Why go to a conference these days? After all, all the information one could possibly need is on the web, isn't it, probably with a nice video to go with it? Well, it's the story, dammit. Before you start a new technology initiative you worry about the technology not working; when it fails it's almost always because of issues with the people (or the issues people have with the technology you're using). People issues come alive with stories and stories on the web tend to be either unrealistically optimistic or unrealistically pessimistic - depending on whether people people are trying to big themselves up or excuse their failures and blame the technology (although some blogs are honourable exceptions, it sometimes hard to know which).
A classic example of a real story is the DevOps book I blogged about here. And, in a F2F conference you get stories from the horse's mouth and you can push back - and this can make the issues live.
What about this story from Michel Delran, who will be presenting on 'How a CMDB can save you millions' at the CMSG Conference 2013: "On a cold late December day, when Christmas tree lights are flickering and the spider webs sparkle with the frosty sun, an alarm suddenly goes off at the head offices of a well-known mobile phone distribution company near London. As employees rush out into the cold streets, the fire sirens scream and the water pipes are unwound. Soon the fire is out. Then the first bad news: the small data centre in the basement got very wet and isn't working any more. Well, nobody seems to worry too much, as this was a very small data centre, that was due to be relocated next month, anyway. Then bad news strikes again: it seems that the company's high street shops in London can't process their chip and pin requests any more. They cannot sell any phones and Christmas is next week. Wait a minute, it's not only London, but all of the UK, and the whole European operation isn't working very well, and some shop staff are writing down credit card details "for later processing" in a very insecure way, and the company is suddenly at risk of going out of business!"
To me, that makes the reasons for adopting configuration management real, but nobody sensible is going to put the details behind that story in print, even on the web - but I'd love to ask Michel over a glass of wine whether it's true; and, if so, who it was! And if you want to hear practitioners talk freely remember that BCS CMSG hospitality is legendary (and that, allegedly, what's said in BCS HQ stays in BCS HQ.). You can register for CMSG 2013 here.