The AlwaysOn Conference kicked off at Stanford today. I got in after midnight from OSCON in Portland and only got about 5 hours sleep, so maybe it was just me, but the first couple of sessions started out a bit slow. But by mid-morning things were kicking into high gear and the afternoon sessions were excellent. The t-shirt to suit ratio is the completely inverse of OSCON, but the panels were still very good, and focused on the business issues around Web 2.0, software as a services, open source, intellectural property, venture capital trends and so on. If you're looking for hot new startups in the valley, or lessons from the big guns, this is the place.
I particularly enjoyed a panel led by Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal on user-generated content featuring Web 2.0 poster child YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley along with Michael Robertson of MP3Tunes.com (and previously MP3.com) as well as two suits from Yahoo and Sony. I don't know if its a generational issue or just some level of defensiveness from the old guard, but its clear that Hurley and Robertson understand the power and legitimacy of a user community in a way that the others don't. On the other hand, the newcomers have no reason to be defensive. Heck, YouTube is delivering 60% of the streaming video in the US and they've been in operation for less than a year. (Needless to say, YouTube uses MySQL to achieve massive scalability, as do most of the big Web 2.0 companies.)
AlwaysOn also recognized the Top 100 Private companies including such prominent MySQL users as Airgo Networks, Amp'd Mobile, Aruba Networks, CafePress, CollabNet, Comergent Technologies, FaceBook, GraceNote, IronPort Systems, LindenLabs, Narus, Netli, Ombiture, Orb Networks, PhotoBucket, RazorGator, Sling Media, SourceFire, SugarCRM, Technorati, TellMe Networks, Vocera Communications, Zappos, Zantaz, Zimbra and others. In fact, in researching this, we realized that the majority of AO100 companies are all running MySQL. That appears to be one of the common dimensions for achieving high-end scale-out, whether you're Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Craigslist or the next big thing. (And MySQL was a winner also.)