VMworld 2018 – The Highs & Lows – Part One

This year’s VMworld in Las Vegas will be one I will be sure to remember. Not only did VMware once again deliver an event which surpassed all my expectations, but it was an event which I share a career highlight, with me presenting to an audience of over 500 people. It is also an event which I will remember fondly for many other reasons too.

Late last year I began working on a personal side project, to develop automated ‘as built’ documentation using PowerShell. The project was born out of my frustrations with having to manually produce detailed configuration documents for customers after each project implementation. I initially shared details of the project with members of my local VMUG who encouraged me to present at the Melbourne VMUG UserCon in March of this year. Signing up to present at the UserCon also forced me to focus on the project in order to deliver a working demonstration. The feedback from the UserCon session was positive and provided further motivation for me to submit my project for a session at this year’s VMworld.

I knew my chances of success were low, having seen many before me try and fail when submitting for sessions at VMworld. However I knew my submission related to a topic that appealed to a wide audience, and that my project could benefit many in the vCommunity, just like vCheck and Vester had done previously.

Then early one morning in June, I woke to check my emails and surprisingly found an email from VMworld stating that my submission had been successful! I was amazed, and excited, but was now wondering just how I was going to get myself to the US. Whilst I have had the privilege to attend VMworld a number of times in the past, overseas travel for such events is never a guarantee, and always difficult to justify. Luckily I had forewarned my boss, and he had agreed to send me to VMworld if my submission was successful, however these things do change quickly in our company. So upon learning the news of my successful submission, we had to go through the motions of obtaining funding for my trip. Thankfully my company approved my travel request and I was able to go ahead and book my flights and accommodation for Las Vegas.

With my VMworld session and travel confirmed, the race was now on to produce a presentation which could fill the 60 minute time slot. Producing the slide deck was relatively easy, however getting the project to a point where it was ready to be shown to the world, required a lot of late nights developing and testing. Thankfully a long time friend from the A/NZ vCommunity, Matt Allford, had asked to co-present the session with me, and with that he took on some of the responsibilities in getting the project and presentation to the desired state.

The project was traveling well, both of us working on it in our own time, until six weeks out I was required to take a couple of weeks out from work  to attend to some personal family matters. It was at this time that I truly admired Matt’s commitment to the project. Not only did he take on sole responsibility for the project and our presentation, but he provided me with much needed support for the personal issues that I was facing. For this I am truly grateful and lucky to call him a close friend, even if he is a Tasmanian.

With only a few weeks to go until final submission, I was able to jump back onboard and together Matt and I finalised our draft presentation and submitted it for review. We continued to work furiously on developing the code to improve the functionality and speed of the project as well.

Then, just 2 days prior to my departure for the US, my world came to a sudden stop, when I sadly learned that my grandmother had passed away peacefully at home. My Gran was 88, she had become frail in her later years, however she never once let anything get her down or stop her from doing what she wanted to do. She was beautiful and gracious, and showered her family in endless love. She was the centre of my world and I was now faced with the difficult decision of whether to cancel my trip or proceed as planned and potentially miss my last opportunity to say goodbye.

My Gran was inspirational to me, she knew her way around a computer and the internet more than most people half her age. Years ago, my Gran started up her own senior citizens computer club and obtained sponsorship from Microsoft Australia to provide the software and funding for the computers. She knew about emojis before I did, often appending them to the emails she would send me. But what I admired most about my Gran was how she always encouraged me to be the best I could be, and to never give up. She always encouraged me to give everything a “red hot go!”

My Gran was well aware of my plans for VMworld and was proud as punch that I was challenging myself with this new found opportunity. After news of my Gran’s sudden passing, I spent the next couple of days worrying about what I should do. Details of her funeral had not been finalised, and with little time to spare, I had to make the difficult decision on whether I would cancel my trip or proceed as planned. I spent the next two days discussing my options with family and close friends. All were supportive and said that I should go, however this did not make it any easier for me in making a decision. In the end, I thought about my Gran, and what she would want me to do. My Gran and my family knew how much I loved and cherished her, and I knew deep down that giving up a rare opportunity such as this was not something my Gran would have been particularly pleased with. So I decided to proceed as planned and travel to VMworld.

I was now at peace with myself and with my decision, and shortly thereafter I learned that I would be able to attend my grandmother’s funeral, if I were to depart the US a day early. Everything I had hoped for was now going to be possible, my Gran had worked her magic!

Continue reading part two of this post where I share the highlights of my VMworld 2018 experience.

For my Gran,
In loving memory,
Pamela Welbourn
November 16, 1929 – August 21, 2018
Thank you for your endless love, support,
encouragement and inspiration.
May your beautiful soul now rest in peace.
Love always, your grandson, Tim
xxx


3 thoughts on “VMworld 2018 – The Highs & Lows – Part One”

  1. Tim, that was a touching and beautiful post re: your Grandmother. One of mine passed away when I was in the middle of MS Exchange training in 2012 and it hit me pretty hard, esp. trying to concentrate on the training. I’m surprised you held your emotions in check during your As Built session. I would have lost it.

    As for your presentation re: As Built, I was sitting in there and came out writing the evaluation that it was one of the best and most memorable sessions I had sat in from every session I took during VMworld. I remember Matt and you joking about not having the best presentation skills or something along those lines and I couldn’t even tell. I was glued to your project and couldn’t wait to return to show this to my team. I can only do basic PowerCLI/PowerShell commands and am in now way someone who can write a script from the ground up. I still have issues to this day understanding the syntax. I can look at code and tell you what it will do but in no way can actually write something like this from scratch.

    Anyway, I came here to grab the info on downloading the script and saw this and had to respond. Thank you and your team for this awesome script. I can’t wait to try it out!

    Brian

    1. Thanks Brian for your comments and for the positive feedback. I am glad you enjoyed the session and will hope you find our project useful.

      It was especially difficult to make the decision to leave for VMworld not knowing if I would make it back in time for my grandmother’s funeral. Thankfully everything worked out in the end and I was able to make it back home in time. I was wanting to give a tribute to my grandmother during the session, however I knew I would have trouble holding it together, so I abandoned the idea.

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