In the the couple of years I have been involved in the SQL Server community I have noticed that there is an issue with third-party product driven sessions or sponsor sessions at events. The argument I usually hear against these sessions is that organizers are concerned about the event becoming viewed as a marketing event. I’ve even had a short email discussion with Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey) about how it would be nice if he did a session on database source and version control based on a post he made in this SQLServerCentral thread. His response to my suggestion was:
…but I need to do it without using any particular vendor’s products… not easy…
…lots of organizations and people won’t accept presentations when they include third party products. It’s too much like a sales pitch…
Steve Jones (@way0utwest), also, had an editorial poll last Friday (1/8/2010), Balancing the Message, that dovetails nicely with this post, where he asks:
Think about the value that you've gotten from third party products. Think about the problems you've solved, or the help you've gotten from a backup tool, an editor, or a performance product. How would you like to learn about enhancements. What's a high impact, low interruption way of communicating with you?
I’d like to present 2 reasons why I think third-party product driven and/or vendor sessions should be acceptable at events:
I have to admit that reason 1 carries more weight with me as an attendee/organizer than reason 2. I’d especially be interested in sessions submitted and presented by users of a third-party product than by the vendor as it would be less likely to be a sales session. I have to admit, that, as a member of OPASS leadership, I’d be unlikely to have a vendor session at a user group meeting, but at a SQLSaturday, I’d happily have a 2 or 3 vendor sessions, as I believe any marketing backlash would easily be offset by the 20 or more non-vendor session.
So what do you think? Would you be turned off to SQLSaturday or other community event if there were vendor sessions or sessions based on third-party products?