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IT Industry in Crosshairs of Las Vegas Shooting Tragedy

As the world today awoke to the news of last night's horrific mass shooting that originated from a 32nd floor room of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 and injuring more than 550, many IT pros had just arrived or were on their way to NetApp's Insight conference.

The NetApp conference was set to begin today with preconference technical sessions but as the shooting unfolded, the hotel was evacuated and all of today's activities were cancelled. NetApp later in the day said it had decided to resume the conference tomorrow for those who already attended with the keynote session to be kicked off by President and CEO George Kurian.

"I am shocked and saddened by the tragic event that occurred in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay last night," Kurian said in a statement. "I am sure you all share these sentiments. My heard and the hearts of thousands of NetApp employees break for the loved ones of those affected by the terrible events. NetApp will stand strong in the face of senseless violence and continue with the conference for those who want to attend."

Also kicking off this week is the Continuum Conference, an event for managed services providers, taking place further down the Las Vegas Strip at the Cosmopolitan. It too is set to go on, as reported by SMBNation's Harry Brelsford.

Some expressed mixed opinions on whether NetApp should resume the conference where the hotel remains an investigation scene and attendees were either looking to help and donate blood, while others as of last evening still were unable to return to their rooms.

This tragedy, which has shocked the world, is also unnerving to many IT professionals who find themselves in Las Vegas many times a year for large conferences. Las Vegas hosts hundreds of conferences of all sizes every year, and it is the site of many major tech gatherings. Many of you, myself included, were just at the Mandalay Bay just over a month ago for VMworld 2017. Many other tech vendors and conference organizers including Veritas, Okta, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, DellEMC and VMware, among others have held major conferences in Las Vegas.

TechMentor, produced by Redmond magazine parent 1105 Media was last held in Las Vegas in early 2016. The upcoming TechMentor conference is scheduled to take place in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 12-17 as part of the Live! 360 cluster of conferences and will return to the Microsoft campus in Redmond next summer as it did this year. After years of steering its conferences away from Las Vegas, Microsoft recently announced next year's Inspire partner conference in Las Vegas.

"My heart and thoughts are with all the people, families and responders in Las Vegas impacted by this horrific and senseless violence," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tweeted. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, pointed to a GoFundMe page posted by Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commission chair from Las Vegas for victims. "Our thoughts and prayers this morning are with the victims and families of Las Vegas shooting," Gelsinger tweeted.

NetApp is one of the largest providers of enterprise storage hardware and software with $5.52 billion in revenues for its 2017 fiscal year, which ended April 28. Many storage experts attending Microsoft's Ignite conference, which wrapped up on Friday, had signaled they were headed to Las Vegas for the NetApp event. Software and cloud providers listed as major sponsors of the NetApp technical event include Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Fujitsu, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Intel, Microsoft, Rackspace, Red Hat, VMware and many others, according to the company's sponsorship roster.

The shooter is alleged to have targeted an outdoor festival where he fired round after round for more than 10 minutes at the crowd. It is believed to be the worst shooting by an individual, in terms of the number of deaths and casualties, in U.S. history. People have been asked to donate blood if they can, and according to reports, attendees at the NetApp conference, and other events taking place are doing that, and helping out however they can.

Unfortunately, what has transpired in Las Vegas could happen in many places in the U.S. and abroad. Hotels may now have to consider scanning the bags of guests just as airlines now do, and we need to remain aware of our surroundings, which we've become conditioned to do since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/02/2017 at 1:54 PM


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