Registration for VMworld 2016 in the US is now open, here’s some key information about the event:
- Dates/Times: VMworld US runs from Sunday, Aug. 28th until Thursday, Sept. 1st. On Sunday except for partner/TAM activities, nothing much is going on until 5:00pm when the Welcome Reception kicks off where you can mingle with all the sponsors in the Solutions Exchange and grab some food and drink. The first general session/keynote is Monday morning at 9:00am (Pat Gelsinger) and afterwards Breakout Sessions and the Solutions Exchange is open from 11:00am-6:00pm. This repeats on Tuesday, also on Wednesday but no keynote and things shutdown a bit earlier (5:00pm) because of the official VMworld party at 7:30pm. Thursday is typically a slower day as things are winding down and the event shuts down at 3:00pm. You can view the full agenda here.
- Location: VMworld is back in Vegas baby! The last time VMworld was in Vegas was 2011, the first VMworld that I attended in 2008 was also located in Vegas. However this time instead of the Venetian were it has historically been it’s now at Mandalay Bay. Why the change from San Francisco this year? Construction going on at Moscone Center triggered the change this year. How well will VMworld fit inside Mandalay Bay? Read my post here on that topic. I for one welcome the change of venue as it means less walking, better food, cheaper hotels and no earthquakes.
- Pricing: There are various discounts available for registration. Early bird pricing discounts are in effect now until June 6th, this typically saves you about $300. With the early bird discounts, individual registration is $1695, if you have been to two or more VMworlds as a paid full conference attendee you apply for the Alumni discount as well which gets you another $200 off ($1495). There are also discounts for government, education, VCP, VMUG and groups. If you can’t afford the registration fee keep your eyes open as many vendors offer promotional free passes for VMworld in the months leading up to the event. As luck would have it VMTurbo has a drawing in May, June and July were you have a chance to win 2 free passes to VMworld so go sign-up for that.
- Sessions: Public voting is now open for sessions until May 24th where you can influence which sessions make it in to the event. Speaker notifications are tentatively set to go out on June 14th, the dreaded “we’re sorry” email for many of us. The content catalog of approved sessions is scheduled to go live June 21st so you can see which sessions made the cut and the schedule builder goes live July 19th so you can start to add them to your schedule. It’s recommended to do this early as popular sessions fill up very fast. When sessions fill up you can be added to a waiting list and often times a 2nd running of the session is added for hot sessions.
- Partner Exchange: VMware phased out their annual Partner Exchange event (PEX), traditionally held in February, last year and merged it into VMworld. PEX at VMworld is a scaled down version of the event and takes place before VMworld officially kicks off Sunday evening with the Welcome Reception. It is meant for VMware partners only (no customers) and takes place on Saturday & Sunday with boot camps, keynotes and breakout sessions. The content is more geared towards sales enablement audiences to help them better sell VMware products. This is typically a registration add-on, you can read more about this here.
- Justification: I did a sample justification letter many years ago back in 2008 when I wrote for Tech Target. The VMworld crew must of seen that as they have offered one as well in subsequent years, you can download the current one that they have here. I know the cost of VMworld can be a hard sell especially if you are a customer, it’s definitely worth it though so take the time and try and make a solid business case for it. With VMworld in Vegas this year it might be cheaper overall with lower hotel costs and cheaper flights.
- Hotels: After hotel sticker shock in San Francisco the last few years paying $300-$600/night for a hotel often times with no frills, Vegas is a breath of fresh air where you can get a great hotel with loads of amenities for under $150/night. There are special VMworld rates at the Mandalay Bay and other nearby hotels that you can book as part of your VMworld registration. Mandalay Bay is $149/night, Delano (formerly THEhotel) is $189/night, MGM Grand is $75-$140/night and the Luxor is $50/night (plus the dumb resort fees), if you book direct to the hotel the rates are a bit higher but you can always find hotel deals in Vegas. How awesome is that, 4 nights in Vegas cheaper than 1 night in San Francisco. Again don’t wait to book your hotel if you want to be closer to the event or at the Mandalay Bay.
- The Band: A favorite topic of mine and I anxiously await each year to find out who the band will be as it is always great to have some good entertainment after a few days of deep knowledge absorption. I’ve been mostly disappointed the last few years in the band they chose, every year though I am cautiously optimistic that they will get a good band that I like. You can see the full list of VMworld bands over the years here and also read about the economic side of how much it costs to hire those bands.
VMware has a full FAQ on VMworld here that you can also look through that answers many common questions about the event. As the event draws closer I’ll be posting more links and information on it. See you in Vegas!