A somewhat different OSAD

For 4 years now, the Open Source Automation Days have been our highlight of the year. We are very pleased to see that Munich’s largest vendor-independent open source conference has established itself as an integral part of the annual calendar of events. When we organized a three-day event for over 150 participants for the first time in 2019, it pushed our motivation for OSAD 2020 enormously. So we started planning immediately afterward, found a location, and already booked it… But suddenly, Corona was there!

From the beginning it was clear to us: OSAD 2020 will definitely take place. Full of enthusiasm we started to think about concepts and ideas for a virtual OSAD. We always had in mind that we wanted to stick to our three-day format with one workshop and two conference days. After discussing this with our workshop leaders and after we had found a suitable conference tool, we started. Many of the upcoming ToDo’s such as Call for Papers, speaker selection, agenda planning etc. were already routine. But now additional tasks such as test runs, stream, and tool setup were added. Of course, all this caused a lot of work (and restraint not to flip our desks ;-), but already after a few weeks, the number of ticket registrations showed us that we are on the right track.

Finally, on 19.10.2020, we were able to welcome over20 participants in a total of four virtual workshop sessions and, at the start of the first conference day, over 160 viewers watching the live stream. From this point on, (almost) everything went as usual: Like last year, OSAD started with a keynote speech, this time by digitization expert Oliver Rössling. Afterward, the participants could put together their own program. There was a choice of presentations in the Technology Track and the Strategy Track – although this year the correct term is probably “stream” rather than “track” ;). Despite the virtual format, we mostly relied on live presentations, so the odd technical glitch or two could not be avoided – but these could always be fixed quickly. After two exciting days with a good 30 presentations, the Q&A session with Tobi Knaup marked the end of the virtual OSAD 2020. Our board member Mark and moderator Tobias asked the founder of D2IQ questions about his keynote speech held in the morning and about his career.

Our conclusion about our first virtual OSAD:

In fact, we were a little surprised at first that there is much more work behind a virtual event than behind an on-site event. But we also quickly found joy in the new challenge. Almost every day we played through different scenarios, tested various tools, and thought about how to give the participants the most realistic “conference feeling” possible. We don’t only think that we have succeeded in doing so ourselves, but also our participants – a big thank you for the great feedback! We would also like to thank our event partners D2IQ, Oracle Linux, EnterpriseDB, Hitachi Vantara, uib, Red Hat Ansible, percona, and tribe29 for daring the experiment with “virtual OSAD” with us. Even if the conclusion is positive from all sides, we have found that an online conference cannot replace a “normal” event. Because the interpersonal exchange is what makes an event special. On that note, we hope that you all stay healthy and that we can all meet again in-person for OSAD 2021.

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