CeBIT 2010 Preview: Sparks, Smoldering

Anytime you get 300,000+ people together anywhere, the logistics become interesting but the Hannover Messe still marshals an extraordinary number of geeks and IT business people through the 20+ halls of CeBIT. This year, the attendance forecast is down, perhaps less than half of its peak a decade ago.

Back then, however, the crush of people included IT people, but also civilians, students, and IT tire-kickers. These days, while the door is more or less wide open, the people that make the journey are interested. In what, you might ask?

This is the only IT trade fair in the world (or any kind in tech industries) that devotes an entire hall to Green IT alone. There's an OS X pavilion, conveniently timed to take advantage of the crush of interesting iPhone TNG (the next generation), iPad, and the venerable Mac. Open Source has an enormous following in the EU, and there's not only an Open Source Pavilion, but it's not just a gathering of 10x10 booths with geek-speakers-- far more interesting than that.

The Chinese are here in a big way, with rival mainland and Taiwanese organizations on serious parade-- with dozens of other 'country pavilions'. Notably missing is a huge US pavilion or sponsored area, as most US companies are represented by their German 'country managers'. And despite that, one German vendor, SAP, has two small, connecting pavilions of their very own-- replete with an ostensibly new CEO, as the old one was booted three weeks ago.

CeBIT, like many EU trade fairs, is a two-story event where the show floor is downstairs, and the expresso machine and beer kegs are typically upstairs. The opening night tomorrow is also the crux of after-hours meet-and-greet events with a serious amount of German beers and wine.

Hannover is flooded with a problem-- lots of water from recent strong storms and huge winter snow melt. Rivers are over their banks and lowlands are flooded everywhere, but nothing important is underwater. But the typhoon-like weather that hit Europe (especially France) over the weekend has meant that transportation systems by rail and air are only now recovering from downed trees, flash flooding, and wickedly strong winds. If you're here, you probably tried much harder than normal to make the journey. Tomorrow I'll talk about the things that make the journey worth it.

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