• 08/22/2014
    2:10 PM
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Confessions Of A VMworld Virgin

I'm heading to WMworld for the first time, and relying on a schedule filled with smart people and intriguing activities to keep me on track.

I have a confession to make: I have never been to the VMworld customer conference. That's surprising, considering how many of our community members and contributors attend the event every year, and how essential virtualization has become to enterprise infrastructure.

Really, it's just the timing of the show. As a New Enlander and the mother of two college-aged kids, I was loathe to give up a whole week in August to travel to one of the few climates in the US cooler than my own. The time out of the office is also tough to recover from, because September is one of the busiest months of the year at work. But now my kids are out of school, and my job truly demands it. So VMworld, next week I sacrifice to you the last precious days of summer and dive right into the conference season.

I am little nervous, knowing how easy it is to become lost at an event spanning a big conference center (both literally and figuratively). I also tend toward the shy side, so when faced with a crowded room of people and no specific plan, my natural instinct is to bolt and hide in my hotel room. My strategy for overcoming this is to schedule myself silly (SMS).

Luckily, VMworld has no lack of things to do, and a handy mobile app with which to keep track of them. Of course, the focus is customer education, and the session catalog offers 625 different sessions ranging from introductory (Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Dummies -- only this crowd would call that introductory) to advanced (A Technical Deep Dive on Implementing Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) VMware 5 Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) for DoD). There are also countless vendor presentations, breakfasts, luncheons, panels, demos, and user group meetings to choose from.

Of course, I will attempt to stay informed of the big news and trends, because that's traditionally what my job has entailed. So I start my schedule by blocking out time for the keynotes and selecting a couple topic areas I hope to write about. Then I plan to attend a few related sessions, especially those with presenters I might be able to interview.

But, really, the biggest reason I'm going to VMworld is to meet and talk to people in the community. So SMS is about making the most of that face-to-face time, while I have access to it -- SMS-F2F, if you will. I am acquainted with scores of ridiculously smart people through email, Twitter, and LinkedIn whom I rarely get to see in person. People like this:

If I know these folks will be at VMworld, I'm trying to reach out to them and plan some time to talk, F2F.

I am also determined to seek out those places and events that will have the most community members per square inch, so that I put myself in the best possible position for interaction with new names and faces (and so the doors are blocked if I get the urge to flee). VMworld has some intriguing sessions where I think some approachable people may turn up:

In addition, there are more social events at VMworld than I have seen at any other conference. These can be extremely intimidating, but VMworld takes a step toward making them more inclusive by listing them on a Gatherings page. A few highlights include:

  • v0dgeball: EMC will host its fifth annual v0dgeball Charity Tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. This sounds a little intense for me as far as participation goes, but definitely makes the list as a spectator event.
  • VMworld Community Kick-Off: The official event put on by VMware's social media team to launch the conference, this soiree will be held at Jillian's Billiard Club.
  • vFlipCup: Monday night features an "epic community tweetup and flipcup tournament." Held at Folsom Street Foundry, you can register a team to play, or just go and watch.
  • vBacon: If you love bacon and you love tech (and who doesn't?) join the Cisco data center team at the Ferry Building on Tuesday night. Be sure to register and get your sticker at the Cisco booth in advance.

The VMware social media team will also host a Hang Space featuring community tech talks, an area for bloggers, and special community booths. If I find myself with any time in between my planned SMS activities, I will be here.

If you are at VMworld and you see me, please introduce yourself, F2F. You may prevent this virgin (ahem) from running for her hotel room.



See you there Sue! It looks like you can plan on the same chilly summer weather you'd expect in San Francisco in August. Foggy times here in the Bay Area.

Re: weather

Ugh, packing! I haven't even thought about that yet :( Where are my stylish, yet comfy shoes? I forgot, they don't make those for women...

Re: weather

looks like a lot of fun! I've been to the Bay area in the summer and it is really nice. I miss going to SF.

Shoes: I've seen many women wearing sneakers at conferences such as the MWC. If you have to survive standing and walking most of the day better be as confortable as possible. (but who am I to talk about women shoes?)

Re: weather

You're right about the shoes Pablo. This event most definately requires comfortable shoes for all the walking at Moscone.

Re: weather

Marcia, agreed, be it an important sporting event or an important conference -- confortable shoes are a necessary. And, it is good that indoor navigation apps have been high on the list of apps developers, because quickly finding a desired session in a large conference is nice. 

Re: weather

Pablo, that is excellent advice and I'm sure you have excellent taste in fashion, but I just cannot give in and wear sneakers yet! Maybe in another decade :)

Re: weather

@Susan, thank you, the information that you bring back is going to be extremely useful. Everything from SDN to SDDC, are topics that are evolving with each day that passes.

625 different sessions! How many speakers are going to be at the conference?

Re: weather

Hi Brian -- There are even more speakers than sessions: 815 speakers scheduled, according to the VMworld schedule. 

Re: weather

Hi Marcia, that's interesting. I was expecting a lower number for the number of speakers. However, now come to think about it, since some of these sessions are technical it makes sense for a firm to send a multiple speakers to disseminate information.

Re: weather

Brian, there are almost too many things to choose from -- it's a little overwhelming. There are lots of speakers because some of the sessions are presented by two people, or some are panels that may have 5 or 6 different people answering questions onstage.

Re: weather
Thank You Susan for bringing this to us, even better if you can't reach, don't worry social media is here ...
Re: weather

Aditya, that is very true about social media. You can track the #vmworld hashtag and find out more about the conference than if you are actually there, I think. It's a different expereince, but you sure can learn a lot, and interact with some great people.

Re: weather

Ah, the professional yet comfortable shoe conundrum. I have a couple of pairs of low heels that look good and don't kill my feet, and I save them for conferences. It always amazes me when I see women walking around a show floor in stilettos (and without a grimace of pain).

Waiting for Keen or Jambu to make pumps. Until then ...

A hectic week in San Francisco

Susan, nice rundown of what the VMworld week is like. Perhaps wisely, you didn't get into the 12 or so afterhours events, which involve a lot of technology talk and some drinking, but I'll sign you up for as many as I can.

Re: A hectic week in San Francisco

LOL, Charlie, if I go to the "evening events" then how will I write about all the fascinating conversations I am having? I'm lucky if I can even stay awake for them ;)

Have a great Time!

Susan, hope you have a wonderful wonderful time and do not schedule yourself too silly!

Re: Have a great Time!

Thanks, Fish! Just wrapping up Day 1, and it was very productive! Highlights were meeting and having excellent conversations with Eric Wright, a VMUG leader from Toronto, Luigi Tiano, who runs the website 1CloudRoad, and Byron Schaller, one of our bloggers (and a Virtual Design Master alum). My brain is overflowing!