It’s August, which in the vCommunity can only mean one thing, it’s time for VMworld again! Late August is always a really busy and fun time of the year for me. The blog community really gets buzzing in late August, and this year has already proven to be even bigger. I’ve counted at least 5 different “VMworld 2014” blog posts and mine is just adding to the pile, but I hope you find some good info here that will help you navigate the worlds largest virtualization conference.
Plan your trip
Have you planned your trip yet? Hopefully you have as air fare to SFO is getting more expensive by the day and trying to find a hotel this late in the game is next to impossible. I’ve been to every VMworld since 2010, unfortunately this year I will not be in attendance (at least physically). I just started an MBA program here in Northern Virginia at George Mason University and VMworld week coincides with orientation week. I’m choosing to be the responsible party this go round and miss VMworld. As it gets closer, the pain of missing VMworld grows, but this is for the best.
There are so many options to planning your trip, even if you’re late to the game. Air fare is what it is and you’ll have to eat it if you’re buying a ticket this late. For hotels, you’re not likely to find a hotel within walking distance to the Moscone Center this late, however there are many options such as Airbnb, which allows you to rent out someone’s residence or share a rental with a fellow vNerd (shout out to Pluralsight). Public transit in San Francisco is pretty stellar, there are many options from BART to busses, rail cars and even the trolley (make sure to get your “Full House” trolley picture taken, if you’re a certain age, you’ll get that reference).
The VMworld Schedule builder is available now and you can build out your entire VMworld schedule by using this tool, however, I’ve never once used it and have always had an incredible time (more about this below). There are breakout sessions to attend, expert panels, vendor sessions and training sessions, there is a ton of content available so choose wisely. If you can’t get to them all they’re always online after the conference wraps.
If you’ve attended VMworld in the past, you know how crazy it can be and how many people are around, this year will be even bigger. If you’ve been paying attention over the past couple of years, you haven’t been able to miss the growth of the community and the blogosphere. The amount of virtualization focused blogs has almost tripled (I’ve been keeping track on Eric Siebert’s vLaunchpad), and isn’t slowing down. With that amount of blogs, there are that many people to meet and rub shoulders with. Our vCommunity is such a great community with so many smart and interesting characters, VMworld is the place where they all gather to share knowledge and have fun. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet some of your blog heroes, one of mine is Scott Lowe and it was awesome to meet him in person and pick his brain at VMworld 2010.
Last year I created a blog posts focused on “Who’s Who at VMworld” that was both praised and vilified. I’m not going to do another one this year, because honestly, the list wouldn’t change that much from last year, and I don’t want to hear all the complaints that people were left off, or that I didn’t include any women, etc, etc. (yes, I received all of these complaints). When you get a chance, take a look at last year’s post, minus a few people, the entire list should be present this year. I will give a shout out to Jane Rimmmer, she wasn’t on my list last year and that was a gross mistake, she’s awesome, but unfortunately Jane won’t be there this year either. At any rate, there are way more people than could fit on one dumb list on my blog that you should take the time to meet.
You Can’t Do It All
My first trip to VMworld, I tried to do it all. I was so excited to be there and planned my trip with the schedule builder tool, I had every minute of my conference planned out before I even boarded the plane in DC. Boy, that came to a screeching halt the second I walked onto the Solutions Exchange floor, it was sensory overload!! That year I ended up attending one, yes one, session. I spent a ton of time on the Solutions Exchange floor, mingling with vendors and partners, talking to some of the top bloggers and hanging out in the hang space. It was better than I even imagined it would be, and I only attended one session. If you talk to any VMworld alumni, they will all tell you the same thing, don’t waste a lot of time attending sessions (no offense to the speakers). There are a few sessions that are a can’t miss event, anything with Duncan Epping… and Meet the vExpert Blogger Panel is a great one that I always attend.
Just about every night there is a vendor or partner party or reception. Sunday night is the opening of the Solutions Exchange floor where there’s food and drinks, you will walk around meeting vendors and getting a lay of the land. This is where you will get an invite (by way of a wristband most likely) to any event you haven’t already been invited to. You can’t attend them all, it’s just not possible. I would usually pick 2 or 3 events that I couldn’t bear to miss (Veeam Party, Wyse/Dell Party, Nutanix Party) and planned on those. If there was time after I left those events before crashing, I would stop by say hello and see what’s going on, otherwise, it was just those 2 or 3 events and that was it. Plan now, pick which parties/receptions you want to attend and stick to those. If you haven’t received any invites, search the web or reach out to your vendor to see if they have passes for you.
See the City!
San Francisco is an incredible city, I will really miss my annual trip to the bay area this year. Some of my must see items in the city are the Imaginarium, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and Chinatown. If there’s one place you should eat in San Francisco, make sure you don’t miss a meal at Boudin’s Bakery, the sourdough bread is incredible. If you like taking pictures, San Francisco is a photographer’s dream, don’t forget your camera. Along with all of the touristy type locations, just walking around the city is enough to entertain you. Don’t spend all of your time in the Moscone Center, branch out a little and explore the city, there is so much to do and see. VMworld has been in at least 3 different cities that I can think of, I feel like it belongs to San Francisco, it just feels right having the annual conference there.