More than 500 people will converge on New Albany in September for an information-technology conference purported to be first of its kind.

More than 500 people will converge on New Albany in September for an information-technology conference purported to be first of its kind.

IT Martini, a Columbus-based social organization for information-technology professionals, is hosting its first conference, "QA or the Highway," on Sept. 1 at Tween Brands, 8323 Walton Parkway.

"New Albany is the first suburban community chosen for the IT Martini," said community development director Jennifer Chrysler.

IT Martini's previous meetings have been held at local night spots in Columbus and have had a social focus.

"We're very excited about this," said John Bishop, co-founder of IT Martini. "It's different because we've got a conference we're doing in addition to our social format."

Bishop said when the group was planning a conference with a quality-assurance theme, organizers weren't sure where to hold it and how it would work.

Tom Guy, who manages Inc@8000, a business incubator in New Albany, stepped in and introduced Bishop to a representative of Tween Brands. The site was set and then Janova, a business recently founded in New Albany, stepped up as the conference sponsor.

Janova, which created a software testing system using cloud technology, was last year's IT Martini Hour Community Choice award winner.

"Janova is aligned with quality assurance," Bishop said.

"QA or the Highway" is a half-day conference with sessions about software quality assurance. The keynote speaker is Ben Blanquera, technology entrepreneur and cofounder of the technology blog TechLife. He is expected to talk about the emergence of quality assurance from the former practice of quality control.

Other speakers at the conference are Ann Hungate, director of software quality assurance at Nationwide Insurance; Tim Geraghty, manager of IT analysis at Nationwide Insurance; Mark Harris, enterprise quality assurance manager at Grange Insurance; Cameron Wolff, director of IT at Nationwide Insurance; and Ron Savoia, founder of Stratus Innovations Group.

Several new companies in Inc@8000 also will be providing demonstrations during the conference.

The conference has kept the spirit of IT Martini's founding as a social network, with a reception that can be attended by those not going to the conference. But, Bishop said, interest in the first IT Martini conference has been so overwhelming that registration may be closed soon.

"We have 100 people registered and attending the conference and we have 400 registered for the reception only," he said. "It's a huge event and we're close to shutting down registration for the reception. We've extended the deadline twice now."

Bishop said more than 100 people are on a waiting list to attend the conference.

Chrysler said the event was anticipated to attract between 350 and 400 people.

All IT Martini events also provide funds for local charities. In this case, the conference will benefit the New Albany Symphony Orchestra, a nonprofit community orchestra of professional musicians, community players and students, which offers four annual performances and educational programs.

Again, Bishop said, he was connected with the orchestra through Guy.

"I didn't know there was a symphony in New Albany," Bishop said. "They've got a great series of performances coming up."

Bishop said part of the proceeds from the conference and funds raised from a raffle and auction would benefit the orchestra.

lwince@thisweeknews.com

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