In-Depth

VMware Explore 2024 -- Why You Need to Go

Finding shared interests and passions can be challenging, and this event helps Tom connect with like-minded people and establish lifelong relationships.

VMware Explore 2024, being held at The Venetian in Las Vegas Aug. 26-29 this year, is a must-attend event. Here's why.

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The VMware Explore site is live and offers top reasons to attend, but I also have my reasons for why you should attend.

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Before I present my case for why you should attend the event, let's review the event over the past couple of years.

The past couple of years have been "interesting" for VMware's annual conference. In 2020 and 2021, it was held online due to concerns about Covid. In 2022, it was once again a live event, but it was renamed from VMworld to VMware Explore and was held in San Francisco at the Moscone Center; last year (2023), Explore was held in Vegas.

The 2022 conference was lightly attended, maybe because of lingering COVID fears, maybe because San Francisco is expensive, and California still had some pretty strict COVID rules. The others who attended and I found it easy to get seats in all the sessions and spend as much time as we wanted to chat with the vendors in the exhibition hall.

Last year's Explore was better attended, not as well as the pre-pandemic events, but far, far better than the year before. I suspect that the lack of attendance was due to us coming out of the pandemic and the event's name change, which may have confused some people. During last year's event, there was a lot of talk about whether there would be an event in 2024, but those fears were quickly put to rest as, at the end of the event, it was announced that, yes, there would be an event and that it would again be held in Vegas.

There has been a lot of chatter around the event this year and whether it would be worth attending. The top concerns that I am hearing are that Broadcom's purchase of VMware means that VMware is becoming more focused on enterprise customers and that VMware sold its End-User Computing (EUC) Division, which includes Horizon and AirWatch and is now called Omnissa. Let me tell you why I am not concerned about this chatter.

Yes, everything I have seen and heard suggests that Broadcom seems more focused on enterprise customers. But VMworld and Explore have always catered to them; there were very few sessions that covered the concerns of the smaller customers. That said, I and others have still found the subjects interesting. Even though I do not have hundreds of ESXi servers and thousands of VMs in my environment, the information is still applicable to me, and I have been able to find nuggets of information in the sessions.

I have found the VMware Technical Network (VMTN) a haven for hardcore technical information. Much of the content is geared toward people doing "interesting" things with their VMware and expanding on its capabilities or extending it in unique ways. The VMTN Community will be there this year with Quick Talks and will have fast-paced, 25-minute Quick Talks that allow their community members to share their techniques, learnings and other non-mainstream projects. There are also rumors that the mainstream sessions will be more technical this year and the sessions will be returning to their roots, by having more customers presenting.

On the EUC side, I didn't see any indication that it would be well-represented in sessions this year. Still, many EUC vendors, including big names in the EUC community like 10ZiG, PrinterLogic and NinjaOne, are event sponsors. There is also chatter about various EUC meetups going on during the event.

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Furthermore, it is being held in Vegas. I am not a big fan of Vegas, but it is a great place to have a convention. There is no shortage of flights into and out of town or options and for your lodging there is everything from downright cheap motels to high-end luxury penthouses.

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Lastly, for me, it has always been about the people -- not only the VMware employees but also the VMware community. Finding shared interests and passions can be challenging, and this event allows us to connect with like-minded people and make lifelong connections with them.

Of course, if you get there a few days early or stay a few extra days, check out my blog, "Five (Other) Things to Do in Vegas at VMware Explore 2023!

See you in Vegas, baby Las Vegas!

When the catalog comes out, I will be posting my must-see sessions.

More information about Explore 2024 can be found here.

About the Author

Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 30 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 20 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He previously worked as a Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He also previously worked at VMware in Staff and Senior level positions. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on X @vDoppler.

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