VMworld 2011 – Lessons Learned

VMworld 2011 Las Vegas was my first ever VMworld, and hopefully it will be one of many! Before I left, I got some advice from a co-worker who was an alumni as well as reading various articles including David Marshall’s 10 tips for VMworld 2011 newbies.

Now that I’m been there and back and with VMworld Copenhagen just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to recap David’s rules as I thought they were a pretty good blue print for first timers.

VMworld tip No. 1: Make time on your schedule for the Solutions Exchange

This is a chance to meet a lot of vendors and talk shop. Sure they are going to scan your badge and maybe all you wanted was that cool t-shirt that they were handing out. But there are a lot of great vendors there that we’re talking to today to answer some of our needs. I specifically was looking for capacity planning software and we found at least 3 vendors that we’re comparing currently. One tip that I would recommend, before you go next year, register with an alias of some sort so you can simply setup a rule for all the spam that will eventually come your way. Its been a huge time saver for me.

VMworld tip No. 2: Network, network, network.

There were a few people that completed every lab that was there. Its time consuming with the lines and the length of the lab itself. But there is a prize, the person that does the most labs gets a free ticket to the conference next year. But I believe that there is a higher cost to this than what these guys realize. I met a TON of people. And not sure average joes like you and me. I met some of the VMware rock stars. The guys that are writing the books that we’re buying and absorbing. If you’re not reaching out and talking to other guys at the show, you’re doing it wrong.

VMworld tip No. 3: Breakout sessions.

I highly recommend attending some sessions. I attended a lot and will fully admit, too many. The second time around, I think I’d attend the sessions that I really want to see in person and possibly ask a question in. They’re recorded so you can watch them later. Now, what I would probably skip next time around would be the group discussions. Of the 3 I attended, only one was really worth while and I think I could have gotten that answer if I would have networked a little more strategically.

VMworld tip No. 4: Remember, most breakout sessions are being recorded

See above!

VMworld tip No. 5: If there are any must-see sessions, be sure to sign up for them quickly so that they don’t fill up and lock you out.

Holy craps yeah. I signed up for a few sessions that I knew would fill up fast early on. You’ll know which ones these are but thankfully the popular ones they’ll typically put on a few times and if they don’t and it becomes popular unexpectedly, well, they still try and sneak in another session on the last day.

VMworld tip No. 6: Be careful about scheduling back-to-back sessions.

I was lucky enough that this only bit me once and it was at my last session of the conference. The conference area was big and 4 floors in size. Mix in 20,000 of your closest friends and well, you get the picture. You’re not moving anywhere fast.

VMworld tip No. 7: Try your hand at a VMworld lab session.

This is the one area where I wish I had spent more time. I think I got through 4 or 5 labs. But I wish that number was 9-10. The labs were awesome. Sure there were a few hiccups in a few due to the hyper virutalization of everything. But overall, it was pretty smooth sailing as the ops guys worked out the kinks in the system. Its hard work doing that many labs constantly. Hats off to the crew that made the labs happen!

VMworld tip No. 8: Don’t count on the Wi-Fi connection.

Yeah…Wifi was pretty spotty at time. But overall not too bad. I would recommend not even trying during the large keynotes. It will just drain your battery.

VMworld tip No. 9: The dress is business casual

Jeans and collared shirts worked for me. Some people may sport slacks, but that’s not the norm. Dress casual but professional.

VMworld tip No. 10: Enjoy the parties!

Oh yeah, can’t recommend this one enough. Talk to the vendors as well and get an invite to their parties. Almost all of them were throwing one or at least planning a dinner to wine and dine people.

And since I work with one of the organizers, keep your eyes and ears open for VMunderground. Tickets go fast but the party is a hell of a lot of fun. Free drinks and great give aways. Awesome networking happening here!

Matt Patterson avatar
About Matt Patterson
Husband, Father of 3, Programmer at heart, spends his days running ridiculously large data centers in the midwest.