I’m sitting here in the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA waiting to board my plane back to Phoenix. Unfortunately, my flight was delayed two hours so I thought I would write a blog post about my experience at the VMware Forum 2012 that kicked off today in Garden Grove, CA. Let me just say right off the bat, it’s worth it! I always seem to start going through VMworld withdrawals right about the time April rolls around, we’ve still got 4 months before VMworld 2012 kicks off, so this was a really nice event to hold me over. I’m not sure how many people were in attendance, if I had to guess I would say somewhere in the ballpark of 600. If you are planning on going, great! If you are on the fence, let me break down how my day went at the VMware Forum and maybe I can sway your decision. Here it goes…
Register For The Event
This step was a piece of cake, I just went to VMware.com and the registration link is right on the home page. If you don’t get a chance to register, they have a bunch of iPads at the registration desk and you can register on the spot, no penalty. Oh, also, it’s a free event (well, they scan your badge and take your email and contact info, so it comes at the cost of spam and cold calls).
Once you register, which took all of about 10 seconds, they give you a nifty little VMware/EMC branded badge with lanyard and you are off to the races.
Network at the Partner Pavillion
Next up for me was the Partner Pavillion which was in the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Garden Grove, think of it as a mini Solutions Exchange floor. I spent the first hour at the Forum cruising the floor, visiting with companies like VMware, Nutanix, Riverbed, EMC, F5, Acronis, Virsto, Global Knowledge, Mozy (EMC), HDS, Veeam, Wyse, Insight Integrated and others. If you’ve experienced VMworld before, much like the Solutions Exchange floor, the Partner Pavillion will give you the opportunity to meet with marketing and SEs from the various companies as they give you demos of some of the cutting edge technology that partners nicely with VMware. Also like VMworld, there is plenty of swag, I didn’t go overboard like at VMworld, I got way with a t-shirt (that’s one t-shirt) a couple of pens and a VMUG ball cap which my son will love. There were plenty of giveaways as well, I counted at least 4 iPads, a $500 Apple Store gift card, a remote control helicopter, two Kindle Fires, an Apple TV, an iPod Nano and a one hundred-dollar bill! I didn’t win anything, oh well.
Attend a Breakout Session
After getting in some good networking over at the Partner Pavillion, my next stop was a breakout session on the topic of The Post PC-Era and End User Computing. This session was sponsored by Wyse, it included a half hour presentation from VMware on transitioning IT into the post-PC era. Topics like BYOT or BYOD (bring your own technology/device) were discussed and how to handle those situations as an IT manager. VMware View was touched on which is where Wyse came in with their thin clients, cloud clients and zero clients. It was a good session, enjoyable and I learned a lot. My one complaint was that the VMware employee who was handling the VMware part of the presentation, couldn’t answer a single question from the audience. There were literally 3 or 4 questions regarding licensing and thin client hardware that she repeatedly answered with “I’ll have to get back to you on that” I’m not sure when she planned on getting back to us, but the audience was pretty annoyed with that. Even the other VMware employee in the room couldn’t answer the questions and made no attempt to track down the answers. Note to VMware, make sure the presenters are super technical, we’re going to ask super technical questions. The other breakout session I attended was extremely helpful and very technical. This session was focused on vCenter Operations, which is an incredible piece of the puzzle as far as monitoring goes. The presenter was prepared, didn’t put us to sleep and answered every question, kudos to him!
Get Some Lunch
Lunch was provided which was really great. It was a box lunch consisting of your choice of ham and swiss on a croissant, turkey and havarti on a potato roll, or the veggie selection of tomato and mozzarella with basil. It included an apple, a cookie, chips and a wet nap which came in handy (nothing worse than greasy fingers on a smart phone screen). Lunch was followed with refreshments, Diet Pepsi (thank you VMware!!!!), and a ton of other soda and coffee, it was also a welcome refreshment.
Last but not least, the Hands on Labs
This past VMworld, if you attended, you got to witness and awe-inspiring display of hands on labs. This was a bit smaller than VMworld, but the labs were just as good. I had to wait in line for about 15 minutes, not nearly as bad as VMworld, and then I was ushered into the Labs where I decided to do the “Building a Hybrid Cloud” lab. The lab took me approximately 1.5 hours, I hadn’t really played with vCloud Director much, so it was slow going but I loved it. Nothing like kicking the tires on a fully licensed VMware product. I would have done more labs, but time was short. Nonetheless, it was well worth the time to sit, take a breather and work on the hands on lab.
The event wrapped at about 4:30pm and it was a mad dash to the taxi line at the hotel for a lift to the airport. I got to John Wayne airport sat down for some great Mexican food at Javi’s in the terminal (don’t pass this up if you are ever in the area) and then finished it off with some incredible frozen yogurt from Pinkberry. It was a great trip, out and back in a day, I’ll be glad to be home and looking forward to apply what I learned from the VMware Forum 2012.