So I’m now on a plane headed home from being at VMware Partner Exchange in Las Vegas; suffice it to say a couple months ago I didn’t expect to have been in Vegas twice — VMworld in September 2011 and now Partner Exchange in February 2012.
You can see my schedule in an earlier post — I ended up changing it up a good bit as you can see from the actual Session Notes blog posts I put up….going to do a summary blog post linking to all the session notes.
Some thoughts in no particular order are…
- Partner Exchange vs. VMworld – While VMworld was good, this was much better in multiple ways — met quite a few good people both via Twitter and in person, much more technical sessions, more roadmap/NDA information, smaller event. The “smallness” is worth explaining — VMworld is just huge, massive, ginormous. While Partner Exchange is still thousands of people (3-5,000 I think), it feels much more manageable…much more conducive to running into people you know and being able to chat in the hallway or at meals, getting into sessions last second, not fighting through crowds to get anywhere, shorter wait times at the Hands On Labs. While I wouldn’t mind going to VMworld again, I’d absolutely pick Partner Exchange given the choice.
- Virtualizing Business Critical Applications (VBCA) — Varrow is one of the first ten partners in the world to hold the VBCA competency and this is also a focus for me personally with multiple customers. I got a lot of good info on SQL/Oracle/etc. both in sessions as well as informal conversations (was great to chat a couple times with Michael Corey of nTirety). As well, Jason Nash and I were able to attend a Partner Summit/Roundtable dinner on VBCA….not more than 20 people in the room and was great to be able to hear where VMware is going with this as well as give feedback. Interestingly enough, the CEO and CTO of one of Varrow’s current partners (House of Brick – focused on databases) sat across the table from Jason and myself. This is where I appreciate working for a partner that’s focused on staying ahead of the curve.
- Food — as always, I was fortunate enough to have some good meals. Lotus of Siam is absolutely phenomenal — who knows if they’re the best Thai food in the world but I won’t argue with anyone who believes it. Zine as well was very good (although not much dim sum) and I very much enjoyed “The Best Carrot Cake” (citrus in there somewhere) at the Grand Luxe Cafe at 1 AM one morning while catching up on work for a couple hours.
- EMC Bootcamp — I’ll call this out as there were multiple good sessions with Matt Cowger’s and Scott Lowe’s being excellent. I’m pretty psyched about both vCenter Ops (so anything that pours more data into it is wonderful) and also SRM/VPLEX/stretched clusters.
- Off-hours — Vegas is a bit of an odd experience for me as I don’t drink nor do I gamble….yes, I’m not exactly the target market. 😉 So what did I do in off hours? I was able to spend some good meals/conversation with my coworkers and even some previous coworkers (Tim West and Jim Kennedy). One night I took a walk down the strip and caught the volcano eruption at the Mirage, a couple of the fountain shows at the Bellagio, plus wandered inside the Bellagio some — a very relaxing night really (although ended up having more than I had thought to do work-wise so worked at the Grand Luxe Cafe when I got back for a couple hours (remember the carrot cake?). On my last night, I was able to get a front row seat at Phantom of the Opera for half off (Vegas version — cut from 2:27 to about 1:35….all the songs but much less dialogue and faster pacing). I’m not sure I would have liked it at full price….but for half price more than worth it. I also rode the monorail up and down the strip…neat way to see all the buildings/get a quasi-bird’s eye view.
- People — it was great to meet and chat with various people — Will Huger, Mike Brown, Chris Kusek, Scott Lowe, Brian Gracely, Chris Emerson…plus multiple people whose names I don’t remember in between sessions. Given Varrow is a virtual company, I frankly spent a lot more time with Varrow co-workers in-person here than I usually do in a couple months.
Great conference all told….but 6 nights gone is more than enough (I got there early for some bootcamps/special sessions). Ready for some Orlando or San Francisco conferences for the next year or two…