VMware Explore 2023 Europe: A Day-by-Day Recap
VMware Explore Europe 2023 was held Nov. 7-9 in Barcelona at the Fira Gran Via Conference Centre, which I fortunately attended as an employee and presenter of ControlUp. Although no official head count was provided, most people that I talked to thought that the event drew around 9,000 VMware customers and partners. This number seems to equal the number of attendees at VMware Explore America in Las Vegas in October.
Below is my day-by-day recap of the event.
Tuesday, Nov.7 -- Private AI, Google Cloud Collaboration, Sovereign Cloud, More
The event started with the General Session (watch it here). VMware underscored its commitment to guiding customers and partners in adopting a cloud-smart, architected approach to multi-cloud and digital transformation. Addressing the challenges posed by the advent of generative AI and the focal point seemed to be on Private AI -- a strategy designed to balance the business advantages derived from AI and organizations desire to balance privacy and compliance requirements. In collaboration with key partners such as IBM, Intel and NVIDIA, VMware said it is actively bringing Private AI into the enterprise sphere, fostering an expanded ecosystem that enhances flexibility and choice for its customers and partners.
Recognizing the pivotal role of data as the driving force behind AI innovation, VMware announced a deeper collaboration with Google Cloud. This collaboration aims to deliver Google Cloud's AlloyDB Omni database on VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF). This strategic move empowers organizations to modernize their existing databases and develop cutting-edge generative AI applications through an enterprise-grade, PostgreSQL-compatible database that separates the database from the storage layer. VMware customers can apply for Early Access to this Program.
In addition to these collaborative endeavors, VMware introduced new capabilities, expanded its global reach and presented ecosystem solutions to assist VMware Sovereign Cloud partners. These initiatives are designed to empower customers by enhancing agility, fortifying resilience and accelerating innovation. Throughout the event, VMware reinforced its desire to be at the forefront of cloud, applications, edge computing and most importantly AI.
Another interesting technology that was announced was software-defined memory tiering (SDMT), which pools memory tiers across VMware hosts to deliver flexible, resilient memory management that will allow for better price-performance for data-hungry real-time workloads like AI/ML.
Although AI was the event's focus VMware did announce other technologies. One that caught my eye was their new vSphere Distributed Services Engine (DSE) in VCF 5.0. This allows the offloading of network and other functions from traditional CPUs to Data Processing Units (DPUs). This allows for quicker transactions and reduces the load on a server's CPU. I wish they would have addressed how this will be licensed and more on how it will be managed.
On this, the first day of the conference, I presented two sessions; one was with my coworker Joel Stocker called Troubleshooting Desktops Just Got Less Expensive, Faster, and Easier! [EUS2151BCNS] while the other was a solo VMTN session called What the Hell Is Wrong with Your Horizon Client? [VMTN2217LV]. Both were well attended and a lot of fun to do.
The Expo floor had booths from the sponsors of Explore and others in the VMware ecosystem. The booths seemed a little bit more spread out than in previous years, which was nice. The booths were busy with people seeing and demoing the latest products VMware and others.
Wednesday, Nov. 9 -- From Outer Space to Global Ocean Sailing
Most attendees spent the day going to sessions to learn about VMware products. But the Modern-Day Explorers keynote session was well attended. At this keynote Alastair Humphreys, Sarah Cruddas, and Dee Caffari shared their personal stories of growth and success where they talked about everything from outer space to global ocean sailing. I enjoy these keynotes and find them inspirational.
In the afternoon, at the reception, a group of people constructed human towers known as "castells." It was pretty cool!
The VMware party was held 7-9 p.m. After that I and a couple hundred other people attended the EUC after hours party, which was put on by ControlUp, Microsoft, Stratodesk, 10ZiG, Rimo3 and other leaders in the EUC space.
Thursday, Nov. 9 -- Analyzing Horizon User Experience Using Free Tools on VMware TestDrive
The event wrapped up at 2pm on Wednesday. The activity at the expo hall was muted but there were still plenty of good sessions. One of my favorites was put on by Benny Tritsch entitled Analyzing Horizon User Experience Using Free Tools on VMware TestDrive [EUSB2093BCN].
There has been a lot of speculation about whether, after Broadcom acquires VMware, there will be any more VMware Explore's. VMware put those fears to rest (at least for another year) as VMware announced that VMware Explore 2024 Europe would be held Nov. 4-7, 2024, at the Fira Gran Via. Hopefully, I will see you there!
Many of the sessions were recorded and can viewed online for free, but you will need to create a free account. The catalog of inline sessions can be found here.
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 currently works as a Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He 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.