The good folks over at VMware’s Community program have assigned me a bloggers pass to attend VMworld 2014 in San Francisco. I’m planning a full week with a mix of keynotes, technical break-out sessions and a lot of community hang time. This year’s VMworld will again feature blogger tables at the community booth in the hang space, big screens to follow the keynotes and enough room to spend some time with the Community Social Media team. As in earlier years, I’ll set up my home in the hang space.

Sessions

As for sessions, I’m focussing a couple of work-related topics, as I’ve been busy building a very special kind of IaaS platform (which I’ll present at a future conference), and need to brush up on the latest in vSphere, vCAC, NSX and other tech.

I’ll attend the keynotes from the comfort of the community hang space, though. I’m looking forward to the keynote announcements. I’m expecting vSphere 6, a new version of Virtual SAN with Virsto integrated, a splash of vendor support for vVols, project Marvin revealed, and feature releases for vCHS, like NSX and VSAN integration and more geographical locations.

2011-11-15-break-out-session

My session recommendations

I’ve got about 100 sessions in my ‘favorite’ list in the Schedule Builder, a lot of which I will attend virtually post-VMworld. We’ll see how many I will actually attend, but I’m guessing way south of a dozen.

Remember: all sessions are recorded and all slide decks will be published after the event, so don’t sweat it if you miss a session or two. Instead, plan to scour the Solutions Exchange or make some new friends in the community hang space, too.

How about starting this list off with the absolutely must-attend sessions in my view?

  • [SDDC1767] Enterprise Grade Elastic IaaS Cloud with VMware Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
    A VMware Hyper-converged Infrastructure? Really, could it be Marvin?
  • [SDDC3327]The SDDC Datacenter, VMs, and Containers: A “Better Together” Story
    By the infamous Kit Colbert. Really liked his passed VMworld appearances, so I’m excited to see this session.
  • [NET2747] VMware NSX: SDN in the Real World
    NSX vNinja Chris Wahl has worked with NSX for a while now, and going on the quality of his blog posts, this session should be very technical, very informative and very awesome all ’round.
  • [BCO1916] SRM and Stretched Storage: Tech Preview of a New Approach to Active-Active Data Centers
    Really, SRM and Stretched Storage? Active-active datacenters? It’s fantastic to see VMware investing in this feature. As a stretched cluster aficionado, I cannot afford to miss this session.
  • [TEX1505] How to Monitor a VM Without a Direct Network Connection
    Accessing information inside the Guest OS without a direct network connection is becoming more important in the multi-tenant world. I recently had a big design challenge involving Veeam, VSS and the VIX library, so I am curious to see alternative solutions.
  • [INF1311Deploy and Destroy 85K VMs in a week: VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage
    These guys work at an amazing scale, and this session is a must-attend if you’re interested in the challenges large-scale computing poses. Also, I think this could be a very entertaining and insightful session.

VMworld isn’t all work, of course. Besides the obvious parties and community hang space, where things aren’t always that serious, there’s also a couple of fun sessions I’d recommend you to attend:

  • [STO2996-SPO] The vExpert Storage Game Show
    John Troyer et al are hosting their Game Show again. A fun session with a lot of audience participation. Be there, be on time, and enjoy the show!
  • [SDDC1176] Ask the Expert vBloggers
    If there is one session that doesn’t induce death by Powerpoint, it’s this session. Action-packed with top virtualization bloggers and questions from the audience, this is your chance to ask what you never dared ask!
  • [VAPP2980] VMware Global Support Services Panel – What Goes Wrong and How We Fix It
    Brilliant stories from the GSS trenches, embarrassing at times but entertaining all the way through. Shows the amazing issues and customers these guys have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

There’s the vision and strategy category, with product roadmaps, tech previews and more future stuff in general. This really is required material for any conference, and I encourage you to pick one or two of these to grasp VMware’s future direction.

