Another year, another VMworld, for me this VMworld will be number 10, my first one was in 2008 in Las Vegas. I remember that experience fondly as it was more intimate back then when it was a lot smaller. Over the years I learned many lessons about attending VMworld so I thought I’d pass that on to you:
- If you’re a blogger make sure you sign up here to get your blog added to the blogger list/feed for VMworld. Even if you’re not a blogger you can use that page to follow the feed of blogger posts at VMworld as the bloggers are your eyes and ears at VMworld that you can live vicariously through to enjoy the event. Also here’s another page on the VMworld blog devoted to bloggers at VMworld.
- Set your priorities and expectations ahead of time, VMworld has plenty to offer and you’ll get as much out of it as you put into it. Sessions are at the bottom of the priority list for me, things like networking and going through the Solutions Exchange are at the top. If you make a schedule it will be challenging to keep it as there are plenty of distractions at VMworld. Be realistic and don’t try and cram your schedule so full that you stress yourself out and are rushing to get to everything. Relax, enjoy yourself and have fun.
- The sessions, so many to choose from (over 450 this year!), so little time, you’ll be lucky if you can attend more than a dozen of them. They’re just so much other stuff to do there its hard to find time to go to sessions. I recommend you pick a few that you really want to see and don’t sweat it if you miss some, remember they’re all recorded and you have plenty of time to see them after VMworld. I usually choose based on certain people that I want to hear speak and meet after the session. After all you can always hear the session later but you can’t meet the speaker after VMworld is over.
- The labs are a great place to get hands on experience with both VMware and partner products and solutions. The labs are all based in VMware’s lab cloud environment and they are all self-paced. Most of the labs are available 24×7 via the cloud so you don’t need to feel the urgency to take them at VMworld. Still it’s always good to get some hands on so if you have some free time be sure and take a few. In addition VMware and partners staff the labs with experts on each course to assist you and answer questions if needed which is good incentive to take them at VMworld.
- The parties, there are no shortage of them, my inbox always fills up with party invitations each year and trying to pick and choose which ones you want to attend can be even more challenging than picking which sessions to see. There is a pretty comprehensive list of them here. Kicking off the event is the official Welcome Reception in the Solutions Exchange from 5-7:30pm on Sunday. There is lots of food, beer & vendors so its a good way to start the evening. Afterwards on Sunday is the annual big VMunderground warm-up party, at the Beerhaus from 7:00-11:00pm, cost is $40 and you have to buy tickets for it. You can read my full VMworld 2017 party overview here and hit up the vendors for invites.
- The networking, that’s what VMworld is all about, don’t be a hermit and don’t be afraid to talk to people. People like William Lam, Chris Wahl, Scott Lowe and Duncan Epping aren’t surrounded by security guards and are down to earth guys who will talk to anyone. So go say high, introduce yourself and have a conversation, you’ll be very glad you did so afterwards. Don’t know where to find people? Well parties are a good place to start, everyone seems to gravitate there. Do yourself a favor and get on twitter if you’re not already and you’ll know in real time whats going on. The official VMworld hashtag is #vmworld and many of the sessions have their own hashtags, make sure and follow the official @VMworld account also. There is also the VMvillage social hub which is a good place to socialize and meet the bloggers and chill out. They also have lounging areas, refreshments, games, entertainment and tech talks/podcasting going on in the VMvillage. Be sure and check out the VMworld social media & community page which has a lot of good info and links on it.
- Plan your trip appropriately, you’re going to be on your feet a lot at VMworld, you better have comfortable shoes or you’re going to have real sore feet. Don’t by a pair of new spiffy shoes right before VMworld without breaking them in, you’ll regret it! Pack light if you can, you might want to being an extra bag, there are lots of prize giveaways and free swag all over the place so I can almost guarantee you’re going to go home with more than you came with. Also don’t forget you’ll be bringing an extra backpack home with you, I tend to fill-up a box with all my extra stuff and ship it back, there is a FedEx office onsite in Mandalay right by the VMworld entrance. If you’re going to walk around with a back pack don’t stuff it too much, its going to get awfully heavy after wearing it a few hours. I travel light and don’t want a full laptop to lug around, I bring a netbook, iPad and smartphone and choose the one I want to carry for what I need to do at the time. Don’t forget power, especially for your phone, I carry a few portable battery chargers so I can charge it as needed without an outlet.
- VMware makes a point to show off their talent at VMworld, this means those geeky developers that are normally locked up all day making the next version of vSphere are there and usually available to talk to. What better person to ask your HA question than someone who actually developed the feature. VMware has lots of other smart people there so be sure and check out the VMware booths in the Solutions Exchange to meet them. It’s not just VMware that has their smartest and brightest at the show though, most of the vendors have their best people there also so go by your favorite vendors and talk them up and get your questions answered.
- The Solutions Exchange is like a Super Walmart, everything you can possibly need for VMware products all under one roof, take your time, stroll around and I guarantee you’ll see many cool products that you probably never knew existed. VMware has an incredibly rich ecosystem of vendors that can help solve your pain points and enhance your environment. Do make a point of spending plenty of time there, besides learning a lot you’ll leave with pockets stuffed with vendor swag. Besides the Welcome Reception on Sunday there is the Hall Crawl on Tuesday from 4-6pm where you can get free booze from certain vendors that offer it.
- If this is your first time at VMworld it can be a bit intimidating, especially when it comes to finding your way around, it took me quite a while to be able to navigate the sprawling Mandalay Bay maze with ease. If you get there on Sunday try and pick up your badge then rather than fight the crowds on Monday. Walking around and trying to get your bearings can help, be sure and use the maps that are published on the VMworld 2017 smartphone app and in the docs you are given when you check in to see where everything is. You can even enable location alerts and bluetooth prompts to help guide you around. If you need information don’t hesitate to ask someone, or even better trying tweeting it and you might get a quick answer. The more social you can be at VMworld especially if its your first time will really help you out as us virtualization folks are a friendly lot that don’t bite and are glad to help out a vComrade.
VMworld is four short days and will fly by before you know it, so be sure and make the most of it and soak up the incredible amount of knowledge that will be available both formally through labs and sessions and informally through talking to others. More than anything, enjoy the show, I hope to meet many of you there!