My VMworld 2021 Tips and Top Picks

Written by Sam McGeown
Published on 31/8/2021 - Read in about 6 min (1204 words)
Published under Community #VMworld

I can tell from the ever-increasing urgency of emails from the events team that VMworld 2021 is just around the corner!

Virtual conference event fatigue is real. I have attended and presented at many since the pandemic began, with varying levels of engagement. As an introvert, I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to get pack to meeting up with people in the real world!

The value of a conference is super-charged by the mix of dedicated time, networking opportunities and quality live content. Unfortunately for me a virtual conference tends to be diluted by distractions on-screen (and off) and is missing the key ingredient of those haphazard incidental meetups in the conference center. And whether you prefer on-demand pre-recorded content or not, for me it loses some of it’s appeal when you know the mistakes are edited out. And yes, I edit out my mistakes.

Top Tips

That being said, I still think you should attend VMworld 2021! (Hypocrite! Corporate lackey!) I’m not being paid to say this (although, if someone wants to pay me…) Virtual conferences have value, but I think you have to work harder to get the value from them…so my top tips to get the most from VMworld 2021!

  • Book your time - Block out the calendar if you can, or create appointments for all of the sessions you wish to attend. Set your Out of Office. Set people’s expectations - you’re busy learning!
  • Attend live sessions - there are several types of session that are live, like the Meet the Expert, Panel Discussions, and the Tech+ Tutorials, and in my opinion you’ll get a load more out of these because they can be more interactive, you can ask questions and engage with the presenters.
  • Visit booths - if you’re like me, you quite often have questions about a session or a product that you want to ask, but then don’t bother. Do bother. Come to the booths and chat with the experts who are there. And don’t worry, they will be really happy to have some questions (booth duty can be boring if there are none!)
  • Get on Social Media - Twitter in particular is a great place to connect with others in the real world with the same interests, tag in @vmworld and use the conference hash tags (#VMworld, #VMworldHOL, #VMworld3word and #VMworldselfie). There’s a huge and friendly community out there, vExperts, VMUGs, vBeers - get involved!
  • vBrownbag TechTalks - if you’ve not seen vBrownbag TechTalks before you should definitely take a look at these community-led sessions. Some of the best content every year comes directly from users to this channel!
  • #CodeConnect - or VMware {Code} at VMworld is a more code-focussed event happening on the 5th-6th October and this year the sessions are included in the content catalog. It also includes a Hackathon, which I’ve been involved with in the past and has always been a highlight - jump on a team get involved, I promise you won’t regret it!
  • DevOps Loop at VMworld is a one-day event aimed at the DevOps/ModernApps/Kubernetes community during VMworld. It has a separate registration and agenda, so if this is more your bag, get signed up there!
  • Pick your sessions - sure, you could pick a sessions that are “in your wheelhouse” and you’ll learn some new things…but one of my favourite tricks is to pick sessions that are adjacent or outside my area of expertise. I’m an automation guy, so I pick sessions that will expand my horizon a little even if I’m not going to directly use that info. I really enjoyed a session on Machine Learning and haven’t ever done anything with it, but listening to a talk about how Kubernetes maintains state internally sparked an ongoing learning journey and is a big part of my day-to-day work now. You never know!

My Top 11 Session Picks

Spinal tap - these go to 11!
Spinal tap - these go to 11!

Bearing in mind what I’ve just said about picking sessions to stretch your horizons, here’s some of my top picks from the Session Catalog! (Disclaimer - there are some here who are part of my BU and team…but I am recommending based on interest!) There are 11 sessions here in no particular order…

  • 60 Minutes of Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) 3rd Edition [MCL1853] - Frank Denneman is the (grand)-daddy when it comes to understanding NUMA, processor architecture, scheduling and how vSphere rks with these concepts. I’ve sat in the two previous editions of this session, and I can guarantee you’ll learn!
  • Bake ESXi into your Raspberry Pi [VI1862] - Gareth Edwards is a fellow London VMUGer, but I’d recommend this session anyway! Running ESXi on a Raspberry Pi is way too cool (I run a 4-node cluster!) and this session will be packed with info on how to get going.
  • Continuous Compliance and Vulnerability Management with vRealize Automation [SEC2054] - Karl Fultz and Alex Peay showing off some of the new features in vRA that came with the SaltStack acquisition - I’ve had a play with this and it’s very cool!
  • Introduction to Kubernetes for the vSphere Admin [APP2183] - If you’re relatively new to Kubernetes then this session with Boskey Savla is a must see! Future-proofing for any vSphere Admin!
  • A Guide to vSphere with VMware Tanzu: Day 2 Operations for the VI Admin [APP1718] - Two more UK-based SEs delivering what promises to be a great intro to managing Kubernetes on VMware’s platforms. Simon Conyard and Dean Lewis are good chaps, and this will build nicely on the previous session with Boskey.
  • Stop Container Abuse Now [APP2313] - Dormain Drewitz talking about best practices for building and managing containers…what’s not to like!? If you’re coming to this sort of work from the VI admin side, there’s plenty to learn!
  • Meet the Experts: Event-Driven Config Management Using vRealize Automation SaltStack Config [MCL1934] - Vincent Riccio and Nicholas Aronne digging into the event-driven config management that SaltStack brings to vRA. This is your chance to meet the experts and ask those tough questions!
  • Meet the Experts: VMware Tanzu Basic and VMware Tanzu Standard [APP1663] - Tom Schwaller and Kendrick Coleman will answer your questions on the broader strokes of the VMware Tanzu family.
  • Meet the Experts: Tanzu Kubernetes Grid [APP2436]- Pick the brains of two experts on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, Tim Carr and Eric Shanks.
  • A Field Guid to Health Check vSAN to Operate, Upgrade and Transform [MCL1825] - Paul McSharry is a total legend, an excellent communicator and a really nice guy. Oh, and he knows his beans! If you’re operating vSAN then this is a session you will not want to miss!
  • Extreme Performance Series: vSphere Advanced Performance Boot Camp [MCL2033] - These extreme performance series are always interesting and Mark Achtemichuk and Valentin Bondzio promise to bring some deep knowledge to boot!

My sessions!

Finally, if you’re not overloaded with all that cracking content you can catch me with various co-speakers at the following sessions!

  • An End-to-End Demo of Day 0 to Day 2 VMware Tanzu Management with vRealize [APP1586]
  • Kubernetes Monitoring Starting from Day 0 [APP1589]
  • DevSecOps for Infrastructure – Adopting DevOps Practices for vSphere Admins [APP1842]
  • Pipelining Tanzu Kubernetes Clusters [CODE2805]
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