VMware Explore 2022: The More Things Change [Day 1]

VMware Explore Logo on side of Moscone West building

“See you next year San Francisco!”

That’s how my last post on this blog ended. It was August 2019. Simpler times. Needless to say I didn’t see San Francisco in 2020. Or 2021.

Two Gather(ings), Apart

VMworld was held completely online those years. It worked, for what it was. What it wasn’t though, was an in-person conference with a focus on community. Not for lack of trying.

VMUG held a virtual meeting space, which was fun, but limited, and little too surreal. Nick Howell had the most successful approximation with his Orbital Jigsaw Discord server. He still does conference “follow alongs”, if you will. You should join. Nick and company are good folks, and are the closest you’re going to get to an authentic hallway track for online tech events. They also chat about tech and tech-adjacent interests.

It still wasn’t the same as attending in person, nothing will be. That, combined with, you know, everything else going on, took the wind out of my blogging sails.

In April, VMware announced their intention to hold an in-person conference once more. It wasn’t VMworld. Their corporate conference crown was re-dubbed VMware Explore. I was cautiously optimistic. More caution, than optimism, if I’m being honest. Before I realized it the early bird pricing deadline was imminent and I put my money where my nerves were and paid my fee. Barring a turn for the (even) worse, I was sort of, kind of, committing to going to VMware Explore. Maybe.

I kept a close eye on refund deadlines. Booked flights and accommodations, with more refund options. You know, in case. As we got closer and closer to the event, I felt that familiar feeling of anticipation. Okay. We’re doing this. Let’s go!

Day 0

It’s typically tradition here to have a “Day 0” post on the Saturday before VMwo… er… VMware Explore. It’s a travel day, and travel I did. In a big metal tube with wings. With other people. It felt vaguely familiar, but with slightly different travel nerves than usual.

I arrived safe and sound in San Francisco as the sun set late Saturday. A run to the hotel, check-in, then a dash to the grocery store for my usual mini-fridge staples started to make it feel even more familiar.

Traditions March On

It was another last minute decision, but as is a nearly tradition of mine, in SF at least, I signed up for a 5k first thing Sunday morning. Am I really doing this? I am. I did.

A #vFit 2019 t-shirt beside an Across the Bay 2022 t-shirt, with a finisher's medal in between.

Bridge bridging to bridge: 2019 to 2022.

I was rusty, I’ll admit. Out of practice. I’m pretty proud of my time, regardless. Not a personal best, but my best in a long while.

First Official VMware Explore Thing

A little rested and full of brunch, I went to my first official VMware Explore activity. Moscone South hardly looked like it had aged a day while I registered for my badge and picked up my “materials”. The trusty conference t-shirt and backpack. Whoa. Déjà vu.

I played the part of tourist for the rest of the day until the next event on my calendar.

VMunderground Rises Once More

No Opening Acts this year. I missed it. No doubt others did too. I can’t imagine the logistics and effort required to will those panel discussions into being. Just wasn’t in the cards this year. Understandable.

By the grace of, well, some pretty amazing folks, the VMunderground party happened this year. It was great meeting people in-person again who I hadn’t seen in far too long. Always great meeting new people in-person too.

The More They Stay The Same

Day 1 looked eerily familiar. A bit different, to be sure. Masks, distancing, a bit of grey hair that wasn’t there the last time. On me, I mean. You look great.

I guess the take away is that change is here. Change happened. It’s still a VMware conference. Looks like a VMware conference. Has the stance and gravitas of a VMware conference. Change is still happening. To us, to VMware, to VMware Explore. As folks who deal with technology, change is what we do. It’s how we thrive, and what keeps things interesting. I’m very interested to see what the week brings at VMware Explore.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m still sore from that race this morning. But what else is new?

As always, stop and say hi if you’re here and spot me. And have a great, safe, week.

Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He is a 9x VMware vExpert. You can find him on Twitter and Mastodon.

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