Finally back home and well rested after a hectic and super-packed week in Barcelona, it’s time to collect the ideas and put together a comprehensive set of VMworld Europe 2017 recap posts. I will begin with an introductory one then break my stream of thoughts into more small posts to avoid overwhelming you with too much info all at once.
I have been a regular VMworld attendee since 2011, I only skipped the 2015 edition since… well… that was during my last week as a VMware employee. Since my first VMworld, I have seen it evolving and I have evolved too (immensely!) as an IT professional, so I can consider myself a veteran able to bring home the most from this experience.
VMworld is kind of a routine for me: the General and Break-Out Sessions, the Solutions Exchange, the Parties and, most importantly, the Networking part. The available time is always limited so I planned carefully a tightly packed agenda, to be sure I could be able to do all that was in my list. I wore different hats this time… first I represented my organization, so I had to be sure to gather and bring back information relevant to my day job, then – once again – I was there as a VMUG Leader and finally, as an official VMworld Blogger. It wasn’t easy to fill so many roles at the same time, but I think I managed it, at the expense of giving up on proper food and enough hours of sleep!
So let’s begin with… Location and Logistics.
This was the sixth edition in a row held in Barcelona: every year people complain that they had enough of it and that a change would be welcome (I admit I am among those moaning people), but eventually we all have a good time there and we look forward to come back the following year. Let’s admit it: there are only a few cities in Europe where you can have such a gorgeous weather (this consideration will be even more important next year when the event will be pushed to November), travel and hotels don’t cost you a kidney, sightseeing is a pleasure, within-city logistics are cheap and easy and the general vibe is so laid-back. So my verdict is the following: although I’d be thrilled to change location every now and then (Vienna? Lisbon? Prague? Copenhagen?) I am happy to be back to BCN next year as well (Nov 5-8).
This year there has been a major change in the event logistics and layout: the arrangement of the different “zones” has been improved greatly. The entrance and registration area were moved from Hall 8 to Hall 6, giving immediate access to the VM Village and Hands On Labs and then direct connection to the Solutions Exchange (Hall 7) and General Sessions (Hall 4) areas. Well done VMware. The only reason to commute to Hall 8 (involving the well known convoluted “stairs-up > upper walkway > stairs down” 10 minutes walk) was to attend the Break Out sessions. If that could be fixed for next year, perhaps ditching the whole Hall 8 for Hall 5, that’d be great as we’d have all on the same floor and at walking distance, more or less like Copenhagen Bella Center was set up, if my brain doesn’t play tricks on me. Perhaps it is already late for VMware to contract this layout with Fira Barcelona for 2018, but I hope this request can reach the big bosses in Palo Alto for further improvements in the future.
Also, compared to the past year, when I had the impression that the event was being ran on a budget lower than usual, I could see a lot more investment in the overall setup. Clearly money was well spent for signage, seating, relax and chill-out spaces, and finally catering. Hot food was served without congestion in two well placed areas in Halls 7.0 and 8.1. All was planned and executed a lot better than in the past year and this allowed for a far more enjoyable experience for the 11k attendees: this was the all-time record attendance for VMworld Europe, a number that should mute those who criticized the relevance of VMware in year 2017. Yes, the technology scenario has changed, VMware has definitely to deal with more competition, also because it has changed its skin from being a pure, simple and established hypervisor vendor to a software mastodon capable of enabling the end-to-end digital transformation of businesses of any size. Yes, there’s plenty of interesting and diverse tech out there, but VMware is playing ball with most of them, therefore securing its prominent role in the industry for many years to come. And this leads me straight to post #2… General Sessions and Announcements.