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(To mark the end of the year we are posting every day through January 1 with lighter vSphere and VMware topics. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. See them all via the “2019 Wrap Up” tag!)

One of the big milestones every year in the VMware ecosystem is “VMworld Season.” The conferences this year in San Francisco and Barcelona were milestones both for VMware itself and for customers. Between the two conferences we announced some big things:

as well as a whole bunch of new versions of products, like vRealize Network Insight 5.1, vRealize Operations Manager 8.0, VMware AppDefense/CB Workload 2.3, vSphere 6.7 Update 3, and many more. In keeping with our year-end theme of looking back, I asked a bunch of people about funny or interesting experiences at VMworld. I got some pretty interesting responses, too, and it’s clear that VMworld can be a time for some to relax, especially across the Labor Day weekend that follows VMworld US. Here are some of their thoughts.

“Remember in 2014 at VMworld US, the theme was groundbreaking designs and the artwork for the conference was cracked grounds, walls, etc.? Then an earthquake hit the area the night before.” – Kevin H.

The 2014 South Napa earthquake happened at 3:20 AM and, though many were sleeping, it was the first experience with a major earthquake for many conference-goers. It was also the largest earthquake in the area since the incredibly damaging Loma Prieta quake in 1989. It didn’t affect the conference much, at least from an attendee’s point of view, but it does highlight the need for travelers to always know what to do if something like that happens.

“The power went out late in the day in Moscone West on Tuesday this year, that was pretty interesting!” – Joe T.

Yes, yes it was. Mike Foley and I were doing the annual vSphere Security Update presentation at that time, and suddenly everything went dark and the emergency lights came on. I got a laugh when I asked everybody where they were going. I’ve done a fair amount of theater work and can be a loud speaker, our slides were still up on the laptop on stage, everyone was safe, and there were no fire alarms, so we just kept speaking and answering questions in the dim light until someone came and gave us further instructions.

“Customer meetings are always interesting because VMware folks get to see what folks are doing out in IT, and customers can ask us anything. There was one last year where we were discussing security requirements, and whether vSphere could meet them. We asked the customer for the requirements they needed to meet, and they couldn’t give them to us, because of… wait for it… security.” – Ken H.

First, VMware vSphere is incredibly security- and compliance-oriented and can meet and exceed whatever compliance frameworks you have. Let your account team know how VMware can help you and they’ll set it up. Second, if you’re at VMworld it’s a great time to meet subject matter experts from deep inside VMware. You can do this through your Technical Account Manager (TAM) or your account teams, just let them know in advance. Additionally, there are “Meet the Expert” sessions that are held every day where you sit at a table and ask a subject matter expert anything that’s on your mind. Remember that next year when you’re registering for sessions – sign up for a Meet the Expert session, too.

“A T-Rex walking around the Vegas show floor in 2018.” – Sean M.

“Seeing a wedding happen during the show, and then the bride and groom walked around the conference in their wedding dress and tuxedo… That was the first big community-type event I saw as a customer and it made me want to get involved further.” – Joey W.

As for the dinosaur, I wonder if it was this fellow. The greater VMware community is a pretty interesting group of people, that’s for sure.

“The community takes care of itself. I’ve seen people that, at the last minute, lost their trip to the conference, only to have people & orgs pull together and supply travel, a bed, and a pass. It’s stunning when it happens once, but when it happens every year? I love the community of which I am a part.” – Jim M.

100% agreed. I wouldn’t have been as successful in my former job in enterprise IT without the VMware community, whether it’s locally or regionally through a VMUG, through podcasts and blogs, or through the VMware Communities and VMTN. VMware, as a company, shows a lot of kindness inside and out, and the community reflects and amplifies those values. It’s pretty amazing.

If you’re wondering how you might get started I’d suggest a couple of different paths. First, you could answer some questions in the Community forums. There’s always someone needing a hint and maybe you’re the person to give it to them. Same for Twitter and Reddit, the r/vmware community is pretty active and kind. On Twitter you could watch the #virtualization, #vmware, and #vexpert tags to start.

Second, start a blog. Don’t worry if you’re not an amazing writer. Here’s a secret: people who seem like amazing writers have amazing editors who read their work and fix all the errors. The rest of us just do what we can, and we get better the more we write. I always think of what a community member told me early on to encourage me: “How do you get to be good at something? Be bad at it for a while first.” Don’t know what you’d write about? Write about what you did that day or week. Post links to interesting web sites that helped you, or things you read. Add a little commentary to each. Read other blogs and link to them, most will link back to you automatically, too.

Last, go to VMUGs. Pretend you’re an extrovert for a little bit and ask questions when there’s a panel discussion or roundtable. Chances are that if you thought of the questions someone else in the room has the same question but doesn’t want to speak up to ask. Email the leaders and ask if they need a community presentation for a meeting. Offer to talk about your deployment or something you’ve learned. Like writing, presenters get better with practice, too.

Find your niche, some way for you to be comfortable while participating. Have fun! Don’t forget to say hi at VMworld, too – we all like meeting new people.

(Come back Monday for the top 5 vSphere blog posts from 2019! For more posts in this series visit the “2019 Wrap Up” tag. There’s a bunch of interesting stuff, like a look at our pet turtles and how vSphere got named!)

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