We are nearly one-sixth of the way into 2021. The more dominating timeline, however, is measured by the pandemic. In this part of the world, it was about this time last year that EVERYTHING CHANGED. In a matter of days, we went from living our normal lives to wearing personal protective equipment (if we could find it, that is), working from home 100% of the time, and shifting from in-person conferences to online conferences.

It is this latter adjustment that inspired February’s poll question: Which online conferences are you planning to attend this year, and has your opinion of online conferences changed?

Let us start with the first part of the question. Here are the online conferences that you have on the calendar in 2021 (we will also put links to each of these for those of you who want to learn more):

**Currently, SQL Server Live! 360 and Gartner Infrastructure & Operations are scheduled as in-person events, although this may change based on the overall public health situation. All of the other conferences listed above are virtual.

Also, several of you said that you’re looking forward to attending Devolutions Central Online 2021! Jenny and the team are hard at work putting that together, and we will provide updates — we can’t wait!

Now, let’s look at part two of the poll question, which asked how your opinion of online conferences has changed over the past year. Overall, the general feeling is that while online conferences lack some of the important benefits of in-person conferences — especially the social and informal aspects — they remain valuable and have improved over the last year (which makes sense as both hosts and attendees are better prepared now vs. before the pandemic).

Here are some of your thoughts:

  • “I think that now we have too many events happening. They're not bad, but there are so many options that you need to filter the best options.” — Germano • “Missing in-person for sure, meeting up with the community and taking some extra days to discover a new city/location. The plus side of online conferences is the time (& money) you save on traveling, hotels, etc. Problem is that you're at home and you can be bothered by your normal work.” — Patrick Damen
  • “I can participate in more events, but there is a lack of human contacts anyway.” — Nicolas BILLAUD
  • “During online conferences, I don't go into the chat room and talk to random people. At a real conference, I sit next to people and speak to them prior to the session beginning. I sit at a random table for lunch and speak to my peers. Networking at an in-person event is way different than at a virtual event.” — Ben Leibowitz
  • “Cv19 certainly made webinars more common, thankfully, but it hasn’t changed how I feel towards them, as it’s still my preferred method.” — John Kenny
  • “My opinion about online conferences hasn't changed much. The only difference is that there are a lot more choices (for conferences to attend online).” — Milan Petrovic
  • “I was a bit hesitant to attend virtual conferences when they began sprouting up last year, but the ones I have attended so far have been very well-managed and streamlined for the user experience.” — Tawny Johnson
  • “I think live conferences are much better, although the online ones will get better. A pre-record of the speaker presentation and then a live Q&A at the end of the session is the way I see it done mostly.” — Stephen

At Devolutions, we’re glad that virtual conferences are an option (can you imagine if the pandemic struck 20 years ago?), and we LOVED hosting Devolutions Central Online. But we also miss the in-person experience, because that is how we get to meet so many incredible members of our community. Last year, we had planned on attending multiple events in North America and around the world, but obviously, that didn’t happen. But we’re hopeful that things will start normalizing later in 2021 and into 2022, and that once again our Event Team will travel the world telling the Devolutions story (while also collecting and distributing some really awesome swag!).

The Winners Are…

Now, let’s reveal the two randomly selected poll participants who will each receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Congratulations to olivia parker and Tawny johnson! Please email me to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who participated and shared your valuable opinions and experiences. We will be posting the March poll soon — please stay tuned!