The week of August 29, 2022 VMware held its annual VMware Explore Conference (formerly known as VMworld). This was the first time the event had been held in person since the COVID outbreak in early 2020 caused the show to go 100% virtual. The event had a smaller attendance than in the past, probably due in part to some people still being apprehensive about being in large crowds or traveling on public transportation such as airlines. However, there were still more than 10,000 people between attendees, vendors, and VMware employees. So, I believe it would be deemed a success.
On Sunday, general registration opened to pick up your badges and materials. Unlike previous years, there was not a lot of activity going on throughout the conference. My coworker and I walked around and did some exploring of the conference and ended up speaking to some of the conference staff on any available actives as we have seen in past conferences. However, they stated that with this being the first in-person event since COVID, this was considered an “soft opening” without the usually run of hands-on-labs and sessions as there has been in the past. However, they said they expect those events to return next year.
There was no general session on Monday. It consisted mainly of hands-on-labs, the Odyssey Challenge contest, and various sessions to learn about more about selected aspects of VMware features and functions. I got a preview of what was coming in one of the sessions I attended. It has been titled Extreme Performance Series: vSphere Advanced Performance Tutorial which had been described as a boot camp on technical performance. However, we quickly realized that we were being told information about vSphere 8 and they pretty much said the announcement was coming “any day”. Photography was banned once they got to the technical demonstrations as they stated there was still a moratorium on posting anything.
Tuesday morning was the first general session. Here is where all the announcements came out. The session started with VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram explaining the name change in the conference with VMware now being more than just a virtualization company. They are now multi-cloud, SD-WAN, security, as well as other features and functions. Then he announced products like vSphere 8, vSAN8, and VMware Aira their software for multi-cloud management. In addition, they also announced Project Northstar which will better empower NSX customers manage both their on-premises and cloud environments. After these announcements, people rushed to get in standby lines for sessions such as vSAN where everyone had now figured out what would be discussed and wanted to hear more details. In the evening, there was the normal Hall Crawl, and various vendor parties. My coworker and I attended some of these events and as normal, some were better than others.
Sessions continued Wednesday, along with it being the last day to qualify for the VMware Odyssey Challenge finals. Unfortunately, yours truly failed to qualify for the final tournament. I did take part in sessions around vRealize Operations and how to best secure your workloads in vSphere. In addition, there were endless hands-on-labs. These are great to be able to test drive a product or make yourself more familiar with something you may have recently implemented. There have staff on hand to answer questions or help you through any issues you may have experienced. Of course, there was the final night party at the Chase Center, with Tainted Love and VYBE Society as the performers.
On Thursday, everything started wrapping up. The sessions were less attended, at least the early morning ones, and some of the break down of vendor areas were being broken down. However, the sessions, hands-on-labs, and the final tournament of the Odyssey Challenge were going strong. There was no announcement of a venue for VMware Explore 2023, but I had heard from various sources that they were still under contract with the Moscone Center for another year. If that is true, that means it will be held in San Francisco again in 2023. If so, I hope to see some of you attending!