Posted by: tonywilburn | September 15, 2010

VMworld 2010- My impressions

I apologize for not blogging more, life has been hectic since changing jobs.  I did get away for my annual pilgrimage to VMworld.  This is my 5th year in a row, and I have to say, I was not very impressed.  Much of my frustration has to do with the sessions.  Or more accurately, my inability to get into sessions. 

In years past, there has been much complaining by people that signed up for VMware late, about not being able to register for sessions and having to stand in an unregistered line and hope they can get in.  So this year, no registration for sessions.  This has led to incredibly long lines and sessions closing a full 15 minutes before scheduled start.  But, of course, the session doesn’t start early just because the doors are closed, if you were lucky enough to get in, you have to sit there for as much as 30 minutes waiting, checking email, blogging, tweeting, etc.  Personally I was denied five sessions that I tried to get into, that is before I gave up trying.  I will admit, later in the week, at least the organization improved as the lines were better defined and ushers were posted at the end of the line with signs that had the room number so that you can see where you needed to be.  Some sections had ushers that had learned how many people could fit in a room and could tell you if you had a shot of getting into a session by the length of the line.  So kudos to the support staff.

I’m not sure why this bugged me so much as I often leave sessions filling unfulfilled.  I guess I have been doing this so long that I expect more content.  Instead I sit through a session of people telling me what I already know and presenting it as something that they newly discovered.  Either that, or it turns out to be, not a technical session, but a sales session, with a vendor telling you why you need their product.  I’m okay with that, but let me know that it’s a sales pitch up front so I can make a better informed decision.  I will probably stick with Advanced sessions only from this point on.

Speaking of this, social media has changed the way VMware sessions are booked.  With the heavy usage of blogs and twitter by the VMworld community, some sessions were in high demand.  I think Scott Lowe’s session was full over 30 minutes ahead of time. 

The long lines for sessions also kept me from seeing as much of the Solutions Exchange as I wanted.  In the past, with pre-registration, after a session I would head to the Solutions Exchange and talk to a vendor or two before checking in at my next session a whole 5 minutes before the session started.  Doing this between every session would allow me to meet with several vendors or network with peers.  Under the new system, it was a mad dash from one session to the next, in hopes that the line was still short enough, thirty minutes before the session started.  A colleague of mine was actually lining up for sessions an hour in advance.  So I didn’t see as many sessions as I wanted, talk to as many vendors as I wanted or meet with as many people that I follow through blogs or twitter as I wanted.

Now, to the good.  Herrod’s presentation was amazing.  I am a huge proponent of VDI and the things that are happening in that space are much needed and highly anticipated.  There were some good session.  Some I saw, some I didn’t get to in time.  There were some very good vendor presentations in the Solutions Exchange.  I think there was something there for everyone and a lot of VDI enabling products to see.  The labs were great.  I should have spent  much more time there.  While there is only so much you can do in the alloted time, especially if you stick with the script, they did an amazing job in the lab.  The labs were actually hosted “in the Cloud” as Herndon, VA and Tampa FL as well as in the Moscone Center.  I only did a few labs, but they were very responsive.

I was able to do some networking, meet up with new friends and old.  My company has several attendees here from literally all over and I was able to have dinner with some old friends and make some new friends within the company.  I am sorry I missed seeing so many people that I had hoped to see.

Now, I’ve never had to plan an event larger than a kids birthday party, so I can’t imagine all the hard work that the VMware staff put into this, and yet, I can’t help filling underwhelmed.  The impressions of many is that the Moscone Center isn’t large enough, even with the addition of the West Hall, for 17,000 people.  But, I have been told, that the Oracle Openworld conference is over twice the size and held in the same conference center.  Are the attendees there jammed together or is it somehow organized to handle such a large capacity?

What I can tell you is that VMware is listening to it’s people.  Many people expressed displeasure that the event was not held in Vegas, and next year, it’s in Vegas.  Many people have expressed a dissatisfaction with the cold sandwich lunches provided.  This year there were some very good hot lunches to be had.  Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the scheduling of sessions and labs.  This year it was first come, first served.  VMware is continually trying to improve VMworld just like they continue to improve their products.  And like changes in their products, some I like, some I am against. 

Even though there were somethings I didn’t care for, it was still a positive experience, and I look forward to attending VMworld 8.0 in Vegas next year.

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