What is PubForum, you ask? PubForum is sort of an underground gathering that's organized by regular people who love and use Citrix and Terminal Server technology. It started a few years ago when four guys who knew each other only through frequent postings on the Citrix technical support forum decided to get together face-to-face. Being IT guys, this gathering naturally involved drinking, and they got together for a weekend in Amsterdam. These guys knew each other only through their aliases on the Citrix message board (XS4Citrix, Citrix4ge, Citrix44u, and Dr.Conti)
They had a good time, and agreed that they should meet again. The second meeting took place in London. Since they'd talked about their meeting on the message boards, a few more people showed up this time.
And so the event grew and grew. Everyone met in Paris earlier this year and in Munich last week.
The real value of these events is that since they are informal--people come because they want to come. They are not corporate or sponsored in any way, so you can talk about whatever you want with whomever you want.
That being said, PubForum has grown to a respectable size, with people coming from well-known companies such as Log*in Consultants, BrainSys, Siemans, Citrix, Accenture, visionapp, Messerknech, and triCerat.
In addition to the open forums, this year’s event had several formal presentations.
I gave the first talk to the group, focusing on what I think the future of the industry is. We talked about Longhorn and what Terminal Server will look like in the future, and how Avalon primitives might change the landscape. Several people in the audience thought that my vision was not accurate, and we had a very lively discussion about it. For me, this was a very exciting conversation.
Next, Roger Jannson from triCerat gave an overview and rundown of all of triCerat’s tools and how they help people in this space. His presentation led to some great group discussions about the various third-party printing products and third-party software pricing and licensing strategies.
Stefan Vermeulen, the operator of the independent PrintingSupport.com, gave a presentation about some of the Citrix best practices for printing. There was a lot a discussion about the stuff that he discussed, and we also got to see a sneak preview of Douglas Brown’s upcoming Advanced Print Manager utility.
Joscha Strozynski of Messerknecht gave a presentation about his company’s Jumping Profiles product. This led to a long group conversation about profile management in general and the relative merits and problems of free solutions such as the flex profile kit from Jeroen van de Kamp.
Alex Danilychev, of tekworkshop.com, gave the next talk. I’ve known Alex for a few years now, and most people who meet him agree that he is one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry about how Terminal Server “really” works. This is a guy who writes SDKs for fun! (Seriously.. I don’t mean he uses SDKs to write software, I mean he writes the actual SDKs!)
Alex gave us a preview of his upcoming iShadow management tool for MetaFrame. This tool is absolutely amazing. It’s basically a management tool that allows you to do all the stuff you wish you could do with the regular Citrix management tools, including shadowing users by their real name. He hasn’t set pricing yet, but he’s thinking somewhere around $350 per server, putting him well under most of the competition.
Frank Hammer from Citrix gave a presentation about how you can debug and trace logging is built into MetaFrame Presentation Server 3. Basically you can configure a server so that it can automatically capture logs and post them to Citrix’s FTP support site, which is pretty cool.
The day’s final presentation was also given by a Citrix employee. Francisco Alves from Citrix Ireland gave a fantastic presentation about how you can troubleshoot problems with seamless windows. I personally learned a lot in his session. He talked about the behind-the-scenes voodoo that makes published windows work, and then he described some of the problems and solutions.
Again, the value is the conversations that we have here, both as a group in response to the presentations and one-on-one in between group events.. This even brings together some of the top people in the world, and you definitely can ask anyone anything.
Many thanks go out to Dr. Conti, the great grandfather of PubForum and the organizer responsible for all the events so far. He's already scheduled the next PubForum for May 20th in Dublin. (For those of you who want to meet Dr. Conti, he'll be presenting at BriForum next April in Washington, DC.)