Highlights from My First VMworld

VMworld logo in exhibition hall

On Monday, September 4th, I did my first podcast interview.  The podcast was the Tech Interviews with Paul Stringfellow, a fellow NetApp A-Teamer.  If you never had the pleasure of listening to Paul’s podcast or met him firsthand, you may not know that he is one charming guy.  Seriously, he’s “Hugh Grant” charming.   

The topic of my podcast interview was “Thoughts on VMworld 2017”.  Pre-interview, I went through and captured some of my topics that I wanted to touch on about my experience at VMworld.   I’m pretty introverted, so I thought that prepping some would help me to feel less awkward.  Because it was my first time on a podcast, I’ll cut myself some slack and tell that negative voice in my head to “hush”.   

Paul usually interviews seasoned IT professionals and experienced podcast guests.  This time he was interviewing me, a total podcast and VMworld attendee newbie.  I’ve been trying pretty hard to get out of my comfort zone and become more involved in the Tech Community.  Paul’s podcast was the the perfect opportunity to meet both of those objectives. 

Here are some additional thoughts that I had about VMworld that I failed to express:

Happy for Homework

One of the best things about attending a conference is leaving with a slew of topics that don’t know that much about and can’t wait to learn more about.  It way too easy to stay in your own little tech bubble.   OpenStack, NFV, SolidFire, coding with APIs are at the top of my homework list. 

HCI and Software Defined Storage Will Reign Supreme

VMworld had lots of HCI and Software Defined Storage talk.  That is not surprising.  However, during a Software Defined session that I attended, they predicted that 50% of existing storage will be software defined storage; 30% will be hyper-converged by 2019.  Wow!   

Tech Field Day for the World!

I had the incredible opportunity to be a delegate at Stephen Foskett’s Tech Field Day Extra at VMworld.  Stephen is the Kevin Bacon of the Tech World.  He knows everybody!  It was an incredible honor to be surrounded by some serious Tech Community Rockstars.  I also had the good fortune of seeing Samsung, Druva, and NetApp’s presentations in real-time with the opportunity to ask any questions.. 

Overall, VMworld was an amazing experience for me.  I had many opportunities to get out of my comfort zone.   Post-VMworld, my next step is to start building a business case for why I should attend again next year.  You can find more about VMworld experience, by checking out my Google photo album.

Link to my VMworld 2017 photo album.


First Timer’s Guide to NetApp Insight

While NetApp Insight is great for tech veterans, it’s also perfect for a conference newbie. The tech community is a very welcoming! At 4,000+ attendees, the turnout is pretty big, without being overwhelming. Even though there is a second Insight conference in EMEA about a month later, there is still a pretty hefty global turnout. Having just gone to Insight for the first time last year, I wanted to share a couple of pro tips to help Insight frosh improve their experience and get the most out of the conference.     

Download the Insight App 

About a month before the event, look for the Insight App for iOS and Android. I don’t know about you, but I get lost pretty easily at these big tradeshows. This app kept my session schedule close at hand with helpful maps to get me to the right place at the right time. 

Listen to the Tech ONTAP podcast episodes on Insight.  

If you aren’t already listening to the Tech ONTAP (ToT) podcast on the regular, now is the time to start. Last year, the ToT crew recorded a slew of Insight-inspired episodes for before, during, and after the conference. The preview podcast episode was great prep for me as an Insight first-timer last year. 

Recognize the badge colors

When you check in to Insight, you’ll have a badge printed out for you. Each badge is color-coded to indicate the following:

It’s a great way to meet people and it helps you when you’re socializing to instantly know people’s backgrounds and roles.

Eat lunch in the dining hall

For breakfast, you can grab some coffee and a breakfast sandwich to go. But also make sure you find some time to visit the dining hall for a buffet. It’s a great opportunity to network and make new friends. 

Make time for sessions—and more!

The best sessions at Insight usually book up early. You can save your space by registering for sessions prior to Insight. You can find the Schedule Builder online now.   

And while the sessions are top-notch at Insight, there’s lots more to see and do:

  • Explore the convention floor (and collect swag!).
  • Stop by the Developers’ Café. Check out a vBrownBag. 
  • Visit the hands-on lab.

Don’t fret if you miss a session, because you’ll be able to view the sessions online in about 6 weeks.

Get certified  

At the conference, you’ll find a popup Pearson Vue testing center. Think about how much your boss would love it if you came back with a new certification! At Insight, all NetApp certification tests are offered free of charge. If you fail, you can try again (as long as it is in accordance with NetApp’s standard re-take policy). You can prepare for the test by completing NetApp University’s free training. Also, each certification has an outline of the documents referenced in the test creation. The reference documents are an awesome source of study material. As long as you have a valid NetApp support account, you should be able to access all of the study materials and training at no cost.

A practical tip: bring your own water (BYOW)

I’m a really big drinker…of water…so this is a big deal to me. Mandalay Bay has many places to buy bottled water. Unfortunately, the price of a bottle of water appears to be fixed at an artificially high rate. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not to pay 10% of my per diem on one 1L bottle of water.

While sessions are going on, you can grab a cup of water at the back. You may also find some bottles of water on the conference floor, too. However, for your long-term hydration needs, you probably will want to venture up the strip to the nearby CVS inside New York, New York for some cheap water bottles. CVS is also a great place to pick up some not-so-expensive souvenirs (like T-shirts) for the kids! 

These are just a few of my tips to make your first Insight experience a little better. Regardless of whether you take my advice, you are sure to have a great time—have fun!