OpenView Group Embraces HP's User Event

The OpenView Forum International's board last week voted unanimously to hold the group's 2006 conference as part of HP's new companywide user event instead of continuing to schedule it separately.

The OVFI's annual HP Software Forum is produced jointly with the vendor, and this year's event starts today in Denver. But next year's conference will take place within the HP Technology Forum, which HP is launching this September as a vehicle for consolidating its various user-group conferences.

"Our goal is to kind of put a conference within a conference and ... still maintain our identity," said Thomas Reinsel, president of the eight-person OVFI board. "The stakes are high, and we are concerned about the blending of software into a larger event. Whether we lose our identity -- we need to monitor that."

The OVFI agreed to join the HP-led conference because of concerns that the company might not send speakers or technologists to the HP Software Forum in the future, Reinsel said. "If HP heads west, we have to head west," he explained.

Reinsel added that the user group, which has about 7,000 members worldwide, wants to "aggressively work with HP on broadening the number of people that get exposed to HP software." He said the change will be officially announced Wednesday at the OVFI's conference, which is expected to attract about 2,000 OpenView users.

Mike Peckar, co-chairman of the OVFI's New England chapter, said he and some other chapter leaders dissented on the merger plan. "While it makes sense for HP to push its many user groups to consolidate under a single umbrella, I worry that those groups could eventually lose their voice," said Peckar, who heads Fognet Consulting in West Boylston, Mass.

The OVFI already plans to play a role at the first HP Technology Forum in New Orleans, as does the U.S. chapter of the Encompass user group, which has its roots among the customer base of the former Digital Equipment Corp. The OpenView group will help develop content for sessions, but many of the details have yet to be worked out.

For the combined 2006 show, the OVFI has reached an agreement with HP that will let it sell booth space to other vendors, which is a major source of the user group's funding, said Reinsel, who is also president and CEO of Pepperweed Consulting.

The OVFI was formed in 1993, and its first president was Richard Sturm, who is now an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo. Sturm said a separate OpenView user event is no longer needed.

"I think the software event's main value is education, and that can be served at any event," Sturm said. And HP has influence over the existing OpenView conference anyway, he noted, adding that "it's not entirely independent."

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