I would evaluate each conference myself before relying upon any
references. Check out each conference's agenda and see if it meets your
needs. While some conferences may have a huge diverse audience maybe,
just maybe, their sessions will fit your needs if you actually plan your
time out while there scheduling each open time slot with a session that
meets your needs. For example if some conference is only 30% IBM i based
but still leaves you with a full schedule of desired sessions, and some
sessions that are hard to come by via other venues, then what does it
matter that it's only 30% IBM i? You have to try a little harder to find
the right people to network with while enjoying cocktails at the expo?
And some things change over the years. I knew of one gal formerly from
our LUG that preferred the IBM Tech Conferences because, well, she wasn't
the most physically fit person you ever met. She liked it that those
conferences were all in one hotel while COMMON (at the time) was stretched
out over 2-3 buildings. That and the IBM Tech Conference provided all the
lunches and dinners so you didn't have to go out on the town to eat. Which
often caused issues at COMMON when 3,000 people hit the lunch counter in
the lobby all at once. COMMON does a much better job with some more of
the meals at the expo than they used to.
People like Larry Bolhuis and Pete Massiello have awesome sessions but I
would definitely not consider them developer sessions. My LUG is mostly
developers and have expressed little interest in their sessions.
I'll admit that I have some preconceived notions about the latest versions
of the IBM Tech Conferences. Like, is the cost really higher than COMMON?
Is it that way because System Z goes also and everyone assumes that
anyone using System Z has unlimited pockets?