At the end of FOSS4G 2011, I sat down with Peter Batty, conference chairman, to get his thoughts on the event. Batty commented that from an attendee perspective, the level of technical presentations is something you don't find at any other type of conference. As such, one of his goals as a new OSGeo board member is to maintain the high level of presentations. However, he would also like to introduce a business track into the event. He believes that the open source for newcomers workshop was also extremely valuable.
And what about adding more sponsors? Certainly there was concern by Batty that perhaps more private corporations need to be contacted for sponsorship. Autodesk's abandonment of support was replaced by others. Still, corporate entities like the major systems integration firms and perhaps others in the defense and intel communities that are readily using open source technology have a vested interest as well.
On the way to the airport, I had a conversation with a person that is the lone GIS support individual in a medium-sized engineering firm. He was extremely pleased with the content of the event in which he received lots of good ideas and direction. His firm, however, does not maintain IT admin who are capable of putting in the necessary security measures to stand up an open source environment. But he was also concerned that the pricing of proprietary GIS systems is too high for projects that his firm undertakes. Hence, he feels caught in the middle between the need for the lower TCO that open source affords but less security needed and the high cost but more easily maintained proprietary software.
Other, like-sized firms may feel similarly. Is there a way out of this dilemma?