Cloud Expo Frankfurt – a very personal summary
This year, we from Cloudical were present at a Cloud Expo for the first time, and that in two rols: on the one hand as a sponsor with our own booth, and on the other hand with the cloud report as a media partner.
We were really looking forward to the event because we could meet people directly again and we were attracted by the fact that cloud users would come there as well as cloud (service) providers. As OSBA members, we even got a discount on our booth and topics such as Gaia-X, open source and sustainability were the focus of the program. That’s where we belong, we wanted to inform about real open source, about vendor lockin, about security, about sovereignty and cost savings, and meet the announced audience from the German companies.
Just a week before the event, there was talk of 10,000 attendees. So we and I were full of anticipation.
The fact that the trade show organization did not function well on site was very likely a consequence of the layoffs during the Corona pandemic in the event sector. Set-up teams are no longer well-rehearsed, smaller and meanwhile also unpracticed. As a result, booth setup and hall preparation did not last until Tuesday noon (one day before the event) as planned, but virtually until dismantling. When we reached our booth, everything was there, only the printed walls were mixed up, but a look around us showed very quickly that we were the absolute exception. On Wednesday morning, about half of the booths were really finished. In this respect we were lucky! The wall pieces were still changed on Wednesday morning (thanks to the permanent reminder by a colleague), so we had a beautiful booth for almost the whole event. Only the lead capture app didn’t work, and the question for help was rejected…
The entire event with the Cloud Expo, Data Center World and Big Data and AI World areas took place in one exhibition hall, the areas were color-coded and easily recognizable. In all areas, there were also a number of larger and smaller stages between the exhibitors’ booths, where presentations were continuously held and panel discussions took place during the exhibition hours. Since the event was not a conference, but a trade show with presentations, it was not surprising that the level of presentations varied, especially since many of the presentations were part of the sponsorship package, allowing sponsors to introduce themselves. And the editor in me was very pleased to see that the lectures were very well attended, because knowledge transfer is always good. And I was in some very good presentations that left me enlightened and the results of which will soon be read in the cloud report. And the opportunity to talk to people directly again was great! So some interviews came about, partly spontaneous, partly planned.
(Christian Berendt, CEO OSISM GmbH, during his talk How to create beautiful cloud-native landscapes?)
(Susanna Kaas,“The cleanest data centres are the ones that aren´t built at all.”)
Even in the run-up to the event, all communication was in English, which irritated me a bit, because the German SME sector was supposed to be a target group. But since the preparation team also organizes the Cloud Expo in London, I didn’t question that. But precisely because the event in London is held in English and in Paris in French, I actually assumed in advance that the event in Frankfurt would be in German, so we also prepared ourselves and produced all the stand materials in German. Yes, cloud technology is an international topic and the development and community work takes place in English. But the topic is not only reserved for the English-speaking population of this world, companies in Germany also want to use cloud without being able to read the repositories. In this context, the question of the actual target group of the event arose, which is still not clear to me even now in retrospect. It is definitely not the German SME sector! Especially since a representative of the French preparation team confirmed to me that Cloud Expo in France is definitely held in French. And even if the event is supposed to be international and, for example, many companies from Poland were in Frankfurt (who, incidentally, want to do business in Germany and therefore often speak German very well), we may also be as self-confident as the French and let an event in Germany take place in German. Then perhaps the companies from Germany would also come. (And I know it seems to be ironical that this text is in English…)
Finally, I would like to talk about the participants of the Cloud Expo. Since I actually can’t really classify who the actual target group was, I also can’t judge whether they were then also on site. However, I am very sure that the 10,000 participants that were announced were not there. Even if the presentations were well attended, the booths were not. And the mid-sized companies we were hoping for, or companies that want to use cloud for their own purposes, weren’t there either. We mainly talked to other sponsors, B to B. And for them, topics like open source, sustainability, sovereignty were hardly part of the business strategy. Based on the big main stage Gaia-X and our discount through OSBA, we expected these topics to be in focus, but with the other sponsors and the scattered attendees, they hardly played a role. For example, I was pleased to go to one of the booths that offered a sovereign cloud, only to learn that they offer infrastructure hosting, exclusively in the Azure cloud. When I asked where the data centers were, I got the answer that Azure assured them that they were in Europe… I think we still have a long way to go to convey what true sovereignty means.
I would like to come to a clear conclusion regarding Cloud Expo, however, this is difficult for me. It was not a bad event, except for the glitches in the trade fair construction, it was well organized. And perhaps the few participants were still due to Corona. There were high-ranking representatives from business and politics, who were present in the hall in an approachable way. And the empty booths also had the advantage that I could actually talk to everyone I wanted to talk to. However, it is important to analyze how more people can be reached. For this, my tip: Organize the trade fair in Germany in German and publish targeted ads in company magazines and regional newspapers, because really everyone was gathered who stands for cloud in Germany, there you could have gotten all the information you could want, whether you run cloud yourself or just want to use it, there you found information about all the possibilities. Only those who would like to be informed were not there…
Source figures: https://www.cloudexpoeurope.de/
 I think it’s good to give sponsors the opportunity to introduce themselves in a presentation and to invite visitors to an event to their booth. But for me as a visitor, it helps immensely if a presentation is also marked as such in the program, so that I know what to expect. Nothing is more counterproductive for the sponsor and the listener if a lecture is expected on a topic that is about knowledge, a genuine overview and independent information, but instead a small advertising event takes place. But if it’s clear that the talk is about sponsorship, then an audience member makes a conscious decision to attend, wants specific information about a product or the company, and is then more likely to decide to visit the booth afterwards.