From the Director

A Word from Our Executive Director

UniForum '97: An Event for Its Time

This is the annual pre-show issue of UniForum's IT Solutions, and I urge you to read the cover feature, "A New World for IT in the Enterprise." You'll find a hint there of what we have in store for you the week of Mar. 10 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

UniForum '97 is not just a conference--certainly not just a trade show--but an amalgam that will be exciting, enriching, educational and a lot of fun. I call on all members of UniForum and our colleagues throughout the industry to make a concerted effort to attend this event. If you're a buyer of systems and software, prepare a list of questions and get them answered to your satisfaction. If you're a developer or part of the channel, make UniForum the place where you not only learn but become more visible and active within the industry. If you're a vendor, the exhibit floor is the place for you--but don't rely on showing the same old stuff. Push the envelope, demonstrate new solutions that involve integration, portability and scalability. If you're merely curious as to what the future of IT has in store, UniForum welcomes you as well.

The UniForum event has changed with time, evolving from a user-group meeting to a small conference with table-top displays into a full-fledged educational and exhibitor extravaganza with hundreds of sessions and hundreds of vendors in booths and pavilions taking over a major convention center. Accompanying this change, I'm afraid, has been a deemphasis of the sense of community that makes UniForum different from other trade shows. I know many of you look to our yearly gathering as an opportunity to renew acquaintances, catch up on new technologies and compare notes on new ways to solve vexing problems on the job. I want UniForum to remain the place where this kind of personal interaction can flourish and to become the event at which the entire IT industry chooses to gather once a year.

New Look, New Ideas

We have seen many important industry announcements at recent UniForums, but these planned events are part of the commercial nature of the show. What I'm referring to is the more informal yet vitally important sharing of ideas, information and opportunities among people. It is this spirit of the individual gaining lasting value from attending UniForum that I'd like us to strengthen this year.

To this end I've asked our show management and our staff to concentrate their efforts to provide a new look to the conference and show floor. They've responded with some great new ideas that will stimulate discussion and foster new thinking. For instance, we'll have a CIO panel in which major buyers explain what they are looking for as network computers make their debut. We'll coordinate this with a show-floor plenary featuring CIOs and vendors discussing what's ready for network computing and what's not. Also, The Open Group Research Institute's annual research symposium will be held at UniForum for the first time, and we're serving up a first-ever NT Developer and ISV Workshop, with an emphasis on portability and ActiveX technologies. And we'll present a nationwide extranet demonstration featuring the results from a project designed to help manufacturers improve time to market through IT.

For further information, please take the time to read the entire conference brochure, including registration forms. It's on the Web at I know you'll find UniForum '97 to be more than worth your investment of time and money. I look forward to seeing you there.

Tom Mace is executive director of the UniForum Association. He can be reached at