With economic recovery still more rumour than fact, and technology spending budgets still under pressure, does the industry need another user conference?

Sun Microsystems Inc. seems to think so. The inaugural SunNetwork conference

runs Wednesday through Friday, and though it’s hosted San Francisco, there’s considerable Canadian interest in the event, according to Sun Microsystems of Canada’s vice-president of marketing and partners.

Brad Keates says there are about 100 Canadian customers and half a dozen exhibitors registered. “”That’s representative of a pretty successful show,”” Keates says.

Keates says the conference is aimed at a specific audience — developers, architects, IT managers, “”front-line tech people”” — though there may be some audience overlap with Sun’s JavaOne and SUPerG shows.

The conference will cover network identity, security, data management, edge computing, Web services and mobility. Sun has already discussed its Linux strategy in depth at the recent LinuxExpo conference in San Francisco, while it appealed to Canadian copmanies to join its identity management coalition, Liberty Alliance, in Toronto last week.

Aside from the usual keynote suspects — Sun CEO Scott McNealy and chief scientist Bill Joy — Java pioneer James Gosling will provide an update on the programming language. Sun will also host science historian and British TV documentary star James Burke for a discussion on the history of innovation. Still, concedes Keates, it’s a big investment in travel time and money for a Canadian firm.

At least one Sun partner and customer feels it can’t afford to miss a conference.

“”The only way we can continue to offer best-of-breed solutions to our customers is to stay a step ahead,”” says Dale Wolanuk, director of application solutions at Qunara Inc. With the company’s focus on managed services, Sun’s strength in the server market makes the company “”an important partner,”” he says.

Of particular interest to Wolanuk is identity management and “”anything to do with Sun’s architecture,”” he says.

The informal “”birds of a feather”” (BOF) breakout sessions will be particularly useful networking opportunities for Qunara’s technical architect, who’s also along for the trip. The BOF topics include briefings on developing client applications for small devices using XML, how to migrate Windows NT applications to Sun’s Solaris operating system and advanced tools for J2ME platform development.

Wolanuk seems to shrug off the commitment of time and money.

“”It’s part of the game. It’s part of what needs to be done,”” he says.

ITBusiness.ca will offer full coverage of SunNetwork live from the Moscone Center in San Francisco this week.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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