Countdown to VMworld: Two Weeks to Go

By | August 16, 2015

VMworld can’t come any sooner! Work has been intense due to an internal audit and I blow off steam by attempting to optimize my VMworld schedule. I thought I’d share my thoughts heading up to the conference and how I am planning my schedule.

No Exams for Me

I spent the past two VMworlds taking exams (2013 had an awesome 75% off while 2014 was a ‘mere’ 50%). For the 2014 experience see this blog post. The 2013 VCP exam was relatively quick (in and out in an hour or so) while I spent the whole three hours with the VCAP-DCD last year. The main problem with taking exams at VMworld is that you may  spend your entire conference studying instead of enjoying, learning and networking. I took the VCP on the last day, which was good because I had all week to study and bad because I had all week to study. The VCAP-DCD I took on Monday and it was just a brain drain, I failed that attempt and I immediately went to a bar after. If you are going after the discount, consider scheduling during Sunday (though this warning may be too late). Also be on the lookout for discount codes at the exam center that let you schedule for after the fact.

Sunday is VMworld Day 0

This is the first year that I will attend events on Sunday, in particular TAM Day. In previous years my kids were really young and I felt bad about leaving them on a Sunday (I live in the Tri-Valley so I commute to VMworld on BART). This year I got the OK from the wife, so I’m trying to maximize my conference experience. I’ll get registered, get the bag, go to TAM Day events, slip in a QT session, hit up the Welcome Reception, do some swag recon, then either go to VMunderground or head home. It’s a pretty eventful day already, and it’s technically Day 0! There is even a conflict between Opening Acts and TAM Day as well as the TAM Reception and the Welcome Reception.

Schedule Un-Optimization

I thought I would have mastered setting up my schedule by now (my fourth VMworld), but I think I learned one thing and then go overboard on another. My goal was to maximize sessions that I could not watch afterward, things like group discussions or TAM central sessions. I think I ended up with at least three GD and TAM central sessions each.  I also tried to be available for briefing sessions setup for my company, keep lunch time open and have time to visit the a Solutions Exchange.

The schedule builder does not currently list session locations, but I found that if you export your schedule it will list the current room. My main problem is that VMworld is hosting all of the group discussions in the basement of the Marriott and all of the customer briefings at the Intercontinental. I have a few back-to-backs that are Marriott to Intercontinental, which is almost impossible. I’m probably going to have to duck out of sessions early in order to make it. I’m making notes of which sessions I am willing to skip to keep things simpler.

Last year super special sessions were added to the schedule last minute. I was able to reconfigure my schedule at that point and plan on being open to that again this year.

Parties and Gatherings

In previous years I may have two events per night, a smaller event and a larger one (like a Happy Hour plus a Netapp event). This year I am looking at possibly three events per night. I’m not sure how realistic that is since I’m commuting, but I like to take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity. I really want to make the vExpert event so that will be high on my list Tuesday night.

Session Prep and Presentation

I have already submitted my final presentation, so all that is left is to practice, practice, practice. This year will also be different ‘personal presentation-wise’ in that I will be planning my attire for each day. So far I have decided that Monday will definitely be a company polo for the presentation and Tueday will be my vExpert polo for the vExpert Party. I may even bring the vExpert polo on Monday since Tintri is running a competition involving the polo for Monday only. I have an awesome side bag that I received as a member of the VMware Storage and Availability Council that I want to rock, unfortunately it does not store much swag.

That’s it for now, See you at the show!

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