VMworld 2017: The Social Experience

VMworld2017 and Jeremy


VMworld 2017 was my first opportunity to experience VMworld in person. I flew into Las Vegas on my birthday and started this next trip around the sun with an eventful week of activities.

While I wanted to take in as much as possible VDI and EUC related, I also have other responsibilities in the datacenter so I attempted to split my time between EUC sessions, some datacenter technology of interest, and taking in some programming and automation sessions.

I am not going to attempt to summarize everything that happened, I’ll leave that to folks that are speedier with blog posts. I did, however, found that other community posts were very helpful in navigating the vastness of VMworld. Hopefully my thoughts can help someone too.

For this post, I want to focus on some of the community and community adjacent activities I found interesting while at VMworld.

VMworld2017 and Jeremy
True story, right before this photo was taken, I almost fell into the sign.

Daily Breakfast

One of my most enjoyed activities was probably also one of the least formal. Several of the SLED SEs organized topics and a location for discussions over breakfast each morning. As I don’t know who else to add to this list, I’ll thank Nate Bryant and hope word gets back to everyone else.

If you get the opportunity to do something similar, be it at VMworld or otherwise, I’d highly recommend it. Compared to the vastness of the event, where you might have little in common with the person sitting next to you in a session, this was a great opportunity to interact with a community of individuals with very similar sets of interests and concerns.

Opening Acts

After a couple of years of watching remotely via streams and tweets, I made it to Opening Acts in person. Prior to the panels starting I put a few faces and handshakes to Twitter handles. I also got introduced to some new faces thanks to Thom Greene.

I took in the first two panels, “The Awkward Teenage Years of the VMware Community” and “How Failing Made Me Better” before heading out to the Solution Exchange Welcome Reception.

Of the two panels I attended, I think I got more out of the second one, “How Failing Made Me Better.” Not only did the community benefit from folks coming forward to talk about cases where they had to deal with both personal and organizational failures, but there was some really good discussion of including allowances for failure within organizations and teams.

Having now done both, I understand the comments that were made about the welcome reception and I think in future years, I will be highly tempted to hang out for all the panels and skip or arrive fashionably late to the welcome reception.

vBrownBag TechTalks

I am known to be a fan of the weekly vBrownBag podcast, so probably not a surprise that I was interested in the vBrownBag TechTalks. This is another aspect of VMworld I had previous seen from afar. Many of the presentations I was interested in unfortunately conflicted with other interests, so I didn’t see as many of these in person as I might have liked. I did enjoy what I see and look forward to catching up with many of the other sessions via the posted recordings.

VMTN Community Area

TechTalks were just one part of the activities in the VMTN community area. I also:

I also had some great one-on-one interactions in the community area and VMvillage. While I didn’t spend a ton of time here, I now understand a lot better how some folks spend most of the conference in these spaces.

Solution Exchange

As with any large show floor there was a lot going on at the Solution Exchange. Outside of some EUC focused booth sessions, I did a fair amount of real life meeting of twitter connections and email contacts here and that was probably as valuable as any products or product features I found out about.

One such highlight, was meeting Melissa Palmer, otherwise known as @vmiss33 and/or VCDX-236. Her book was a rather popular item on the floor of the Solution Exchange and the VMvillage, I think every copy of her new book that was available was either given away or sold. There was also some lively discussion around this on setting and meeting goals via social media during the conference.

There were some other book signings as well, in general all of these seemed to be well received and highly trafficked.

A slightly smaller publication I also want to take a moment to highlight is the vTrail Map. Released at VMworld, this is a great resource for those looking to get started with or deeper into the VMware community. Be sure to thank those who put it together and those who volunteered to be resources. See https://www.druva.com/blog/vmworld-2017-community-experience/ for details on getting an electronic copy.

The above tweet lead me to a booth I might not have otherwise stopped at and a print copy of the vTrail Map, which is currently hanging out on my desk a work as a community resource.

Couple of take aways for me for future years:

  • I do wish I had figured out presentation schedules for a few of the booths earlier in the week. Missed at least one thing I would have liked to have seen.
  • For whatever reason, booths I got the most out of were either ones where I knew little to nothing about the product or where I knew (or knew of) someone there. Booths where I otherwise knew the elevator pitch but wasn’t a day-to-day user were a bit of a bust. Your mileage on that may vary of course. – Given how busy things where, booths with organizations I had a lot of ongoing contact with I skipped, that may have impact my results with this.

Hackathon Training Session

As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, one of my interests going into VMworld was programming and automation. The Hackathon and Hackathon training sessions were of particular interest to me, in particular the training session on Project Clarity. Clarity is the framework that many of the new VMware interfaces (example: the HTML5 based vSphere client) are written in. This framework and the supporting documentation is available for use outside of VMware as well.

Jeeyun Lim did an awesome job leading the Clarity Hackathon training session and on top of that, recorded the whole thing. Was one of many highlights from the week and something I look forward to getting further into.

If you even think you might be interested in this, I’d highly recommend checking it out and following along.

By the end of the session I was however feeling the effects of a rather long day, so I didn’t hang around for the Hackathon proper, hopefully an activity for another year.

Hands On Labs

last activity of VMworld 2017

So the hands on labs are a fairly well-known aspect of VMworld and I bracketed VMworld with some time there on Sunday and Thursday.

I made use of three self-paced labs:

  • 1851-02 Horizon 7 – Instant Clones
  • 1811-07 vSphere HTML Client SDK – Build a Plugin
  • 1859-01 F5 Integration with VMware Horizon 7 Enterprise

On Sunday morning, I took (and passed) VMware Certification exam 2V0-751 for the VCP7-DTM certification. Afterwards I went by and spent some time with HOL 1851-02. This was mostly to figure out what a couple of the exam questions were asking about more so that intently following the lab exercises.

I then took in 1811-07 and 1859-01 on Thursday afternoon, closing down the lab area. Enjoyed both of those. I did run into some problems, but looking forward to spending some more time with these labs once released.

I didn’t take in any of the expert led sessions and consider this one of the downsides of my 2017 schedule. Hopefully something to try out in a future year. Also, at the risk of finding all the seats taken in the future, I would highly recommend the hands on labs as a great way to close out the week.

My shoes were clearly not prepared for this experience.