Virtualization is putting a layer of abstraction between your resources to make them more efficient. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I believe that VMware has achieved this point with their social media efforts at VMworld 2010 in San Francisco. What I mean by this is that social media was a fully embedded “function” throughout the execution of the event, rather than a flashy showcase or single event. Communities have long been a strength of the VMware ecosystem, and social media (specifically blogs, Twitter, wikis and video) w-re used effectively by VMware and many partners at the show.
The true innovators of the show were our hosts from VMware. John Troyer stands above the rest (yes he’s really tall, beloved by the community, and a PhD to boot) and he had huge behind-the-scenes support from Tony Dunn, Luke Kilpatrick and many more. A nice touch was the great setup of tables at the keynote for bloggers. The blogger’s lounge was a great place to bump into people (I believe that I met over 100 people that I follow on Twitter there throughout the week), and there were tons of scheduled and impromptu gatherings. The Monday night Tweetup was impressive, with sponsors who provided pre-printed name tags and an open bar. VMware’s CTO Steve Herrod also engaged intimately with the community including chatting with the bloggers before the keynote and having a special meeting with all of the vExperts.
The battle over the acquisition of 3PAR was definitely one of the most talked about subjects of the week; the HP, Dell and 3PAR attendees watched their words closely. HP and Dell both have vibrant social media programs that engaged well with the VMware community online, in their booths and throughout the show. I got to spend some time talking with Marc Farley, HP’s Calvin Zito and Ken Henault, and Dell’s Kong Yang, Jeff Sullivan, Scott Hanson and Andrew Gilman – great to see active social media advocates flourishing in all three of the companies. There were so many fantastic people that I got to talk with that I can’t mention, but most of them are on the TweepML list for VMworld which I curated from the VMworld wiki, so go ahead and follow everyone.
Video Anywhere, Anytime, Any Scale
Video has been a growing wave in the social media space and it was available in every imaginable format at VMworld. VMware has used live video to share the experience for those who can not attend. Last year the keynotes were available live and John Troyer hosted a UStream chat. This year, VMware upgraded the offering by bringing in SiliconANGLE.tv (pictured left to right, Wikibon co-founder Dave Vellante, EMC President and COO Pat Gelsinger and SiliconANGLE founder John Furrier) which provided 3 1/2 days of live broadcasting videos with tons of executives, thought leaders and customers telling their proof points. Compellent used video, live Twitter chats and some good viral messaging showcasing Heineken as a customer. Kudos to Liem Nguyen and team for using beer to catch the eye and independent voices like Phil Jaenke (@rootwyrm) to get the message out rather than booth babes or raffles. EMC and Cisco have a vested interest in storing and transmitting video, and both have excellent professional crews (disclaimer – I’ve known both crews for years and they treat me very well – see my videos from VMworld w/ EMC on the journey to the private cloud and Cisco blogger round-up of convergence, VMworld awards and more). And between Flip video cameras, iPhones and Android phones, everyone else was walking around with video cameras, too. There is a VMworld TV channel, and lots of videos tagged VMworld 2010 on YouTube (here’s my channel), but we still need a better way to find, sort and consume video, similar to what we can do for blogs, Twitter and other news.
Past the Hype and Into Productivity
While there will always be the next new shiny object or application to gush about, the big takeaway of VMworld 2010 for me from a social perspective was people were using the tools more than talking about them. While most companies have a long way to fully embedding social into their culture and processes, VMware’s VMworld showed that events can have a multi-dimensional social media offering that supports and amplifies the messaging of the event. Speaking with John Troyer, he said that this was the “best VMworld ever”; that being said, we can all learn and iterate from our experiences. Last year I had John share his lessons learned with an internal EMC audience, which helped with EMC World planning and led to more ideas for VMworld this year. In the true spirit of social innovation, John has agreed to share his thoughts and lessons learned with the community in the coming weeks. Companies should plan early to allow for a comprehensive offering of social and video that engages the relevant communities and reaches larger audiences.
UPDATE: Video below of John Troyer discussing this topic on the Live SiliconANGLE video.