This August I will be attending VMworld US 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre in Las Vegas. This will be my 4th VMworld, having previously attended in 2011, 2013 & 2015.
Of all the conferences I have had the privilege to attend over the years, I would have to say VMworld is my favourite, and here is why;
The VMworld breakout sessions offer some of the best untapped knowledge you are ever likely to find. As many already know, the sessions are where you can gain direct access to those people who had the idea to create your favourite VMware features, or are the ones who have taught you all you know through their blogs, books and/or vBrownbags.
At my first VMworld, I spent all of my time in breakout sessions trying to absorb as much information as I could. Whilst I did learn a lot, I returned home feeling I had missed out on the full VMworld experience.
I hate to admit this, but there is no denying that some sessions can be hit and miss. In most cases, some sessions simply do not match the brief outlined in the session catalog. If you find yourself in a session where you are simply not gaining the knowledge you are seeking, politely excuse yourself and go and utilise your time more wisely elsewhere.
When I had the opportunity to return to VMworld in 2013, I went in with a totally different game plan. This time I booked up a solid agenda with all the sessions that interested me, however I simply went with the flow and never felt guilty for missing a session. If I was missing sessions it was because I was learning about newly discovered products in the Solutions Exchange, or sharing knowledge and experiences with new friends from the vCommunity.
This is how I roll at all conferences now. I always strive to get to the keynotes and the breakout sessions that interest me most, however I don’t live or die by them. My advise is to enjoy the experience and take the opportunity to meet those that you would never normally get the opportunity to meet. Seek out those people who have the information you are looking for.
As just mentioned, VMworld provides you an opportunity to meet people you may already know, those you may not know, or those you may only know through Twitter, Slack channels or their online avatar. Be social, get out there and introduce yourself to new people. It’s amazing how friendly and welcoming everyone is and how many lasting friendships you will make along the way.
I have two great stories to share in relation to this. The first is back at VMworld 2013 in San Francisco, finding myself in Dennys at some ungodly hour talking rubbish with new friends, Tim Gleed @timgleed and Harsha Hosur @harsha_hosur. I have no idea what we talked about or recall what we ate that night at Dennys, however I simply recall being in great company, having a great time, and Mr Gleed was kind enough to pickup the bill. For whatever reason, it has left a lasting memory ever since.
The second was at VMworld 2015, attending the VMware ANZ drinks. I was chatting to this person for at least 15 minutes, having no idea who they were, until later realising it was Tim Williams @ymmit85, someone who I had chatted with regularly on Twitter. The ANZ vCommunity is a great bunch of people. The lasting memory of 2015 would most definitely be this photo, and whilst taking the first selfie, watching Tim Williams jumping up and down in the background as high as he could, trying to get in shot. Eventually, we waited to get him to come around the front, to get in shot. That’s him, the short, bald guy with glasses! 😛
I love the Solutions Exchange. I only wish it was open longer! I love walking the aisles looking for the new startup, the one with the product which could potentially solve all my customers’ problems. In the beginning I was too shy to speak with anyone on a stand, thinking I would simply get caught up in their sales pitch, or feel intimidated because I didn’t know enough about their technology. Now I have flipped it around and simply approach every vendor with the line of “tell me what you do”. I usually get the insight I’m looking for with what is normally an opportunity for a quick exit if its a product that doesn’t interest me.
I also love a prize, and the Solutions Exchange has plenty on offer. From iPads, GoPros, Drones and fully kitted out homelabs, it has it all. I rarely win at these conferences though, and normally save my luck for the Melbourne VMUG back home.
It’s time to party!
If you like a party, VMworld has it all. From the official VMware party to all those in between, you are most certainly going to have a good time. Veeam is renown for throwing the biggest and wildest party at VMworld. I remember attending my first Veeam party in 2011, in Vegas, and waking up like the guys in the Hangover movie. I went a little too wild. I had both hands full of free pour spirits, smashing them down like there was no tomorrow. Unfortunately tomorrow eventually came and so did the hangover.
I may be showing my age, and it may have taken me 20 years to finally realize this, but know when to call it a night. I’ve learned that I can still have a great night out without having to go ridiculously overboard. Walking around a conference hungover is absolutely no fun at all and you are most certainly going to miss some of the golden opportunities I have outlined above.
What to expect from VMworld 2018?
This year VMworld is going to be very different for me. This year I have responsibilities. I submitted for a breakout session and I was accepted. What does this mean? It means I need to get my game on. For starters I need to be prepared, really prepared. I have invited Matt Allford @mattallford along for the ride also.
He may be Tasmanian, but he is a very knowledgeable guy with real determination, passion for learning and spirit of community. He has helped reignite some of my passions in IT recently, so together we are going to deliver our very first VMworld session, VIN3327BU – Documenting Your Virtual Infrastructure with PowerShell & PowerCLI.
I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I will say Matt has a shitload of work to do if he wants to hold onto his spot as co-presenter. 😀 But in all seriousness, we are both very honored to have been accepted, for what is going to be an awesome experience for both of us.
From the feedback we have received so far, and from those that have seen the work that is going into this session, I hope that those that do attend find it to be a session which delivers to their expectations.
The Countdown Is On
We have less than 10 weeks to go to VMworld US 2018. I have a lot of work to do between now and then. Matt has a lot more! But I am excited to be getting this opportunity to not only to get back to VMworld, to see all the old friends, but to give something back to the community which I have taken so much.
If you are attending VMworld this year, and if you see me, come and say hi, or better yet, drop by my breakout session.
I look forward to seeing you in Vegas!
My VMworld Top Tips
- Register for breakout session VIN3327BU – Documenting Your Virtual Infrastructure with PowerShell & PowerCLI
- Go with a game plan. Create an agenda, but be flexible. Find a balance between sessions, solution exchange, and socialising.
- Carry a portable rechargeable battery with multiple USB ports. Anker is a good choice.
- Seek out a vRockstar and thank them for their contribution.
- Party hard, but be prepared to be able to back up the next day. Always, always, take two Ibuprofen and drink a large glass of water before bed!
- If you’re traveling internationally and are planning on shopping whilst in the US, order stuff from Amazon at least 5 days before your arrival, and have it delivered to your hotel or an Amazon parcel locker. Check with your hotel first though to see if they charge for handling. Don’t forget though to include your arrival date on the delivery. Also pack a lightweight duffle bag that fits in your main luggage on the way over which can become your 2nd bag for the trip home.
- Always buy your partner a nice gift. It is a privilege to be able attend to these conferences. Those who you leave behind, looking after the kids, and keeping the ship afloat, deserve a little thanks too.