Monitorama PDX 2023 Retrospective


This week I attended Monitorama in Portland, Oregon, USA. I was there in my role as Developer Relations Manger at Axiom. This was my first time at Monitorama, and only my second time in Portland.

I had a great time, and wanted to write up some of my thoughts and experiences. I expect a more formal company blog post will follow, but I wanted to get my personal thoughts down while they were fresh.

I have done plenty of events for previous employers over the years, but this was my first conference for Axiom. I also haven’t travelled to a conference for work since The Event (remain indoors) so I was a little out of practice for this kind of thing. But it all went okay!


I use GiffGaff in the UK, but needed a more reasonably priced deal for the US. I asked on Mastodon for some recommendations, and in the end went with an Airalo SIM which gave me 10GB for (up to) 30 days. I bought and installed it on my iPhone 13 mini while at home, and activated it when I landed. It worked great the whole time I was there, and I had no issues with coverage.

I also asked online for recommendations on what offline games I should try on my GabeGear. I got some great recommendations, and thanks to the sale at the time, I snagged a few bargains including Pony Island, Gato Roboto, A Short Hike, and Vampire Survivors. It was the last one, Vampire Survivors which caught my attention for most of the flight out, and back! But all of them are solid recommendations.

I took a direct flight from Heathrow to Portland, which was around 10 hours.

On arrival, once through security I grabbed an Uber to the hotel which took about 25 minutes and cost $34.

We all stayed at the Hoxton Portland. As a company, we’re fans of Hoxtons, and they didn’t disappoint. The rooms were great, and the staff were friendly and helpful. The hotel is in an okay location, and was a short walk to the venue. I’d definitely stay there again, if I’m in Portland.


Monitorama was held at the Gerding Theater at The Armory, in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon. The venue was a short walk from my hotel, and was a great space for the event. The main auditorium was large enough to hold the 500+ attendees, and the exhibition space was roomy enough for the dozen or so sponsor tables, food and drink stations, and a few tables to (net)work at.

We got into the venue at 7am on Monday to setup our space. As with most of these small events, we had a table, couple of chairs, power, and WiFi access. We brought along a ‘big’ TV, stand, popup banner, tablecloth, and a bunch of merch. We also had a couple of laptops to demo the products, and an iPads to capture leads, as there were no lead-generation scanners.

I took a quick snap of our stand before the doors opened.

Our stand

The organisers made sure there were plenty of drinks and snacks available througout the days of the event. Axiom sponsored freshly made pour-over coffee each day, and do(ugh)nuts on the last day. There was also plenty of fruit in the morning, and other snacks to keep us going.

The venue is close enough to plenty of food places, so we were able to grab a bite to get away from the venue for a bit. I had a rather nice food-truck lunch one day.

Also, free socks:


Axiom is my employer, and purveyor of fine enterprise logging solutions. We sponsored Monitorama at the platinum level, which gave us a table in the exhibition space, some attendee tickets, and a 5 minute lightning talk speaking slot (more on that in a bit). There were eight of us in total at the event, including the founders (CEO & CTO) VP of Sales, and people from Marketing, Product and of course, DevRel.

Some of the team have attended previous Monitoramas, but this was our first time having an exhibitor table. Our plan was to meet potential new customers, understand their logging problems, and market our products. Pretty standard stuff. We also timed an important product launch to coincide with Monitorama.

Our new Datadog Migration app was well received by attendees. Having the TV display a video or even just the above blog post, was enough to pique interest and draw people in to talk to us. Seeing people’s faces when you explain that you can migrate their Datadog log ingest, monitors and alerts to Axiom in a few clicks is priceless.

Exhibition Space

Monitorama is a ‘single track’ affair with decent breaks between talks across three days. So there’s plenty of opportunity for attendees to hang out in the exhibition space to chat with sponsors, and other attendees. The space didn’t feel cramped, although during breaks it certainly felt busy at times.

The exhibition space contained stands from long-standing players in the monitoring / observability space, as well as some newer entrants. We were in good company, and it was great to see some familiar faces from other companies. Indeed the general vibe of the place was very friendly, even between competitors in the market.


The main ‘meat’ of the conference is the talks which happen in the large auditorium. Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend any of the talks, as I was on the stand for most of the time. They were live streamed and recorded, so I expect to catch up on them over on the Searle Video YouTube channel. There’s archives of previous years there too.

The full-length videos for day one, day two and day three are up.

On the first morning, Axiom CTO and Co-Founder, Seif Lotfy gave a 5-minute lightning talk about the platform, which you should find embedded below, starting at 2h34m. It’s rather fun :).

There were plenty of other great talks, so I hear, and I’m looking forward to catching up on them.


On the Monday there was an official Monitorama party, that I didn’t attend. Jet-lag caught up with me by then.

More importantly perhaps though, on Tuesday were the sponsor parties. Ours was in the rooftop Tope restaurant at the Hoxton. We invited anyone from the event to join us for food, drinks and conversations on the roof.

It was a great opportunity to unwind after a busy day, and chat with people in a more relaxed environment. We had a great turnout, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. We had comments from attendees the next day, that they appreciated the lack of pressure to talk about work, and just have a good time.


For me, a first-time attendee of Monitorama, I had a really great time. The event vibe is friendly, at a great venue, with a good mix of attendees from engineers & managers to founders. Time will tell if those conversations turn into new customers, but I’m confident we made some good connections.

Attendees were very engaged when discussing products, and were keen to know more. I’ve been to plenty of events where there’s a frenzy for free merch, and no real conversations. That wasn’t the case here, I think in part because we had a good mix of knowledgable staff on hand, and easy-to-understand demos.

I’d certainly like to go back to Monitorama, should we sponsor again next year.