SIN CITY – The last time I was here I had just come out the back end of 10 days on a rather tired, yet still somewhat comfortable, Harley Davidson tourer. Being warned off riding though Death Valley in what was an unusually hot Indian Summer just added to the excitement.

So now I’m back, arriving in Las Vegas on a hazy June evening by way of a regular commuter flight – mundane if not efficient. I’m here to attend HP’s 2015 Discover conference, a showcase of all things HP.

And given their broad array of offerings – from consumer laptops and tablets, through to print solutions, high-end servers, storage and software – there is sure to be a lot on offer.

Taxiing to the gate I begin to wonder what the next few days would have in store with this year’s event being held at the wonderful Venetian Hotel, a mini Venice in the heart of the legendary Strip. Having checked in, I head wearily to bed and drift off thinking about the excitement of the days ahead.

The next morning, attendance at the opening keynote by Meg Whitman – the billionaire CEO, President and Chair of HP – is a must. Sitting there, a number of observations strike me.

HP Enterprise logo

One wonders just how much large corporates such as HP pay very large and no doubt eye-wateringly expensive ‘creatives’ to come up with new branding.

Firstly – a disproportionate amount of time spent introducing, justifying and explaining in tedious detail the reasoning behind HP’s new HP Enterprise logo. It’s a green rectangle!

Plenty of effort gets expended justifying the new logo, including: the green “represents HP’s new green (eco-friendly) image”, “it represents looking through a window, a window to the future”, and my personal favourite: “for the first time ever the two T’s are touching – representing the partnership between HP and our partners.” Really!

Then on to meatier issues. Meg reconfirms HP’s big bets – cloud, mobility and Big Data. The area of data, specifically Big Data and associated analytics, are what we are here for. In the Big Data space the hype is focused on HP’s HAVEn platform. The platform comprises Hadoop, Autonomy (HP’s IDOL solution providing unstructured information analytics), Vertica (providing high-performance SQL analytics) and Enterprise Security Products. Plus numerous applications to run over the top of all this.

Over the next few days a number of customer references are trotted out. One that catches my eye is our very own Auckland Transport, a Big Data customer. The test case revolves around continuous monitoring of real-time traffic in the Auckland region with feeds being taken from cameras, social media and other related feeds.

The soundbites include “it is being hailed as a revolutionary big data project”, with over 200 cameras. The vast amount of data including text, images, audio will be analysed by the new system. Living in Auckland and being subjected to Auckland traffic every day, I only pray this system will result in a marked reduction in traffic congestion.

Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Not Venice, but the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Photo: thinboyfatter on Flickr

Over the next three days I attend myriad interesting updates ranging from “leveraging human, machine and social data for business optimisation” through to fascinating case studies on the collection and utilisation of complex data relating to Stock Car racing and how this is being used to revive the sport and drive fan loyalty and attendance.

The week is rounded out spending time in HP’s high security “futures lab” – an afternoon well spent gaining a glimpse into the technological advances ahead of us.

Three days later it is all over. Those I travelled with all agree the event ticked the boxes with a mass of information to stretch the brain, as well as a solid mix of work and play activities on offer. The litmus test for me is the positive comments coming from customers as we chat while waiting for our flight out. The consensus is that it was a most worthwhile investment in time and effort.

Sitting on the plane, I recount just how much I’ve seen and done during the past few days, and how pleasantly fatigued I feel. As my flight pushes back my mind again begins to wander to those two wheeled adventures I’d previously experienced in Nevada.

Las Vegas is a wonderful area to explore and while arriving by commercial jet may be convenient and easy, nothing beats that feeling of rolling into town on your tired but trusty ‘whip’ after ten hot, dusty days in the saddle. When I return it will be on the back of a Harley once again.