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Top 25+ testing and performance conferences for 2016

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Juan Carlos Perez Freelance writer

Are you an IT professional working in the areas of software testing, quality assurance, performance monitoring and management, or other areas related to software user satisfaction? Then you should consider attending a few conferences this year to learn how the experts, including your peers, are handling these constantly evolving job roles and demands. 

The tools, processes, and expectations are changing, and the conferences listed in this article can help you keep your skills and knowledge up to date and relevant.

We have ranked them in four categories:

  1. Ones we consider a “must”
  2. Others that are "worth attending"
  3. A third tier of events that, within their broader scope, have strong testing, QA, or performance management content
  4. A final group of large, quasi-legendary conferences whose size and breadth makes them interesting to developers

The world of testing and performance management is turning fast

As you know, DevOps, continuous delivery, agile, and other modern software practices are steadily replacing traditional waterfall methods. Those in charge of these functions need to adapt to this new reality. Testing and QA are interwoven into the development and delivery cycle in a tighter, more automated way, and testing pros need to stay on top of new products, technology changes, and business requirements, especially tighter software security, cost efficiency, and regulatory compliance. 

Must attend

This year's "must attend" list of testing, performance, and QA conferences is based primarily on the high interest we have observed among attendees, growing year on year.

Agile Testing Days

Twitter: @AgileTD / #AgileTD
Date: Dec. 5-8
Location: Potsdam/Berlin, Germany
Cost: Ranges from €700 to €2,700

Göran Kero, an agile tester who has attended this conference three times—twice as a speaker—called it “the” conference for those who are into agile, testing or both, and praised the event’s atmosphere.

The organizers “create the perfect setting and the amazing people attending do the rest to create the including atmosphere that is so unique for ATD. Everybody is just so down to earth and willing to both learn and share,” he wrote in his blog after the 2015 conference.

Alexandra Schladebeck, an agile tester and consultant who gave a keynote speech at the conference, wrote in her blog that the event was “a mad ride” that left her with many new ideas and a “renewed vigour for all things testing and agile.”

Considered one of Europe’s main software testing events, Agile Testing Days is aimed at companies interested in gaining an edge through “early, rapid and iterative application releases.” Judging by reactions from past attendees, the conference offers a mix of fun interludes and serious sessions that make the experience both enjoyable and worthwhile.

Uwe Gelfert, an official at conference organizer Diaz & Hilterscheid, says the 2016 edition of Agile Testing Days will offer opportunities to learn by doing via DIY experiments in a warm, collegial, friendly, and fun atmosphere, he said.

Who should attend? Anyone involved with software testing—test managers, designers, analysts, consultants, architects, quality directors—as well as software architects, application developers, IT managers, CIOs, CTOs, software engineers

STAR Software Testing Conferences

Twitter: @TechWell / #StarEast / #StarWest
Dates / Location
Star East: May 1-6, Renaissance Orlando at Sea World, Orlando, Florida
Star West: Oct. 2-7, Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, California
Star Canada: Oct. 23-27, Hyatt Regency, Toronto, Canada
Cost: Price is currently available only for Star East, and it varies widely, since there are many package options, ranging from under $700 for a 1-day Testing & Quality Leadership Summit ticket bought before March 4 (Super Early Bird) to almost $3,800 for a 5-day conference pass with 3 days of training classes bought after April 1

These conferences, organized by TechWell, are designed specifically for testing and QA pros, touching on topics such as test management and leadership, software testing techniques, mobile app testing, test automation, certifications, QA methodologies, tools, agile testing, performance testing, exploratory testing, DevOps and software testing, and QA tester careers.

Writing recently on TechBeacon, Gerie Owen, a test architect, called these Star conferences “among the most prestigious QA and testing conferences in North America” and “suitable for junior-level testers as well as seasoned test professionals and test managers.”

According to the organizers, the conferences are geared toward practical knowledge that attendees can apply immediately at work, and include short sessions, half- and full-day tutorials, multiday in-depth training, and a Leadership Summit.

