VMworld 2017 – The Community Experience

There are a thousand perspectives on the 2017 VMworld show in Las Vegas, on everything from session quality, to product announcements, to community, to how good the food was (better). The most important thing about the show, though, has always been the people. Connecting with members of the community, meeting new people, and creating something far greater than the sum of its parts has always been the most valuable outcome of attending the show. The  knowledge transfer is very valuable, but not nearly as valuable as connecting with the people delivering the technology and transferring that knowledge. Following up with them after the show and having them as a resource year-round provides an invaluable resource that will help you solve any problem and even move your career forward.

It’s all about community
As you can tell, I’m going to focus on the people aspect as well as the parts of show that bring them together. Every year there is a beehive of VMware user community activity around the show and this year was no exception! Here are the places where a lot of the magic happened and how the 2017 experience was different than 2016.

VMvillage – 2017 vs. 2016

The VMvillage is the best place in the entire conference to get away from the sessions, rest, and connect with others. Also, this was (as always) the best place to watch the general session and skip the crowds.

  • A Walking Loop: This year there was a nice soft, grassy walkway that took you around the entire Village so you could easily see it all. The grass was fake (and a bit harder to walk on if you had a rolling bag in tow), but it was nice how it connected everything.
  • A Busy VMTN Community Area: This year featured four blogger tables and a developer table (versus the one or two blogger tables they had last year) and this year this area was packed during many periods throughout the show. Pro tip: Lots and lots of stickers and other swag was left at these tables. Even more than in years past. My laptop will never be the same again.

  • Podcasting booths: For the first time in VMworld conference history, there were two fully enclosed podcast booths (with fans) where podcasters could book time and record without being completely inundated with the noise of the show. Big thanks to Eric Nielson for listening to my crazy idea and making this happen. Checkout our VMworld podcasts here: https://soundcloud.com/sock-net 

  • vBrownBag stage: This year the vBrownbag stage tech talk sessions were included in the VMworld schedule builder, which meant that these sessions were attended in far greater numbers than any other year (many with standing room only). Some fantastic presentations were done with some great content delivered. Watch them on their Youtube channel here.

  • Biggest disappointment: There was NO FOOD in VMvillage! OK, to be fair there were some chips and popcorn snack kiosks for short periods of time, but one of the greatest things about the 2016 show was that there were real food kiosks in VMvillage. Not just coffee stations with little snacks, but full meals were served (with no lines). This year I had to literally run from VMvillage to the meal area so that I wouldn’t starve. OK, maybe that was my fault for over-scheduling. VMware, please bring the food back for 2018.

Outside the Main Conference – 2016 vs 2017: Lots of things happened outside of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during the VMworld 2017 conference. Here are the highlights.

The vTrail Map: This guide was a big hit at the show based on the feedback we got. The 2017 VMware User vTrail Map was created as a result of the Level Up project in order to help people get connected to the amazing technical community resources that are out there. Members of the technology community from all over the world have contributed to this guide, providing the information and assets you need to “level up” your skills and advance your career in the tech field. The guide features both physical and virtual resources that can help you progress on your VMware virtualization career journey — and ultimately discover more. We handed out hundreds of physical copies at the conference, but the requests for digital copies starting coming in immediately after the show ended. To get a digital copy just email levelup@druva.com.

For me this manual is very helpful, especially because I’m new to VMware and there are a few programs that I’m not yet familiar with. It summarizes everything and gives me the right links to research about each project, community or program for deep-diving if I want. – Julia Klaus, VMware

The big takeaway
This conference delivers some amazing technical content in the sessions, but that’s only part of the show. Many of these sessions can be viewed later, so take advantage of all the people who are there in one place at one time and start connecting. These connections will provide lasting value to you throughout the year.

I hope to see you there in 2018.