Hosting the Cloud Forum

–Back to the Cloud Forum

Since its inception in 2015, the Cloud Forum was hosted by Cornell University. The model established by Sarah Christen and her team, while not sacred, is largely responsible for the deep appreciation of and affection for the event by all who attend. This document outlines the key components of the event that a host institution should provide. We encourage the host organization, while providing the core components, to add to the event, making it their own and showcasing their institution.

The Basics


In recent years the Cloud Forum has run 2.5 days. For schools in the Midwest or East of the country the half-day is on the last day to allow travel home that day. For schools in the West, you would start with the half-day with the expectation that those traveling east to west could arrive that day. The event days of the week are chosen to allow for travel on workdays. There is a welcome reception the night before the opening if starting with a full day or the first evening if starting with a half day. 

Sample schedule (2 days + 1/2)

Sample schedule (1/2 day + 2)

Event Venue

Meeting room

A foundational element of the Cloud Forum is the ability for the entire group to meet as a single group. At Cornell, this was a 90-seat cohort-tiered auditorium. The host institution should consider finding a single room to host the event to be a fundamental requirement. While most of the Forum content has everyone in the same room, the Workshop and the Unconference do require small team space, so breakout rooms or breakout areas are very helpful.

statler auditorium
The auditorium at the Statler Hotel on the campus of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


Presentations are generally limited to the in-room audience, but in 2021 some were both delivered by remote presenters and watched by remote audiences. Such remote scenarios require adequate audio to capture in-room discussion for remote participants, but should be considered a “nice to have”.

Proximate facilities

The meeting room should have space nearby for event check-in, refreshment breaks, informal conversation, and for attendees to step out and attend to work matters with some degree of privacy. Attendees should not have to travel far for breakfast and lunch as the schedule is generally quite full.

Additional rooms

Unconference and Workshop breakouts

In recent years the Cloud Forum has included an Unconference one of the afternoons. This includes small group breakouts which can be held in breakout rooms or informally in any spot where a group of 10-12 people can gather. Multiple small groups can typically be accommodated in the meeting venue itself. Workshops may also require breakouts.

Social gathering

At the request of participants, we started holding a board game night in 2022. It would be helpful to provide a space, formal or informal, for such group activities.


At Cornell, the Cloud Forum was held in the campus hotel. A large majority of attendees stayed at the hotel in a discounted event room block. If the primary lodging is not within walking distance of the event venue, consideration should be given to group transportation and on-site parking.

Food Service

The meals complement a tight Cloud Forum schedule and also provide a prized opportunity for informal networking. A high bar was set for the food by the Cornell Nolan School of Hotel Administration. Hosts are encouraged to step up to that challenge, but not at the expense of an affordable event.

The following describes how the meals have worked at the Cloud Forum in the past. The host school has license to change things as long as it works with the meeting schedule. 


With such an early start and likely geographically isolated venue, it is unrealistic to expect attendees to be able to find breakfast on their own each day. The schedule normally allows for 30-45 minutes before a day’s opening session for breakfast. Latecomers often bring their food with them into the session.


The schedule allows for an hour for a sit-down lunch. This must include travel time from the meeting venue and back.

In the 2 + 1/2 days format, the final day ends just at or soon after lunch so that day has typically been a boxed lunch served just outside the meeting venue.


There is a sit-down dinner the evening of the first full day of the Forum. This typically starts 30-60 minutes after the conclusion of the day’s sessions, giving the host a wider choice of venues. This is an opportunity for attendees to see more of campus than the tight schedule otherwise allows. Attendees find dinner on their own the other evenings.


Welcome reception

In the 2 + 1/2 day format, the evening before the Cloud Forum begins with a reception with an open bar. This event serves as a gathering point for Cloud Forum veterans and a welcoming point for new attendees. In the 1/2 + 2 day format, we hold the reception the first evening.

Dinner reception

The Cloud Forum dinner can be preceded by a reception with hors d’oeuvre and drinks. This provides some buffer to people gathering before opening dinner seating.


Since taking on the Cloud Forum from Cornell, Internet2 has funded most event expenses, but some campuses have chosen to pitch in as well to give more options for a nicer experience. There is an expectation of some sweat equity by the host organization since they are on the ground with knowledge of the facilities, culture, and people involved. It runs more smoothly and keeps expenses down if it can be an “in-house” event with I2 reimbursing the costs. As each host school will have its own facilities and expense structures, the budget will have to be revisited each year to keep it affordable. 

NOTE: In past years we have had another school sponsor the reception, dinner, or some other event element. Naturally, we welcome the host or another school pitching in to allow us to do more for attendees, but Internet2’s goal is to cover the basics.

Additional considerations

An exciting aspect of moving the Cloud Forum between organizations is giving the hosts a chance to showcase their campus, community, and achievements. Possibilities include:

Host organization roles and responsibilities

Internet2 roles and responsibilities

Interested in Hosting?

If you would like to discuss hosting the Cloud Forum at your institution, please reach out to Bob Flynn (