My First VMworld Experience

IMG_E6898I’ve been wanting to write about my first-ever VMworld experience even before the plane departed from McCarran airport, but I just couldn’t seem to find the time to actually sit down and “put my thoughts to paper” as they say. I can’t believe it’s already been a month since the conference events first kicked off in Las Vegas! The time sure does fly by! But, I at least wanted to share my experience with others who maybe haven’t been to a VMworld conference yet, or who might be going for the first time next year. (Hey, you never know!)

I started working with the VMware vSphere suite of products sometime around 2010 in the ESXi 4.x era, but I honestly didn’t know anything about VMworld or VMUGs at the time. It wasn’t until about 2012 or so that I first learned what VMworld was. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to go the conference, but it seemed there was never enough money in the budget to send our VMware architect, let alone the SysAdmin (me). I switched to a different company the following year, but it was a very similar story… Lack of funds in the budget to send team members out to the conference.

Fast-forward a few more years, as well as yet another career move, and I’m now very fortunate to work for a company that has the resources and connections available to send a select number of employees to VMworld! It only took me six long years to get here, so I planned on making the most of every minute of this experience!

In addition to this being my first-ever VMworld conference, my company is also a TAM customer, which meant that I was able to attend a few TAM-exclusive sessions as well as TAM Day on Sunday. Not only that, but I also achieved vExpert status earlier this year as well. So, for my first VMworld, I was going as an attendee, a TAM customer, and a vExpert, so there was a lot more to experience than just general and breakout sessions.

Sessions

As usual, there were a TON of sessions covering a wide variety of VMware’s many products and services. All of the sessions I attended were really awesome, though I do have several that I need to go back and watch, as I wasn’t able to make it to some of the ones I had initially registered for. The ones I attended mainly focused on these areas of interest:

  • vSphere 6.7 Update 1 announcements
  • vSphere HTML5 client
  • VMware Cloud Foundation
  • vSphere Security
  • vRealize Operations Manager
  • PowerCLI
  • Preparing for VCP certification

These sessions were excellent opportunities to learn, ask questions, and engage with others about new products or features announced at the conference. For instance, the one PowerCLI session I attended inspired me to take a closer look at learning functions and to see if or how I could incorporate those into my existing scripts. It was also great to hear about the new features and enhancements coming in vSphere 6.7 Update 1, vROps 7.0, and VMware Cloud Foundation 3.0.

Networking (the people kind)

This was definitely my favorite part about attending the VMworld conference! I had multiple opportunities to meet and really get to know so many people in the VMware community. There are just too many to list here, but I was really surprised that a few even knew who I was! After all, I still feel like I’m just starting out on this whole blogging and community engagement thing.

I spent quite a bit of time near the VMTN Community booth in the VM Village, and in my experience, that was the best place to meet or catch up with people you interact with in the VMware community. I especially enjoyed getting to meet those huddled around the Blogger tables, as I got some really great advice, as well as feedback on the current state of my own (this) blog. I hope to incorporate many of those tips and tricks soon! (Oh, and I scored a number of really awesome stickers there, too!)

Again, many thanks to Ariel Sanchez Mora and AJ Kuftic for giving me the nudge (ok, more like shove) to even start this blog and to really engage with the #vCommunity!

Hackathon

I have to admit, I didn’t register for the hackathon until the very last minute. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect or that I would even be able to contribute that much to a team. Wait, a team? I had to find a team? I had no idea what team to join, but I chose one that had people I recognized and also wasn’t full. Even if I wasn’t able to contribute a whole lot to the team, it was a great way to meet and get to know a few more people in the VMware community. Plus, I got to learn a but more about VMware Cloud on AWS, so that was an added bonus! Several teams had some amazing demos, and I was very impressed with how quickly they were able to piece together a solution in the limited time that we had to do something. Great stuff!

Tips & Suggestions

Prior to the conference, I recall seeing and reading a few “Tips and Tricks” posts about what to expect and how to prepare for VMworld. Some may be rather obvious, but here’s a few:

  • Wear comfortable shoes
    • I averaged about 18,000 – 20,000 steps per day walking between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay convention center (and back)
  • Stay hydrated and drink a lot of water (especially if consuming other kinds of beverages)
  • Also, lip balm (especially for dry climates or if you plan on talking quite a bit)
  • Bring multiple pairs of socks, because you may just want to throw on a fresh pair of socks before evening activities. Same goes for undershirts and underwear, too.
  • Consider bringing your own roll of toilet paper. That’s all I’ll say about that.
  • Pack a suitcase one size larger than you need
    • You may not intend to grab a lot of swag, but you never know what you may pick up or win along the way
    • In my case, I had a bit of beginner’s luck, and I won a device or two, got a signed copy of the vSphere Clustering Deep Dive book, several t-shirts, battery packs, a hat, lots of stickers, and another backpack (in addition to the VMworld bag)
      • And no, I didn’t ‘sell my soul’ in the Solutions Exchange. I only visited about five different vendors when I was there. Some swag was because I’m a vExpert, and others stuff was because I was extremely lucky that week!
  • Take travel size toiletries — They’ll take up a lot less room in your suitcase.
    • Some people mentioned just buying these supplies when you land, however a stick of lip balm was $4.95, as were a lot of the other toiletries.
    • If suitcase space is tight for returning home, you won’t be discarding as much.
  • Consider leaving your laptop bag at home if you’re planning on accepting the VMworld bag or backpack. It’s less stuff to have to worry about bringing back home.
  • Gum or mints are also handy. I kept a few in my pocket at all times, because you never know who you’ll run into while you’re there.

Summary

That pretty much wraps up my first VMworld experience, and it checks off another item from this year’s personal goals list for 2018! I had an absolute blast and I hope I have the opportunity to attend next year’s conference in San Francisco (especially since I’ve never been there before). Until then, I will continue writing here on my blog and staying engaged in the VMware community! As always, thanks for stopping by!

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