I'll preface this by noting that I am not at the VON show in San Jose this week. Not because I don't think it's a great event, but because Spring VON always coincides with spring break in Canada and I have kids. I'll be there in the fall though.
My great friend (and an advisory board member at iotum) Tom Howe has decided not to head to VON this year. You can read his reasons, but they boil down to being busy, and his feeling that VON is less relevant to him than it used to be. O'Reilly's ETel show is where the action is.
Moshe Maier (an iotum partner!) takes a slightly different tack, encouraging the Pulver team to reenergize their conference with VoIP innovation tracks.
Me, I have a different view. After last year's ETel I had an email exchange with Jeff in which I encouraged him to add an ETel-like track, or perhaps an event, to VON. Jeff gently explained to me that the ETel audience and the VON audience are different. Very true. VON has become a great place to learn about large scale carrier deployments, and to meet carriers. It's not the place where the Linux hackers hang out.
There's a place for VON, and a place for ETel, and they don't necessarily have to be the same show. The center of innovation has shifted to ETel, but the people I want to do business with are at VON.