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Making the most of VMworld Barcelona 2014

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In just under two weeks I’m heading to Barcelona for VMworld Europe. This will be my fifth year attending and I thought I’d pass on my recommendations for making the most of the conference. This isn’t a ‘book flights, wear trainers, collect swag’ kind of blogpost – remember, it’s a conference, nothing more, nothing less. Don’t be bamboozled by the hype.

1. Prepare in advance

  1. Review what was announced at VMworld in August (here, here, and here via Brian Gracely, Kyle Hilgendorf, & LatogaLabs respectively) so you don’t waste your time rediscovering the wheel. While the European show is playing second fiddle we do at least have the advantage that useful analysis is now available (thoughts on EVO:RAIL, Why VAIO will change everything, and thoughts on the Docker and Openstack announcements).
  2. Before you go reach out to people with similar interests and arrange to meet them, even if it’s informal over breakfast or a beer in the evening. The VMworld schedule builder lists speaker details and most people are easy to find via Twitter or LinkedIn and most are more than happy to engage with people (that’s why they’re speakers after all).
  3. Watch some of the VMworld sessions which are online from the US show in August. If you’ve booked time in your schedule for one of those sessions it’s time you can reuse more productively. Watching sessions in advance gives you more time to soak up new information and lets you think of questions to ask while at the conference.
  4. Write a blogpost on getting the most out of the conference and publish it. :-)

2. Spend your time doing the stuff you can only do at the conference.

  1. There’s lots of opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and make some excellent contacts, but it’s also quite easy to waste time either intentionally or unintentionally (late night parties take their toll). Most sessions are recorded, the keynotes are usually a repeat of the US keynotes with minor updates, and the lazy web provides deeper insight a few days later when full details emerge and people have had time to digest everything.
  2. If you go to sessions, ask questions! Some are designed to be interactive and watching a recording afterwards may not have the same value as participating – the vExpert Storage Game Show (STO2997-STO) and Ask the Expert vBloggers (SDDC1176) are good examples.
  3. The group discussions are an organised goldmine. Go to them and discuss.
  4. There are 50% discounts on taking certification exams during VMworld Europe, but the VCAP ones take a half day each which is valuable time lost.

3. Interact 

  1. The most valuable use of your time is speaking to people who have the same needs as you, along with product experts. The calibre of people at VMworld is second to none, though finding them among the thousands of attendees can be a challenge. See above point about preparation!
  2. Engage with the community via the vBrownBag sessions, TechFieldDay Extra (featuring yours truly),  the bloggers area and the hangspace.
  3. Join the VMUG organisation and find your local VMUG –  you’ll be glad you did.
  4. Tweet, blog, chat, drink!

4. Stay focused during the conference

  1. Set yourself an agenda and know what you want to achieve before you go. Maybe you want it to be a networking event where you meet up with old friends and share a beer, or maybe you want to focus on using the three or four days to soak up new information. Stick to it.
  2. You will suffer information overload during the event. Compensate by taking notes and make clear actions for follow up when you get home.
  3. Follow up when you get home. I have several folders of info, contacts, things to do etc from previous years and I haven’t always used them. That’s wasted opportunities.

More information about what, when, why, along with social media, parties etc can be found on Andrea Mauro’s comprehensive blogpost.

If you haven’t already it’s not too late to register!banner-eu-registerNow

Note that this link will let VMware know you registered via my blog, which may (or may not!) help me get kudos with their social media program in the future. Registrations much appreciated!

VMworld 2012 Barcelona wrapup

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This year my VMworld experience started in a more relaxed fashion than previously as I flew in ahead of time on the Sunday night. After checking in to my hotel and getting my orientation in the city I headed (along with LonVMUG’s Luke Munro) to the vRockstar party at the Hard Rock Cafe organised by Marco Broeken and Patrick Redknapp. This coincided nicely with ‘El Classico’ when the two giants of Spanish football, Real Madrid and Barcelona, play each other in the Spanish league. This ensured the Hard Rock Cafe was rammed full so it was a good thing they’d reserved an area for us. Food, (free) drink, and good conversation – thanks for organizing a great start to VMworld guys!

Next day registration at the conference venue was very quick partly because it was partner day and the masses had yet to arrive. There was some misleading information about the HOL being closed although after a quick Twitter shoutout to John Troyer that was quickly remedied. As I’m a customer not a partner I didn’t have access to the partner breakout sessions so I figured my day was going to be a mixture of labs and people networking. Compared to Copenhagen the weather was a distinct improvement, hovering around 25 degrees and quite humid, although inside the air conditioning kept everyone cool.

The Keynotes and announcements

Tuesday signaled the first day of the main conference when all 7000 attendees turned up. The day started with the keynote from Pat Gelsinger and Steve Herrod and was largely a repeat of the US keynote with a few notable exceptions which I’ll cover later. For those that haven’t seen the US keynotes here’s the highlights;

  • there is a new vCloud Suite which bundles many of the VMware products together in a more compelling and cost effective package
  • vRAM is no more (cost is now per socket)
  • the launch of vSphere 5.1
  • new certification tracks including a vCloud track

VMware always like to hold back some product launches so that VMworld Europe has something to get excited about. Here’s a summary of the announcements at Barcelona;

With the swift integration of the Dynamic Ops technology VMware obviously want to manage heterogeneous clouds having spent the last five years saying there was no demand. Should we take this as indirect endorsement of Hyper-V? :-)

Continue reading VMworld 2012 Barcelona wrapup

VMworld 2012 – what will we see?

