Time for the Annual Pilgrimage: VMworld 2016


Time for the annual pilgrimage to VMworld! This year is a little different in that the destination is The Mandala Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. After several years in San Francisco, we finally get a change of scenery—and with the change of scenery, I’ve got some changes in advice for you.

First, I would like to clear up some misnomers and marketing slogans that just do not hold water anymore. Foremost among these is “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” That may have been a little truer around a decade or so ago, but now, in the golden age of social media, no embarrassing moment will stay in Vegas, because there is always someone with a camera just waiting to find a moment to share.

That said, another thing to consider when you’re spending your time on the strip is that everything in Las Vegas really looks closer than it actually is. You could very easily spot something that looks interesting down the strip and then find yourself hiking quite a bit farther than you had anticipated to get there.

Let me make sure to really stress this next point: Las Vegas is in the desert. It is going to be hot—over one hundred degrees—but it will be a dry heat. Those of you who live in a tropical area like me know all about heat, but it is a humid heat where you start sweating the moment you step outside. In Las Vegas, the dry heat is heat without the moisture, and as such, you will not sweat as much. Your body’s method of cooling itself is by sweating, so when you have heat with no sweat, you can overheat very quickly. Even though you are not sweating away large amounts of water, you will need to keep yourself hydrated by constantly drinking water throughout the day. Whenever possible, make sure you have water with you.

At the event, you are going to be doing a lot of walking around, and no matter how close you think your hotel room is, the actual distance is farther than you think. You will most likely not have too many opportunities to head back to your room for a bit. Bring what you think you will need for the day, and try to travel light. The backpack can and will start to feel heavier and heavier as you get further along into the day. I should not really need to mention this bit, but better be safe than sorry: VMworld is no place to break in a new pair of shoes. If you think you might need a new pair of shoes for the event, drop what you are doing and get to the store now so you have time to break them in before you find yourself with a blister outbreak on your feet. I can tell you from personal experience, that is not a fun place to be. Please learn from my past mistake.

One of the main drawbacks of the conference is how many different sessions are available. I want to make sure to stress the fact that all the sessions are recorded and will be available for download after the event. Please do not worry about missing any of the sessions you were looking forward to, because they will be available later.

The Hands-On Labs are something I highly recommend taking some time to visit. Take advantage of the self-paced training that is available. There is a lab for every VMware product; there is a very good chance you will be able to spend some time on all of the product lines you are interested in.

My last bit of advice is that for me, networking is the biggest reason for attending this event. I have found that having the ability to be flexible with my schedule has served me well over the years. You might find the opportunity to spend some time with a “bird of a feather,” so to speak—to talk shop, share stories, and discuss issues in implementing different types of technology. Some of your most memorable events might be ad hoc meet-and-greets. If you can be flexible with your schedule to take advantage of a spontaneous event, that might just be one of the best takeaways of the conference. You never know what you might find or who you will get a chance to talk to. Embrace each and every opportunity; maybe we can find the time to have a chat and talk shop. Hope to see you in Vegas for the annual VMworld pilgrimage.

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Steve Beaver
Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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