Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of conferences. For the first time, I’ve decided to write up a critique of a conference from the perspective of an attendee. VMworld 2012 was, overall, an incredible show with a vendor exhibit show, which, alone, was worth the time spent on travel to San Francisco. Here are some of my thoughts on the show as a whole. I’m not commenting on all of the content of the conference (i.e. keynotes) as those thoughts will be written up in separate posts.
So much to see, so little time
VMworld has grown into a massive show. It’s simply not possible to see everything at the show. Even before going to VMworld this year, I had grand plans for what I hoped to accomplish while present, but they were soon dashed, but I’m far from disappointed. Although almost a week at the show sounds like a lot of time, between meeting with vendors, catching up with colleagues, attending “networking opportunities” (aka parties) and working throughout the week to keep my thoughts written down, I managed to stay busier at VMworld 2012 than I have for any other conference ever.
It’s a testament to the folks that plan the event that there is simply so much to do. If an attendee leaves the conference and doesn’t see the value, they’re doing something wrong.
The vendor floor was great, but…
One of my favorite parts of shows is the vendor floor. I love walking around and seeing what vendors have brought to the show and VMworld 2012 was no exception. This year, there were a ton of storage vendors, a number of vendors selling orchestration solutions intended to simplify IT as well as most of the big players that one would expect to see at such a show.
Outside of meetings with vendors, I spent a good chunk of my time on the show floor.
My primary concern with the vendor floor revolved around the behavior of some of the vendors. More than once, my lanyard was grabbed and scanned without my consent. Further, some vendors wandered far away from the confines of their booth and got in the way of people attempting to visit neighboring booths. Both of these activities are frustrating. If I was grabbed and scanned, I probably wasn’t interested in the product anyway and now I’ll have to fend off sales calls for the next six months.
I understand that vendors pay a lot of money to display their wares at the event and they need to demonstrate a return on their marketing investment, but ambushing unsuspecting attendees, while it may technically count as a lead, won’t really result in a sale, so it didn’t really generate anything positive.
Hang space created great networking opportunities
I love the hang space. There, I ran into a huge number of people with whom I had great conversations and I also met a great number of new people there. It was also in the hang space where I made my first appearance on The Cube with Stu Miniman, an experience that I enjoyed greatly!
I was also happy to see a container full of Choco Tacos in the hang space. Although I’m watching what I eat a bit, I couldn’t resist!
The food was unacceptable
This was the only part of the conference that was a huge let down. Lunch was simply inedible to the point of being disgusting and I finally gave up and just ate elsewhere. While I normally wouldn’t complain about something trivial, with so much to do and see, it would have been more convenient to want to eat the provided food. I’m hoping that planners next year address this issue, which was a complaint among many of the attendees.
I wish I could have gone to a session!
I had grand plans to attend a bunch of sessions, but got so wrapped up in networking opportunities that I simply couldn’t. That said, the networking opportunities are powerful and the sessions are available online, so I made a conscious decision to focus on people rather than sessions.
Again, it’s a testament to the popularity of the show that I wasn’t able to make it to a session. I spoke with a number of people who said the same thing, too. There was so much else to do that sessions ended up being of lower importance.
My week at VMworld was an extremely rewarding one and I thank everyone with whom I met for their time and camaraderie. I learned a whole lot this week and will be assimilating it all in the coming weeks.