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Looking Back on VMworld -- The Good, The Bad

Going into this year's VMworld in San Francisco, I had an open mind about the entire event with the intention that I would critique it publicly the week after. Here we are and I can say that VMworld overall was good. Before the start of the week, I was pretty sure that there was not going to be any ground-breaking announcement directly from VMware. I do, however, respect the early workings of possibly some big things with the vCloud API, client hypervisors and where the SpringSource acquisition can go with infrastructure integration.

The sessions were good for those interested in deep-down information about a specific technology. For me that included vSphere topics on performance, AppSpeed/ and others. The organization was good, and unlike Las Vegas last year, the surrounding area was pleasant and chic. Las Vegas is one of the places that can get weird after a bit, especially if you start to think it is real.

My main complaint is that the VMworld events in North America are limited to Western U.S. destinations. The flagship virtualization conference will return to San Francisco again in 2010 before rehashing in Copenhagen in October of 2010 for the newly positioned VMworld Europe. For a North American venue, San Francisco makes great sense. It is close to Palo Alto, which means the VMware staff can provide good support without too much disruption from traveling. San Francisco is a city that many cities in the U.S. can enjoy non-stop flight service to, which is imperative to the site selection process for an event of this size. Further, there are many low-cost flight options to the region, including into Oakland and San Jose.

From a facilities standpoint, the Moscone Center and lab arrangement at the San Francisco Marriott were okay. I thought the long walk between facilities was a minor issue, but the consensus is that it was a better arrangement than in 2007, when all events were in the Moscone Center. It was nice to walk outside a bit also for fresh air. That separation may have diluted traffic into the Solutions Exchange area, with attendees spending more time in between sessions near the lab facilities. The traffic is important to the exhibitors, as the spots are pricey.

There are plenty of other venues that could support the conference in the Eastern half of the United States. I understand why there is a home-field preference for San Francisco for logistical reasons. Yet the show has traveled in the past. A central or Eastern U.S. destination may attract a new market of attendees who may be able to carve out the staff training time and registration fees, yet can't swallow the airfare and hotel costs in some situations.

For those who could not make it to VMworld this year, I still encourage you to go for it in the future. It is a great networking event and there is a lot of good information exchanged at all levels. Share your comments below or drop me a note.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 09/08/2009 at 12:47 PM


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