This year, I was lucky enough to be chosen as the winner of an all-expense paid trip to VMworld 2012 by a group of vExpert judges thanks to Greg Stuart and a few very generous sponsors. Not only was this my first trip to a VMworld conference, but this was also my first trip to the west coast. Needless to say, I knew that the trip was going to be an exciting and overwhelming one.
Monday kicked off with the VMworld General Session Keynote on Day 1 where Paul Maritz passed the CEO torch to Pat Gelsinger. The plan to end the unpopular vRAM licensing was also discussed. I’m looking forward to reading more about the vCloud Suite 5.1 and other enhancements highlighted during the keynote. Prior to attending VMworld, I signed up for a handful of technical sessions that interested me the most. A few of my favorite sessions were: “Ask the Expert vBloggers” – Duncan Epping, Frank Denneman, Scott Lowe, Chad Sakac, Rick Scherer.”Architecting and Operating a VMware vSphere Metro Storage Cluster” – Duncan Epping and Lee Dilworth”VMware vSphere 5 Design Discussions” – Scott Lowe and Forbes Guthrie “vSphere 5 Storage Best Practices” – Chad Sakac and Vaughn Stewart These sessions turned out to be a little more interactive than I expected, and it was also great to find that there was usually a brief window of time after each session to meet and chat with the presenters. I even managed to get a couple of pictures with Duncan Epping and Scott Lowe (though I should have brought a real camera with me, the iphone camera let me down!) There were several sessions that I was unable to attend, and I plan on watching those sessions online at a later time.
The Solutions Exchange was the place to see the latest virtualization technologies from vendors and pick up some cool swag! The vendors pulled out all the stops including jugglers/people in straightjackets on tall unicycles, Symantec flash mob of dancers in yellow coats, a Slash look-alike, and Brent Spiner (“Data” from Star Trek TNG). In the end, it was a challenge to fit everything in during such a large conference, and it would have been nice to visit a few more vendor booths.
I completed four different hands-on labs (HOL) while at VMworld, though I was hoping to complete more. However, I hear that an online HOL Beta will be offered to the public soon. I found the “Implement Disaster Recovery for the Cloud with VMware Site Recovery Manager” lab to be the most helpful, since I had never worked with this particular software before. Unfortunately, the HOL experience during VMworld was affected, at times, by extremely long wait times and various technical issues. However, overall I was impressed by the enormous size of the HOL and the effort put in, and I hope they continue to work out the kinks and add more infrastructure labs with real-life scenarios. I would probably try the BYOD (bring your own device) labs next time.
Networking & making new friends in the VMware community
One of the highlights from my trip was meeting all of the well-known vExperts/bloggers and fellow users in the VMware community. It was a great chance to network and meet many of the bloggers in-person that I have been following for some time now. The Hang Space in Moscone North was a great place to network and relax. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the vBrownbag crew (Cody Bunch and team from Professionalvmware.com) – a great group of guys giving back to the VMware community! vExperts James Bowling (@vSential) and Christopher Kusek (@cxi) were also very helpful in introducing me to many others at VMworld. In the evenings, the vBeers were plentiful and due to the wealth of knowledge present it was often hard to resist talking shop. I did not have the chance to attend the Dell Wyse party, but I was able to attend the Veeam party which was a lot of fun and seemed to be filled with VMware “celebrities” from wall-to-wall. On two separate nights, I also had the pleasure of going to dinner with folks from Symantec and with the group from TrainSignal (Thank you to both!). The Uber phone app came in very handy for many conference goers trying to get around the city. My time at VMworld ended on a high note Thursday when I was able to do some fun sightseeing/hanging out in San Francisco with @vSential, @hashmibilal, @paulystyrene, @Emad_Younis and @virt_pimp. I’m hoping to build some lasting relationships with many of the people that I met at VMworld.
I am looking forward to sharing my experience with my colleagues once I return to the office. I would like to thank Greg Stuart and the sponsors again for making this trip possible! This was an amazing experience, and I hope I am fortunate enough to make it back to VMworld in 2013!