Bonus: VMworld 2019 US Discussion

Welcome to bonus episode 06 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we have a contemporaneous discussion of our experiences at VMworld 2019 in San Francisco.

Original Recording Date: 08-29-2019

John mentions the post-VMworld interview he did with Ramzi Marjaba of We the Sales Engineers YouTube video or audio.

Topics – Sharing Experiences at VMworld US 2019

4:20 Opening Banter

  • John comments on this being our second take on recording.

5:55 How has the show been?

  • Nick didn’t go to many evening events, especially those where it is too loud to have a conversation.
  • Nick and John were at the vExpert party on one of the events (a quieter event) and had some great conversations.
  • Most of the people we met at the conference were there to…
    • Attend keynotes, some sessions, and check out the solutions exchange
    • The people in the vCommunity / vBrownBag area placed a much higher priority on networking than the average attendee. This kind of priority is a career accelerator.
    • Nick thinks many people come to conferences to look for jobs (even though you may not know it).
      • Once you have career advancement on your mind, it never really leaves your mind. John makes it a point to visit with other people inside his own company he might not otherwise meet.
  • 11:43 Vendor Expo
    • Nick spent the better part of an afternoon walking around the solutions exchange. He enjoys learning about new vendors, the markets in which they play, and the problems they solve.
      • If you are part of a VMUG, point your local VMUG leaders to interesting vendors for potential meeting sponsorship.
      • Nick’s pitch to new, interesting vendors is to sell them on SpiceCorps sponsorship.
    • Nick ran into Ian Eyberg, CEO of NanoVMs. Nick had heard him on Datanauts Podcast # 54 discussing Unikernels.
    • Are you talking with vendors when attending a conference? If not, you may handicapping yourself at a later time.
    • John doesn’t take much vendor swag at trade shows these days.
    • Nick carried his full laptop around the show but would set it down on the ground when talking with someone in the solutions exchange. Many people go tablet or with just their phone to lighten the load on their back.

17:26 Sessions

  • Nick and John were only able to attend 2 sessions each on the final day. When you work for the vendor putting on the conference, your time is not your own.
  • The recorder battery ran out.

19:25 Presentations – following up on Episode 41

  • John
    • Check out John’s VMworld session "Save the IT Department: Add the Development Platform to Your Portfolio" video and slide deck.
    • This is where John’s SpiceWorld 2013 presentation used to be.
    • It was a 30 minute session, and John had to submit his slides several weeks in advance of the presentation.
    • John recommends running through the slide deck you will use a few times in advance to make sure it flows well.
    • John had people ask questions after the session was over.
    • Should John post his presentation video and tag it #ForTheGlory?
    • How many new followers did John get as a result of the presentation?
  • Nick
    • He did a 12-minute vBrownBag talk this year.
    • In both scenarios, you are using a computer that is not your own.
    • Nick tried to put minimal speaker notes in his presentation but ended up not being able to see any notes while giving the presentation (oops).
    • Nick practiced a couple of times to ensure his presentation fit inside the time period (did not want it to be too long).
      • Sometimes when presenting, he gets ideas he had not thought of while preparing the presentation. Does that happen to you?
    • Nick cites a very good presentation by Joseph Griffiths on Removing Operational Debt. The presentation was mostly pictures, but Joseph had a backup copy of his speaker notes just in case.

28:34 Would attending a conference where no one knows you make for a new and interesting experience?

  • Nick recently attended DevOps Days Dallas and manned a booth for part of the time.
    • Nick comments on what working the booth was like and the interesting conversations he had.
    • The DevOps Days Dallas video play list can be found here if you are interested.
  • John mentioned it would be interesting to go to a conference as just an attendee.

31:41 John weighs in on a special SRE forum he attended at the conference.

  • This was a panel discussion composed of a Google SRE manager, folks who had transitioned to the SRE role, and someone from VMware who had run DevOps workshops.
  • Google wrote the SRE handbook.
  • John said there was a noticeable difference in the SRE mindset and the mindset of some of his customers, but he’s not yet certain how to help bridge the gap.
  • Nick referenced a talk from DevOps Days Dallas by Damon Edwards on the transition from SysAdmin to SRE. Check it out here.
  • John feels the SRE mindset is the future of IT for companies offering services at any kind of scale.

39:32 General conference advice / feedback

  • How many people go to a conference that grows their mindset in new ways?
    • This happened to John when he attended the SRE forum mentioned previously.
    • Is SRE a career path for John?
  • Go to a session on a topic that is completely new to you. Don’t fill the schedule with everything in one focus area.
  • Nick and John mention The LevelUp Project as a fantastic resource for those new to the vCommunity.
  • Should Nerd Journey do a special meetup at a future conference?

47:00 Closing thoughts…

  • Attending a conference can accelerate your career. Plug into communities ahead of time for best results.
  • If attending a conference with a co-worker, don’t go to the same sessions.
    • Get together at meals to debrief one another on what you learned.
  • Get some sleep during the conference. Don’t be the person who comes home sick.
  • Don’t commute to a conference. That wore John out this year. Target an AirBnB early for a good price.

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