Last week’s Storage Networking World (SNW) show was the first one I missed since they launched the event in 1999, breaking my 22-show streak.

On one hand, I didn’t really miss being at the show because my three days at SNW twice a year are the busiest six days of my work year. (My personal record was 33 meetings in three days.) And the trips set me back another few days just catching up with real work. And 11 meetings a day with (mostly) vendors and their presos is more than any human can take.

On the other hand, I did miss being at the show. Well, I missed being at the hotel lobby bar in the evenings where, over a few well-deserved adult beverages I was always able to commingle with old buddies (and at this stage of the game, most of them are old), analysts, consultants and the occasional end user.

But I wasn’t crying in my beer back here in L.A., because fewer and fewer of my old SNW pals are going to the show these days (in part this time around because Symantec Vision and the huge NAB show also took place last week, and there actually were a lot of storage products introduced at that show – see “New product highlights from NAB”).

But even though I didn’t make it to SNW, I got plenty of reports from people that did. A good time was had by all (except, perhaps, exhibitors that paid big bucks hoping to rack up buckets of leads), but everybody commented on how slow the show was (e.g., lack of traffic, excitement, product introductions, users).

Sure, SNW is a remnant of its former self (and there’s talk about collapsing the two shows into one annual event), but it’s still the biggest storage-centric conference and, despite the criticism it often gets . . . We need this show.

In order to raise the relevance of the conference, I think the show organizers should double or redouble their efforts to involve the channel – systems/storage integrators, VARs and distributors. SNW has done all it can on the end-user side and, according to most exhibitors, it hasn’t been enough. But instead of hoping for a handful of leads from their booths, wouldn’t exhibitors rather interact with dozens or hundreds of channel representatives? Most storage products go through the channel anyway. And channel professionals are more likely to kick tires in the exhibit hall (without the free food and drink enticements that end users seem to require).

Assuming you’re hopeful for a resurgence of SNW, do you have any other ideas for show management? If so, email me and I’ll collect and forward to the proper authorities.