June 12, 2024

It is Coming Up on VMware Explore Time Again

Well it is VMworld, err uh VMware Explore time again. I’ve been involved with VMware’s yearly conference for a long time. Almost 20 years. I have attended quite a few, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the chance again. Here a some of my experiences across my time in the industry.

VMworld as a Customer

My first VMworld was in 2005. I had been using ESX a few years and had no idea what to expect going to VMworld. I signed up for every session that I could take and was there to learn even more about how to take advantage of VMware’s technology. I didn’t even consider being there for the networking aspect of it. I was there to learn.

In 2006 I attended the event in LA. By that time, I had participated a significant amount in the VMTN forums, and had interacted with a lot of peers virtually. VMworld LA was an opportunity to learn, but also meet others that I had interacted with in the forums. I got so much more out of 2006.

In 2007 I didn’t attend. My boss wouldn’t send me. I was actively participating in the forums, blogging about VMware use cases, and my boss felt as though it wouldn’t be any value to me. I hated that I couldn’t attend.

As a customer in 2008,  2009, & 2010, I was still actively participating in the forums, blogging, and interacting with others about VMware’s great technology. I was fortunate enough to get a blogger pass (2008/2009) and my boss sent me in 2010. Yay! Sessions to learn, interaction with partners, and the networking with peers that I really missed. Each of these allowed me to do more and be better in my technology career.

VMworld as a Partner

Things changed for me in 2011, as I had gone to work for EMC as a vSpecialist. I was selected to be a lab captain in the VMware Hands-on-Labs. This allowed me to attend again, but also bring my experience as a former customer and partner to help others. I helped develop EMC’s Isilon virtual lab and got to spend each day helping others, as I had been helped years before.

From 2012 to 2014, I worked in the labs again, as well as worked in EMC’s booth, all while taking advantage of sessions, learning more about the ecosystem, and networking with peers across the industry spanning customer, partner, & VMware employees.

VMworld as an Employee

In 2015, I joined VMware in the Storage and Availability BU. I was now part of VMware. It was an amazing feeling. Sharing knowledge, people coming to you as a resource they can trust to help them grow, providing guidance to help them be successful, and so much more. I was fortunate to attend and present at VMworld in the US and Barcelona from 2015 through 2019.

I enjoyed my time at VMware and am very proud of the work I did while at VMware.

VMworld as a Partner (again)

I left VMware just as the world was shutting down for Covid. VMworld 2020 and 2021’s virtual approach just didn’t have the same value to me. We’ve all attended virtual training/workshops. Those simply don’t give you the same experience as being there in-person. In-person to speak to experts, have a coffee with a colleague from the other side of the world, or play v0dgeball for charity with others across the industry.

My last VMware Explore was in 2022 in Barcelona. I had taken the Strategic Director of Alliances role at Pure Storage and my involvement with VMworld/Explore was quite different than I had experienced over the past 20 years. That’s right, I have been to a lot of VMworld’s and the 2 Explore’s in 2022.

It was very exciting to be involved in booth and event planning in my Alliances role. That work and effort gave me a whole new appreciation of the work that goes into partner participation and engagement. It was a good bit different than my time as a Technical Marketing Architect at VMware. Sure I was involved in some of the content, but not the logistics of the booth, coverage, after-hours events, and everything else that was involved.

What I’ll miss

I didn’t attend Explore in 2023, though it wasn’t my choice to miss it. I won’t go into public details about it, but suffice to say that I felt pretty empty. I had been planning for the event for several months, only to find myself looking for another role. I was no longer attending this event that I had looked forward to every year since 2005 (missing 2007).

I’m no longer in a VMware adjacent role, and I don’t foresee my ability to attend anytime soon. I’ll miss the keynotes, the sessions, seeing what other partners are doing, and most of all the interaction with my peers.

Like so many others, I’m very curious about the direction of VMware after Broadcom’s purchase. There isn’t a day that passes that I have some VMware related question. I see some good things happening that aren’t necessarily visible to everyone, and some things that many don’t agree with. I’ll miss the opportunity to interact with others and learn more about what’s next with VMware’s destiny.

REGISTER
If you’re looking to go to the event, you can register here: https://event.vmware.com/flow/vmware/explore2024lv/reg/form/contactInfo

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