issue. As Mike finished speaking the folks at Tech Soft 3D started the demo and the hotel WiFi crapped on itself. It was horrible. Absolutely disgusting actually. Here we are talking about the future of engineering software and we can’t even get the basics of the present figured out properly.

I am a firm believer in the cloud. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And in the case of cloud computing internet connectivity is the weakest link. COFES 2012 proved this beyond all doubt. I had to resort to paying high international roaming charges just to access my freaking email during the conference. And this is the US of A. You can only imagine the situation in third world countries like India.

Anyways, let’s switch gears to something more pleasant. COFES veteran Peter Marks, who is fighting cancer, has generously donated his entire collection of micrometers to help a kid get through college. These micrometers were on sale at COFES 2012. I picked up this Swiss made gem for $15. Is just over an inch long. This one is a keeper.

  • Great synopsis Deelip, thank you. I couldn’t come out this year  because of the SPAR conference starting tonight.  Mr. Reichental is giving the keynote there, hopefully all is well and he’ll be there. With all his recent acquisitions in the 3D space, perhaps he’s off lining up some more…!  I’m watching closely as he gets interested in 3D content generators.  

  • Shyamalroy

    Deelip, it was good to see you at COFES.

    As you know I was your host for the 1st COFES that you attended  a few years ago and you had the privilege of meeting people that you could have never met otherwise.

    That is the value of COFES, as I envisoned when Dr. Joel Orr and Evan Yares and myself met after Autofact in 1998 that Brad has been executing fleawlessly.  This year 2012 was the best COFES as per the feedback from many attendees. 

    Perhaps you need to upgrade your prism with which you have been commenting on the industry.

    COFES is not aboout WIFI connections at Scottsdale Resort, it is about meeting of the minds between people to rendevous and have informal and free exchange of ideas.

    Richard Riifs keynote about Risk and design was a true eye opener that set the theme for COFES 2012  – I do not believe you have any idea about what he was talking about.

    So kindly match the state of the insdustry, the questions we ask at COFES, and your ingnorance before yor comment.

    It was great as usual to meet you at CAFES.

    Please come back next year with an open vision.


    • Kevin Quigley

      Had I paid $2500 and the same again for flights and accommodation I can assure you the quality of the WiFi connection is important. This is 2012. Not 1998.

      • If you are calling people for a conference, you better have a working WiFi. Especially if the people presenting on stage need internet connectivity to prevent making fools of themselves in front of their audience.

        This holds true if the fee to attend is $2500 or $0.

  • Randall Newton

    Interesting. I had no idea that Mr. Roy was Present at the Creation for COFES. I don’t even remember Mr. Roy attending COFES until 2004 or 2005. But I could be mistaken. 

  • Shyamalroy

    Randall, I was there at the Chicago COFES 1st summit  in 1999. 

    I did not create COFES, I helped in the early stage strategy discussion before COFES was started by Joel. Brad, and Evan.

  • It’s a interesting point that some are trying to make that connectivity isn’t important when talking about the cloud!  Not just the total lack of connectivity as you described but ongoing internet speed, not just in India but in places of so called developed nations like here (Australia)
    There is much political debate over the roll out here of the fibre optic network. (National Broadband – NBN) Not just about the $50B cost and the 5year wait.   

    Last month  the Government prevent the Chinese company Huawei  ( from tendering to the NBN over security concerns from ASIO (think CIA)

    The cloud may be being embraced by some Governments but some have concerns  as seen by the report by the US Trade over security concerns from Aust. Trade

    The cloud may be the future but how far into the future before it is truly viable!

  • Shyamal Roy was, I think, the very first person we talked with about the idea for COFES.  It was at the Networks restaurant, at the Hyatt McCormick Place.  It was a pretty long and involved conversation, and he gave us a lot of good ideas (and confirmed some we already had.)

    Shyamal was invited to, and attended, our prototype event, the Summit on the Future of Engineering Software, which was also in Chicago.

    • I remember sitting next to Evan at COFES last year.  I asked him how long he has been coming.


  • F-allias

    when speaking about Cloud computing , just take into account that the technologies used by actual interop / viewing  companies are NOT suitable with  the WEB  requirements. This has to be  a complete technology rebirth  to fit with the WEB constraints. Of course using technologies developed 10 or 15 years ago will surely lead to performance dead ends. Putting the problem on a low bandwidth is not relevant because the right technology should work anywhere in the world and this is precisely the only  problem to solve . The technology developed by former company TTF ,I founded and ran until 2006 , was not Web oriented  so the Hoops Exchange products , still fully based on this technology today cannot make it properly. Many people that claim to be Cloud Computing compliant just run their old software on a virtual machine but this is not Cloud. Conversly a real Cloud application runs 100% inside a browser with true Web paradigms such as  ,HTML5, JAVASCRIPT , AJAX, WEBGL etc…… Being Cloud Computing Compliant leads to start from scratch any  application.
    I think Mister Payne made the same analysis  with the brand new Kenesto ……….

  • Phil

    I think that F-allias makes some very un-informed points that are incorrect.  I agree that zero client and mobile applications (and associated technology) a requirement for a cloud base architecture.  But I don’t think that means that all applications need a complete re-write for the cloud.  Cloud architecture isn’t new (webgl, html5, zero client, are certainly not) and many software companies such as Tech Soft 3D have been building components for use with these technologies for many years.  What really makes a difference is that the infrastructure seems close to being able to deliver on the promise of massive, distributed applications.

    I agree with Deelip that the Scottsdale Plaza wi-fi was a cold slap in the face at how completely reliant the cloud is on hi bandwidth internet access.  I think that currently the risk is too high to have mission critical apps (like engineering) rely solely on cloud solutions.  Maybe in the future, but certainly not today.

    • F-allias, ceo The P51 group

       I am not surprised   that being a Tech soft 3D representative, Phil Spreier, Translator Solutions Product Manager, Tech Soft 3D,  has the mission to sell TS3D products . Well tried ….. 🙂

  • Having asked similar questions about SolidWorks World in previous years, I have finally come to realize that most people attending conferences don’t realize that the availability of WiFi–or lack thereof–is determined by the venue, not the organization hosting the conference. The conference center or hotel decides where they want to provide infrastructure, and basically says “this is what we have–deal with it.” And conference organizers pay through the nose for bandwidth above and beyond what is included with the standard contract terms.

    That said, if COFES attendees see the quality of the wireless as something that will potentially affect decisions to attend in the future, the Cyon team may be able to use that as leverage against the hotel. Brad could say “improve your range and speed, or we’re going somewhere else next year.” They may comply, or they may invite Brad to make good on his words. It really depends on how easily they can fill the slot, and how many other organizers may complain.

    I read an article recently about the differences between budget/traveler hotels and luxury hotels when it comes to Internet access. Budget hotels use fast & free Internet as a selling point, and business travelers incorporate that into their book decisions. Luxury hotels and resorts don’t feel the need to provide free Internet–or even fast Internet–because they feel that patrons are staying there for other reasons. Also, they feel that anyone paying a premium for luxury will also be willing to pay for Internet should the need it. I’m guessing the Scottsdale Plaza Resort falls into the category. I mean, the word “resort” is in the name. Not like it’s the Scottsdale Marriot Courtyard.

    •  Well put, Matt.

    • Mark Biasotti

      Interesting observations Matt –  If you want to drop names, this is the reason that when I travel, I book at Courtyard by Marriott instead of the Regency (and I’ve stayed at both.) I think the luxury hotels have some catching up to do on their marketing research – guests in luxury hotels want both (luxury activities and connectivity)  because today, connectivity is not something most people take a vacation from – it is a way of life.