I’m not a big fan of conferences, but I really like XLDB. Last year I got a lot out of XLDB, even though I couldn’t stay long (my elder care issues were in full swing). The year before I attended the whole thing — in Lyon, France, no less — and learned a lot more. This year’s XLDB conference is at SLAC — the organization formerly known as the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center — on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, October 18-19. As of right now, I plan to be there, at least on the first day. XLDB’s agenda and registration details (inexpensive) can be found on the XLDB conference website.
The only reason I wouldn’t go is if that turned out to be a lousy week for me to travel to California.
The people who go XLDB tend to be really smart — either research scientists, hardcore database technologists, or others who can hold their own with those folks. Audience participation can be intense; the most talkative members I can recall were Mike Stonebraker, Martin Kersten, Michael McIntire, and myself. Even the vendor folks tend to the smart — past examples include Stephen Brobst, Jeff Hammerbacher, Luke Lonergan, and IBM Fellow Laura Haas. When we had a datageek bash on my last trip to the SF area, several guys said they were planning to attend XLDB as well.
XLDB stands for eXtremely Large DataBases, and those are indeed what gets talked about there. The lead organizer, Jacek Becla, seems to have started XLDB because he has 100 petabytes of astronomical data to plan for. XLDB is where I learned about how CERN manages what must by now be most of the particle physics data in the world. (Even the metadata for the experiment logs is over 10 terabytes.) Facebook, eBay, and Zynga are all on this year’s program.
XLDB’s focus is expanding a bit from data-management-only to analytic techniques as well; I tried to run a panel last year on analytics-DBMS integration before Jeff got hold of the idea and deleted the “DBMS integration” part. But in any case, I’d expect topics discussed at XLDB to be what even I might willingly label “big data”.