Why I’m not going to VMworld this year

I’ve been a regular attendee at VMworld either in US or Europe since the very first one in 2004. I missed 2005 but have been every year since to one or the other and sometimes both. In the majority of cases I was there with a client, so doing booth duty and having my expenses paid by them. I didn’t have client sponsorship during the 10th anniversary year, 2013 and, as it was a special year, funded myself – with the grateful thanks of a pass from VMUG. It was a very memorable event for many reasons for me, one of which was meeting with the ‘brains the size of planets’ leadership team at PernixData and, of course, John Troyer was still heading up the vExpert/Community team. I attended just Barcelona last year – again under my ‘own steam’ – and, to be honest, I felt there was something missing, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then today, I read this post from Eric Siebert and it kind of fell into place for me why VMworld is no longer a “must attend” for me. When someone of the technical calibre like Eric is compelled to write such a researched post on the bands of not just VMworld, but other tech conferences in our space, it hit home that VMworld is now just too big and too impersonal. Really? You care so much about the bands and why VMware isn’t spending more money on a recognisable name? I think that’s just sad. The money shouldn’t be spent on big band names – that’s not what this conference is about. It’s about informing, educating, sharing. That’s why Troyer originally set up the vExpert program. That too has morphed into something different with his departure. Maybe I don’t like change? Maybe I don’t value VMware, VMworld and vExpert as I used to because I’VE changed? Who knows…. But change happens and it should happen for the better, not worse. Call me ‘bah humbug’ if you like, but in talking to a couple of other VMworld vets, I know I’m not alone in my thinking. VMworld is now a ‘grown up’ conference, it’s no longer a bunch of techies networking. No, it’s now about what band is playing – or not as in the case of Eric’s post.

6 thoughts on “Why I’m not going to VMworld this year

  1. Hi Jane,
    very interesting post which got me thinking.. 🙂
    I’m not going to VMworld this year either, due to a couple of reasons. (been attending since 2007)

    But one of them I think is the changing focus from VMware – the focus seems to be on cloud/”containers” (some even called it “DockerCon” on twitter) etc. and to be honest – it just seems too “far” from my company’s agenda.

    I love seeing new technologies/concepts etc., but in the end, it’s the company who pays for my trip and wants something return which is relevant to the work that I do.

    In regards to Eric’s post – I tend to agree with Eric.
    For me, VMworld has always been 50% technology and 50% networking and for me, the VMworld party, CTO party, vBeers etc. are all “networking opportunities”. When people stay away from the parties because of e.g. the music or similar, then this means less “networking opportunities”.

    Cheers! 🙂

  2. Jane,
    I’m proud of you for putting this out there and speaking your mind. I now work for VMware and I haven’t been to VMworld since 2013, which I agree, was a must attend event with the 10 year anniversary. VMworld is all about the customer, at least that’s what it has morphed into. I still think there is great value to be had by attending, some of the best minds in virtualization attend and lead breakout sessions and are generally cool with chatting one on one. My first couple of experiences with VMworld were amazing and unforgettable, as a veteran I could see why it would get redundant, but again, it all depends on your situation.

    Good post, I won’t be there this year for the 2nd year in a row, sorry to hear you wont either.


  3. Hi Jane,

    it’s a pity that you will not visit VMworld this year – but maybe you change your mind in the next weeks.

    You are right, that VMworld has changed in the last years – visitor numbers increased every year, exhibitor numbers too… and everything became more costly (eg. the bands…) and bigger like the VMworld Party and the conference halls.

    I’ve visited every single VMworld Europe (the best ones where taking place in Cannes) and in my opinion the spirit of the community/the people has changed too in the last one or two years.

    But there are still a lot of reasons why VMworld is worth a visit. And if you avoid the loud and big parties and visit the smaller gatherings (John Troyer would call them “campfires” I think 🙂 I am sure that you will still find the spirit of the past VMworlds.
    And hey – its (at least to me) the only chance once a year to meet all the people of the vCommunity face-to-face.


    PS: early bird for VMworld Europe is still available 🙂

  4. Hi,

    First, I’m sorry you won’t be at VMworld this year, the vExpert party is going back to original format that John and I put together back when we started the program. (Presentations, awards, speakers, then food) Although John no longer is the spokesperson, the program and engagement continues. We all miss John, no one can replace him, but, he will be there, he is still one of our biggest advocates, and has been working externally bringing additional vendors into the vExpert community. It is a bigger show, but Alastair Cooke and vBrownbag people are all still there, the blogger tables will be full, and John always comes and hangs out. We are adding a huge DevOps program this year, it will be good.

    It is an expensive show for most of our blogger community experts, and we haven’t seen an increase in blogger passes, we are taking an action to increase that number, there were many blogger applicants that didn’t get a pass this year. We still believe it’s super important to bring everyone together and build those relationships. (FlipCup, vDodgeBall, Tweetups, After Party etc. etc. )

    I agree with you on the assessment of “Eric’s” blog response, I think he just needed something to write about. =). The band costs and the history, is actually very cool content, I don’t think he meant to be quite so negative as his first version read. I believe he re-published it, and lightened it up a bit. Here is my take on the VMworld party… It Rocks, not because of a band, but because it’s at ATT park again this year, and we will once again have “stuff” to do down on the field. Concessions food stands will be open, and if you try hard, you can get an invite to one of the suites at the top. I’m not a band fanatic, I actually love drinking and having fun with everyone. Which is why we didn’t sign a 2 million dollar band, we choose to spend the money on the people, food, beer, games, activities.. and yeah, have some cool edgy music to listen to. =)

    Some VMworlds are amazing, some are good, but each has brought me happiness in the people I meet and reconnect with after a year of my life has gone by.

    I hope you change your mind, get a pass somehow, find a way back. If you do look me up, and we can get a beer. @ericni25


    Eric Nielsen, Sr Director, Social Media & Communities
    (The guy that sat John down in 2006 and asked him to create a program like Microsoft’s MVP program, which we named “vExpert”)

    • Eric, I’m very pleased to report that I WILL be attending VMworld Barcelona – I hope to see you there!

  5. For the last few years I have also been telling myself that this would be the last year I would attend or at least skip a year. Mainly because of the cost of attending in San Francisco or that the VMware product pool has gotten so cloudy. But it’s the vendors that keep pulling me in. It’s interesting to learn about new products that help me in my enterprise environment, I’m not there to learn how I can rip my environment out and ship it to the cloud.
    I couldn’t even tell you who the last few bands were at VMworld. I do remember Bon Jovi. I always enjoyed Elastic Sky. I skipped the performance last year to hang out with Emulex.
    I think there is something for everyone at the conference. You just have to find it and focus on it. Otherwise you can be overwhelmed with cloudy material.

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