Heading out to VMworld 2019 US, for me that will be my 17th (counting EMEA and US). Whilst I am honestly not the biggest fan of moving back to San Francisco (not because I don’t like the city, but from a cost and venue/event location perspective) I must say it’s one of the highlights in my yearly schedule.
How has attending VMworld changed for me over the years?
Whilst the first years it was really about the sessions, taking up all the great knowledge it changed over the years quite a bit, same as my role at the conference changed. Whilst originally only an attendee I presented now multiple times at VMworld (talking about vRealize Operations, Automation or last year Cloud Provider Pod), I also did some great pre-conference bootcamps with my team over the years.
The last few years it has become more like a family reunion… A lot of people I only see once or twice a year but everytime it feels like yesterday. We even celebrated comdivision’s 20th anniversary not in Germany our Headquarter but back in Las Vegas 2016 just a day after VMworld with a lot of our friends with an epic dinner followed by a party in one of the hottest clubs in town, which is still remembered by many of who ask what we will to for the 25th I guess we need to start planning soon.
Most important since I am not even sure for how many years ... the comdivision & friends dinner the night before the big show. Sadly we need to limit this to 20 people every year for logistics and other reasons, but it is my personal highlight, every year we bring together a group of long term friends and mix in some new ones and enjoy together a great dinner accompanied with great wine. It’s non business, it’s to meet new friends and have a relaxing dinner before we meet the 20K+ other people at the conference. This event is by any way not a customer focussed event, it’s comdivision & friends and that’s what we mean. We invite people we admire, people we work with from the community and people we just want to have with us. It’s a pleasure to have you all with us and we have all those who can’t make it in our hearts (we know some of you would rather be with us).
What is the difference between VMworld US and EMEA?
VMworld US is for myself end of what others call summer holiday period, it’s the ramp up for the 2nd half of the year and in many cases it’s preparation for next year. For me this is a business event as we discuss with people from VMware and other vendors our joint strategies for the next year, how we engage and learn about a lot of stuff which doesn’t make it into keynotes and public demos. But it’s also one of the rare times of the year where I meet a lot of my friends in the states.
VMworld EMEA is a different story, it’s not only more customer focussed for us, it is also a different group of people to catch up with, people we interact with more often are here and both last and this year I will celebrate my birthday at the conference. Last year most of the team brought there Families and we had a relaxing expanded weekend at the W all together. A year before my daughter (also known as minivcdx) was at the conference with me and my wife. She even met Pat Gelsinger for the first time and he showed again how much of a family person he is.
So both conferences have their own advantages and as much as time and money is necessary to keep up with 2 per year, for me they are essential.
Before the conference…
For me Sunday is one of the most interesting days. It all will start with VCDX townhall. Which is the yearly gathering of VCDXs and we get to spend some time with Pat, Ray and other execs chatting about what’s coming. It’s also time to catch up for many of us the first time during the conference. Later I will join VCI day and potentially some advisory board sessions before I prepare for the comdivision & friends dinner event.
What do I expect in announcements?
To be honest, while I have seen quite a bit of what will be presented, I also know there is much more to be shown. I will leave this part to all the other bloggers out there, as plenty have written great expectation posts already and to a certain degree it would feel like just replicating what has been said. For sure I expect a lot of enthusiasm come out of both the partner keynote and also the main ones on Monday and Tuesday. But don’t ignore all the vendors at the solution exchange, I know some have really interesting new stuff to show, which is why I hang out there quite some time. And by the way: Cohesity has something to give out from Matthias and myself ;-), while some other show stuff we have been working on or provided advice on (sorry we can’t say more)
What do I avoid / don’t like at the conference?
This is personal and I know many don’t agree ;-) I avoid the normal conference food where I can, I really hope the renewal of Moscone includes catering, but that’s nothing for me. Second I avoid overcrowded and too noisy evening events, while again very personal, I need my space around me and if this means I have to buy my own drinks that’s fine with me.
And to all of you, you were able to find the funding for VMworld, so you should have the money to buy a deodorant or do something else to not smell ugly. In Sessions etc. we are sometimes very close to each other, respect that and try to do your best to make it comfortable for everyone, I know it might be a self-choosen part of you, it might have medical reasons.
Please respect booth personal in the solution exchange and also from the vendors, if you want to get their swag at least listen to their messaging and show interest for the products and the personal. I have people really seen rudely grabbing stuff from behind the counter or once they got what they wanted just walk away without even saying thank you or good bye.
Some of the experience around VMworld venue is annoying, while support homeless organization and other charities, San Francisco has an issue as in contrast to many other cities the homeless are often aggressive (verbally and even physically).
What would I advise people coming the first time?
Be comfortable at the conference, while you might admire many people and think they are unreachable? They are not, just approach people friendly and open minded and you can make a lot of friends, just be who you are. But also respect if people say no, sometimes people are in a hurry or need a moment to relax before the next meeting etc.. And as always talk to me, Matthias Eisner and Jens Hennig when you see us, it's only 3 of us at the VMworld US this time, but catch us if you can.