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With VMworld rapidly approaching I’ve been wondering what to expect from this year’s shows in San Francisco and Barcelona. My first thought was ‘not much new’ based on the fact that vSphere5 was released at last years show and products such as vCOPs and vCloud Director have already had major updates recently. Upon reflection however I’ve realised that this year will be no different – trying to keep up with all the announcements, new technology, product launches and social gatherings will be nearly impossible. First let’s have a quick recap of the last two year’s shows and the various releases;

History of VMworld announcements

  • 2010 – Virtual Roads, Actual Clouds (attendance: 22000)
    US – vCloud Director, vFabric, vShield, vSphere 4.1 (announced just before the show), Project Horizon previewed
    Europe – vCloud Request Mgr, vCenter CapacityIQ
  • 2011 – It’s your cloud, own it! (attendance: 25,000+)
    US – Updated ‘cloud suite’ (vSphere5, view5, SRM 5, vCD 1.5, vShield 5) announced weeks before the show, vFabric Data Director, Project Octopus, Appblast, Horizon Application Manager, VXLAN
    Europe – vCenter Operations Management suite, vCenter vFabric Application Management Suite, vCenter Protect Essentials Plus

Clearly the major launches are always at the flagship show in the US, with a few kept over to keep Europe happy.

What’s in store for 2012?

VMworld is always a mix of corporate strategy and ‘in the trenches’ technology deep dives. There’s always a long term, cohesive, persuasive story which brings all the disparate technology elements together in a compelling vision. Lots of column inches have been dedicated to the recent management reshuffle at VMware and EMC combined with commentary about the evolution

Continue reading VMworld 2012 – what will we see?

VMworld Europe 2012 – Hotels on a map

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I’m planning to attend VMworld Europe again this year and like many I’ve just started looking into accommodation. While it’ll be nice to be in Barcelona again I’ll miss Copenhagen as I had a ‘regular’ place to stay just a five minute walk from the conference whereas this year I’ll be hoping the place I’ve booked is both well located and nice to stay in.

Last year Andi Mann (@andimann) posted a very useful mashup map of the VMworld hotels, making it much easier to work out where to stay. I recall (as I think the post is no longer available) that he suggested to VMware that they provide the hotel information in a more accessible format but unfortunately it’s still only via the official webpage (or you can use my Excel data). The VMware page lists quite a few hotels and their distance from the conference but it’s far from ideal. For starters some distances are in km and some are in miles but it’s easy to miss that little detail.

Rather than putting the burden on Andi to repeat last year’s map I thought I’d have a go. Turns out the basic mapping is pretty easy to do once you have the hotel data formatted as you can just cut and paste it into BatchGeo.com.

Here’s a map of the ‘official’ VMware hotels for Barcelona 2012, colour coded by ‘star’ rating (the conference location is in red). Note that if you scroll down under the map the hotels are listed alphabetically so you can easily locate a hotel by name;

View VMworld Europe 2012 hotels in a full screen map

There are a couple of things to note. The bulk of the hotels are clustered around the centre of town rather than the conference venue so you’ll have to decide which is more important to you – proximity to the conference or to the restaurants and clubs (which inevitably host the vendor parties). More importantly take the ‘distance’ mentioned on the VMware website with a pinch of salt – BatchGeo does its own calculation on distance which shows a few discrepancies. Batchgeo does an ‘as the crow flies’ calculation and maybe VMware have driving distances?

I’ve not had time to check but last year I found it was cheaper to book my hotel directly rather than via the VMworld registration process (despite the promised discount). Your mileage may vary!

Lastly thanks are due to Andi Mann – I wouldn’t have known what to do this without his original. I look forward to seeing everyone at the conference!

VMworld Copenhagen – Day one summary

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Today was officially the start of VMworld Copenhagen even though many people were here yesterday for partner day. The hands on labs are always popular at VMworld shows, and for all the reasons previously covered by others. I’ve done two labs so far (HOL01, Creating the Hybrid Cloud and HOL27, Netapp and VMware) which were both useful in different ways. There’s a good atmosphere and the technology behind the labs continues to evolve – this year vCenter Operations (and I think Netapp Insight Balance) are on display showing how the lab infrastructure is performing. There are more seats and the labs are open longer than last year (32 hours) which is good to see.

I spent fair bit of time in the bloggers lounge, a small dedicated area with power, a separate wifi connection, and facilities for VMworld TV to broadcast live from. This is where you can often find John Troyer, the godfather of VMware’s social media scene along with many of the twittter names you’ve seen but never met in person. VMworld is a vertitable ‘who’s who’ of the virtualisation world – I found myself sitting next to Scott Lowe for ten minutes before realising who he was and saying hi! Many of the people hanging around the bloggers lounds have been at VMworld many times so it’s a good place to get a feel for what’s hot and what’s not at this year’s conference. I got my first taste of VMworld TV via an invite to vSoupTV. Quite a few people mentioned that it felt quieter this year but as the attendance has been confirmed at over 7,000 it must be because there’s more space rather than less people.

The centre of the complex is used as a relaxation zone complete with plenty of seating, food, recliners (for those quick power naps), table tennis, table ice hockey, chess sets etc. It’s a good place to meet people as you pass through on your way from a general session to the labs. Free wifi is available throughout the Bella Centre but unfortunately it’s pretty temperamental – somewhat expected for a large conference with over 7000 people. That wouldn’t be so bad but the VMworld iPhone app relies on internet access so when that’s not working you can’t reference your schedule or register for sessions. When it does work the VMworld iPhone app is pretty good – you can check for upcoming sessions, get a filtered twitter stream for a given session, and even check site maps. Continue reading VMworld Copenhagen – Day one summary