VMworld 2016 is right around the corner, and this year’s list of IT thought leaders heading to Vegas to talk cloud is longer than the taxi line at McCarran Airport.

From industry trends, to cutting edge technologies, to tips you can take home and use, VMworld 2016 has something for every IT professional.

As part of our Presenter Profile series, we’re shining the spotlight on VMware Solution Strategist Neal Elinski, who will be leading not one, not two but three cloud-focused sessions this year. And when he’s not leading sessions, he’ll be in the vCloud Air section of the VMware booth and answering questions from the ‘Ask An Expert’ table during TAM Customer Day on Sunday. Clearly Neal is one busy man, but he made time to speak with us about his sessions, and also offer up his take on key IT trends and what not to miss at VMWorld.

Q: You’re leading three sessions at VMworld. Can you tell us a little about them?

A: Sure. I’ll be co-presenting the session Extending Your Data Center to vCloud Air in Less than 60 Minutes with my colleague Jim Armstrong, group product marketing manager at VMware. He’s really the brains behind this common vCloud Air use case, the one about extending the on-premises data center to the public cloud. Together, we’ll be mapping out for attendees everything they would need to understand to update or replace an on-premises infrastructure in the cloud using VMware vCloud® Air™.

The session titled Better Together: vRealize Automation and vCloud Air is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I supported the first version of vRealize Automation before moving over to the vCloud Air team. I’ll be covering the common issues IT teams run   into – the need for speed, agility, and geographic impact of cloud and how these two technologies, when used in combination, help solve them.

And in the third presentation, vRealize Operations and vCloud Air: Monitoring Your Cloud, we’ll talk monitoring, sure, but also how these technologies can work together to predict future cloud usage and potential problems before they happen. My colleague Brandon Gordon, senior MTS at VMware, is joining me for this one.

Q: Clearly you have your finger on the pulse of innovation. What are some other trends you        are seeing around cloud technologies?

A: Over the last few years cloud has become a big thing for an obvious reason: the speed of business is accelerating and companies are finding themselves having to launch more products and applications, and support more global customers and employees than ever before. At one time organizations could get by with a basic website, they now require a robust digital presence that serves multiple purposes and stakeholders. Many organizations are wrestling with how to achieve this. We call it the digital deficit. Cloud models help to fill the gap.

Q: If you can find the time to attend any of the VMworld sessions, which one would it be?

A: The keynotes are always a must-attend for everyone, no matter how busy you are.

Q:  One last question before we let you go: so VMworld is in Las Vegas this year. When the         show is over and you have a moment to relax, are we more likely to find you at the           roulette table or the slot machines?

A: When it comes to the casino I’m a slots guy, but this year I think I’ll try to catch a show. Any recommendations, blog readers?

VMworld attendees: catch Neal’s sessions at the following times:

Extending Your Data Center to vCloud Air in Less than 60 Minutes

Thursday, Sep 1, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Better Together: vRealize Automation and vCloud Air

Tuesday, Aug 30, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

vRealize Operations and vCloud Air: Monitoring Your Cloud

Wednesday, Aug 31, 3:30 pm. – 4:30 p.m.