This is the first year where I’ve attended both VMworld conferences, and my first over the US. There are a lot of similarities, and a lot of differences. I’ve gotten the question many times during the last couple of weeks “Which one is better?” and I’d like to offer my view on the both, and perhaps you can decide which one you’ll attend next year.
Let’s start with VMworld San Francisco. It’s huge. And by huge, I mean really huge. The amount of people inside the three buildings is just crazy, 22500+ people attended this year. The amount of attendees of course draw in more partners and vendors as well to show off their goods and services, and I spent a good deal of the week talking to people around the Solutions Exchange. I even got to try out some very rare gear, the Google Glass, which was very cool 🙂
Lots of great partners, vendors and startups in the Solutions Exchange, so make sure you walk around for a few hours to learn what everyone has to offer (and for lots of chances to win tablets, phones, laptops and other gear). It was great to see so many NSX partners and automation tools vendors out there, and their booths were filled pretty much all the time.
The keynotes were great. By now I think you all know what was said, but basically it was all around the SDDC and how to build it, vCloud Hybrid Service and Automation. One thing I really liked was that they spent maximum 2 minutes on what’s new in vSphere 5.5. It really shows that the hypervisor is stable, secure and what’s been added is mostly making it stronger and better. Features? Sure. Let’s handle them in a breakout session, we have more interesting things to cover. Love it.
San Francisco is a great city to be in, with lots to see and do when out of the conference. Getting around after the conference though, around 6PM, is a nightmare. Prepare to be stuck in traffic, so plan ahead and book your hotel early near the conference, preferably within walking distance.
The party in San Francisco was just nuts. As this was the 10th year of VMworld they went all out. An entire stadium filled to the brim with virtualization aficionados listening to two(!) bands, Imagine Dragons and Train. It was beautiful 🙂
I also took the time to visit the VMware facilities in Palo Alto on the last day of VMworld. It was very empty, but beautiful. Lots of recycled material, new buildings being built, and I got to hug the VMware sign 🙂
Let’s move over to Barcelona. This was the 6th year that VMworld has been held in Europe, first two was in Cannes, number three and four in Copenhagen and now the last two in Barcelona. Where will we end up next year? Who knows?
VMworld Barcelona was larger that any earlier VMworld in Europe, approximately 8500 attendees! I think it’s amazing that so many people from so many countries covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa take the time to get to one of the largest events of all year to network, contribute and learn. Great stuff 🙂
EMC of course had a large presence, with a presentation area, a Genius Bar, and a Hands-On Labs (Interactive Demos is the politically correct naming) area with lots of demos that you could play around with. Since I’ve now moved to the Office of the CTO at EMC I was responsible to show some of the innovative solutions that we’ve been involved in, such as automated NSX bandwidth scaling for VPLEX and the Hadoop Starter Kit with Hadoop, VMware Big Data Extensions (Serengeti) and Isilon.
In Barcelona there were not as many startups as in San Francisco, but I did find a very interesting VMware R&D Booth (perhaps it was present in SF as well but in that case I must’ve missed it). Four really cool solutions were showcased there, out of which two really piqued my interest.
The first one handled automated application scaling (cool) using Hyperic to get application metrics (cooler) together with machine learning (ok now we’re moving towards Skynet territory). The machine learning part measures the application metrics fed by Hyperic and decides if the choices that were made earlier improved or worsened the situation, and learns from it’s mistakes and successes so it knows what to do next time a similar situation arises. Just amazing!
The second one was around using graph databases (my favourite type of database) to map the virtual infrastructure relationships in a proper manner instead of relying of massive amounts of CSV-files and Excel-hacking. With this, it is easily shown that an ESXi-host currently have access to 80+ VLANs, you can get the CPU count on all VMs that have 20GB+ storage, and make a list of all the virtual networks that are configured with Jumbo Frames on VLAN 65. Very powerful stuff, and I was just thinking “Why hasn’t this been done before?!”. Can’t wait to see this incorporated into a product somewhere. Oh, and if you want to see some live examples of what a graph database is, have a look here.
During VMworld I was also able to get a great EUC and Automation team discussion going, with the ByteLife team that has created an automated VMware View Disaster Recovery engine that I’ve written about earlier, together with EUC experts @erikzandboer, @theSANzone and @Jon_2vcps.
Also, who can forget the labs? In Barcelona over 35000 VMs were created over the course of four days (crazy!), with lots of people choosing the BYOD area for relaxed lab taking, and I’ve heard one of the most popular lab was around VMware NSX, the network virtualization product that was launched in San Francisco. It really shows the interest that the attendees have in this new part of the Software-Defined Data Center.
Last but not least, it was also the first year me and Magnus Nilsson (@swevm) got to present at VMworld. We did a session called “VCM5472 – vCO say hi to Razor and Software-Defined Storage” where we showed how to use vCO’s workflow engine to tie together PuppetLabs Razor to provision compute resources and EMC’s ViPR to provision storage resources, all in one complete workflow started from the vSphere WebGUI. It was a lot of fun, and lots of great questions and discussions were had during and after the session.
So which one should you attend? I’d say both as they are so much fun. But I you can only visit one, I’d say take the one that gets you least jetlagged, as you want to be up early and connect, learn and discuss as much as possible. Both are really good conferences, and you don’t really miss out if you’re not going to both.
Finally, thank you so much to everyone that attended our session, had a discussion with me or were great to me at a bar, you made VMworld in both San Francisco and Barcelona incredible events, and I hope to meet you all again next year!