  • [INF1502] What’s New in vSphere? vSphere 6 is likely to be announced, so for those of you who haven’t entered the beta, this session is a no-brainer.
  • [INF1349] Software-Defined Data Center and vCloud Suite Roadmap probably the same as INF1502: lot’s of new info in the vCloud Suite
  • [TEX2730] What’s New in vCloud Suite? And more vCloud Suite new stuff.
  • If you’re a partner, these three sessions are standard issue if you want to learn more on VMware’s executive vision and strategy.
    • [PAR2985] End User Computing Executive Session: Vision and Strategy
    • [PAR2986] Hybrid Executive Session: Vision and Strategy
    • [PAR2987] Software-Defined Data Center Executive Session: Vision and Strategy
  • [MGT2175] vCloud Automation Center Overview and Glimpse into the Future what else can I say? vCAC Roadmap session.
  • The guys and gals from the Workstation and Fusion teams are rock stars! I have worked closely with both and they are always developing cutting-edge technology. Oh yeah, and they tend to hand out Workstation or Fusion license cards during their sessions; so if you’re looking for a genuinely valuable freebie, here’s you chance!
    • [EUC1744] What’s New in VMware Workstation
    • [EUC1737] What’s New in VMware Fusion Pro
  • A bit of a weird selection for the category is [PAR3096] New Features and User Interfaces for vCloud Director for Service Providers, but this session really confirms some of the rumors around vCloud Director. If you’re a service provider, this sessions is vital to planning your own course of action over the next year.

Finally, the largest part of my session list is made up of DevOps & vCAC sessions and NSX & security sessions. A small overview:

  • If you’re considering using FOSSDevOps tools like Chef, Puppet,Ansible, Git and others in a VMware environment, these are the go-to sessions.
    • [OPT2668] DevOps Demystified! Proven Architectures to Support DevOps Initiatives
    • [HBC2371] Stick a Knife in IT! Chef + vCloud Hybrid Service = A Well Done Cloud
  • The number ofvCAC sessions is staggering, and I am planning to spend a lot of timepost-VMworld to go through most of them, as this is a very relevant topic for me. My top two sessions:
    • [MGT2487] Built to be Extended: vCloud Automation Center
    • [OPT1812] Delivering IT as a Service with vCloud Automation Center and a Software-Defined Strategy.
  • As forNSX, I will limit myself to the general roadmap and technical deep dives, and go through the really specific sessions (about security, firewalls, logical routing, integrating it withvCAC, multi-site setups, etc.) later. I will try to attend these sessions, as these stood out to me the most:
    • [NET1674] Advanced Topics & Future Directions in Network Virtualization with NSX
    • [NET1589] Reference Design for SDDC with NSX & vSphere
    • [NET1966] Operational Best Practices for VMware NSX
    • [NET1468] A Tale of Two Perspectives: IT Operations with VMware NSX

Labs

01VM021-HOL_CertSeal_1265x1055_110912-12Also keep in mind that the Hands-on Labs are available outside the event, too, so plan accordingly. I’d suggest that you take the expert-led labs if you really want to dive into a product or solution, and save the others as a self-paced exercise post-VMworld.

I’m keen to look into VMware’s DaaS offering, something that is hard to do without an actual environment, so I might do a lab or two in this space.

The HoL team has posted a nice overview of their VMworld offering here, so make sure to read up on it to decide your best course of action.

Certification

VMwareCertI’ll try to catch some of the education atmosphere and see what’s new with the VCDX Mentor Program and AcademyX. Check out Rene’s post for more details. And on that note, I will be attending John Arrasjid‘s [SDDC1600Art of IT Infrastructure Design panel session to learn more about his upcoming book.

For the first time in years, I won’t actually sit an exam during VMworld. Last year, I did both VCAP-CIA and -CID in a single week. The year before that, I was knee-deep in VCDX preparations. This year, I’ve taken a break from certifications, although I would really like to hop on the NSX-bandwagon.

Parties and hanging around

PrintThis year, I’m not staying in Hotel Abri (near the Apple Store), but in an AirBnB apartment in SoMa, literally around the corner from the Moscone. That should be a bit more comfortable on my feet; the walk between hotel and the conference center was quite taxing on me in earlier years. Added bonus of an appartement is the extra room and opportunity keep the party going after hours. I’ll make sure the fridge is filled, so stop by :-).

 

My party schedule is insane; I plan to attend (most of) these:

  • Saturday I’ll attend the VMworld Community Kick-off
  • Sunday morning is vBreakfast, always a good way to connect to long lost friends
  • Sunday evening is VMUnderground. Top-3 party, and thankfully I already have a ticket.
  • Monday will be Tech Field Day Party Crawl night, with the #vFlipCup, Tegile, Nutanix, a VMUG Leader Reception and others.
  • Tuesday has the vExpert/VCDX party with the NSX Business Unit. Should be exciting! Also, PernixData, Veeam, and #vBacon after-party.
  • Wednesday is the official VMworld party, but I think I’ll crash Hans’s #BeerTweetup instead.