Regular readers of this blog, or followers on Twitter will know that I’m permanently positive about the events put on by Eric and Kim Norlin, Gluecon and defrag. Just in case you were wondering, I don’t benefit from their events – yes I’m an adviser but my attendance, on an almost religious basis, of the Norlin events is primarily because of the incredible quality of what they do. I attend A LOT of events, all across the globe – Eric manages to create something different. hHrd to define if you’ve not attended but once you go to a Gluecon or a defrag you’ll be hooked – guaranteed.

One of the people who follows Eric’s events as closely as me is Mike Maney. Despite him being in PR and, as such, tarnished by that industry’s perceived lack of credibility, Maney has shown himself to be someone who really “gets it” – he’s collaborative and inclusive, traits that he’s continued to show at his latest gig, working with the Alcatel Lucent API team. In this guise, Maney has convinced Alcatel Lucent to do something pretty cool, especially if you’re a developer in the API/Cloud space.

For 2011, Alcatel Lucent is signing up to be the Community Underwriter for Glue – while this sounds like PR babble, it is in fact seriously cool. 15 companies, judged by a selection panel purely on merit (more on that below) will be given demo space at Gluecon… completely free. They’ll get a pod, signage and passes to the show – they’ll just need to show up and the world will (almost) be theirs.

So… how are the companies being selected? A committee has been formed that (despite me being more than a little biased) includes people who genuinely care about fostering new companies and new technology. The panel consists of:

Everyone on the selection committee gets one vote, and the top 15 companies get a free demo pod – and to their credit, Alcatel Lucent isn’t expecting any kind of editorial control over the event or the process – it truly is a case of “a rising tide lifting all boats”.

Another benefit of the sponsorship is that it enables a bunch of activities leading up to Glue — things like, holding hackathons around the country and then flying the winners into Gluecon to participate in a major league hackathon at the conference. When Eric told me about this his excitement was palpable. As he says:

If you take away the company specific conferences (Google i/o, Twitter, F8), there really just aren’t that many national-level gathering spots for developers in the cloud/API space. There are a lot of “business level” and “workshop” conferences that happen around cloud computing, but we’re talking DEVELOPERS. And even where there are developer gatherings in the cloud/API space, the ability to pay has always been a limiting factor for startups and companies wanting to show their wares and exhibit. That ends with Gluecon 2011. With Gluecon 2011, developers in the cloud/API space have the ability to participate in a pure meritocracy.

So, big ups to Alcatel Lucent for ponying up for this program. Congratulations to Eric for doing the right thing by developers. And to everyone else – I’ll see you at Glue!

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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