The week of VMworld poses a big time management problem. So much to see and do, so many old friends to reconnect with, so many new people to meet. The Solutions Exchange is one of the most action-packed, vibrant and busy aspects of the VMworld conference.

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Visiting the Solutions Exchange can be a bit overwhelming, with all the different booths (300 of them!), marketing campaigns (swag!), noise and people. In my view however, it’s one of the most valuable parts of the show, giving you the opportunity to gain knowledge, meet new people and find solutions for your organization’s issues and challenges. But how do you maximize your benefits during the show?

Tips to optimize your Solutions Exchange experience

Plan your visits to the Solutions Exchange in advance, and come prepared. Really, preparation is key:

  • Make a list of vendors  you want to meet. The complete list can be found here
  • Make a list of cool new technology you don’t want to miss out on. Be sure to check the ‘New Innovators’ pavilion (also listed here).
  • Visit vendors you’ve never heard of.
  • Create a shopping list of challenges you or your organization are facing, and investigate vendors solving them, for instance during the Welcome Reception and Hall Crawl.
  • Meet up with community experts (vExperts, VCDXs) and discuss your challenges. They might have something to add or guide you along.
  • Contact your vendor SE to meet up and let them show you what’s new with their product.
  • Bring business cards. Use them. Exchange them. Follow up if you are interested.
  • Create notes of conversations, solutions or vendors that stood out, and plan to reach out to them after the show. Taking photos can help you remember details about a vendor or their solution.

Which vendor to meet?

There are a couple of vendors I’ll check up on during the show. These broadly fall into four categories:

Converged Infrastructure

  • Nutanix
  • Simplivity
  • Pivot3

Storage Optimization

  • VMware Virsto
  • PernixData

Sure Things

There are a number of ‘sure bets’ during the show that usually have something new and awesome to show you:

Really new stuff

One of the new innovators I’d like to meet is AirVM. They have a cloud distribution and delivery platform, that falls right into place with the hybrid approaches IaaS vendors are taking these days. Also, I’ll be on the lookout for VMware R&D to have them show me all the nitty-gritty new stuff.

What about you?

What are your tips for visiting the Solutions Exchange? Which vendors are on your ‘not-to-miss’ list? Leave a comment below!