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The VMword 2010 diaries

Follow Eric Siebert through the largest virtualization conference of the year. He provides his overall thoughts on VMworld 2010 and recounts his week at the show.

VMworld 2010 has come and gone. As usual, it was a whirlwind of nonstop action that ended way too quickly. This was my third VMworld, and I can honestly say that this conference was the best one by far.

Last year's VMworld attendance was approximately 12,500, a decline from 14,000 in 2008. This year, however, attendance was much higher, with more than 17,000 people. The record attendance seemed to surprise even VMware, but it's a good indicator that the economy is on the mend and IT budgets are opening up. It's also proof that virtualization is as hot as ever.

Despite the high attendance, VMware handled the crowds fairly well. As always, VMworld was spread across the north and south wings of the Moscone Center in San Francisco. But VMware also reserved Moscone West, which provided a nice space to house the hands-on labs. The labs were set up differently this year, so more people could use of them. And they were self-guided with no instructors.

Last year, the instructor-led labs were run off a large, on-site data center. This year, however, VMware ate its own dog food and used multiple cloud data centers that were provided by Terremark and Verizon. (VMware also had a smaller, on-site data center at Moscone.)

VMware made another good move by starting the conference on Monday with sessions and labs. In previous years, Monday was for partners and developers, and the sessions started on Tuesday. But starting VMworld 2010 on Monday allowed VMware to schedule more sessions across four days, instead of three.

VMware also changed the session-scheduling format by not requiring attendees to make reservations. Instead, it was first-come, first-served until the room was filled, and others could go inside if people left. There are pros and cons to each method. But I liked this year's format, because it guaranteed that you could see a session if you showed up early.

VMware provided appropriately sized rooms, which were based on the number of people that added the session to their schedules online. This year, many sessions were repeated, so more people had a chance to attend them.

Read the Monday edition of Eric Siebert's VMworld 2010 diary.

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