Who should attend? Software and test managers, IT directors, QA managers and analysts, test practitioners and engineers, development managers, developers, CTOs

Google Test Automation Conference

Twitter: @googletesting / #GTAC2015
Dates: Early 2017
Location: Not available
Cost: Not available (the last one in 2015 was free)

GTAC, first held in 2006, is hosted by Google and draws engineers from industry and academia. It focuses on the latest technologies and strategies in test automation and test engineering.

The 2015 conference featured speakers from (of course) Google but also from many other companies and universities, including Georgia Tech, Intel, LinkedIn, Lockheed Martin, MIT, Splunk, Twitter, and Uber.

In a summary of what went well and not so well, Google organizers said 76% of attendees rated the overall event as “above average,” with particular praise for the venue (Google’s Cambridge, MA offices), the food and the “breadth and coverage of the talks.”

Still 11% of survey respondents expressed frustration with “event communications,” and many of the long-form comments asked for a more balanced mix of technologies—apparently mobile was over-represented in the talks.

Attendee Alister Scott, a software tester from Automattic’s WordPress, blogged that his main insight from the conference was that there is a tendency in his field toward complex solutions.

“We need to keep asking ourselves: ‘what’s the simplest thing that could possibly work?’ If we have complex systems why do we need complex tests?” he wrote. “We need to take each large complex problem we work on and break it down till we get something small and manageable and solve that problem. Rinse and repeat.”

Who should attend? QA and test pros

Software Test Professionals Conference & Expo

Twitter: @SoftwareTestPro / #STPCon
Date: April 4-7
Location: Westin San Francisco Airport, Millbrae, CA
Cost: Ranges from $595 to $2,095

Organizers say that this conference, “designed by testers for testers,” is focused on testing management and strategy, to help attendees improve their techniques, get up to speed on the latest tools, discuss trends, improve processes, and better understand the testing industry.

Michał Stryjak, a QA manager at PiLab, attended the 2015 fall conference in Boston and found it insightful with regards to industry trends and practices. It also reinforced his company’s approach to testing and QA.

“Working in a context-driven testing team is a challenge and forces us to learn a lot of new things in a very fast pace,” he wrote. “Each tester has to be an expert; a craftsman who can select the best tools, utilize many skills or switch methodologies depending on the context.”

After returning from the spring event in California in 2013, Matt Heusser from SmartBear concluded that testing is “melding into the overall development experience,” which means the role is being taken up by others in the IT organization—and that’s a good thing.

“Over the next few years, there may be less ‘pure’ testers, but the conference is, if anything, getting stronger, attracting people who contribute to test and quality in other ways,” he blogged. “The test community is not going away; it is getting wider.”

Who should attend? QA and testing professionals


Twitter: @Monitorama / #monitorama
Web: /
Date: June 27-29
Location: Portland, Oregon
Cost: $400

As its name implies, Monitorama focuses strictly on software monitoring. It’s narrow in scope by design, with a single track, so that attendees have a cohesive, unified experience and don’t suffer from “choice overload,” as founder Jason Dixon explains in this blog post detailing the origins and development of the conference. A big effort is made to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness among attendees, all of whom Dixon hopes to make feel welcome.

“I know what it feels like to be an outsider at an event where you're not part of the inner circle, and I never want anyone else to feel that way at Monitorama,” he wrote.

Matt Simmons, an infrastructure administrator, called Monitorama “the best single-track conference” he’s ever been to, after attending in 2013, saying that it provides a “high-signal, low-noise immersion.”

“Even if the talks weren’t packed with technical how-tos, it was awesome to be exposed to so many new ideas and surrounded by so many people who had their stuff together. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone interested in web or devops or monitoring in general,” he wrote in his blog.

Meanwhile, Eric Gustafson, a principal engineer at HPE, described the 2015 conference as “another success” for the organizers and for the monitoring community, even if he found this edition “less pragmatic” than previous ones.

Aaron Bento, a site reliability engineer at New Relic, found the 2014 conference “awesome,” in particular that it drew a diverse audience of Devs and Ops people focused on improving the monitoring tools they use.

“I was mostly interested in one subject in particular: how others identify and reduce alert fatigue,” he wrote.

Others have called Monitorama “a great small conference.

