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Las Vegas was on fire the week of August 26-30, but it wasn’t just due to the blazing desert heat. VMworld 2018 touched down once again at Mandalay Bay, igniting five jam-packed days full of innovation, collaboration, education and unbridled passion for both the power of technology and VMware’s role in helping shape its future. A top mantra of VMworld 2018 US was “possible begins with you,” and more than 21,000 attendees were able to explore the wondrous possibilities and the new technologies and products from VMware that are accelerating the journeys of enterprises worldwide toward becoming true software-defined businesses.

Even though pioneering and achieving the possible is what VMworld 2018 US was all about, it still proved tricky for attendees to immerse themselves in everything this year’s conference had to offer. Luckily, we’re here to recap all of the highlights just in case anything slipped through the cracks. And for those of you unable to attend this year, hopefully this post will be all the encouragement you need to pencil off time on your calendar for next year’s event. Without further ado, let’s dive into a comprehensive recap of VMworld 2018 US!

VMworld 2018

Kicking Off the Day with General Sessions

We all know how tough it can be to rise and shine early—especially in Vegas—but the insightful and inspiring General Sessions that kicked off most every day of VMworld 2018 made the early wake-up calls worth it. Day 1’s General Session, entitled “Technology Superpowers,” was a tour de force from CEO Pat Gelsinger and some special guests that chronicled a look back at VMware’s first 20 years and ushered VMware into its next act: the multi-cloud era.

Pat highlighted the four current superpowers of tech and VMware’s role in shaping each and driving them forward: cloud, mobile, AI/machine learning and Edge/IoT. Specifically, VMware comes into play with its uncanny ability to bridge across these various silos of innovation to unite them as one, because together these technology superpowers make each other much stronger.

Day 2’s General Session, entitled “Pioneers of the Possible,” focused on the vital role technology plays in society now that the world is becoming more digital and how it can empower people globally. COO Sanjay Poonen moderated fascinating panel discussions with some technology heavyweights, discussing everything from the journey to the cloud, modernizing the data center and the future of collaboration. The session ended with a lively and passionate discussion with Malala Yousafzai, who shared a greater perspective on the challenges and opportunities girls face within their communities across the globe.

The final VMworld 2018 US General Session was entitled “The Frontiers of Reality,” a forward-looking talk moderated by CTO Ray O’Farrell featuring three guest speakers who delivered mini TED-style presentations on how to harness technology to embody the essence of creativity, human behavior, personal happiness and our perceptions of reality. It was the perfect session to conclude the final day of VMworld US as attendees left with their minds open to newer, even more exciting possibilities.

Meeting Experts and Getting Hands-on

A huge draw each year at VMworld is meeting subject matter experts in the vCommunity to deepen one’s technological prowess and getting an up close and personal look at VMware products through Hands-on Labs (HOLs). VMworld 2018 US featured a grand total of 4,543 labs and 48,252 virtual machines, making it one of this year’s biggest attractions. Whether it was getting hands-on with vSphere 6.7, vRealize Operations and Log Insight, vSAN 6.7, VMware NSX data center, Horizon 7, VMware Cloud on AWS and more, attendees gobbled up the chance to test-drive these products with more than 11,000 HOLs completed across five days.

VMworld 2018

The VMworld 2018 US Challenge

To spice up this year’s VMworld, we decided to kick it up a notch and gamify the conference. We introduced the VMworld Challenge, which rewarded attendees with some sick prizes or a chance to pay it forward based on their activity at the conference. For every breakout session, Challenge Sponsor or various other activity attendees participated in at VMworld, they earned achievements that allowed them to earn swag or donate to a Kiva microloan charity that supports global entrepreneurs! This challenge definitely added an extra layer of fun to VMworld 2018 US and made the whole conference much more interactive in nature.

Work Hard, Play Harder

Between breakout sessions and Hands-on Labs, attendees could kick back and indulge in the fun and games VMworld 2018 US offered. The VMvillage united attendees with the vCommunity and their VMUG comrades, hosting areas such as the VMware Innovation Zone, an epic drone racing arena, vBrownBag Talks and a veritable playground that included everything from AR basketball to giant Battleship to light-up see-saws.

The Solutions Exchange, chock-full of fantastic vendors, hosted a Welcome Reception and a bustling hall crawl where attendees got to explore the amazing booths that populated the VMworld floor. Last but certainly not least, VMworld Fest was the party to end all parties. Featuring four distinct environments, vibrant, globally-expansive food trucks and three stages of music and entertainment, it was definitely the place to be at VMworld 2018 US.

VMworld 2018

Surprise and Delights

Yet another new feature at VMworld US were our surprise and delights, exciting pop-up booths and events that kept the energy alive and stirred up quite a significant amount of fanfare. Here’s a roundup of everything that both surprised and delighted attendees this year:

  • VMware 20th anniversary cupcakes
  • Nitro popcorn
  • Spanish guitar in the Escape Lounge
  • A standing statue
  • Appearances by Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Stormtroopers
  • A Rat Pack cocktail bar
  • Elvis impersonators
  • Breakdancers in the Rhythm Zone
VMworld 2018

Fun VMworld 2018 Facts

To wrap up our VMworld 2018 US recap, we thought we’d end with some fun facts about this year’s event:

  • There were 300+ customers certified
  • 800 breakout sessions took place throughout the conference
  • 61,000 and counting social media posts using the hashtag #VMworld
  • 7,200+ attendees at this year’s VMworld Fest
  • 3,000 delicious VMware 20th birthday cupcakes consumed
  • 275 gallons of olive oil, 26,500 chicken breasts and 4,600 lbs of eggs were used for meals
  • 48% donated to education, 16% donated to food, 21% donated to health, and 15% donated to water and sanitation via a Kiva microloan

What’s Next for VMworld

That concludes our wrap-up of VMworld 2018 US! But don’t worry—the VMworld fun doesn’t end here. We’re ramping up for VMworld 2018 Europe, taking place November 5-8 in Barcelona. You can still register to attend by visiting the official VMworld Europe website and be sure to mark your calendars for September 25 when the content catalog scheduling feature officially goes live. If you’re unable to make it to Spain in November, you can always start prepping for VMworld 2019 which makes a return to the city by the bay: San Francisco!