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By David Davis

Continuing from where I left off in my last post (VMware Partner Exchange 2011 – Get Ready!), I attended Partner Exchange (PEX) last month (February 7-11) in Orlando, FL. In this post, I'm going to cover what happened at PEX, what I learned, and what made it such a great show.

Day By Day Summary of VMware Partner Exchange 2011

Officially, PEX runs for only 3 days (Wednesday – Friday) but boot camps and training classes actually start on Sunday before PEX. From my perspective, here's a breakdown of what happened, day by day, at PEX 2011:

Sunday-Tuesday

I arrived at the show on Monday around and immediately got my conference badge and backpack.

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From there, I went directly to the VCE bootcamp to learn about what makes VCE different and, technically, what makes it so powerful (blog post on the way). I had missed the sales-oriented briefing in the morning (which was fine with me as I'm a techie) so I attended the tech-oriented afternoon session where Steve Phillips, CCIE Emeritus #1504 did a tech deepdive on VCE's VBlocks.

Here I am standing next to a VBlock…

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Others that I talked to that day went to bootcamps from Cisco & HP or attended VMware Education bootcamps like vSphere Design, vCloud Director, or the VCDX workshop – most of which ran from Sunday-Tuesday.

Tuesday

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On Tuesday, I attended the morning of the EMC bootcamp where Chad Sakac (@Sakacc of  VirtualGeek.typepad.com) made a very-exciting presentation (his trademark) with special focus on the new EMC VNXe – a new easy to use and affordable storage array from EMC.

By the way, Chad Sakac did a great PEX summary post of his own at his blog.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was the official show opening so the day started out with the PEX keynote and led to the labs and expo show floor opening.

At the keynote, the tag team of Paul Maritz (CEO) and Dr. Stephen Herrod (CTO) thanked VMware Partners and talked about the tremendous success of the company's new flagship product vCloud Director (which is only 6 months old). From there the heads of VMware's business units took stage. Raghu Rahuram, SVP of Virtualization and Cloud Platforms talked about vCloud. Chris Young, VP of End User Computing covered View, ThinApp, and Project Horizon. Chris stated that the View client for the iPad will be released in the next month. Finally, Todd Neilsen, President of Application Platforms talked about the upcoming vCenter Operations Manager product and the importance of us, as partners and admins, focusing more on providing the applications the business needs & ITaaS, not just "computing". 

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I attended a number of great sessions that afternoon including "vCloud Networking Finally Explained" by VMware's Global vCloud Architect, Mike DiPetrillo (@MikeDiPetrillo or his Blog, MikeD'sBlog) where Mike went into detail on how you design and configure networking in a vCloud environment. It is a complex topic that Mike explained so comfortably that I could tell he knew it by heart.

Thursday

The next day started out with another general session where they awarded the VMware partners of the year. Paul Maritz was named the Top Executive of the Year (from a partner perspective) by CRN magazine. I learned that VMware partner programs had a record year in 2010. New desktop virtualization programs were announced starting with the new VMware Certified Associate (VCA) – Desktop certification. Soon there will be a new VMware Certified Professional (VCP) – Desktop followed by a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) – Desktop. I learned about the various products that make up the VMware vFabric Cloud Application Platform such as tcServer, Gemfire, ERS, Hyperic, and RabbitMQ.

After the general session, I made an attempt at the new VCA-Desktop beta exam and hope to get my results in the next month or so.

That afternoon, I attended some more great sessions (mostly on vCloud) including one of the ones I recommended in my last post – David Hill's (@davehill99 on Twitter who is a VMware Senior vCloud Consultant) Private vCloud Architecture Technical Deepdive (TECH-CLD-300). In that session, I learned about how a vCloud infrastructure is designed including the features and limitations of vCloud Director.

Friday

On the last day of the conference, I attended Tony Dunn and John Troyer's session on how partners can use social media to build their business. It was a fascinating session because I got to learn how VMware uses social media to grow their relationships with partners & end users and because of my huge interest in social media.

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In Summary

With just around 3500 people, attending PEX is much more intimate than VMworld. You get to stop and talk to people more and things are at a slower pace (which can be nice). However, PEX is primarily focused on equipping VMware partners to be technically knowledgeable and prepared to sell VMware's products as effectively as possible (as it should be). At the conference, I was able to fulfill all 5 of my reasons to attend PEX that I listed in my previous post. I learned how to make my company more successful through VMware's product line, learned about new technology (lots of vCloud), networked with the best of the virtualization world (I have pictures with me and amazingly smart guys like Duncan Epping and I was within 20 feet of Dr. Stephen Herrod during the keynote), attempted to get certified (the new VCA-Desktop beta), and go to Disneyland in your spare time (I sponsored a round-the-world beer tour of Epcot one night at PEX). VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) 2011 was an awesome conference and I hope to be able to make every PEX in the future!

 

Couldn't attend PEX? Make sure that you have VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas on your calendar for August 29-September 1, 2011 because now is the time to start planning! 

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere video training package. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.