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ATO 2015 – All Things Open Establishes Itself

Between now and the opening of All Things Open 2023 on October 15 to begin the conference’s second decade, FOSS Force is each day taking a look at an individual year in ATO’s history. In today’s article we’re looking at All Things Open 2015, which was the conference’s third outing.

The 2015 All Things Open T-Shirt

All Things Open 2015 T-shirt
The spaceman is hitching a ride to Raleigh on the All Things Open 2015 T-shirt.

All Things Open’s third outing in 2015 took its lead from the previous year and just became bigger and better still. Way bigger, especially in the amount of floor space at the convention center they were using, as Christine Hall reported here on FOSS Force at the time:

“The odd thing was that if you didn’t know that attendance was up, you might’ve thought that the numbers were actually going down. That’s mainly because IT-oLogy, the folks behind the event, spent some extra bucks and rented the entire second floor of the Raleigh Convention Center, which gave them a whopping thirteen meeting rooms to use for presentations, plus the third floor Grand Ballroom — large enough to hold a Learjet, with room left over for a Cessna or two — for the keynote addresses. The later addition meant that the keynotes were no longer SRO, with plenty of room for attendees to spread themselves out and get comfortable.”

Not only were numbers up (more on that when we get to the numbers section), it also appeared that there were more A-list open-sourcers vying for spots on the schedule. In other words, 2015 was kind of the year when it became evident that All Things Open was probably going to be part of the Raleigh landscape for quite a while to come.

Year Three by the Numbers

We do have a good look at the numbers from 2015, from the same coverage that we quoted above:

“We knew going in there would be a record number of speakers this year — 131 according to a count on the ATO website — and we learned on our way out — at the closing ceremonies — that this year’s attendance topped 1,700, much more than last year and nearly doubling the attendance from the first ATO in 2013. Todd Lewis, the master of ceremonies for the event — his official title, chairperson, doesn’t begin to describe what he does — said that next year they’re aiming for 2,500, a number they probably have a good chance of hitting.”

The Grand Ballroom at The Raleigh Convention Center
The Grand Ballroom at the Raleigh Convention Center is not only many times larger than the meeting room previously used for keynotes at All Things Open, it’s also expandable, meaning it can scale as the conference continues to grow its audience.

People at ATO 2015

The speakers list at All Things Open was already great, and it only got better. Just from looking at articles written about the event here on FOSS Force we see that there were plenty of open-source luminaries (let’s not be elitist — everybody who contributes to open-source is a luminary). Some notables to mention include appearances by Tarus Balog, who at that time was still the founder and CEO at OpenNMS. At ATO he didn’t give a typical enterprise-focused talk, but something aimed straight at the free software movement people, with a message that boiled down to “get rid of your proprietary software and replace it with privacy respecting free and open source software.”

Especially notable: the opening day at All Things Open 2015 featured a keynote address from “the open organization” guy himself, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, just as he was on the verge of turning the company he lead, from being an already remarkable $1 billion dollar a year company into a $2 billion dollar a year company. The rest, of course, is history.

Then Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst at All Things Open 2015
Then Red Hat CEO giving a keynote address at All Things Open 2015, four years before the company sold itself to IBM.
Rikki Endsley at All Things Open 2015
Rikkki Endsley, right, at the booth at All Things Open 2015. At that time, Endsley was the editor and community manager at, which was Red Hat’s community-focused website. She is currently the principal product marketing manager at Docker.
Jono Bacon at All Things Open 2015
Jono Bacon, well known community leadership consultant doing a book signing at All Things Open 2015. That same year Bacon would also take part in the keynotes, and would continue to take a prominent roll in future ATOs.
Todd Lewis and Jim Whitehurst at All Things Open 2015
Todd Lewis and Jim Whitehurst at All Things Open 2015.
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