VMworld 2018 – The Highs and Lows – Part Two

In my previous post I wrote about the lows in my lead up to VMworld 2018. After making a few necessary changes to my travel itinerary I was now ready to board the plane for the long haul to Las Vegas.

Aussie vMafia

The first highlight of my trip was seeing some familiar faces upon arrival to my hotel in Las Vegas. The 6 weeks leading up to this point had been tough, and to finally reach Las Vegas and VMworld was a huge relief. Catching up with the Aussie vMafia crew, Matt Allford, Mark Ukotic & Anthony Spiteri, shortly after arrival really put me at ease and allowed me to put the events of the last 6 weeks out of mind, even if it were just for a short period of time. Thanks guys for all your support.

VMworld Hackathon

This year was my first opportunity to attend the VMworld Hackathon. I had always wanted to see what people got up to at this event however with some big names headlining some big parties, I was still in two minds as to whether I was really going to commit to it.

In the end, given that I was still recovering from a heavy night of drinking from the night before, I thought it would be best to go easy and to use the opportunity to meet some new people in a far more relaxed atmosphere.

Mark Ukotic was the main driver for me attending the Hackathon. He had been keen to get a team together to work on his idea of incorporating a PowerCLI console within the vSphere HTML5 client. Our team name was ‘vMafia 2.0’ which stemmed from our VMworld crew and some other vCommunity members back home in the Australia. I even went to the effort of getting some t-shirts made up with our slogan “We use Resource Pools as Folders”.

Mark and I kicked off the night with just the two of us seated at our assigned table. I utilised the time to follow Mark’s instructions in setting up the PowerCLI console in the vCenter of my home lab, whilst Mark worked on trying to incorporate my As Built Report into the project. We were one of 12 or so teams all vying for the Hackathon trophy, however it was also a great opportunity to enjoy the company of like minded vCommunity members and grab some free food and beers.

Eventually our remaining team members, Matt and Anthony, decided to turn up to provide us with some moral support for the presentation. Each team was given two minutes to present their project, so we left it up to Mark to perform the duties. Listening through all the submissions, it was evident we were in a room full of some very intelligent people, with some very cool projects and ideas. When it came to the winner announcements we didn’t hold much hope for even a placing, however to our complete surprise we were announced as the Hackathon winners!

Virtually Speaking Podcast

After taking the Hackathon crown and our new VMware {code} jackets we began to make our way back to our hotels for some much needed rest, at least that’s what I thought we were doing. Instead Anthony had organised for us to have a few celebratory drinks at the Eye Candy Bar in Mandalay Bay. It was here we were introduced to Pete Flecha and Glenn Sizemore, hosts of the Virtually Speaking Podcast. We got chatting over some drinks and shared with Pete and Glenn the project idea which won us the Hackathon.

It was now after 1am, Glenn wanted a demo, so I fired up the laptop and connected back in to my lab at home in Melbourne and showed him Mark’s winning idea. He loved it! He and Pete then invited us on to their podcast the following day. You can listen to the interview here on iTunes.

Whilst discussing the Hackathon win, I also took the opportunity to tell Pete & Glenn about my project, As Built Report. Both Glenn & Pete loved the project and wanted to also include this in their podcast, so Matt & I were booked in for another podcast interview the following day. Not only was it a pleasure to meet Pete & Glenn, but to be invited to be on their podcast twice was certainly a highlight of my VMworld experience. Thanks guys for having us on!

Tony Hawk & Rodney Mullen

I grew up with a love of skateboarding, however I was never that good at it. That did not stop me idolizing the pioneers of skating and members of the Bones Brigade, Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen & Steve Caballero. When I saw that Tony & Rodney were going to be at VMworld I started thinking about buying some of their re-issued Powell Peralta decks to have them signed. Regrettably I gave up on that idea, thinking I wouldn’t even get close to them. How wrong I was. On Tuesday afternoon in the Solutions Exchange, I joined the line in front of the IBM stand to meet and greet the two biggest pioneers and legends of skateboarding!

Upon meeting Tony, I said hello and told him how much I had admired what he had done for skateboarding. Before he could even say thanks, he turned to me and said “You’re from Melbourne aren’t you?” I was dumbfounded. An Australian accent is not that hard to pick, however to pick the city is unbelievable! More so considering I was born in Sydney and have only lived in Melbourne the last 10 years. I managed to get a quick photo with Tony and a signed skating photo before moving across to Rodney. Rodney is the god of freestyle, and a very genuine and friendly human being. Again I thanked him for all that he has brought to skateboarding, grabbed a photo and a signed portrait of the man. It was an honour and absolute highlight to meet these two legends.

VMworld Breakout Session

When the VMworld 2018 call for papers went out back in February, I hadn’t even given a thought to presenting anything at VMworld. I was simply interested in knowing whether my boss would let me attend this year. However fast forward 4 weeks and I had now presented to the Melbourne VMUG UserCon on my little side project to automate as built documentation. It was well received by the small audience, enough so that I thought it might actually be a topic that the attendees of VMworld might actually be interested in.

So in mid March I submitted my session “Documenting Your Virtual Infrastructure using PowerShell and PowerCLI” for VMworld 2018. It was a long 3 month wait, however in June I received the following email.

Congratulations! We are happy to announce that your session proposal(s) has/have been accepted for VMworld US, taking place at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV from August 26 – 30, 2018.

The VMworld Content Team

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to a) have a session accepted for VMworld and b) fill a room with a global audience of over 500 people!

Prior to VMworld, my only other two public speaking gigs had been at the Melbourne VMUG. To now take to the stage in front of a global audience was truly a career highlight and one that I won’t forget in a hurry. Remarkably, once I got started on the presentation, a calmness came over me and I forgot about the 500 people seated in front of me. Sure, I still have a lot of room for improvement but I walked out of that room feeling pleased that the efforts Matt & I put into our preparation and rehearsals had paid off. We had done it and our Twitter feeds began to light up like a Christmas tree.

The feedback both Matt & I have received since our breakout session has been overwhelming and well beyond our expectations. I was elated when I started reading some of the survey comments of those who had attended our session…

Best session at VMworld… hands down

VMware please make sure this session is highlighted as a 5 star session

Best session of the week!

One of the most useful sessions at VMworld. Thank you.

…however the absolute highlight of VMworld was this!!

Not only had I produced a useful community project but Matt & I had now secured the 2nd highest viewed session of VMworld 2018! Nothing will surpass this for a while. Thanks VMworld for having us and thanks to all those who attended, watched and have contributed to the project.

Overall, VMworld 2018 was, by far, the best VMworld I have attended. The experience of presenting to a large global audience is now driving me to do it all over again next year.

Watch out VMworld 2019!


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