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Interests go beyond technology at VMworld 2014

The annual VMware event is expected to draw more than 20,000 but, for some, the company's products aren't the only selling point.

With VMworld 2014 fast approaching, the buzz surrounding possible product announcements and updates rises with each passing day.

While the keynotes will get the most attention, the bread and butter for many attendees are the hundreds -- 522 at last count -- of sessions that cover server virtualization, cloud infrastructure andend-user computing, to name a few areas.

But for many VMware enthusiasts flocking to San Francisco from August 25-28, it's not all work. There's plenty of other attractions in the city to keep things light to offset the time spent picking up some tips or making contacts at the Moscone Center.

We asked our advisory board members what holds the most interest for them at the conference and what are some of their favorite places or activities while they're on the West Coast.

Luke Huckaba

Luke HuckabaLuke Huckaba

On my agenda this year are advanced technical sessions on VSAN and NSX, regarding architectural design, deep dives and best practices. I'm presenting on Site Recovery Manager, so I'm also checking out other DR-related sessions.

Alcatraz is probably the coolest thing I remember. The Grace Cathedral has a replica of France's Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth in Notre Dame. I've been to the one in France, so seeing this one is cool. Next would be Golden Gate Park. I plan to jog through the park, head across the bridge and then make my way back.

I don't know if it's still open, but in 2009 I checked out the San Francisco Museum at the Mint and walked through the vault.

Check out Luke Huckaba's website.

Rob Bastiaansen

Rob BastiaansenRob Bastiaansen

I'm looking forward to my 11th year at VMworld in the U.S. Being one of the small group of elite alumni makes it a special event for me. Of course, I am also looking forward to learn more about what VMware has on the roadmap for the coming year.

It's almost an annual tradition to expect a new version of vSphere, so I want to take away everything there is to know about the forthcoming release.

The next big thing for me is to learn what's happening around VMware cloud offerings and products that help customers and cloud providers to manage their data centers -- and how all of this touches desktop environments.

I don't have too much time left when attending VMworld because I'm busy with additional activities for VMware Certified Instructors and at press events.

But I will find some time to do some shopping. Visiting from Europe, the exchange rate for the dollar helps me fill my suitcase before returning home.

Read more from Rob Bastiaansen.

David Davis

David DavisDavid Davis

I haven't had time to check out the sessions yet, but some of my favorite things to do are: eat at In-N-Out Burger; take a walk or run on the Golden Gate Bridge; attend the various VMworld parties; visit corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley and get my picture in front of the signs; go to the official Apple headquarters. It's open to the public and is the only place to buy Apple logo merchandise in the world.

Read more from David Davis.

Trevor Pott

Trevor PottTrevor Pott

Actually, I don't go to sessions when I'm there. This isn't to say sessions are bad -- not in the least -- but there simply isn't enough to time to do all the press events, visit all the booths on the floor that I need to visit and do up all the after parties I am supposed to attend as it is. The sessions -- most of them, anyways -- are recorded. While I do miss the ability to ask questions, the truth of the matter is that if I have any really burning ones, I can ask the presenters on Twitter.

As a general rule, the VMware community is peopled by amazing individuals who will take the time out to answer. So, for me, VMworld is long; there are meetings and get-togethers with the community days ahead of the event itself, and there is a lot of watching the sessions over the net after the event is concluded. I will try to catch as many sessions in this manner as I can, because the true value in these sessions is the unexpected insights that are obtained. I can't predict the unexpected, so I can't say which sessions will be the most valuable!

Everything I do at VMworld is non-VMware, in that I don't go there to learn more about VMware itself. I go to learn about the VMware ecosystem, meet VMware partners and talk to the VMware community.

I earnestly believe that the value of a company is not measured by the capabilities of its products, but by the relationships it builds with its customers, developer community, partners and staff. When I go to VMworld, I am going there to take the pulse of exactly this. What are the attendees of VMworld thinking and feeling about VMware? The vExperts? The vendors?

To this end, I like visiting the vendor parties and the community parties. They're a hoot and there are lots of great people there. I like talking to random people at the event, and I like showing up at vendor booths with my press badge hidden and seeing what they'll say to me as a potential customer that differs from how they address the press.

All of those are great business reasons to go. Sometimes, I can even convince myself they're why I do so. (I hate flying and find most travel to be physically quite uncomfortable.) The reality is this: Work is the price that must be paid to attend VMworld. The reason to go is because I have made some amazing friends in the VMware community and I want to see them, shake their hands and buy them a pint of beer.

Vendors come and vendors go, but the community that's sprung up around VMware -- from vExperts to the various developers, practitioners and partner vendors -- make VMworld a lot more than "just a conference" to me.

Read more from Trevor Pott.

This was first published in July 2014

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