Who should attend? Developers, operations staff, testers, QA pros

EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference

Twitter: @esconfs / #esconfs
Date: 31 Oct – 03 Nov
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Cost: Ranges from €865 to €2,310. Early booking discounts are available – check out the website for details

EuroSTAR is Europe’s longest running testing conference and has a rich history reaching back to 1993 when it first took place in London.

The key strength of EuroSTAR is its community focus as witnessed in 2015 and a nucleus of passionate testers who attend year after year – including a growing list of Honorary Delegates of EuroSTAR who have each attended the conference for more than 20 years.

That community ethos drives the conference. Each year a newly selected Program Committee and 40-strong panel of volunteers score upward of 500 submissions and select the best to create a comprehensive program that caters for a broad range of testing topics and specialties.

Community is also at the center of the two-and- a-half day Expo where attendees can take part in the Test Lab, Community Huddle and Test Clinic as well as enjoying a busy social events calendar during the event.

This year it returns to Sweden for the fifth time and in 2017, EuroSTAR celebrates its 25th conference–where? That’s a secret, organizers say.

Who should attend? EuroSTAR’s audience is typically made up of software testers and test managers, test consultants, test analysts, senior IT managers, and software developers


Worth attending

Some of our readers might describe many of the conferences in our second category as “must attend,” especially those that appear to be growing in size each year. Generally, these are conferences that are smaller in attendance or targeted at specific industries.

New Relic’s FutureStack

Twitter: @futurestack / #FutureStack16
Date / Location / Cost: Not available

Organized by application performance management and monitoring vendor New Relic, FutureStack featured some high profile speakers in 2015, including Steve Wozniak and the CTOs of News Corp., Time Inc., Major League Baseball, Advanced Media, and RackSpace.

Topics addressed included cloud adoption, alert policies, software analytics, mobile apps, DevOps, containers, microservices, and app performance.

Who should attend? Developers, IT pros, technologists, and anyone else involved with modern software

Surge, the Scalability and Performance Conference

Twitter: @surgecon / #surgecon
Date: Sept. 21-23
Location: Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland
Cost: Early bird price of $500 until July 8

Surge is organized by OmniTi, a web app scalability and performance vendor, and features “practitioner-oriented sessions.”

Who should attend? IT Ops, infrastructure admins, developers, QA pros

Dynatrace’s Perform

Twitter: @Dynatrace / #dynatrace / #DynatracePerform
Date / Location / Cost: Not available

Application performance management vendor Dynatrace organizes this conference, whose tracks in 2015 included “APM in Action,” “Customer Experience,” “Continuous Delivery,” and “Operational Excellence.”

Who should attend? Developers, IT Ops, testers, QA pros

7th ACM/SPEC International Conference on Performance Engineering

Twitter: @spec_perf / #ICPE
Date: March 12-18
Location: Delft, the Netherlands
Cost: Not available

This conference, according to its organizers, seeks to provide a forum for the “integration of theory and practice in the field of performance engineering.” It draws researchers and practitioners who discuss research, ideas, and challenges on the performance engineering of software and systems.

Who should attend? Software and systems performance engineers

American Software Testing Qualifications Board conference

Twitter: @astqb / #ASTQB
Date / Location / Cost: Not available

This conference features tutorials, classes, keynotes, sessions, and networking opportunities, and is designed to teach attendees “practical, ready-to-use” software QA and security strategies so that they can improve the quality and security of software, and be more efficient.

Who should attend? QA pros, software testers, managers, directors, developers, security staff, CxOs, engineers

Quality Engineered Software & Testing Conference (QUEST)

Twitter: @QAIquest / #QUESTconf
Date: April 18-22
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cost: Not available

Focused on software engineering, delivery, and testing, QUEST features classes, tutorials, sessions, hands-on workshops, discussions groups, an expo floor, and networking events. Topics covered include agile, test design, automation, performance, mobile, security, and DevOps.

Who should attend? Testers, QA pros, developers, IT Ops, software engineers, architects

Mobile Dev + Test

Twitter: @techwell / #mobiledevtest
Date: April 17 - April 22
Location: San Diego, California
Cost: $3,495 if bought on or before March 18; $3,695 after that date

This conference focuses on mobile development for iOS and Android as well as mobile testing, performance, design, user experience, smart technology, and security, according to its organizers. Topics include wearables, mobile security testing, and mobile app design.

