Now that VMworld is in the books, I want to reflect on how this show went for me personally and what vibe I got from it.
VSAN is everywhere and is the jump-off point (and beach head) for everything else VMware
VMware announced VMware Cloud Foundation (VSAN, NSX, SDDC Manager) as the way to host VMs on-premises and bridge those VMs to the Public Cloud (to a provider which also uses the same technology). This is a video clip of Yanbing Li and Rawlinson Rivera discussing this on theCUBE:
VSAN is also being positioned to accommodate various data protection and disaster recovery situations. Christos (@xtosk), presented a great session that discussed those futures, Duncan Epping (@duncanyb) has a recap of the session here. It’s hard to keep track of what has been discussed or not, but it feels like more formal announcements will be pushed to VMworld Barcelona.
As a corollary, HCI was everywhere. VxRAIL is mentioned in VMware slides, it seems like it’s being pushed hard.
NSX is the Glue
VMware demoed NSX in AWS last VMworld, and many saw that and knew that if VMware brought NSX to public clouds, then they would have a compelling use case for many enterprises. I know that my company has many cloud initiatives and have chosen two public clouds for IaaS. There hasn’t been any talk of how to bridge those two clouds (plus our on-premises stuff), but NSX could be that glue, plus hybrid cloud micro-segmentation! The Cross-Cloud Services really intrigue me for this reason and I am eagerly anticipating some bits to play with.
Networking Keeps you Sane
This is the first VMworld that I pretty much was on my own (my boss was around but I only saw him a few times), versus the previous years when I would have a dozen colleagues attend. Though I usually do a lot of stuff on my own anyways (sessions, community stuff, certifications), it’s nice to see a familiar face that you can just shoot the breeze with for a couple of minutes. Fortunately I had built a few relationships prior to VMworld that paid off. I saw a couple of people from the community that I saw multiple times throughout the conference that kept me grounded. If you do go it alone, be sure to get on twitter, reddit and if you are a vExpert: Slack. Slack was the last minute add that kept me really in the loop. I was in a channel and someone was commenting on the same session that I was sitting in. I looked at the picture, and it was the guy behind me. I made a similar comment and he realized I was in the same session as well.
The SWAG wasn’t as strong this year as in the past. The top gift was the Cohesity vExpert backup (way better than the conference bag) and/or the Datrium Raspberry Pi (which they had to move heaven and earth to get to the show). There was a hat with a vExpert logo from Docker, another Cards Against Humanity deck from Netapp Solidfire, a vMaester mug from Catalogic and a shirt with vExpert logo from Nimble. No vExpert Polos (which I love), and no hoodies (I need to find my Simplivity one). Most of the other stuff on the floor was fairly standard, and I purposely tried not to get any shirts because I had to bring it all home. Also this year I missed getting extra VMworld backpacks.
VMworld is in Las Vegas for Good (or at least the next three shows)
There was signage in the convention center that VMworld will be back in Vegas from August 27th – August 31st. I also had a few independent conversations that VMware signed a four-year deal with Mandalay Bay, so that would be 2016-2019. It’s interesting though that larger conferences, such as Oracle Openworld, are still able to host in Moscone. I did notice that Openworld is a month earlier this year (September 18-22), which probably was a date that Moscone could halt construction and provide the facility. Since VMworld has two conferences per year, it probably did not have the flexibility to move the US conference schedule around. Also, Openworld is bigger, maybe they had first dibs on the September dates.
Las Vegas was certainly a change from San Francisco, and obviously I’m biased to it being in my backyard. Here are some Pros and Cons based on my experience this weekend and past conferences.
- Affordable Hotels – Most people seemed to be within the Mandalay Bay/Luxor/NyNy/MGM area at the south end of the strip. NyNy seemed to have some affordable rates. You could also go further out, but would need to take a taxi/Lyft/Uber. That is still probably cheaper than San Francisco.
- Mandalay Bay Convention Center fit most of the conference in between the North and South Halls. Moscone has overflowed to the two or three hotels for normal sessions and not just meetings/briefings. The farthest meeting I heard of was at the Luxor (which is quite a walk). Walking between sessions was generally fine, definitely nothing as crazy as Moscone 3rd floor to bottom of the Marriott.
- Sufficient sized rooms for breakout sessions (even the TCC deep dives had fairly large rooms)
- Large venues for evening events – There are plenty of clubs and plenty of restaurants that can be taken over.
- Good-sized airport and fairly close to the Strip
- Food is generally better – Sun/Mon/Tues/Wed (which was a repeat of Mon) lunch was really good. Thursday lunch was yuck. To-go lunch was a big hit in my opinion (made up for Thursday lunch if you knew about it). Breakfast was marginally better with fresh fruit (I would have liked some protein though). I did appreciate that they weren’t really strict on entering the food areas. At Moscone, once they scanned you and you exited the food area for the seats, you could not go back. Vegas didn’t care at all.
- VMvillage consolidated all of the various groups – Hang space evolved, giving space for the the games, lounge and vBrownBag as well as cert/education, TAM Lounge, the CUBE, code, communities, meet the experts and sponsored areas. The TAM Lounge and the cert/education even had their own presentation schedule. In contrast, these groups may not have had a place in Moscone or were spread across the entire campus.
- Las Vegas is hella hot in August/September – I was super sweating once I landed
- The carpet in the breakout session rooms/ballrooms kind of bugs me out
- Casinos/Hotels are smokey – They may try to clean the air and pump in air fresheners, but I can tell it’s there.
- Lighting in some of the sessions was odd (not enough light on the speakers)
I wasn’t able to convince my management to pay for me this year, I have a hard time believing that next year will be any different.
VMworld is a great conference, even in Las Vegas. I personally had time to reconnect with various VMware employees as well as community members. I highly recommend the conference to those who manage a VMware environment, though you need to put time in beforehand to set yourself up for success. Determine what info you need, sign-up for sessions or book meetings with those who can help you. Sign-up early and often for parties and events, as well as reach out to your account team from VMware and your other vendors to see if they can take you out for dinner or if they have their own events. For Vegas in particular, party hard and have that Lyft or Uber app handy.