VMworld Europe 2014 – Summary

By | November 3, 2014

Although I’m late to the party with this write-up, I wanted to put down my experience last week from VMworld Europe, how I spent my time, the information I learnt including some links to resources, a comparison between the US and Europe shows and generally the value\benefit to attending the show.

This post won’t cover the announcements from the General Sessions, as many other folks have already blogged extremely well on this.  Plus, if you visit YouTube, you can easily watch the General Sessions from VMworld US or Europe.  I encourage you to watch or read the other great blogs out there.

Monday – Day 1

Partner Day – I work for a VMware Partner but I was attending as a blogger, so I didn’t attend the Partner Day sessions and meetings.  The morning begun with figuring out the metro journey and ticketing system, then finding the way to the venue.  The shuttle bus provided by VMware was convenient, otherwise it’s a good 10 minute walk, even if you get off the metro station, one stop before Fira Europa.

Upon arrival, I registered and collected my customary back pack and goodies!  Also, by checking in with the information desk, I received my 10 trip metro card for free, which certainly helped with travel as I was staying in central Barcelona, about 30 minute on the metro away from the conference centre.

To wrap up the day, I got familiar with the layout of the conference centre, visited the Hands On labs and used the opportunity to take a look at vRealize Operations Manager 6.0.

The evening finished with attending the Pernix Party at Ocana on Carrer del Colom, which was a rather swanky bar, set on a square with some other swanky establishments!

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Tuesday – Day 2

General Session announcements – Having watched the US version online back in August, the sessions were very similar in content, but still valuable to hear and reinforce the vision and strategic plans of VMware and where they see the industry and themselves heading.

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Following this, I registered for a Group discussion on Horizon 6 Hosts Apps by Ray Heffer.  I sent a tweet out shortly afterwards, as I believe these sessions go somewhat under the radar and are underrated.  The groups are fairly small and you have direct access into VMware Senior Architects, Product Managers and Technical Enablement teams.  With the wide variety of different questions and perspective from different folks in attendance, plus general interaction, the information to come out is really crucial.  I highly recommend these sessions.  Next time, I’m going to prepare much more, with a bunch of questions they had been outstanding from the past year, which I’ve been unable to find an answer for!  These Group Discussions are perfect with direct interaction with VMware staff.

To conclude the day, I visited the Veeam Party at Shoko, great venue down by the beach.

Wednesday – Day 3

General session, having watched the US version online back in August, I decided to watch this online from my hotel, and give myself a little more rest for later in the day.

Horizon 6 Overview Group discussion with Stephane Asselin, again this session was as valuable as any, due to the open interaction of the session.

Hands On Labs – Performance, with particular interest around the High latency & vNUMA features.  I tend to carry out performance reviews of different environments regularly, so I wanted to brush up these two items specifically.

Other breakout sessions included VSAN Best practices and Use cases.  Also VVOLs, which is something I wanted to get my head around and can now understand the bigger picture and where we’re heading as part of the policy driven, software defined data center.

VMworld Party with Simple Minds, I actually quite enjoyed this for the hour they played, although not typically my type of music. Food was very limited (considering I didn’t eat dinner elsewhere beforehand) and a bit disappointing compared to previous shows I’ve attended.

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Thursday – Day 4

Three of my most anticipated sessions of the week

  1. App Volumes, which was a more in depth overview of the solution following on from the announcement at Tuesday’s General Session. Additional information extracted from this session which can be found here
  2. Cloud Pod Architecture deep dive, use cases\scenario’s and under the hood. Although I’ve played around with the feature in my lab and written a blog, this session was exactly what I was looking for in terms of visual representation of the different scenarios involved, so I could picture these in my head.
  3. SDDC Storage the VCDX Way, presenting the different solutions such as VSAN (Custom build v Ready node), VVOLs, Hyper Converged (EVO Rail) and the VCDX methodology of design, specifically around business requirements. Concluding the session, the presenter Wade Holmes answered questions about the path to VCDX.

Following this, I attended the Solutions Exchange.  As ever, tedious badge swiping, which becomes annoying, but I understand the reason and also that people have a job to do.

No exams!  The past two years I’ve taken exams at VMworld, utilising the large discounts available, this year was different and I certainly didn’t miss the build-up, having to perform last minute study or balance information intake across the week.  Previously I’d taken exams on the last day and by then I’m mentally drained, so the obvious recommendation is to take exams very early.

My last session finished at 15:30, due to a coffee or two taken through the day, I still wanted to attend further sessions, but knew I was going to hit a wall at some point (this happened on Friday when all the action stopped, and I was mentally exhausted!).

Wrapping Up

VMworld offers a variety of different avenues during the conference, from breakout sessions, community hang out, Solutions Exchange and Hands On Labs etc. Personally, having reviewed my time like I do most years, I’d like to adjust the schedule and balance this out with more interaction with the folks in the community, and gaining more value from the Solutions Exchange.

I can’t recommend the event higher enough, in terms of continual development, learning and networking opportunities.  Also, gaining access to all breakout sessions from both US and Europe, is worth the entrance fee alone in my opinion, as one of my first places I look to, if I need to refresh or learn new VMware tech is these breakout sessions.  They are like gold!

Finally, in comparing the US and Europe shows, the US show is obviously 3 times bigger, so you have to bear that in mind. I’d probably say I felt more buzz personally from attending the US in August in previous years, as it’s the first show of the year and the General Sessions are completely fresh.  I also like to try and keep myself away from the announcements (new releases\features), as it creates a bit more excitement for me, but on the other side, if you’re fortunate enough to get the inside track early and get up to speed on new tech beforehand, it can only prove beneficial moving forwards.

Barcelona is great for the following – Weather, no jet lag (being UK based), more colleagues, bump into people more than once as there’s a smaller crowd.  Great bars, restaurants and locations to choose from in the evening.  Of course, Barcelona culturally, offers a whole lot more, which I didn’t get to explore (perhaps next time).

Ideally, if I’m fortunate enough to have the choice, I’d like to alternate between the shows each year, to get the best of both worlds, but that’s not always possible.

Until next year…

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