Like last year, I am attending VMworld EMEA as an official blogger. VMware has kindly granted me a pass for keeping you all informed with all the activities, technical or not. Having attended a few of these now, I thought it would be a good idea to jot down a few pointers, in case you are attending for the first time. So, here goes:
Booking, Travel, Accommodation:
I am hoping that you have already registered for it but if not, here is the link for VMworld Registration. As for travel, hope you’ll still find reasonably priced airline tickets to Barcelona. Depending on the airline, you could come to either Terminal 1 or 2. VMware runs shuttles from both terminals, on Sunday (between 16.00 – 20.00) and Monday (10.00 – 20.00) so look for them upon arrival if you’re staying near the venue. If not, there are plenty of taxis waiting just outside. Should cost around 20 Euros for a ride to central Barcelona.
As for accommodation, a lot of my colleagues have found it much cheaper and fun to stay at one of the AirBnB places. There is plenty of great accommodation available and if sharing, works out so cheap that it becomes a non-brainer. If you want to try it, this link should help with some discount (not much but should cover a taxi ride 🙂 ). Alternatively, there are still many hotels in Barcelona so you shouldn’t have a problem. Although, this is a busy time so book early to get the place you want for a reasonable amount.
One thing I would say is that staying closer to the venue is great but I’ve found it much easier to stay in the centre and travelling to the venue in the morning. All of the evening parties are in the centre and run until late night. The Metro system closes at about 11 PM so taxis become the only option to travel back late in the night. Personally, I think it’s safer to stay in the centre to be able to walk back to the hotel, whenever you finish. As for the luggage on the last day, VMware has a left-luggage facility (usually to the left of the registration area) where you can safely check-in your suitcase and leave directly for the airport when it all finishes. Again, VMware runs a shuttle service to both terminals on Thursday (between 12.00 – 18.00) Just make sure you board the right one 🙂
If you’re registered, you should really book your sessions now. Here is the link. Popular sessions get booked quite quickly and if not already booked, you’ll have to join the long queue outside the room to get in (by the time you’re in, most of the session is gone!)
However, that brings me to my next pointer: Don’t overbook sessions. I know you want to attend every session while there but you will have to miss some so don’t overburden yourself. VMware is also aware that you will miss sessions so almost all popular sessions are recorded and made available after the conference for you to watch later. Use the time there to have a good balance between the various options available. By all means attend sessions and Solutions Exchange etc. but also use this opportunity to attend vBrownBag TechTalks (register here if you want to do one yourself and be famous), Ask the Expert sessions and especially the “Hang Space” to meet like-minded people. In other word, meet people and have chats – something that you can’t do if not at the conference. If you follow virtualisation people on Twitter, I am sure you’ll find a lot of familiar faces there, including mine. Here is my Twitter handle and it’ll be great to see you there.
Also, try to have some gap between sessions if you’re having them back to back. Sessions can be a 10 – 15 minutes walk from each other in some cases, especially considering the traffic of people in between. Some sessions have a choice of time slots so that should help distributing them evenly.
Another very useful option is to take exams while at VMworld. If you chose to come on Sunday, Monday is a very good option to take either a VCP or VCAP/VCIX exam. Vouchers are available from the VMworld Registration page (you have to click “Purchase Registration Items” at the bottom of the page) for 100 and 178 Euros, respectively. That’s pretty discounted and is especially a very useful option if you’re just looking for testing your knowledge on a particular subject but haven’t been able to prepare. I took VCAP-DCA last year without any preparation and passed. Of course, other days are also available to take the exam but once the conference starts, one becomes too tired to take an exam. If taking the exam on Monday, schedule it a bit later in the morning (you must attend the vRockStar party, remember! 🙂 ).
After a busy day at the conference (or even before starting), there are parties arranged by the enthusiastic VMware community, vendors and VMware itself. You should not miss them as they’re a great way to meet all VMware enthusiasts and have some fun to wind down for the day. Consider coming on Sunday as the vRockStar party is held on that day (follow Marco Broeken for the announcement of when). This party is now practically a tradition and people pounce at the tickets as soon as they’re released so you have to be very quick. Other parties are also great and being a PernixPro, I am really looking forward to the PernixData one too. My man, Manfred “Fred” Hofer is keeping a nice list here so keep checking it out to see when and where to register.
I usually travel to Barcelona on the Sunday and get here about noon time. I like to do that as that gives me a chance to check into the hotel and settle down, before heading out to the VMworld venue. Registration starts from Sunday and it’s always nice to get that done early, pick up the official bag for that year and also the free 10 trip card that you should also not forget. In case you don’t know, it’s available from the information counter, right at the end of the registration hall. Metros are pretty frequent and a nice fast way to travel through Barcelona so make use of it. Even if you have trips left on it when you leave, keep it safe as it’s valid until the end of the calendar year.
If you are using the Metro for daily travel, the Metro station you’re looking for is: Fira Europa. VMware runs a shuttle service on loop between the outside of this station and the North Entrance of Fira Gran Via (the venue).
The post is getting long now so I’ll stop but I hope this will be useful. I hope you attend as this conference is not only extremely useful for everyone who works with VMware products but also great fun. If you are going to be there, look for me as it would be great to meet! Here is my Twitter handle again.