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August, 2012

VMworld 2012 – Day 1 – Good Day.

Big day today!  For me it was the first day of the conference, though some things happened yesterday.  The first thing I had to do was get to registration and get my badge and conference bag (which I gave away as usual).

Registrations went VERY quickly.  I was surprised that I only spent maybe 5 minutes getting registered and picking up my bag and other materials.  With 20,000 attendees that’s no small feat.  After registration it was time for the keynote.  It’s a little unusual to do an 8:30am keynote on a Monday of a conference but I knew why VMware did it this way.  Today was a day for big announcements and many of these announcements had impact on the sessions being delivered throughout the week.  For example, my afternoon session included many new features of the vSphere 5.1 VDS that were officially announced at the morning keynote.

Here is a veteran tip if you don’t like being packed in to the big general session rooms…because I don’t.  Most conferences now have lounges where you can go relax, work, and meet with people.  VMworld has been the leader in this for the last several years and they did a great job yet again this year with the Hang Space.  It’s a large open area with comfortable seating, charging stations, video games, snacks, drinks, and more.  It’s great and has some large video displays in the middle of the room where they show the keynotes and other information.

That’s where I went to watch the morning keynote.  Hopefully everyone doesn’t show up tomorrow and take all the space!

As expected the keynote was packed with good information.  Paul Maritz started it off and symbolically passed VMware over to the incoming CEO, Pat Gelsinger.  It’s official on September 1st and you could tell how much it meant to Paul.

“Take good care of her” said Paul Maritz

Next came the product and technology announcements.  I’m not going to go in to great detail here due to the sheer number of announcements and updates, but the major points are:

  • vSphere 5.1 with many new enhancements
  • As rumored, the vRAM licensing model is gone
  • Licensing now based on CPU sockets again
  • New vCloud 5.1 Bundles that encompass multiple products in one license (vSphere, vCD, vCOPs, etc)
  • Demos of what we can expect from the Nicira and Dynamic Ops acquisitions

Some Varrow blogs on the new features:

Great stuff and all good news.  I’m excited to go back and talk to customers about these announcements.  After the keynote it was time for me to run over to speaker registration.  If you haven’t ever spoken at a conference like this you probably aren’t aware of the things speakers have to do.  One thing is to go review the final version of their presentations.  You submit your PowerPoint deck and VMware (or other partner hosting the conference) usually adds their own intro and outro slides and may reformat or change some fonts.  This is your chance to make sure there are no problems and you can make (minor) changes to the presentation.

There was nothing for me to fix on my presentation.  While I was there with Joe Kelly and Brian Boyd (two other Varrow presenters) I went over Brian’s presentation with him.  Really good discussion around storage.

Another thing I always do when presenting is go check out my room(s) ahead of time.  I like to stress myself out….

That’s a big room.  This time I’m doing a large part of my session as live lab and I wanted to make sure people would be able to see it.  I knew the room was expected to hold around 800 people and I’ve been in rooms like this where those in the back half couldn’t see.  Thankfully this room had extra screens and worked out really well.

For lunch I attended an executive discussion for partners with Pat Gelsinger and others.

Sometimes these sorts of things are “fluffy” but there was a lot of great questions and discussions for the VMware partner teams.  Well worth the time and very thankful that VMware listens to the partner community like they do.  You learn a lot being on “this side” of the industry and you learn who is truly a partner and who isn’t.

In case you’ve ever wondered, this is what an 850 person room looks like from the stage when empty.

And here it is almost full.  There were a few minutes of concern before my session started.  My rMBP wouldn’t talk to the projector until I finally manually set the resolution for the external display.  Then just a few minutes before the start I thought I’d check to make sure I could login to the vCenter web interface…and I couldn’t.  Thankfully I noticed that at some point my time sync between my VMs was off. After fixing that everything was fine.

My session was a discussion on the vSphere Distributed Switch while also highlighting the new features in 5.1.  I wrote up a post and did a video showing the new features here.  My goal was to do as little PowerPoint as I could and do the rest via a live lab.  Originally I was going to remote in to either my home lab or one of Varrow’s labs.  Instead, I used AutoLab on my rMBP and it worked REALLY well.  It was blazingly fast and I had access to a DC, vCenter, 3 vSphere hosts, NAS, Router, and 6 small Linux VMs running on the vSphere hosts.  It was much lower risk than trying to access a remote lab and everything worked great.  I’ll put the original slide deck up for this session soon.

First session done!  Awesome.  That’s a relief…a really big relief.  The funny thing this time was that I wasn’t nervous at all.  Maybe it’s because I’ve done this so many times now or I’m confident in the material but this was probably the least amount of anxiety I’ve ever felt before or during a presentation in front of a user group.

Two more things before the day is done!  First one is the vExpert meeting where we go over the program and information.  Unfortunately I could only stay about 45 minutes before I had to leave.  The vExpert program is a great thing and I wish more companies would do something similar.

The final event for the day was the Varrow customer party at The Box.  This is our first time doing something like this and I think it turned out well.  I wasn’t so sure when I first got there…from the outside it didn’t look great but once inside it was well done and I think everyone had a good time.  Nice cover band, good drinks, good food, and great conversation.  I’m pretty sure this will be an annual event for us now.  Look!  We’re growing up!

So there is my Day 1.  I didn’t get to attend any sessions today but that’s normal.  Throughout the day I ran in to people that I don’t often get to see and that makes all the difference.  I’d much rather do that than sit in sessions.  Tomorrow should be fun.  My schedule isn’t crazy.  In the morning I’ll hit the Hang Space for the keynote, quick meeting with the fine people at TrainSignal…and then spend some time in the expo hall and labs.  Really looking forward to it.

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