I call myself a VMworld veteran : I actually lost count of the number of visits.
I only attended VMworld in Barcelona (Europa) and not the USA edition, but still I have a lot of experience going to this event.
I want to dedicate this blog to all VMworld/VMware Explore rookies, because this event can be really overwhelming for you!
I will share my experience so you can get the most out of it!
When VMware Explore is being held, it not only spans the Gran Via Fira Barcelona venue: It spans all of Barcelona city.
Where you see the most visitors at the venue during the day, you can already see them walking through Barcelona in the afternoon. You see them hanging out until the late hours at the various cafes and discos that are rented out by the various vendors.
My first piece of advice: Don’t take too much expensive equipment with you!
Every year I’ve heard people who’s bags, laptops, iPads and phones have been stolen, who left them unattended for just a few seconds.
This also happened on private parties, where servants stole some goods.
So when you don’t need your bag, laptop, iPad .. leave them at your hotel/apartment and don’t be stubborn to take them to your party or dinner: Just don’t! I really can not emphasis it enough: watch your belongings!
What to wear
You are going to walk a lot: 10-15K a day is pretty normal, so adjust your shoes to these walking distances.
Comfort above looks, I would say.
Barcelona has an easy climate, so you don’t need you winter clothes: leave them home.
The temperature will be around 16 degrees Celsius, mostly sunny (but you can expect some rain).
Adjust the clothes to the climate, as you don’t have to wear a suit (you can, but it’s not necessary/required): wear what you find comfortable.
Allow some room in your suitcase to bring back vendor-“swag” and the VMware Explore backpack.
For transportation you can either call a taxi or take the subway.
Usually you can collect free subway-passes at the venue for the whole week: I highly recommend those!
There are a lot of shitty taxi drivers out there: I’ve had multiple near-death experiences with taxi drivers which where driving 100+ kmh through the city.
A taxi ride from the centre to the Gran Via Fira Barcelona will cost between 12 and 20 euros.
Also, be aware that there are some other places in Barcelona which are called similar, like “Fira de Barcelona”. Tell tour cab driver to go to “Gran Via Fire Barcelona”.
Take it easy and plan ahead
The event can be hectic and you are going to be lived. Be sure that you are full rested before your flight to Barcelona: you have a few long days ahead of you.
Barcelona is a beautiful city, I would suggest to plan some time for yourself to visit one of the sights and give yourself enough time to rest throughout the week.
Because there are so many thing to do, you have to ask yourself what you want to get from this event.
Adjust your agenda on your own needs, otherwise the many people around you will choose for you: you can wonder around the venue all week and get tons of information, which does not apply to you or your work/ambition.
I want to remind you that all sessions are recorded and you can view them on-demand from the comfort of your home: Keynotes are usually streamed over the internet directly.
Be sure to view them, as these are great pieces of information and can be food for debate when encountering a peer. The keynotes indicate which way VMware is going, which sessions are planned and usually are paired with announcements. Please be aware that most big announcements have already been made during VMware Explore in the US, so don’t expect mind-bugling announcements.
In my humble opinion you don’t need to visit VMware Explore for the sessions alone, as you can watch them from home. But if you have a burning question(s) for one of the presenters, then yes .. you should definitely visit that particular session and ask your question (if the question has not been answered already)!
As a vExpertNSX member I also get access to some private sessions, regarding very specific topics: If you are a member of one the vExpert subprograms, I highly recommend those sessions!
So, plan your sessions carefully and in advance (great sessions are usually filled in a very short notice), don’t plan a session to fill in a gap in your agenda: Those are usually a waist of time. Instead, I would suggest to try to start a conversation with a colleague, partner, vendor or (existing/new) customer, those conversations are usually more valuable than sessions you probably already know enough about.
Also plan a visit to the Solution Exchange (“The Expo”), where vendors will happily show off their new cool stuff: Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone, they are there for you!
I personally go to VMware Explore to expand and maintain my network, by talking to customers, partners, bloggers, vendors, VMware employees and Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) : I will be talking with them about the things we encounter (or struggling with) during our normal workday and how VMware technology and new insights can be beneficial to us.
I will be usually hanging around the VM village, vBrownbag, etcetera.
For me VMworld (uuh .. VMware Explore) is all about the community and building relationship (friendships).
Hand On Labs
The Hans On Labs can be beneficial if you are desperately want to get some hands-on experience with a particular product/solution what you just got acquainted with. Be aware that you can also access them from your own computer at https://hol.vmware.com so you don’t have to waist your time at the event.
VMware Explore offers VCP/VCAP certification for reduced prices, which can be beneficial. You have to plan your certification in advanced, otherwise there is no seat available.
In my opinion, as a VMworld Explorer tickets costs € 1495,- , the financial benefit for getting your certification there is second to none.
Party (not so) hard
Depending on what you want to get out of VMware Explore, you have to know that you can party late into the night. But if you’re having deep technical sessions planned for the day after, you’ll end up disappointing yourself because you threw in another alcohol beverage at 4 o’clock in the morning. Be careful with the alcohol and stay up as long as you find comfortable (take good care of yourself).
And yes .. I’ve have been in that dark place where I only had a few hours of sleep and the alcohol still running through my veins when someone was talking about Multi vCPU vMotions during level 400 presentation.
I usually go all out on Wednesdays, as most interesting sessions are usually being held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
An unofficial list of VMworld Explorer parties (which are usually being held):
- VMware Explore Fest (wednesday)
- VMUG member party
- Dutch Party
- Rubrik Party
- (legendary) VEEAM party
- Cohesity party
This is a list of common parties (not the actual list).
Famous last words
Despite the hectic, it is really fun to attend: so don’t forget to enjoy yourself, expand your network, gather information to become a better person.