Who should attend? iOS and Android developers, testers, UX designers

Cross-discipline conferences

Conferences in this category are targeted at specific industries or technologies. Although they may not be exclusively about QA, monitoring, performance or testing, we believe these gatherings may still be interested to people in these fields.

BlackHat USA

Twitter: @BlackHatEvents / @ubm / #BlackHat / #BHUSA
Date: July 30 - August 4
Location: Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada 
Black Hat will also be held in London and Singapore in 2016
Cost: Starts at $495 for a Business Pass, which includes access to the business hall, sponsored workshops, sponsored sessions, and the Arsenal, and goes up to $2,595 for a Briefing ticket bought after July 22. Training sessions are priced separately and individually, as outlined in this list

First held in 1997, Black Hat has become one of the world’s biggest tech conferences, one that security professionals either must attend or must follow closely from afar. It’s the preferred venue for researchers, security experts, vendors, and ethical hackers to disclose their latest vulnerability findings, the most dramatic of which become general-interest news globally.

For example, the 2014 event featured a researcher who said he had discovered a vulnerability in airplanes that could allow a malicious hacker to disrupt an aircraft’s navigation system. In 2015, the conference exposed security gaps in cars that could let cyber criminals remotely disable key functions in moving vehicles, such as brakes.

Black Hat features training sessions, a big expo floor, and A-list presenters and keynote speakers, as at many major tech conferences. But unlike most others, Black Hat requires that attendees keep certain precautions, given that they’ll be surrounded by thousands of the world’s finest hackers, some of whom will be looking to play pranks, test their latest vulnerability discoveries in a real-world setting or, at worst, attempt criminal acts, such as stealing personal, governmental, or corporate data.

Sheryl Hermoso was keenly aware of this before heading to her first Black Hat in Las Vegas in 2015. “Leading up to the conference, I read many articles pointing out some ‘safety rules,’” she wrote on her company’s blog. “These rules are in place for good reason.”

Attendees should be prepared for a large conference (more than 11,000 people attended in 2015), where exciting revelations about security vulnerabilities will be detailed.

Who should attend? Security analysts, risk managers, security architects and engineers, penetration testers, security software developers, cryptographers

RSA Conference

Twitter: @rsaconference / #RSAC
Date: February 28 - March 4
Location: Moscone Center, San Francisco, California
Cost: Ticket prices vary widely, starting at $75 for an early-bird expo pass to $2,600 for a full-conference pass bought on site

One of the world’s largest security conferences, RSA celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2016. This year’s conference arrives at a moment of uncertainty for EMC’s RSA division; EMC is in the process of being acquired by Dell, triggering questions about the future of RSA and consequently of the conference.

Joahnna Marie Hipolito of Trend Micro called the 2014 experience “definitely enlightening, especially in terms of the current state of our industry."

"The question of whether there is a threat or not has been answered long ago, and the name of the game now is threat intelligence—gaining knowledge of threats and using that knowledge to act accordingly,” she wrote.

Andreas Baumhof from ThreatMetrix reported a very positive mood at the 2015 event. “The exhibition halls were buzzing with people, VC companies are pouring record amounts of money into new security startups, and IT budgets seem to be increasing for security-related spending. These are truly interesting times to be involved in Internet security,” he wrote.

This is a very large event in terms of attendees, exhibitors, and sessions, which may signal robust growth in the IT security industry. The other side of that coin, of course, is that RSA’s “popularity is a function of just how dangerous the threat landscape has become. This reality should sober up the industry after its annual RSA party and subsequent hangover,” wrote Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Jon Oltsik.

Attendees should do their pre-conference homework and sketch out a game plan, since this is a very large conference, with 33,000-plus attendees and more than 400 speakers. For 2016, organizers plan increased expo hours, session times, labs, and crowdsourced sessions.

Who should attend? Security professionals


Twitter: @CanSecWest / #CanSecWest
Date: March 16-18, 2016
Location: Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia
Cost: Access to the conference ranges from CAD $2,100 to $2,450, depending on when the ticket is bought. Dojo registration ranges from $2,000 to $7,500, depending on how many days are bought and when the tickets are bought. 

