Citrix has changed the name of their flagship conference again. After calling it "Citrix iForum" from 1999 - 2006, and then renaming it to the "App Delivery Expo" for 2007, the 2008 event will be called "Citrix Synergy." If you can get over the "three names in three years" thing, I think this is actually a good move. The "App Delivery Expo" was not a good name. It was too long and hard to remember. The original name of the conference in 1998 was "Thinergy," so "Synergy" sort of takes us back to the roots.
The problems that Citrix will have now is to let people know that "Synergy" is THE Citrix event. Over the years, Citrix has had many conferences: Solutions Summit. Big Tour. Solutions Conference. Partner Day. And iForum has traditionally been in Las Vegas or Orlando in the fall. But Synergy has a new name, a new city (Houston), and a new date (May).
Yesterday I sent the CitrixSynergy.com website to my coworker Emily, and her response was, "Jeez.. Citrix is creating ANOTHER event?!?" And I think that's the problem. She didn't know that Synergy was iForum. So I wonder how many people won't attend because they don't "get" that Synergy is the one event they should attend? (Well. if someone is going to attend only one event, it should be BriForum. But Synergy is a nice second choice. :)
In talking to folks at Citrix, they've made it clear that they want to evolve Synergy into a more industry-wide event that just happens to be sponsored by Citrix, similar to the way that VMware does VMworld, or RSA does the RSA Conference. The big difference between iForum / Synergy and these other conferences is that the other conferences are open to anyone to present, and to anyone to attend.
So Citrix has a new name for their conference, but it seems that this is the same old thing. The same Citrix partner sponsors as always. (No VMware this year though.) Mark Templeton and Microsoft's Bob Muglia keynote. No open invitation for the public or partners to present topics (although Citrix did invite the CTPs to submit topics for approval). [Update: Citrix's Barry Flanagan invited folks to submit topics via his blog , but this info is not on the official website.]
My fear is that with this new name, Citrix has only one chance to "get it right." And if Synergy is just the same conference that iForum has been for the past decade, then they will blow their chance with the branding for that name.
Really, Citrix has to decide what they want Synergy to be. iForum has always been a sales and marketing conference for Citrix Systems, Inc. If Citrix wants Synergy to be an industry event, fine, but they have to realize that they'll have to give up some control and that they won't be able to "approve" all of the content. (At the last iForum I spoke at, Citrix had to "pre-approve" my slides. And they actually made me remove words that mentioned that MetaFrame had "problems with printing." I had to change it to "the challenges of printing inherent in any server-based environment.")
The bottom line, though, is I think Citrix has potential with Synergy. I hope the name will stick. There are over 900 instances of "Synergy" in the US Patent and Trademark database. Of course I didn't read through them all, but I'm sure there are some that are IT- or conference-related.
The standard registration price for Synergy is $1495 for the 3-day conference. If you want to add a fourth day of hands-on technical workshops, that's an extra $895.