VMworld 2017 the one with the boozing and schmoozing

Sitting in the airport on my way home from Barcelona, the haze is starting the clear and i’ve been trying to formulate my judgement on this year’s VMworld. 2017 marked my 6th consecutive VMworld and i’ve enjoyed them all immensely but it’s very clear to me that this year’s stands alone, i had a very different experience from any previous years.

I read someone comment yesterday that the more times you attend there tends to be an evolution and the dynamic of VMworld changes and i couldn’t agree more.

The first year i attended in 2012 my schedule was insane, it was SESSION, SESSION, SESSION i packed my entire agenda from 09:00 on day one till 17:00 on day three. I was so eager to learn and so eager to ensure my bosses didn’t think i’d disappeared to Barcelona on a jolly, i had a breakout in every available time slot. I went to nothing but sessions and the solutions exchange, i took notes and met vendors. 2013 was broadly the same, i had a fantastic trip on both occasions and i was knackered at the end, I learnt a lot but didn’t add much on a personal level

Over the year’s i’ve met more people and more people and more people, and without really realising i’ve built a network. I usually start out with the same intention, i pack my agenda with sessions but i’m a lot more flexible about how the event plays out. If there’s something i really want to see i’ll make sure i go, but the layer below that, if i’m in conversation with someone be that a friend, peer, or vendor i’m more inclined to let a session or two slide.

This year i tipped the balance for the first time, so much so that it became my stock response when someone asked me how my show had been so far, i’d respond “oh you know just boozing and schmoozing”. I attended less breakouts than during any previous year i think 6 over the 3 days, the fact they’re almost all recorded and available on demand offered a great get out clause, and instead i filled my days talking with other people.

I spent quite a lot time doing VMUG stuff, i immensely enjoyed the Leader lunch this year including a Q&A with Joe Baguley and Pat Gelsinger as well the opportunity to discuss VMUG with leaders from all over Europe. I even took a stint on the VMUG booth for the first time giving me further opportunity to extoll the virtues of VMUG and community in general.

I sat (and failed) a VCAP exam for the first time, i was extremely downbeat afterwards (i’ll do another post at some point about my experience) maybe if i’d spent more time studying and less time socialising my near miss would have been a pass. But perversely it was my socialising and the people i discussed it with that helped me get over the disappointment and also i believe it’ll stand me in good stead for my next attempt.

I met with a number of VCDX’s, at least a dozen vExperts, spoke with VMUG leaders from all over the UK & Europe, convinced a number of first time Scottish VMUG’ers to sign up, signed a VMUG sponsor, hopefully signed a VMUG speaker or 3, sat down with a number of senior execs from VMware as well as some of the biggest bloggers in our industry and more important than all of that i greatly enhanced my professional and personal network. I met or got to know better some genuinely brilliant people, i spent time talking tech and non-tech and there’s nowhere else i could get access to that quantity or quality of people in such a short time and space.

It’s impossible for me to look at that list above and not consider this a massively productive week, while in a club at 3am the other night i wasn’t so convinced i was being professional enough. I’m going back to work on Monday better at my job than when i left on Friday if asked beforehand that’s all i’d have been aiming for this week.

I’m not saying this is the roadmap for all future VMworld’s, in fact my body is begging for it not to be, what i am saying is this one was massively different from all my previous and it was still brilliant. I guess not all VMworld’s are created equal but at this stage of my life and career this one worked perfectly. After an alcohol free weekend and concentrated period of recharging sleep i’ll say roll on VMworld 2018