Writing about their experience at last year’s CanSecWest and its Pwn2Own hacking competition, Kaspersky Lab researchers Fabio Assolini and Juan Andres Guerrero concluded that “everything is hackable.”

“Yes, once again all major browsers were hacked, but they were not alone! BIOS and UEFI, 4G modems, fingerprints, credentials, virtual machines, and operating systems were among the victim systems successfully hacked,” they wrote in Kaspersky Lab’s SecureList publication.

They noted that the event draws a very technical audience interested in recent attacks. Demos from presenters reinforced the conclusion “that digital voodoo can turn obscure and seemingly innocuous vulnerabilities into mind-numbingly cunning attacks,” they wrote. Organizers describe CanSecWest as “the world's most advanced conference focusing on applied digital security,” and they take pride in attracting “industry luminaries” as speakers and in fostering a relaxed environment for collaboration and networking.

Now in its 17th year, the three-day, single-track conference features one-hour presentations delivered by experts in a lecture theater setting, focused on sharing best practices and real-world experiences as well as details about new vulnerabilities, attacks, and defenses. In addition to the presentations, CanSecWest will feature hands-on Dojo training courses from security instructors.

Who should attend? CISOs, CSOs, enterprise IT security pros and executives


Twitter: @appsecusa / #appsecusa
Web: (look for the 2016 website soon) 
Date: October 11-14
Location: Washington, D.C.
Cost: For the 2015 conference, regular admission is $995, with a variety of discounts available, including $75 tickets for full-time university students. 

Focused on application security, this conference goes deep into topics such as DevOps, privacy, mobile security, secure development, app assessments, and cloud security. Highly technical, it is organized by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a nonprofit organization with 200 chapters in 100 countries devoted to improving app security from a vendor-neutral perspective.

Joe Rozner, a software engineer at Prevoty, spoke at the 2015 conference and blogged about the relevance of focusing on application security, as the security focus has shifted away from the perimeter. “As attacks on applications proliferate, it’s become abundantly clear that there is a real problem in the software we build. We as modern companies have a lot of applications: legacy applications, applications we don’t even have the source to anymore, and applications we’re unable to modify due to a lack of resources,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Matt Johansen, director of security services and research for WhiteHat Security, wrote in 2014 that the conference brings together “some of the world’s best-known application security practitioners, experts and hackers.”

Edcel Suyo from eLearnSecurity attended the 2015 conference and particularly liked the “fireside chats,” during which experts from companies including Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Salesforce, Chef, and Intuit “shared first-hand perspective and insights on application security experiences.”

The 2015 conference featured high-profile security experts from Facebook, the Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft, Cisco, Adobe, LinkedIn, FireEye, Wells Fargo, and Salesforce.

Who should attend? Developers, auditors, risk managers, technologists, entrepreneurs 

Annual Computer Security Applications Conference

Twitter: @ACSAC_Conf / #ACSAC
Date: December 5-9
Location: Los Angeles, California
Cost: Not available, more details will be available in March

First held in 1984, ACSAC focuses on applied security and draws security professionals from academia, government, and industry. Its target audience is people developing practical solutions for network, system, and IT security problems. Proceedings include in-depth tutorials, workshops, case studies, panel discussions, and a technical track about peer-reviewed papers.

Who should attend? Researchers and a broad cross-section of security professionals drawn from industry, government, and academia

37th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy

Date: May 23-25, symposium; May 26, privacy workshops
Location: San Jose, California
Cost: Not available

The IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, first held in 1980, attracts both researchers and practitioners and describes itself as the “premier forum” to present developments in computer security and electronic privacy.

Who should attend? Researchers, security practitioners


Twitter: @fluentconf / @OReillyMedia / #FluentConf
Date: March 7-10
Location: Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission St., San Francisco, California 
Cost: There are a variety of price tiers and discounts available:

Fluent aims to cover the “full scope of the Web platform,” according to its organizers. Now in its fourth year, the conference focuses on practical training in JavaScript, HTML5, CSS, and associated technologies and frameworks, including WebGL, CSS3, mobile APIs, Node.js, AngularJS, and ECMAScript 6.

