So it’s finally happening or at least it seems that way (Thanks to John Troyer and my boss). All the planets have lined up and it looks like I will finally be attending my very first VMworld conference in Vegas this year. I have been trying to attend this conference for some time now and it just didn’t happen. Now that my flight is booked, I started to look around for some tips for VMworld virgins like myself. To my surprise I didn’t find a lot of information. So I asked the vExpert community for any suggestions that would prove to be beneficial for first time attendees, and like always I got awesome feedback. In hopes to help out someone who might also be attending for the first time, I figured it will be best if I summarize the feedback I got. Of course, after attending the conference if I find out that anything needs to be altered below, I will certainly update this post. Calvin Z., Chris D., David M., VMroyal, mbletschin, caldwelr, rcardona2k and Christoper K. were among the few who responded promptly.
Your priority should be as follow:
- Sessions and labs (that seem most beneficial)
- Vendor booths (thats where all the free stuff is )
Although VMworld is an awesome place for one to get introduced to new topics and tools. The sessions and labs at VMworld are priceless but most of the sessions will become available online and can be viewed later. The labs, well thanks to VMware you can always create your own labs. Dont get me wrong, labs and sessions are still very important and be sure to sign up for labs and sessions that you think will be most beneficial to you. However, VMworld provides a platform for one to build/expand their network and this conference should certainly be used for that as much as possible. Here you will not only get to see some really awesome tools but also the even more smart people who designed the tools we use everyday. This is your chance to reach out to them, introduce yourself and get a conversation going.. pick their brains.. Most bloggers that are followed will also be here and if you have been following a blogger for sometime now, here is you opportunity to finally meet them and ask them questions. By the way did I mention that Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman will have the opening session at VMworld US 2011. The topic will be “Clustering QA” and I will be damned if I miss that.
Try to be approachable and feel free to engage in conversations with others. The sooner the better, dont wait till the last day. This year VMworld requires you to signup for sessions and labs prior to the conference. The good thing is that you wont have to stand in line like before. So based on the feedback I received, the best thing that you can do for yourself is signup for all the sessions that you think will be beneficial to you, and when the time comes to attend nobody will hold a gun to your head if you fail to show up. However, it will be best if you only signup for sessions that interests you or else you might fill up a session for no reason and waste seats that could have served a purpose otherwise.
VMworld provides great opportunities for some excellent labs and this might be a good place for you to familiarize with new products or products you haven’t used before. These hands-on labs can be beneficial for everyone and there is always something for everyone. But again, don’t get lost in the coolness of the labs and sessions, make sure you use this opportunity to expand your network with some extremely smart people that will certainly show up there. There is no need for me to stress upon the importance of a good network in IT. VMroyal from VMTN said:
I always find it very helpful to walk around Sunday and get the lay of the land. That way, come Monday you know where everything is and aren’t scrambling trying to figure all of that out. Sunday is also a great day to walk around and meet people, as there won’t be as many people there and the environment is a bit less hectic.
Lastly, vendors from all conners will also be at VMworld marketing their products. Use some time walk across the hallway and see if there is anything you like. You never know, you might come across something that might make you look like superman in front of your boss. Moreover, Christoper K. pointed out the opportunities to win things at VMworld and a lot of free stuff that is given away by vendors. If you are like me, there is no need to expand on how cool geeky free stuff can be. Again, while you are signing up for things that you could potentially win, don’t forget to exchange business cards.
From what I have heard, just like other conferences, wifi may or may not be as good as one may like. If you are looking into carrying around your laptop for live blogging or whatever reason be sure to be independent for your internet connectivity. If the conference wifi does not work to your likings, you might be carrying extra weight for no reason. Also like Christoper K. pointed out:
This is Vegas. A very safe, and secure city (I do not say that in jest…) casino employs their own security staff, you have Homeland security on the streets, the LVPD, and who knows what other number of things. However, things do/will get lost. You don’t want to lose your laptop or have it get snatched when some trespassing thief decides to grab your loose bag.
So if you don’t need your laptop, don’t carry the extra weight. You can always get a really cool EMC or Netapp notepad to take notes with a vKernel pen . It has been suggested to me that a small video camera may also be a good alternative to talking notes.
This is basically what I have to help you get started for the conference of your life. As always, these are just suggestions and you don’t necessarily have to strictly follow them. I figured they will be useful to someone who is attending VMworld for the first time like myself. I will try to keep this post updated if I receive any new information thats worth adding. I also plan to share my experience of VMworld US 2011. Hopefully if you reading this, I will see you in about a month