It has been 9 years since I’ve attended VMworld. A lot has changed in the company’s portfolio. The conference is massive and has taken over the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. My focus for this visit is on VMware’s NSX product. While it is no longer the new thing, it is the next logic piece in engineering our private cloud. Gradual changes that VMware has made to the vSphere API have resulted in critical features being moved to NSX-based API. As a result, most anti-malware and anti-virus software that deeply integrates with vSphere now requires NSX. Also, with a datacenter expansion in my future at the university, NSX will allow for easier management of the network control plan across physical location and ease micro-segmentation. Aside from NSX, I have squeezed in a few sessions for DevOps topics and products, which should be fun.
Things which have impressed me:
- You don’t have to cram into a giant room of nerds and press to see the keynote. It’s available on the web and on TVs throughout the venue.
- There’s so much coffee.
- Great sessions. In fact, some of the best technical talks of any convention I’ve ever attended.
- Great session leaders and speakers. They hire communicators.
Things which have not impressed me:
- Breakout Sessions are overcrowded and seating is worse than flying coach on a budget airline.
- Bathrooms are overcrowded. You’re going to have to wait for a toilet during session breaks.
- There’s not enough seating in the common halls, unless you’re skipping keynotes.
- The VMworld website was horrible for pre-registration of sessions. While you can find all the sessions, it’s not intuitive to pre-register.
- No hot breakfasts because schedule is so tightly compressed.
I am not tracking the latest announcements and marketing fluff about visionary trends that are emerging from the general sessions and keynotes. I will close that loop after the conference is over. In higher-ed environments, we are always behind the bleeding-edge curve due to budgetary funding, operational constraints, and political challenges, so often what is discussed is 4-5 years out. Instead, I recommend that others watch the ‘visionary’ keynotes and general sessions on a stream or read the highlights at a later time. You will save precious conference time and not have to fight the crowds. Instead of Tuesday’s General Session, I stayed behind and networked with different colleagues after breakfast. I shared some of the university’s challenges, listened to their feedback, and received unique perspectives and possible approaches versus being proselytized by marketing teams and hip c-levels with wireless microphones. The older I get the more absurd the whole keynote production seems to me. Hell, the older I get, the more my opinions sound like rants. As a strongly introverted individual, it has taken me a long time to realize that most of the attendees at these technical conferences are introverted too, but are also longing for some sort of social contact to ease the awkwardness of the crowds and grinding schedules. Talking shop is fun and generally other technical folks are the only part of the population that gets excited over these specialized topics.