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An Exclusive Inside Look from VMware at What to Expect at VMworld 2015

It's hard to believe that in less than two weeks, 23,000+ fellow virtualization enthusiasts could be descending upon the already populated streets of San Francisco to participate in the world's largest virtualization trade show -- VMworld 2015.

VMworld officially kicks off on August 30th, and the fun doesn't stop until sometime September 3rd (although some may continue the fun with a lengthy stay over into the weekend, and who could blame them). 

What's planned this year?  How will VMware raise the bar even higher once again from the previous year's event?  In an attempt to dig a little deeper and find out more information about this year's show, I spoke with Jeff Spicer, Vice President, Digital Marketing, VMware, who graciously provided me with additional insight and valuable advice for attendees ahead of the show.

[ Watch live coverage from VMblog during VMworld 2015 on the Events page ]

 

VMblog:  This year's VMworld theme or tagline is "Ready for ANY."  What does that mean to VMware?

Jeff Spicer: "Ready for Any" demonstrates the endless possibilities of technology that customers can implement anytime and anywhere, to solve virtually any IT problem. In summary, it means:

  • Ready with our One Cloud, Any Applications, Any Device architecture, which empowers our customers to develop, deploy and consume all applications, quickly and securely.
  • Ready for a unified hybrid cloud that allows our customers to innovate like a startup and execute like an enterprise.
  • Ready to transform business processes with business mobility.

VMblog:  Can you talk about the key benefits (to either attendees attending or exhibitors sponsoring or both) of VMworld?

Spicer: VMworld brings together thought leaders, subject matter experts, and IT professionals to immerse themselves in the latest in virtualization, cloud technology and business mobility. The show will also help attendees and exhibitors realize the value of VMware's products, through interactive sessions and networking opportunities with our partner ecosystem.

  • In-depth training and hands-on experience. Attendees can choose from more than 400 technical and content-rich sessions and labs covering the latest in virtualization innovations in the data center for storage, networking, security, management, workforce mobility and hybrid cloud services.
  • Product research and analysis. In the Solutions Exchange, attendees can review the latest competitive solutions side-by-side with 248 sponsors and exhibitors.
  • Networking with industry experts. Attendees can learn strategies for achieving our top IT priorities and be able to compare notes with other IT professionals.

VMblog:  One of the great things about VMworld is the ecosystem that shows up.  How many exhibitors are you expecting this year?  

Spicer: We are expecting 248 sponsors and exhibitors this year.   

VMblog:  And how does that number compare to previous years at this point in the calendar year?  Is it growing?  Shrinking?  Changing? 

Spicer: This year we are sold out on exhibit space for the first time ever. We have roughly the same number of sponsors and exhibitors as we have in previous years but many more sponsors have signed up for the highest sponsorship levels.

VMblog:  What would you say to business owners who have considered exhibiting this year, but for whatever reason have not?

Spicer: In 2015, VMworld's portfolio pairs endless networking opportunities with best-in-class education- all with the Solutions Exchange floor at the heart of the event. With this in mind VMworld is the perfect opportunity for businesses of all sizes to exhibit their own solutions while also networking with others in the space.

VMblog:  Last year was another record number of attendees.  How many attendees are you expecting this year?  And how do you keep topping the number of attendees year after year?  What's been the key to success for VMworld?  

Spicer: We look forward to hosting 23,000 attendees this year.  Attendees tell us year after year the content is the single most important element of VMworld, and we work to constantly evolve our program to meet the product use and technical needs of our attendees.

VMblog:  Do you have any special tips to share with first time attendees of the show?

Spicer: We have a number of resources available for first-time attendees to help them navigate their first year at the show. These resources include our content catalogue and schedule builder, which can be found here: http://www.vmworld.com/en/us/new-to-vmworld.html

VMblog:  How many speaking submissions did you receive this year compared to last year in your call for presentations?  And how difficult of a process was it this year to select the final list of presentations?   

Spicer: The 2014 and 2015 Call for Papers both drove more than 1,400 submissions. We had more than 350 internal, partner, and customer subject-matter experts vote for two weeks straight and cast more than 9,000 votes and comments. All of this in conjunction with our public voting tool, ultimately drove the selection of the sessions you see on the agenda today. The process is difficult because there are so many excellent submissions. The good news is that each year we look to create new and innovative ways of delivering content. This year, we're introducing "Quick Talks" - akin to TED Talks - they're short, 30 minute max, sessions that cut to the heart of a subject. Check them out and let us know what you think.

