VMworld 2012: Day 1.5

I’m going to try to keep a running blog of my personal experience at VMworld, but we’ll see how that goes once I start diving into the tech and get backlogged on posts. I arrived in San Francisco Saturday evening after a long, 6 hour drive up from LA and got checked into my hotel. One of the first things I noticed about this town is the drastic difference in temperature from home. A windy 60° here is nothing like sunny Southern California. I’m chilled to the bone already. Second thing, driving here sucks. A lot. But I digress, on to the conference!

Day .5: Arrival
I took a walk from my hotel, the Serrano, down towards the Moscone Center to get a feel for where I was going the next day to register and join in the festivities. The walk is about 3/4 mile and not too bad, I could use the exercise anyway. As was to be expected, the city was busy and the streets were crowded. It almost made me miss working in downtown Philly and walking from Market East to my office every day.

The Moscone Center was dimly lit since everything had already shut down for the day but you could see the characteristic green and blue patterns that have become synonymous with VMware hanging in all the windows and on the light poles. One little funny thing that caught my eye on the walk over was all of the Oracle advertisements for their VM solution on top of many of the city cabs, something we’re starting to see more and more of (just like HP plastering the rickshaws in San Diego for Cisco Live this year). This is also when I decided to check the VMware mobile app (read: mobile website) for what kind of information they have available.

I understand the ease of building a mobile site that is accessible across a wide array of devices, but conference wifi is notoriously bad and not having a native app that caches info could prove to be problematic… I guess we’ll see as the week goes on.

Day 1: Checking In
I decided the night before I was going to sleep in a bit, which was an exercise in futility, but ended up channel surfing, catching up on some RSS reading, and lurking around twitter to see if there was anyone I knew in attendance all morning. To my delight, Josh O’Brien (@joshobrien77) was arriving late in the morning and we met up to register and grab a bite. The registration was quite easy.

I walked up to one of nearly 3 dozen "Self Check-in" stations, entered my first and last name, then clicked "Okay" and was prompted to proceed to a designated manned station for my badge. For those of us with "Blogger" credentials, there was yet another area we were ushered to in order to get our badge. From there you move over to the "Materials Pickup" and they scan your badge (RFID, not barcode) to get your bag full of goodies ("unbagging" post coming soon). All in all, it took less than 5 minutes. Of course, that may be related to the fact that the line for the Hands on Labs was over 2 hours long and it appeared everyone else had already checked in. After a quick stop over in the Solutions Exchange (which as a blogger I could not enter yet) we went to grab some lunch.

Welcome Reception and Solutions Exchange
At 4:00pm the Solutions Exchange opened for vendors to tout their latest and greatest while scanning badges and giving away swag. I didn’t show up until almost 5:00. Why? Because I wasn’t going to stand in line. I took my time and roamed around, avoiding drive-by badge swipings, and got a feel for who I wanted to talk to. After a lap or two I was ready to dive in and start asking questions. The main booths I hit today were Nutanix, Bluecat Networks, Solarwinds, and Riverbed. Each one had something that intrigued me a bit and I wanted to know more about for various projects I am either planning or proposing. Except for Solarwinds, I was stopping by there to say hi and pick up some pins (I run virtually every Solarwinds product under the sun in my production network). I grabbed a little bit of food and drink to keep me moving, which was an excellent spread. Once I got the business done, I started gathering all the various tchotchkes that were available at the cost of your soul a badge swipe.

At 7:00, when the floor was closing, I grabbed my swag and headed back to the hotel.

Having a badge that says "Blogger" may be the greatest thing in the world. Most vendors didn’t swoon like they do to the normal attendees. Maybe they’re scared, maybe they didn’t want to misspeak "on the record," maybe I’m scary, maybe I looked cheap, I don’t care. It was nice.

Now here I am sitting in my room, gearing up for tomorrow and jotting down some ideas for various posts (something about the vendors listed above maybe?).

*This is my first trip to VMworld and already I feel a bit like a fish out of water. As a fairly social network engineer with a large group of people I interact with on Twitter, Cisco Live has always been a fun trip that felt more like friends getting together with some tech thrown in. This time around, very few people I know are attending, so it appears I’m virtually (see what I did there?) on my own.

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