Jim Duffy: SuperNet was really DismalNet

Dismal is the best way to describe last week’s SuperNet 2002 conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

Attendees were scarce – conference session rooms were straining to be even half-full, and the exhibition floor was virtually inactive. Eerily unbusy.

The show lacked any major product, service, technology-advancement or customer-win announcement. It seemed as if the smattering of attendees, exhibitors and speakers just waltzed around in a zombie-like fog, methodically nodding to one another that yes, better days are ahead. Things will pick up soon.

Let’s hope so. And that it happens real fast. Like by June’s SuperComm show.

Instead of the big announcements, vendors took the opportunity of SuperNet to reassure skittish investors, suppliers and service provider customers that they are still committed to IP and the Internet despite the current slump. That the industry correction did not force a radical about-face in strategy or focus, but a resolution to stay the course and ride out the storm.

“We’re still on the right track,” vendors were saying. “We’re still on to a good thing.” With a little work to bulk up IP’s quality-of-service and service-level agreement capabilities, innovative application opportunities and the ability to duplicate connection-oriented networks and services, greener, richer pastures lie ahead.

I’m already looking forward to SuperComm, and I don’t even like trade shows. But after SuperNet, I now miss the loud, busy, bustling show floors, conference rooms packed to standing room only and too many press conferences to attend all jockeying for the same headline space. Forget the adage “no news is good news” – let’s at least have SOME news.

My flight out of San Jose didn’t come soon enough. This industry needs to be awakened, not waked.

Duffy is a writer for Network World (U.S.). He can be reached at jduffy