Because the conference was designed to attract people from across the web stack, Fluent has been described as a great way to get up to date with new techniques and ideas. Attendees at the 2015 event found an abundance of presentations on JavaScript, microservices, native script, git, design, languages, and other topics.

IBM developer advocate Raymond Camden, a speaker at Fluent 2015, writes, “Content has always been a strong point of Fluent and this year was no different. This is one of the few conferences where if I wasn’t elected to speak, I’d beg my employer to send me as an attendee.”

With 80-plus speakers and dozens of lectures, the conference covers a lot of ground. At the 2016 event, organizers promise to offer more professional training and “deep content” for advanced engineers. There will be one-day tutorials and two-day training sessions about topics such as Node.js, Redux and React, ES6, and Async.

Attendees will experience a midsize conference that is highly technical and offers practical training on the full web technology stack

Who should attend? Web designers and developers, including mobile and web infrastructure teams, JavaScript developers, architects, UI/UX designers, systems developers

OSCON (O'Reilly Open Source Convention)

Twitter: @oscon / @OReillyMedia / #Oscon
Date: May 16-19, 2016
Location: Austin, Texas
Cost: Ranges from under $1,400 to $3,495

OSCON focuses on open source software, which has morphed from disruptive to mainstream since the conference was first held in 1999. Today, open source software is used for key Internet infrastructure components and by enterprises for production systems and in new cloud, big data, and mobile projects.

“Today OSCON is about real-world practices and how to successfully implement open source in your workflow or projects,” reads the conference’s website.

The conference, aimed not just at developers but also at entrepreneurs, business executives, and investors, touches on open source across the board, including programming languages, developer communities, best practices, products and services.

Over 4,000 attendees are expected at the 2016 conference, which will feature hundreds of sessions, tutorials, keynotes, a “hallway track” for ad hoc discussions, after-hours events and parties, and an expo hall.

Fredric Paul, editor in chief for New Relic, described the conference as “an immersive exploration and celebration of the ever-expanding world of open source software.”

The 2015 conference also focused on Docker. “Casual conversations around the venue either began with discussions of Docker, containers, and microservices, or seemed to drift inexorably in that direction,” Paul wrote.

The 2016 edition will be held in Austin, Texas, for the first time, after being held for more than a decade in Portland, Oregon, a change of venue longtime attendees apparently aren’t crazy about, fearing it may alter the atmosphere of the proceedings.

“Who knows if or how the move will change the event’s legendary sense of community,” Paul wrote.

Writing about the 2015 conference, Michael Dexter, a senior analyst at iXsystems, warned future first-time attendees to “be prepared for a massive, sincere effort to achieve the impossible: to be all things to all people in the wildly diverse open source community.”

Who should attend? Developers, programmers, software architects, designers, sys admins, entrepreneurs, CxOs


QCon New York

Twitter: @QCon / @QConNewYork / #qconnewyork
Date: June 13-17
Location: New York
Cost: Ranges between $1,500 and $3,600, depending on when the reservation is made and what it includes. Options include 3 conference days, 3 conference days and 1 tutorial day, 3 conference days and 2 tutorial days, and just 2 days or 1 day of tutorials

QCon San Francisco

Twitter: @QCon / @QConSF / #qconsf
Date:  Nov. 7-11
Location: San Francisco, California
Cost: Not available

QCon will also be held in 2016 in London, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, and Shaghai.

If you or your team are struggling to implement agile practices, you’re certainly not alone. Ben Basson, a U.K.-based software developer who attended the 2015 London conference and blogged in detail about his favorite sessions, and concluded by saying that he looks forward to attending the 2016 conference.

“It seems like a lot of teams are struggling to properly implement agile practises, and I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who has experienced some of these problems over the last few years,” Basson wrote. “I got a lot of food for thought, but what I found great about QCon was the focus not only on ideas, but how to sell them and the real business benefits behind these improvements in working practises.”

Will Hamill, a U.K.-based technical architect, also wrote about the sessions he attended at QCon London 2015 in his blog. For those interested in getting a sense for the 2015 New York topics, Java developer Jeanne Boyarsky posted her live blogs of about 20 sessions.

