VMworld 2011 is fast approaching and now is the time to start making final preparations for the pilgrimage to Las Vegas. The question that I see a lot, before these types of events, is what can I do to get the most out of the conference? I have been lucky enough to have been to all the VMworld Conferences since 2005 as well as one lucky trip to VMworld Europe in 2009. I am going to chime in on the some of the things that I do to get the most out of VMworld.
There is a lot going on, all the time at VMworld and not all news and events are published via normal conference channels. No matter what you think of twitter, it is a culture within a culture inside the virtualization space and an up to the minute stream of all that is going on at VMworld. There might be an unofficial “tweet up” or other gathering that will be put together via twitter. One of my biggest reasons for going to VMworld is the networking that goes on with it and getting the opportunity, as well as the time, to meet with specific individuals to talk shop with. Most everyone’s schedule is jammed packed but twitter brings an opportunity to mention free times and or know where people are going. If you do not have a twitter account, now would be a good time to create one. Once you have a twitter account make sure you register yourself on the official VMworld Twitter Page. If you are a blogger that is attending the show make sure you register yourself and your site on the VMworld Official Bloggers Page.
One thing to remember about these types of conferences is the amount of walking you will end up doing every day. You start walking first thing in the morning, leaving from your hotel room to the conference area and then everywhere in between. You should really consider bringing a very comfortable pair of shoes or at least planning on double gelling your feet. By the end of the week you will be very glad you brought them with you. Whatever you do, do not buy new shoes just for the event. I can tell you from firsthand experience that is not a good idea. I understand that sneakers are not the best shoes to wear for a business casual appearance but really consider when you really need to wear slacks or when you will be just fine wearing a nice pair of jeans or khakis.
If you find yourself faced with the dilemma of having to pick a session or a lab to attend, go for the lab. The sessions will be available after the event so take advantage of the labs and try to do as many as possible. Now in between your sessions and or labs a great place to meet and find people would be the VMTN Community Lounge. Everybody who is anybody will make it into the area at least once during the conference with a lot of people that I know that call this area “home base”.
Here are some other random tips to share…
Along with the networking aspect of the event, the Solution Exchange will give you a peek at the different virtualization technology available today and in some cases an insight into what may be coming tomorrow. There is a small price to pay to get to talk to the different vendors in that you will have to get your badge scanned when you step up to the different booths. That in itself is not so bad, but what really drives me crazy with that is the sales calls and email that start happening before you ever leave the event to go home. Attention any vendors that read this. Can you please wait until at least the next week before you start your sales calls and email campaigns from your leads?
Make sure you leave room for the “extra items” and swag that you will bring back with you from the show in your suitcase. You can get a very unpleasant surprise when you find out your suitcase is over the weight limit and you need to pay extra to get all your stuff home.
Wi-Fi is pretty much hit and miss at the conferences. There are just too many devices competing for a limited number of IP addresses. With that said, to save the precious life of your devices battery, you might want to think about not searching and trying to join any of the Wi-Fi networks automatically as well as any other steps to take to make the batteries last longer. I am pretty sure at least once or more often you will find your smart phone dead before you get back to your hotel room for the evening.
One very good thing about the conference being in Las Vegas is the food tends to be very good. Enjoy all of it while you can and network with as many people as you possibly can. Hopefully are paths will cross at VMworld and we can talk about our virtualization journey together. For those not attending this year follow the #vmworld hashtag on Twitter for live coverage