VMblog:  How are VMware's technologies being put to use during VMworld?

Spicer: As we've done in years past, VMware technologies will be used as part of our Hands-On Labs to demonstrate the real value of VMware solutions in real time. VMworld attendees gain special access to the latest VMware technologies without requiring the purchase of equipment, software, or licenses. Attendees explore topics such as the Software-Defined Data Center, Enterprise Mobility and the Hybrid Cloud with a VMware-provided keyboard or their own device, and experiment in the lab for 60-90 minutes.

VMblog:  Is there anything new going on behind the scenes for the popular hands-on-labs this year?

Spicer: New for VMworld 2015, we will have the Experts Exchange, a pre-lab experience that will give attendees access to Hands-on Labs product experts without enrolling in a workshop or taking a lab at a traditional workstation. Users can bring their own devices and questions to focused content stations where discussions will center on various topics of interest. Each station will be staffed by VMware experts who are eager to discuss, whiteboard and go through the labs with you.

Something else new this year is that attendees can get HOL achievement badges by taking labs at Partner Exchange and VMworld. Attendees will have the ability to take an HOL and have it count toward their Partner University credits, leaderboard standing, and 2015 VTSP accreditations. Attendees can take any lab in the exclusive Hands-on Lab catalog and their account in Partner University will be reflected to display their credits. The achievement badges status will be updated within 10 business days after Partner Exchange.

VMblog:  Every year, it feels like you guys make more things available to folks who are physically unable to attend VMworld.  What's planned for social or online experiences this year for folks attending or trying to participate at home or from the office?

Spicer: This year we'll be streaming the Day One and Day Two General Sessions Live so those who can't be with us in person can hear all the VMware strategy updates and announcements shared during those sessions. There will also be a community online to support our efforts around DevOps at the physical event. Lastly, we encourage those who can't attend to follow our social media channels and website for up to date information, photos and conversations at VMworld.

VMblog:  I always like to find out, did you receive any attendee feedback from last year's event that you've incorporated into the show this year? 

Spicer: Yes, and more than ever before! In addition to our normal surveys associated with VMworld, we initiated several research projects last Fall.  We talked to research firms about trends and best practices for large events.  Most helpful though was hearing from attendees (customers and partners) about what drives them to VMworld, what elements of the conference are important to them, and their suggestions to make it even better. 

As a result of that input, we made some changes to this year's program in terms of content and session formats, added new functionality to our mobile app, and learned how to better communicate with some of our specific audience profiles. For example, first time attendees are always surprised at the popularity of our breakout sessions and not always know the value of many of the VMworld programs until they arrive on site.  So, we are now communicating more with them, sharing tips about scheduling and how to make the most of VMworld.

VMblog:  Are there any new trends in the industry that people should be aware of or should keep their eyes and ears on the lookout for anytime during the show?

Spicer: There are a number of new trends in the industry that we will be exploring further during VMworld 2015. Attendees should be on the lookout for discussions around unified platforms, hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, hybrid cloud offerings, containers and business mobility.

VMblog:  VMworld always proves to be a good time no matter where it's hosted. This year, it's once again in San Francisco. What types of social events should people be prepared for this year? And have you set up a way for people attending the show to stay in touch with one another? 

Spicer: VMworld is packed with great networking events including our Welcome Reception, Hall Crawl and VMworld Party, back at AT&T Park this year! VMware's biggest bash is our attendees' chance to let loose and celebrate their time at VMworld 2015 and this year's party features the bands Neon Trees and Alabama Shakes. It will take place on Wednesday evening, 7:30PM - 10:30PM and give attendees the opportunity to network, relax, and have fun with friends and colleagues.

Additionally, there are multiple receptions and social events taking place outside of the Moscone Center and are shared on our Gatherings page. Our social engagement spikes when we are on-site at VMworld and we encourage our attendees to connect on their social platforms to stay in touch and updated on all that is happening at VMworld.

###

A special thank you to Jeff Spicer, Vice President, Digital Marketing, VMware, for taking time out to speak to VMblog about the upcoming VMworld 2015 event.

 

Published Wednesday, August 19, 2015 7:07 AM by David Marshall
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