Writing about the 2014 San Francisco conference, Philipp Garbe, a developer in Munich, Germany, said he likes that the event draws all the big web companies. “[There are] developers from Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, as well as guys from startups,” he wrote in his blog.

Garbe liked that organizers took steps to promote interactions among attendees, such as printing people’s first names in really big type on their badges and assigning topics to lunch tables. “When you work as a web developer this conference is a must,” he wrote.

Who should attend? Technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, project managers

GoTo Conference

Twitter: @GOTOcon / @GOTOchgo / #GOTOChgo)
Date: May 23-26
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cost: Ranges from $995 to $2,745, depending on when the reservation is made and what options are chosen. The least expensive option is a pass to attend the 2-day conference, while the most expensive includes 2 conference days and 2 training days.

Also held in several European cities, this year’s Chicago-based GoTo Conference touts its vendor-neutral approach and its focus on current enterprise software development topics covered “broadly” across technologies, trends, methods, and best practices.

Organizers describe the GoTo Conference as “created by developers, for developers," with emphasis on what has recently become relevant and interesting for the software development community. “We are working on another great year. Sign up for our newsletter to receive new speaker and schedule announcements, free goto night events, and special offers,” the site says.

Speakers at the 2016 conference will include Boaz Avital, tech lead for Core Storage at Twitter; Caitie McCaffrey, who works in distributed systems at Twitter; and Jez Humble, a lecturer at UC Berkeley and co-author of the book Continuous Delivery.

This highly technical conference offers informal and easy contact with experts in attendance, as well as with fellow software and technology professionals.

Who should attend? Developers, IT architects, project managers


Twitter: DockerCon / #dockercon
Date: June 20-21
Location: Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle, Washington
Cost: $742 early bird registration (until Feb. 19), $990 standard registration

The interest in containers—and in Docker Inc. especially—has gone from 0 to 80 mph in less than two years, and this conference has become one of the hottest gatherings in the IT industry.

It’s a safe bet that Docker founder and CTO Solomon Hykes and CEO Ben Golub will play key roles at this year’s event, with one or both likely delivering a keynote address. There will be advanced technical talks, case studies, hands-on tutorials, and plenty of chances to network.

The organizers promised in a blog post to “offer Hands-On Labs on a variety of Docker topics for different technical levels and advanced technical deep dives curated by the Docker core team as part of the Black Belt Track.”

“I remember the first Docker meetup, which consisted of about five of us in the ‘jungle’ of the original dotCloud headquarters, back in February of 2013,” Mike Kavis, vice president and principal cloud architect at Cloud Technology Partners, wrote in the company’s blog. “Fast-forward to June 22–23, 2015, and Docker filled up the Grand Marquis in San Francisco and was streaming live to a rabid user base all over the world."

“DockerCon 2015 was an acknowledgment that containers have reached a critical mass, having quickly evolved from niche technology to industry standard,” Tony Bradley wrote in TechBeacon. John Wetherill also raved about the palpable enthusiasm at the 2015 conference, saying that the event “was one of the most exciting, energizing, invigorating, and exhausting conferences I've attended” and that the combination of attendees, sessions, and technology “created a fantastic atmosphere.”

Because the 2015 conference sold out its 2,000 seats, DockerCon 2016 is expected to draw 3,000 attendees. As the number of attendees grows, will the conference retain its allure?

Who should attend? Developers, DevOps enthusiasts, IT executives


Twitter:@EventsL / @LinuxCon / #LinuxCon
LinuxCon North America: August 22-24, 2016, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
LinuxCon Europe: October 4-6, 2016, Berlin, Germany
LinuxCon Asia: July 13-15, 2016, Tokyo, Japan
North America – $800 by May 23, $950 by July 11, $1100 after
Europe – $800 by July 23, $950 by September 3, $1100 after
Asia –  $350 by May 22, $400 by June 22, $475 after

LinuxCon is aimed at Linux and open source maintainers, developers, and project leads who work with the Linux platform and are interested in helping to extend and enhance it, according to the organizers. Bruce Byfield, writing in Linux Magazine, recently declared, “I know of no better way than attending LinuxCon to learn so quickly what the current trends are in free software."

Brian Proffitt, principal community analyst for open source and standards at Red Hat, attended LinuxCon North America 2015 in Seattle and found the conference was “on target” with great sessions and speakers and many networking opportunities.

However, eight or so other co-located conferences from the Linux Foundation were happening at the venue simultaneously, which made him wonder if there was too much content offered, even if they were all appropriately focused.

“From what I saw and what I heard, all of the events were on target, and no event diminished the others,” he wrote. “But on a personal level, it was sometimes discouraging to see an event on, hypothetically the MesosCon schedule, and not be able to attend because I didn't have a MesosCon pass.”

He thinks some of these separate events could be combined into LinuxCon and “have defined, event-like tracks within a bigger LinuxCon, which would enable cross-pollination for attendees” and possibly reduce administrative overhead for the organizers.

A spokesman for the Linux Foundation said that there will be co-located events at LinuxCon again in 2016, but that the only confirmed one is ContainerCon, access to which is included with a LinuxCon pass at no extra cost. Among the other co-located events, some are included with the LinuxCon ticket and others require separate registration.

Who should attend? Software developers, programmers, core maintainers, Linux IT professionals, IT operations experts, system administrators, chief architects, corporate end users, senior business executives, legal counsel, students

Other conferences

Our final category includes conferences that you simply need to know about as you look at the 2016 calendar. If you’re planning your conference travel and budget around performance and testing shows, you might want to save a little room on your plate for one or more of the following important events.

CES (Consumer Electronics Show)

Twitter: @CES / #CES2017
Date: January 5-8, 2017
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Not available

The legendary and massive consumer electronics conference and expo covers a wide range of topics, some of which might be of direct or tangential interest to those involved with testing, QA, and performance monitoring, such as digital entertainment, e-commerce, gaming, robotics, storage, education technology, mobile apps, and networking.

SXSW (South By Southwest) 

Twitter: @sxsw #SXSW2016 
 March 11-20
Location: Austin, Texas
Cost: There are a variety of ticket prices, ranging from $445 to $1,645.

While music and film are key elements of SXSW, the event also has a strong technology component, with topics this year including startups, wearables, healthcare IT, virtual reality, IoT, smart cities, digital media, online marketing, software design and development, open source, mobile design, and user experience.

TechCrunch Disrupt

Twitter: @TechCrunch / #tcdisrupt 
Dates and locations:   
May 9-11 in New York, New York
September 12-14 in San Francisco, California
Cost: Extra-early-bird ticket for full, three-day access is $1,795. Other packages for exhibitors and individuals available.

Disrupt is the conference for anyone involved with or interested in startups, entrepreneurs, venture capital, and emerging technologies. It features hackathons, provocative panel discussions, and A-list speakers. Many leading companies have used Disrupt as a springboard.

Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo

Twitter: @Gartner_Events  #ITxpo #GartnerSYM 
Date: October 16-20
Location: Orlando, Florida
Cost: Standard conference price is $5,600. Public-sector price is $4,000. Group discounts are available.

This is the mother of all Gartner conferences, aimed specifically at CIOs and technology executives in general, addressing from an enterprise IT perspective topics such as mobility, cybersecurity, cloud computing, application architecture, application development, IoT, and digital business.

E3 Expo

Twitter: @E3 / #E32016 
Date: June 14-16
Location: Los Angeles, California
Cost: Not available

A massive gaming show that covers mobile, video and computer games, and related products, it features topics of interest to software developers, buyers and retailers, distributors, entertainment industry executives, venture capitalists, manufacturers, and resellers.

Interop Las Vegas

Twitter: @interop #Interop
Date: May 2-6
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Cost: Ranges from under $300 to $3,299.

A venerable tech conference, Interop delves into topics like applications, cloud computing, collaboration, networking, IT leadership, security, software-defined networking, storage, virtualization and data center architecture, and mobility.

Did we miss any conferences or events?

We've done our best to compile this comprehensive list of the top performance and testing conferences to attend in 2016, but nobody's perfect. This is a "list in progress."

Please let us know in the comments below if there are any other events or conferences you think we should add to our list.

We've also put together several other lists of conferences:

Image credit: Flickr

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